Your online presence defines your business’ success.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of your customers. If you can’t find your website on the first (or even second) page of search results, how do you expect customers to find you?
With the digital space offering tons of opportunities to thrive, there’s no time to waste in optimising your website.
This is where Search Engine Optimisation or SEO comes in.
SEO is not rocket science, but it requires a bit of specialised knowledge to get the best results. You will need a team that can handle the technical parts, so you can simply focus on running your business.
As digital marketing advocates, we share our knowledge to help businesses take advantage of the digital landscape. With our experience working alongside SEO experts, we have created this guide to provide insights on how to find the right SEO services provider.
You are likely to have a lot of questions when looking for an SEO provider, but this may only make the entire process overwhelming. To make it easier, focus on these areas first: Expertise, Capability to Deliver, and Reporting.
Most people start off their search by typing “best SEO companies” or “top SEO providers” on Google. Whoever comes at the first page becomes a potential candidate.
While search results ranking is an indication of an SEO provider’s capability to apply SEO strategies to their own website, knowing if they can walk the talk goes beyond that.
To know if they have the expertise to deliver results for your business, ask the following questions:
What SEO services do you offer?
SEO companies may offer similar services, such as on-page optimisation, link building, citation building, technical SEO, content writing, and web design services. Not all of them may have the same menu of services, but knowing which they specialise in can give you an idea of what they can bring to the table and how they can help your business.
For instance, an SEO company may offer on-page optimisation and technical SEO but might not have the capacity to fulfill your content writing requirements. They may be hiring outsource writers to do the content writing aspect of their SEO services. Some SEO companies may not be upfront about this, but it is best to keep your mind open to these options.
What is your SEO process?
Part of choosing the best SEO provider is to know how they will help you achieve your goals. SEO companies may execute their strategies differently, but most are transparent when it comes to explaining why they do what they do.
If they say it is a proprietary process and they cannot tell you, mark them as a potential red flag. Nothing is really hidden when it comes to SEO. Those that say they have a “secret formula” to help your website rank are likely those who do not have a clear process and those you should steer clear of.
Do you have experience working with clients in the same industry?
Some SEO companies work with specific niches, while others have a broad portfolio of clients from different industries. However, hiring an SEO company that has a background in your industry makes it easier to communicate the needs of your business.
As they already know the ins and outs of your niche, they can develop an SEO strategy specific to your business and more aligned with your goals.
Pro-tip: Ask if the SEO provider has case studies they can share with you. This will give you a general idea of how their processes deliver results.
2. Capability to Deliver
You are not just looking for an SEO expert to help you rank your website. You should also look at how capable they are at delivering the services they promised. You want to invest in SEO that provides real business value - ROI.
It is important to look at how the SEO company can match service demands with deliverables, so you can set clear expectations. If you are both aligned with what needs to be accomplished, the less frustrated you will feel, and the more you will see the value of getting SEO for your business.
Start with the following questions to gauge how they can deliver work:
Who can I communicate with for my SEO campaign?
Communication is one of the important pillars of a successful SEO project, and this reflects the SEO company’s commitment to providing you with results.
Start with knowing if they will appoint an account manager for your campaign. The account manager serves as your primary contact throughout the project — getting all requirements, providing monthly SEO reports, and showing the traction of your campaign.
All communication will go through the account manager so you do not have to tap the individual contributor yourself.
It is important, however, that you set a consistent communication schedule with your account manager:
- Monthly or weekly updates
- Time and day for campaign alignment
- Mode of communication (email, conference call, or a quick chat)
What is the timeline of the campaign?
How long does it take to get SEO results? There is no straight answer to this. So, why ask about an SEO campaign timeline? It’s all about knowing what work you can expect, so you can determine if you are investing in the right SEO strategy.
A campaign timeline helps in understanding the different variables that go into the site optimisation process - who does what, what tasks are involved, and what deliverables can you expect at the end of the month.
Nothing is set in stone in SEO. It is a long-term strategy that may yield results months after you start work with an SEO company. A reputable SEO provider will not guarantee you the number one position in less than six months—they will instead report on key metrics that contribute to your overall growth while aligning your goals with the SEO strategy.
What internal and external resources do they have to help with the campaign?
SEO companies often work in teams comprised of SEO specialists, content writers, graphic designers, and account managers. Not all of them may be sourced in-house, though.
Some SEO providers work with freelancers or partner with other agencies that can supplement their current SEO offerings. For instance, they might be outsourcing their content writing services to a pool of freelance writers.
When hiring an SEO company, make sure you know who will be involved in your project. SEO involves proper resource allocation. On your side, it allows you to foresee potential roadblocks in terms of deliverables. If the SEO company tells you upfront they cannot fulfill a certain aspect of your project, this will give you enough to find a workaround and source from other providers.
Let’s face it. At the end of the day, everything is all about results.
You hire an SEO company because you want to get traffic that translates to more ROI for your business. If you are a marketing manager working in a firm, you want a detailed report that shows just that.
Reliable SEO companies are those with an established cadence when it comes to reporting, particularly in collecting the important metrics and presenting them to clients.
When hiring an SEO company, be sure you touch base with them about their reporting process:
What SEO tools do you use?
Tools make room for more efficient delivery and quicker reporting. Tons of digital marketing and SEO tools are out there, but most SEO companies focus on the essentials to keep their campaigns going.
While some SEO companies have proprietary tools or dashboards to monitor campaigns, you need to know if they will be subscribing to other tools or technologies. Startup SEO agencies, for instance, may not have access to premium tools. The underlying question here is whether or not your marketing budget covers the cost of these tools.
When talking to a potential SEO provider, ask they will provide the SEO tools for the campaigns, or if you need to obtain access to some of them.
How do you measure success?
This may seem like a very general question, but asking this will give you an idea of how the SEO company tracks metrics for campaigns.
Not all metrics matter in SEO. Some are vanity metrics, which are often associated with feelings of achievements without having an actual impact on your business.
A reliable SEO company knows which metrics to report on and which ones will give you a reason to celebrate. They report on metrics that align with your goals and dive deeper into how these metrics can change the direction of your SEO strategies.
Pro-tip: Ask for a sample SEO report to familiarise yourself with their process and how they approach SEO.
Invest in the Right SEO Company
Think of an SEO company that can function as an extension of your own marketing team. Just like how you will hire people internally, looking for an SEO company requires thorough deliberation. This is also to ensure you do not place your bet in a company that will simply flush your money down the drain.
Evaluate your goals and see how the SEO company can make these happen. At the end of it, you want to work with someone that can make the most of what’s important for your business.
Ready to take your business to the next level? We know we are. We’d love to hear about your thoughts on working with an SEO company - let’s talk!