The SEO firms that I think are the best are smaller. If I couldn’t do SEO anymore and I had to ask someone to do it for me, I could name three or four smaller shops, each with under 10 people on staff (I think). I would at least ask these firms for a reference. I wouldn’t go to iProspect, iCrossing, 360i, or any of the other big I’s. It’s nothing against them, but I think I would get better service and more passion from the smaller shops.
This says it all. I agree. You’ll get better service from smaller firm. SEO is pretty static. If a firm is worth its weight in salt it doesn’t matter how big it is. This question is not the best question to ask prospective SEO firms. When you’re looking for a firm to do business with you probably want to ask them other questions, like these:
- What’s your policy if you can’t get me the results I’m looking for? You want a fair firm, one that will relieve you of a contract that isn’t working for you.
- How detailed are your reports? You want a firm that will give you the low down on as much as you can take in. Page views, leads, sales conversions, for each page if possible.
- Who in the firm must authorize any work accomplished? Do they have levels of bureaucracy or does the guy who actually does the work also approve it? Remember, small may be better; an SEO worth anything at all can do the work he authorizes.
- When you call, does someone answer the phone? If they are so small that no one is ever in the office then that might not be good either.
The best way to tell if an SEO is worth his salt is not to ask any questions at all, but to check him out in other ways, like these:
- Google him. How many results do you get and what are others saying about him?
- Visit a few forums and ask what others think about him.
- Check the bookmarking and social networking sites.
- Set a date (say, six months) where you re-evaluate to see how things are going. If not going well, get out and find someone else.
- Test them. Provide a keyword that you know is non-competitive or low-value and see what they tell you about it in their quote. Don’t accept bad quotes on bad terms; it’s a huge integrity red flag.