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How do I know if an SEO company is reputable? Posted in Digital Strategy, Search Engine Optimisation, Concocted by Yolandi Janse van Rensburg, 20 comments
Published on 11 February 2010

On LinkedIn, the owner at Travel Cruise and Tour, Peter Himmelberger, posed the question: How do I evaluate SEO firms to select a reputable firm? I thought this was a very relevant question since SEO has become such a huge buzzword you just can’t ignore it. Now, it is not difficult to achieve top rank for certain keywords or your company’s name nor is it a sign that the company you hire for SEO is effective.

YesNoMaybeA reputable SEO company should perform a competitive analysis and develop a strategy for you to achieve high ranking across the specific keyword terms being searched. There are a few ways you can determine whether a company is reputable or not. CEO of Urban Interact, Beverly Garvin offers 3 things you should be doing:

1. Ask for references from 3 clients who have worked with them for a year or more. This will show you whether they are good and, more importantly, experienced in what they do. Happy long term clients are a great indicator that you are working with a credible provider.

indecisive2.  SEO is a long term strategy and if you want your website to be competitive you’ll need to understand that this is an ongoing effort. A reputable SEO provider will work with you during the contract period and will consult with you being transparent in their activities, even going so far as to train you on how to help continue those efforts when the contract period expires. “If they hide behind “proprietary processes, software, blah blah blah” they are not someone you should work with” says Beverly.

3.  Understand that you get what you pay for. This doesn’t mean that if you spend more you will get better results, but keep in mind that if someone promises a deal that sounds way too cheap and the results way too good to be true – they probably are. These people are taking your for a ride. Go do a little shopping around and get a general idea of how much this should cost you. Don’t go bargain hunting! The company you decide on should include a monthly consulting session where they will meet with you to review the reports (not just an emailed report) explaining the efforts made from last month, what the results were and what they will focus on in the upcoming month.

Beverly wrote a very helpful post on how hiring an SEO company is similar to hiring a Personal Trainer which should also help you put things in perspective. Thanks Beverly for such great advice!

Read more posts by Yolandi Janse van Rensburg

Yolandi Janse van Rensburg

Yolandi is writer of the Heavy Chef Blog. Yolandi is also a copywriter and community manager at web marketing firm, World Wide Creative. You can find Yolandi on Twitter @Yolandi_JvR

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  1. Steven says

    Surely if they are paid on performance this whole debate becomes less of an issue. It’s just an inconvenience if someone wastes your time – performance based pay will ensure they don’t waste your money. Thanks for the tips though!

  2. Derek Jansen says

    @Steven – agreed.

    There needs to be some sort of performance agreement or guarantee provided by the SEO company, or else it just becomes “We’ll do our best” situation, where no tangible outcomes are defined from the beginning.

  3. Trumpess says

    All seems like good advice, and not just when looking for a SEO provider. In today’s world of ever-shrinking marketing budgets you need the money available to work harder, and you really want to see a return on your investment (and be able to show others you got a return). Certainly ask for references and make a point of calling them, don’t take anything for granted. Work with the supplier on setting clear targets, timescale and measurement.

  4. pico_train says

    A Guarantee? Guarantees in SEO are unrealistic. Targets yes, guarantees no. If and SEO can guarantee something they are lying and if they could guarantee anything for sure, most couldn’t afford them.

    The best advice is to go with previous clients and regular clear reports on progress and recommendations.

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