Top 5 Things to Look for When Hiring An SEO Firm
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves increasing the quality of your website visitors which in turn increases your rankings in search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. SEO is one of the most important elements of your digital marketing strategy. It involves on-page SEO including keyword research and analysis, content relevance and individual webpage optimization as well as off-page SEO including link-building, content marketing and social media. Such activities can bring better quality visitors to your website who are more likely to convert. It will also result in a higher search engine ranking. When someone searches for a keyword in a search engine, they are most likely to choose one of the top organic results on the first page of results. Therefore, it is extremely important for your website to rank highly in order to achieve its maximum potential.
Google Panda and Penguin Algorithm Updates
Google updates its algorithms about 500 times a year. The latest major update – penguin is targeted at web spam. It will punish sites that it believes are violating Googles existing guidelines for quality. For those sites that use black hat SEO practices, they will face a severe penalty if caught.
On the other end of the scale, Google has updated its Panda algorithm again which inflicts site wide penalties. Panda targets sites that aren’t really spammy, but are of inferior quality in their eyes. It’s designed to decrease the rankings for already low quality sites, sites that upload duplicated content, or sites that don’t provide much value for readers. It will increase rankings though for those sites that have original content and good information.
Basically Google wants to increase rankings for the websites that provide decent content, and severely penalize those that try to use black hat techniques to manipulate the SERPs.
SEO really can be a full time job, especially if you want to get it right. Therefore, it can often be easier to leave it to the experts, and they are many of them out there! How do we know how to choose the best SEO firm? There are 5 top things to look for really:
Ask to see previous case studies and testimonials from real life clients so as the company can prove their ability to successfully boost the SEO rankings for a client. Look for definite facts and figures e.g. screen shots of search ranking position over time, 5% increases in revenue and website visitors.
Do they have knowledge of your particular industry? Have they worked with companies who sell similar products or services to yours? If an SEO firm is to be creating content and sourcing quality back-links on your behalf, they need to have some knowledge of your business. For example, there are certain SEO companies who may deal exclusively with those in the production industry. They may deal with several different niches but have knowledge of the generic industry.
Will the SEO firm ensure to communicate all SEO actions? How will they do so – monthly report, weekly meetings? Communication is a key element to ensuring your SEO strategy is being implemented exactly how you want it and as was agreed. Should something topical occur in the news which relates to your business, how are you required to go through this with your account manager? Always ensure to agree to a schedule of meetings or reports that suits your requirements before signing on the dotted line.
Ask the SEO firm to outline exactly what they believe they can do for you. Perhaps have them perform an SEO audit before contracting into any continuous work. Where do they believe your weak spots are and what can they do to improve them? Do they require any additional work from you to achieve higher SEO rankings? Ensure to not only hear what generic SEO services the company offers, but how they can apply these services to boost your business.
How do the SEO firm operate their fees? Some may opt for a basic rate plus performance bonuses once they achieve particular goals. Other may opt for a flat monthly fee regardless. It is important to ensure that the payment schedule suits you and forms a performance initiative for the SEO firm.