Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) isn’t exactly friendly to newcomers; the discipline is complex, ever-evolving, and beset with misinformation in the form of outdated and misguided online reports. How, then, can small business owners tell whether or not the online SEO service they’re looking to hire is the best one for the job?
Unfortunately, there is no easy ‘at a glance’ gauge of an SEO firm’s relative capabilities. There are, however, a number of different ‘Dos and Don’ts’ customers can refer to when attempting to assess the skills of an online SEO service:
1. Hire an online SEO service based on the quality of their website alone. Yes, having an attractive and up to date website is a strong indicator of a firm’s professionalism; however, it’s not the be-all and end-all of a good SEO service. SEO is a fairly ‘technical’ discipline, so unless you’re looking for an SEO firm which can also design you a stunning website, supremely innovative web design shouldn’t be your number one priority.
2. Default to choosing a large SEO firm. The idea that a company which has hundreds of employees and pulls in millions of pounds annually is going to provide the ‘best’ SEO services is generally inaccurate. In reality, small firms often offer more personalised bespoke services and have more time to spend communicating directly with their clients, creating a better end result. Think of it this way: McDonald’s is a massive corporation, but few people would say they provide the best food on the market. You’ll probably find better fare at your local pub, where it’s cooked fresh for you by a few employees who genuinely care about what they create.
3. Arrange to have a consultation with each online SEO service you’re considering. Having an in-person interview is a great way to assess both the knowledge of the companies you’re considering working with and whether or not they’re a good ‘fit’ for you personally. Remember that it’s extremely important to choose professionals you get along with well and who you feel will offer outstanding customer service; SEO takes years to perfect (and an ongoing effort to maintain), so you will be working with your SEO firm for a long time to come.
4. Get references. Any reputable service provider should be able to provide a list of genuine, credible references you can contact. Make sure that you phone at least a few of these and verify the quality of the SEO firm you’re thinking of hiring.
5. Look for relevant experience. While it’s not strictly necessary, finding an SEO firm with experience in your niche can be a nice bonus (for example, if you run a cleaning company, you’ll want to check and see if any of the SEO firms you’re interviewing have worked successfully with other cleaners). Choosing a firm with industry-specific knowledge may enhance the relevance of the services they offer.
As a final note, before you hire an SEO firm, make sure that you have set clear goals for what you want to get out of the SEO experience. This can prevent miscommunication and go a long way toward helping you select the best SEO service to meet your needs.