If you are struggling to get results with your search engine optimisation (SEO), it might be time for you to hire some outside help, or find a new SEO company. But choosing an SEO company is easier said than done. SEO is not a one size fits all kind of service, and you will need understand the basics of SEO services to shop around to find the very best solution for you and your business.

Choosing the wrong SEO company will end in frustration, significant wasted time and money. So I’ve included a few SEO horror stories clients have shared to illustrate what to avoid. To make the right decision, here is what you must know before hiring an SEO company.

You Can Find Them In A Google Search

Start with a Google Search! A quality SEO company won’t send you a spammy email. They won’t cold call you. If they are any good at SEO, you’ll find them in a Google search. If an SEO company can get results for themselves in such a competitive market, it’s a good sign they can get results for you.

Even if you’ve had a referral, ask the SEO company about their own Google rankings and verify it yourself.

A Great Track Record With Similar Businesses

If an SEO company has an established reputation, there are online reviews supporting their good work in the field. A five star rating suggests they are likely to be a trustworthy service provider who can help to boost your web rankings.

Reviews and case studies will help you understand more about the focus of an SEO company and if they’ve worked with clients who are in your industry. Say you are a plumber. Finding a company that specialises in plumber SEO with reviews from other plumbing companies means there is a very good chance that they could help you too. If not, ask them if they’ve worked in similar niches.

They Talk About Website Conversion

The ultimate aim of SEO is to generate leads, calls enquires and sales from your website. Keyword rankings and visitor metrics in SEO is one side of the equation. The website itself must convert visitors into customers.

When speaking to an SEO company do they talk about website conversions? Do they have developers to make website conversion improvements? Are conversions (calls and enquiries) noted in their SEO reports?

Transparent SEO Processes

As you will be giving your hard earned dollar to a company to boost your SEO, it is only fair that they should be transparent about their SEO processes with you.

Ask about their process and why their SEO strategies will help you. What will they report? During a campaign it is unlikely (and impractical) to document and explain every action taken. However, you should be sent activity highlights such as notable links, new content and login details for any accounts created for your business.

If you don’t ask about this it could end in disaster, here’s an example.

An SEO company created a Google Analytics account, some online profiles and built a new website for our client before they came on board with SEO Copilot. When ‘breaking up’ with the SEO company there was a nasty surprise. When we asked for login details the client was told that all the accounts were proprietary and owned by the SEO company! We had to quickly build a new website for the client to get them back online and moving forward.

Quality Content

With every algorithm update, Google is making it crystal clear that publishing relevant and engaging content is a key way to win over search engines. Content strategy needs to be at the heart of your SEO plan, so it is vital that the SEO company you choose can not only deliver in this capacity, but delivers content that is highly targeted to your audience and answers the questions they are searching in Google.

We’d just started with a new Melbourne SEO client who’s previous company had written the entire website in American English. A month prior the Google BERT update was released, which focused on localisation of content and language. By updating the content to use Australian English we boosted the rankings for keywords their customers were actually using.

I’ve seen this from foreign SEO companies as well as local agencies who clearly have off shore writers and don’t care enough to proof their work. Before choosing an SEO  company always check the content quality on their clients websites.


Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing An SEO Company

No Contracts. Ever.

Whatever you do, please do not sign up to a year long SEO contract. You might be tempted if this is your first time using an SEO company’s services, but just don’t do it! If you find that a couple of month’s down the line, you are not reaping any SEO benefits, or if you simply don’t enjoy working with a particular company, you won’t want to be in a situation where you are locked into a contract.

If an SEO company wants you to sign a lock in contract you have to ask why? If their focus is on generating real results for their clients they don’t need lawyers to keep them on board. A company that retains their clients through results and customer satisfaction has no need for contracts.

Trustworthy SEO companies will happily work with you on a month by month basis – this ensures that there is enough pressure put on the SEO company to deliver good work, and it ensures that you can quit working with the company if that is your wish.

Shiny things & SEO Secrets

Don’t be a victim of shiny things syndrome. Time and time again we see flashy sales presentations highlighting critical SEO errors to be fixed, or secret SEO hacks that will “rocket your sales” overnight.

A business owner contacted us after a prime example of shinny things syndrome. They had a visit from two sales guys in slick suits. The presentation was just as slick and when they finished by telling the business owner they’d need to hire more staff just to handle the calls that were going to come in, they couldn’t wait to sign up.

What followed was more slick presentations and jargon. By the time the client realised the shiny things didn’t work they’d spent 6 months time and budget only to find they’d gone backwards. Don’t be lured into bad decisions by marketing jargon, thin promises and SEO secrets.

The truth is there are no SEO secrets. How to succeed in SEO is well documented. Just like how to be a great plumber, hairdresser or pest controller. The difference between an average plumber and a great plumber is not their secret plumbing hacks – it’s their years of experience, passion for their field and dedication to achieving the best possible outcome.

SEO Guarantee Traps

If the work is guaranteed what’s the risk right? You’ve probably seen SEO companies saying something like “Guaranteed rankings in 90 days or we work for free!”. Sounds great until you dig a little deeper…

A pest control SEO client had a horrible experience with SEO guarantees. They’d entered a contract after agreeing on guaranteed rankings for 10 keywords. What the client didn’t know was there were no searches for the keywords. So when the rankings were delivered the website was a ghost town with no traffic and ultimately no calls or ROI, despite the guarantee being met!

Companies using this sales tactic cover themselves a few ways. Normally the “work for free” is limited to a one month period in the fine print. The result might be ranking for useless keywords at best. Don’t take our word for it, Google expressly warns against companies that claim they can guarantee rankings or that they have a special relationship with Google.

Choosing An SEO Company: Conclusion

Most importantly, take the time to get to know a few companies and the people who work there. If they are truly interested in receiving your business, they should have no problem engaging in an open and honest dialogue with you from the outset. Get a feel for what they can offer and carefully assess whether you think they could be a good match for your business and for your SEO goals.

Have you hired an SEO company before? How was the experience for you? What would you look for in an SEO company next time? Let us know in the comments (No names please!)


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