Fair warning, some of these thoughts may come across as a little ridiculous (especially for site owners that understand SEO), but after 13 years of Internet Marketing I’ve run into my fair share of ridiculous! If you are looking to hire an SEO company, here are six ideas you don’t want popping into your head during the process.
1. They’re an SEO firm, if they say my site isn’t doing well they must be right!
Believe it or not, I probably get one or two calls a week from other SEO companies telling me that Brick Marketing is doing poorly in the search engines and isn’t generating enough visitors. First off, you’d think an SEO company would do a little better research before they started cold calling businesses. Secondly, who are they to tell me how well my website is doing or not? They don’t have access to my analytics, they don’t know my online goals and they don’t understand my business. Many unscrupulous SEO companies use this line to sell their services to unsuspecting site owners. You know your business and website much better than any SEO sales representative that is trying to scare you into hiring them!
2. Client testimonials with no last name or company name are just protecting their privacy.
If you see an SEO company that doesn’t list the last name or company of their client testimonials, approach with caution. In my experience, happy customers that are willing to write up a testimonial for an SEO company don’t have problems giving their last name or company name (with a link back, so it’s a win-win). I would be hesitant to trust the validity of a client testimonial page that only has reviews from Jim, Mary and Keith with no clue as to who they really are.
3. No news is good news when I search for their brand.
It’s important to do your own research when looking to hire an SEO company. One of the easiest things to do is search for their brand name online and see what pops up. While a lot of customer complaints and negative reviews are a pretty good red flag, not seeing anything in the SERPs isn’t much better. A good, white hat SEO firm should dominate the search engines for their brand, so a search for the company name should turn up (in addition to their website), social profiles, a company blog, online press releases, local and business profiles and more. If the SEO company you are thinking about hiring only has a website consider that a silent red flag.
4. SEO is easy and most tasks are free, so of course the cheap option is the best.
While a lot of the components that go into an SEO campaign are free or relatively inexpensive (it doesn’t cost anything to create a Twitter profile, for example), that doesn’t mean that SEO is cheap. Many site owners that have never optimized their site or done any offsite link building don’t realize how much time goes into executing an SEO campaign. Cheap costs are going to get you cheap (and possibly black hat) SEO activities. Think about it, how much work are you willing to do for $49.99 a month? Why would you expect an SEO company to act any differently?
5. It’s Friday at 3:30 PM, but they have the weekend to get my SEO campaign ready by Monday morning.
If you find an SEO company that can turn around a full SEO campaign (including onsite SEO recommendations and a full, 12-month link building campaign) in less than 72 hours, then I would love to know their secret! In order to create a strong SEO campaign, it’s going to take time. Your SEO partner needs time to examine your sites analytics, speak with you about your online goals and objectives, dig through your site itself and read all your content, research link building opportunities and much more. That kind of “under the hood” inspection is going to take a little while.
6. We work in the [extreme niche] industry; I need an SEO firm who specializes in my industry.
You don’t have to only consider hiring an SEO company that specializes in your niche. In fact, I would argue that hiring a SEO firm that only deals with your niche might actually hurt your SEO in the long run since chances are one of their clients (either past or current) is one of your competitors. You risk having an SEO campaign that too closely mirrors one of your competitors, which means it will be harder to get ahead.