With thousands of search engine marketing firms out there, it can sometimes be difficult to cut through the clutter of statements that are regularly bombarding those hoping to get a piece of the online business pie. Companies that promise guaranteed results can confuse a person trying to decide what steps to take in marketing their business online.
Here are a few must-have characteristics that you should look for when deciding which SEO firm to obtain services from:
- HONESTY: Many people have gotten burned by crooked firms offering promises they couldn’t keep. Beware of firms offering guaranteed top placements in the organic results and that claim to have a relationship with a major search engine which allows them to guarantee you better results.
No marketing firm has a friends-with-benefits relationship with Google or any other search engine—and no one can guarantee results. Good SEO firms should have the experience to heighten your chances of increasing visibility in the search engines, but no promises should be made. You can feel confident with a firm that has plenty of examples to show you of how they’ve helped other businesses online. Also, ask for references.
- ETHICAL: Some SEO firms employ what are called “black hat” techniques. These techniques include invisible text, doorway pages and spamming. While a black hat marketing firm may be able to provide you with some results quicker than ethical firms, the techniques they use are prohibited by the major search engines; the results are rarely long-term and if you caught using black hat methods, your site may be dropped from ranking consideration all-together.
Be sure to ask an SEO company how they achieve results. Now, don’t expect them to give away the family recipe, but they should be able to satisfy you by speaking generally about the strategies they use to achieve high rankings with SEO.
- REALISTIC: This goes along with honesty. Some firms claim to offer their services for prices that seem too good to be true; they most likely are. A person might offer an extremely low price because they “work alone”, but beware…you may not achieve the results you are hoping for with a one-man-show.
Proper SEO work takes hours upon hours of work and no single person can handle every SEO service for multiple clients. Good SEO firms employ multiple people ranging from link ninjas and copywriters to web designers because the work load involved in creating an effective SEO campaign is just too large for one person. To be safe, do a price comparison among some reputable SEO firms so you know what a reasonable price for good SEO services is. That way you will see the red flag go up when someone offers services at too low of a price.
- EXPERIENCE: While no SEO company can guarantee results, a good one can come close. A quality SEO firm will have a portfolio that displays a history of success that their clients have experienced as a result of their work. SEO is one of the only marketing methods that allows you to track your ROI dollar for dollar; because of this, a good SEO firm should be able to show you their results-credentials.
Bottom line: be aware of ethical and non-ethical firms. Firms that over promise can be easy to sniff out if you take the time to research what an SEO firm can and cannot realistically accomplish for your business. Good marketing firms will have a portfolio of success and you should be able to do a little research in order to prove their claims or not. The money you invest in marketing is your money and it’s going to market your business. Make sure you spend it wisely; find a company committed to hard work, endurance and realistic expectations. It should pay off in the long run.