Moosa Hemani enlists the help of three SEOs to give their take on navigating through the wide range of SEO agencies and to help you find the right person for the job.
With the emerging need of an online presence for each and every business no matter what niche they belong to, SEO too has become a fundamental requirement for companies to compete well against their competitors. But who could be the best choice?
If you are an SEO company offering services to your clients, you could agree the fact that along with the escalating rate of businesses that are investing in SEO, the road to find the right person for the job, especially if you are little tight with budget, has become THORNY.
There are many companies I know who really want to invest in SEO and get benefit out of it, but they have a fear of getting ditched by snake oil sellers who can ruin their business instead of boosting it.
Obviously, SEO is a long-term investment and so their fear is pretty much logical. This is one of the reasons many people in the industry are asking themselves, how can I find an SEO that knows how to work towards business growth?
I know this is not an easy question, so I thought I’d email this question to some of the awesome SEOs I know who are in the industry and are doing an amazing job.
Wayne Barker of Boom online was very kind to me and shared comprehensive answers:
Well, first off I think that you are going to start to see a decline in the snake oil salesmen in the SEO and online marketing world. Essentially, all the penalties and high profile algorithm changes that Google has pushed in the last year or so are doing a great job of sorting out the wheat from the chaff.
What worked a year ago – the stuff that you could do in bulk for very little money, has little effect in most niches now. Although there are some niches in which it still works! I really think that there should be some due diligence from business owners, not to understand the inner workings of SEO – but to have a grasp on what it is that they are paying for.
There are a couple of things that spring to mind when avoiding the charlatans – and these are the kind of things to be avoiding when it comes to making a lot of business decisions:
Trust your instinct – you know when something just doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore this!
Insist on a face to face meeting – we learn a lot more about a company and their values when you meet face to face. The guys that sell snake oil SEO are not likely to want to meet you face to face. One of the oldest rules in business is only do business with people that you like – and importantly, people you trust. You can’t build a rapport over the phone.
Meet at their office, not yours – Lower quality SEO services often outsource a lot of the work. You need to know that your SEO Company has control over what will happen with your online marketing. You want to meet the team; you want to know that the people who are going to be working on your site are the kind of people you WANT to work with.
A little knowledge goes a long way. I know you aren’t interested in SEO, or how Google’s algorithm may or may not work, but you need to have some knowledge of what is happening to know what to avoid. You need to be staying away from the off-the-peg SEO services – stay away from directory submission, blog commenting or – ahhh – keyword density.
Don’t let yourself get swept away with promises of short term wins – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Wayne’s answer was impressive; he shared some solid points. So I thought to connect some more people who can add some real value to the answer like Wayne did!
Chris Dyson replied to me very quickly and his answer was phenomenal as usual.
Chris Dyson of Triple SEO said that, it can be a minefield trying to find the right SEO specialist for your business and there are a significant number of low quality SEO providers out there.
The first thing to do is to take your time and do your research, learn the basics of SEO and the terminology used by the industry as it will make it much easier to sound out who knows what they are talking about. The next step is to think about what goals you want to achieve from working with an SEO provider and how you will measure success. It is important to remember SEO is not a magic bullet and you need to be prepared to invest the money and/or time into turning your website into something that deserves to be number 1 in Google.
The best SEO providers might not actually be the people at the top of the search results for “SEO Company”. You may be surprised by the fact that some SEO providers don’t make an effort to rank for these search terms, so they are not being inundated with enquiries from businesses. It is often better to speak to your friends or business contacts to see if they have any recommendations.
Once you have a list of people you are interested in working with, the next step will be to either meet the SEO providers in person or at least try to arrange a phone call or perhaps a Google+ hangout. Make sure you’ve done your research and have a number of questions to ask them written down in front of you.
Good questions to ask them might be:
James from Boom Online recently wrote a good article on what types of questions you should be asking a prospective SEO expert and any warning bells that should sound when they answer them.
