So you have decided that Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the way forward for your business, how do you go about finding the expert who will negotiate your path to the top of the search engines? You can find out more about Search Engine Optimisation here:

Not all SEO companies are equal and as many people know very little about the practice, often they are easily led by companies who will make false or unrealistic promises.

The first step is to do a bit of homework and find out a bit of what SEO is about, what is the process of SEO, what does the company do and how does it work?  What should you expect and what promises can a company realistically make.

SEO is not a solution for all businesses and it may be that other types of marketing are better for your particular company, so sit down, list your requirements and decide what you want from SEO. A reputable SEO would be able to consider your requirements and provide you with an honest and considered opinion as to your way forward.  

Many people go to the search engines and when they see a company ranking top for a term such as ‘best SEO expert’ they often assume that this is the better company but not necessarily so. The company who is perhaps on page 2 could be so busy dealing with clients and do not need to rank their own site. The top guy could be expending a lot of energy money and time in order to obtain clients so it is not always wise to use a search engine as your filter in this case. Good SEO’s tend to work by word of mouth so it is a good idea to speak to other businesses who are ranking on search engines and ask about their experiences.

So, the top tips for finding an SEO company

Once you have done your homework, you know a bit about the process of SEO, you know what you are expecting from SEO for your company, you know what your monthly budget would be, it is time to approach some of the companies who offer the service.

  • Try to obtain word of mouth recommendations
  • Look for testimonials and reviews, bearing in mind of course that some of the reviews could be written by the companies themselves
  • Pick 3 or 4 of the companies and give them a call. Often from the phone call, you will be able to decide whether or not this company would be a good fit to work for you
  • From your calls, invite two or three companies out to meet with you or alternatively meet them at their place. This can be a good idea as it will let you see the structure of the company and allow you a feel for how they work.

During the Meeting

  • Outline your expectations and goals from SEO. A reputable SEO will be able to tell you if they are realistic. It may not be the case that you would be able to obtain the volume of clients that you desire from the process of SEO and a good SEO should be able to tell you that and suggest alternative marketing strategies for you. Marketing is not all about SEO, there are many other practices out there. What other marketing strategies could the company offer you? Do they do pay per click campaigns, email marketing, social media posts etc and could this be combined with your campaign.
  • Ask the SEO about other projects that they have worked and have they been successful. Ask them what they do  when they work on a campaign.
  • Are you prepared to leave them with your project or are you expecting regular meetings or chats, some SEOs will not do that as they prefer to concentrate on their client’s campaign and report when there is something to report. You have to decide whether or not this SEO would be a good fit for you.
  • Try to get a feel for their knowledge and enthusiasm for SEO. A campaign can be expensive and remember there are no absolute guarantees.
  • How does the company keep up with the latest developments? Algorithms on search engines change all the time and a good SEO will move with the times.

Red Flags

  • A lot of SEOs are sales people too. They can be very charismatic, very slick and very appealing. Try to see behind a shiny presentation and make sure that you ask questions of them.
  • Beware of false promises, no-one knows exactly how Google or the other search engines work and if anyone tells you that they do, they are in fact lying! Good SEOs will be aware of trends, they will be aware of what works from their own experience of working on campaigns.
  • Very cheap prices, remember, you get what you pay for. SEO uses links from other websites to rank your website and the links cost money, content has to be written and staff have to be paid. There are no shortcuts. If someone is offering you a price that is cheap in comparison to others, they are cutting corners by giving you poor links from bad websites that can in turn damage the integrity of your website. Cheap links can also incur penalties from the search engine.
  • If a company makes you a promise guarantee, this is a red flag, reputable SEOs don’t because they can’t.

You may hear the terms ‘black hat’ SEO and ‘white hat’ SEO. Black Hat SEO uses practices that could be considered unethical whereas white hat SEO focuses on legitimate practices to rank your website.

SEO is not cheap, it is a long term commitment and you have to be prepared to trust your provider. Rankings move about and never move up in a straight line, they may move up, then back down before moving up again. Trust is essential so take time, use your instincts and go with the company that is the best fit for you.