How to Choose the Best Local SEO Company

Weeding through search engine optimization services is pretty confusing.

As soon as you send out a couple SEO solicitations, you may start getting phone calls and emails from other SEO firms, promising they can “get you to the first page in Google” or “help you build backlinks.” They often pitch SEO packages with specific quotas of optimized keywords and thousands of backlinks—both of which are good signs that you’re dealing with a shady company that’s going to get your site hit with a Google penalty. How can you tell which one is the best partner for you, and what are some things to look out for?

Check the quality of their own seo.

When we say this, we don’t mean check their search rankings, though that’s certainly a factor. If they have a newer site, or are in a really competitive niche, they may not rank on the top page, especially if they’re white hat—it can take a year of hard work to have strong, consistent rankings. Rather, check to see if they do the little things correctly. When you search for their company name, are they the first result? What are the other pages that come up with their branded search—have they taken the time to set up pages on Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIn, and elsewhere? Does their meta description—the text just below the site’s title—make sense and make you want to learn more? Have they properly set up their Google My Business page so that their business is described in the sidebar of Google’s search results?

Look at their portfolio of previous work, check reviews of seo companies you’re considering, and verify their claims.

Do they actually list clients they have worked with? Do they provide case studies? Are there customer reviews on other sites that reflect their claims? There are some reasons to keep your clients private, but the majority of SEO clients are more than happy to have their name and link on the SEO firm’s site. After all, it’s free publicity. If you can’t find any evidence of them doing work for real companies, there may be a reason.

And don’t be fooled if they have logos of major companies on their homepage. They may well have worked with an affiliate of the company, or perhaps once helped a local car dealer and subsequently claimed to have provided services for Toyota. In fact, firms have been known to fraudulently list major companies as clients because they know it’s unlikely they will be caught. Always ask for referrals and links to sites that they worked on, and then call the clients to verify!

Does their price point make sense for a legitimate SEO company?

If they’re offering packages featuring “15 keywords for $500,” or any kind of standardized pricing, then they are usually not a firm that will work for your best interest. If they have a table of bronze, silver, gold, and platinum packages, that’s a red flag.

SEO companies that value the work they do will perform an in-depth investigation before they offer you a quote. Every company faces unique challenges—issues unique to their markets, competition, and goals. In fact, in most cases, reputable firms won’t offer varying price points based upon the number of keywords or backlinks. Placing these sorts of artificial limits means that they aren’t going to work to generate the best possible results. Would you be content to provide your customers with mediocre services or an iffy product?

The rates charged by SEO firms vary widely. You’ll find firms that charge by the hour, offer monthly rates, or charge a fixed one-time price. Regardless of their fee structure, a reputable firm will provide a clear and concise description of what their services include, how long it will take, and what their goals are. If they don’t get into the specifics, or offer a quote without getting to know you, then beware. Imagine a painter quoting you a low price without ever looking at your home and finding out how many total square feet they have to paint before offering you a quote–you know they’ll either do a shoddy job, never finish, or tack on hidden fees.

And keep in mind: SEO is time intensive. We never promise to be the cheapest SEO company around, because we charge rates commensurate with the significant amount of work that our SEO services entail. We couldn’t charge cheap rates, and provide a quality product, while paying our rent and taking care of our employees.

If you’re talking to an independent contractor that works from home, then they may be able to keep their rates lower than those charged by larger firms. But if you’re talking to what claims to be a big SEO firm with an in-house staff, and they’re happy to charge a few hundred bucks a month, then something isn’t right. They either utilize a strictly automated SEO process that will hurt you in the long run, they outsource to an Indian SEO company, or they’re simply not going to deliver on their promises, because they can’t afford to.

Trustworthy seo experts will ask questions. A lot of questions.

What kinds of questions did they ask you? A trustworthy SEO firm will strive to understand your customer base, your site’s current performance (they will often ask for access to your site’s analytics), and what your goals are for your website and your business. In turn, they will lay out reasonable goals. They won’t guarantee first page in a set amount of time, but they will work to maximize the ROI of your investment. Oftentimes, when you walk into an interview with a solid SEO firm, you’ll find that they’re the ones asking the questions. Don’t be intimidated. They are just trying to understand your business on a technical and cultural level, because they know that SEO isn’t a one-size-fits-all process.

Even after you’ve hired an SEO firm, keep a close eye on their work, your search engine rankings, and your overall performance

If you hired an employee, you would make sure you could work well together long-term during the probationary period. You should do the same with the agency you choose. Make sure they report to you on what they’re doing, and the results of their work. Make sure you can understand their answers—don’t be afraid to ask questions. SEO is complex, but anyone can understand it.

Understand that you’re trusting your online reputation with another company–make sure they have your best interest in mind, not just their bottom line.

If you vet a company you’re considering using the methods described above, you’ll likely find yourself with a great agency that is dedicated to growing your rankings, your leads, and the profitability of your business. And we’re one of those agencies! We know from experience. But don’t take our word for it. Check out our reviews on Yelp, Google, and BBB, to see what our clients have to say about us. If you like what you see, then please contact us to find out how we can help you with your business’s SEO needs!