Choosing the right SEO for your campaign can be time consuming and expensive, but ultimately you want to find someone who understands your goals, your budget and who will work in partnership with you to generate the best result for your website.
Don of The Gonzo SEO is always busy, but made time to answer this on my special request.
The answer to this is simple. There is no way to stay safe, because SEO involves risk. I always show clients what they can expect and how I plan to go about the work. I show them the entire strategy and the tactics I plan to use. I show them results from other clients. I show them what they can expect. Most importantly, I show them the risks. I do this so they know nothing is a sure thing.
One of the best methods is to show them success and losses on your own properties. I always have examples of what is good /what is bad and always show examples of either traffic/ranking recovery or from-scratch success. This way, I am indisputable. This has generally worked for a great number of prospective clients, but not all. I have had inquiries from companies who may not appreciate being shown what doesn’t work, but it helps illustrate to them that you have tried certain techniques that won’t produce results. They may not hire me, but when they shop around, they are at least aware of the evils that lurk in this business. I have had a few of them come back and hire me specifically because I was able to help them sniff out the BS. I have a few of what I call “failure sites” so I can show what a junk link profile can do to a site’s equity. This is not always necessary, but I find it’s good to have, so they can understand what SEO is and what SEO is not.
Equally as important, I have sites where I can show them results. This should be no problem for most of us to provide prospective clients. If a vendor cannot show what he has done, then he can’t do much for you. I also believe in giving a client a full understanding of what I intend to do. If it’s link building, I show them how one client didn’t gain any links for the first few months. Why? Because once everything was in place, they got sufficient traffic and ranking increases from the few links I placed every following month.
I will NOT agree to an agreed amount of links every month and I explain to clients why.
When they realise that putting a quota on me creates a corruptible situation where low quality comes into play, they understand the risk of getting links just for the sake of getting links. I sell “X” number of hours to a client, so that I can be creative with my approach to finding the sources of best serving links for them. This helps set the client’s expectations and helps keep you accountable for producing results.
In terms of how a business owner should go about finding the right person, Dr. Pete wrote about this earlier this year. Business owners need to educate themselves. The only thing I can add to what Peter wrote here is to find the vendor that you feel understands your business and can conceptualize what your customer’s needs or pain points are. Let’s say, I get contacted by a semiconductor manufacturer. I can get an understanding of what their prospective clients needs are, but not really understand how to get the message in front of them. I may not be able to deliver results for this business, so I’d refer them to someone who I trust and think could deliver. If I don’t know of anyone, I ask those same trustworthy peers where I should point them. It’s not easy to admit to the client or to yourself, but in the end, that is how we should act as professionals.
It’s possible the answers above may give too many ideas for businesses to think before they actually invest on SEO consultant.
But, in my opinion finding the right person is not enough in its own, you need to track that SEO consultant as well so that you have an idea of how your website is performing and what challenges your SEO guy is going though. I usually recommend Search Enabler as I think they are designed to help people who have less or no idea of technical terminologies, but still want to get more insight about how their website is performing and how much they should expect in the coming days.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author so may not represent those of the Koozai team.
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Most of these points are valid, but I don’t agree you should stay away from blog commenting. You should stay away from low quality “spammy” blog commenting, but hand picked articles and relevant handwritten comments that add value to a discussion and get you or your client a backlink do have value.
There is no exact science to SEO. You can be working with a company you like and trust but the goalposts are always moving in SEO and results are not always quick to see or static. A good SEO company can react to the times and the ever changing Google algorithms. Don’t be so hard on your SEO company, a lot of them have a bad name for good reasons but don’t penalise the ones that don’t.
Selecting a company to work with can be tricky, doing background checks is important, many of the times business (website) owners would get swept away with high promises. Having some basic knowledge about search engines and how your industry works will help. You also have to find an SEO that will be passionate and understand your industry, they way your consumers work.
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