Search Engine Optimisation (“SEO”) is still one of the fastest growing forms of online marketing and because of that, SEO companies have boomed overnight, leaving the customer to try and find a “needle in a haystack”, in terms of reputation and quality.
SEO has become the most effective form of online marketing to reach your client base. And this is no different for the South African market in 2017.
In order to choose the right SEO company for you, below are some useful do’s and dont’s
Common misconceptions in selecting an SEO company
Using Google as a filter
The biggest myth in finding the right SEO company is that you should use Google as a filter. For example, if you’re looking for the best SEO company in your region, googling “Best SEO company in South Africa” will unfortunately not win you the lottery.
Simply put, being highly ranked on Google doesn’t necessarily mean a company is reputable. A large amount of companies that rank highly in Google are actually at the lower scale of the quality spectrum, trying to obtain clientele. While successful SEO companies in high demand, already have enough work and don’t need to market themselves as aggressively, they often don’t spend equal time optimising their own website which results in them not showing up first on the Google hit list.
Don’t get us wrong, you need to make sure that your potential SEO agency “eats their own cooking’ but just be aware that you might encounter some of the less favorable SEO types ranking highly for SEO related searches. Always do further research to ensure that they are a legitimate company and not a fly-by-night, hoping to catch some unsuspecting clients. Testimonials and references are a great way to ensure that your potential SEO agency is the “real deal”.
Choosing from a top SEO list
You may find many websites that list in detail the best SEO companies to choose from, but what they don’t tell you is that these top-ranked companies are paying to be in the top “highlighted” spots. This pay-to-pay scheme is great for their wallet – not for you.
Believing the Sales Pitch
If an SEO company is making over-the-top guarantees in ranking, such as being in the #1 spot on Google, or having their own secret formula for SEO optimisation, see this as a huge red flag. There is no magic formula. I repeat: THERE IS NO MAGIC FORMULA FOR SEO OPTIMISATION.
How to find the best SEO Company
Know What You Need
The biggest question you need to ask yourself, is how will SEO help YOUR business. In order to be successful you need to have a clear set of goals. Steer away from ideas based around wanting to simply increase traffic, rank high on Google or beat another competitor out of keywords. None of these translate into an increase in revenue. Objectives such as increasing revenue, free trial downloads, sign ups or boosting reviews of your brand are tangible goals aligning you for further success.
Do Your Research
Make sure that you’ve done your homework and built up a working knowledge of SEO, such as improving internal linking and navigation within your own site; employing descriptive and accurate anchor text, headlines, titles and title tags; having quality content on a regular basis. This depth of knowledge will aid you in achieving SEO success.
In order to find reputable companies, the best way is through personal research and word of mouth. Take advantage of social media by reaching out to industry insiders on Twitter or via their own websites. Reach out to friends and personal networks for opinions and fresh insights, as well as non-competitive companies who are willing to give advice on their top SEO company picks.
Ask Important Questions
Next, compile a list of 3-5 consultants or agencies that align with your needs, that provide case studies as well as references. Take advantage of communicating with each company about your objectives, ask the necessary questions, take notes and compare them to to find the best fit. Questions to ask include:
- Do you outsource SEO work/ do you have an in-house SEO team?
- Is phone/email support readily available?
- Is your pricing structure hourly or fixed? If it’s hourly, how many hours are included? If it’s an SEO package, what is included? Does the agreement include a performance clause?
- What procedure are you going to use to accomplish my company’s goals and why do you use those methods? For example, how does Google rank results and how do you manage to influence them?
- How do you stay on top of industry changes?
- What is your reporting process? Find out what metrics they report on, what they need you to collect, why they need to collect them and how do they match your goals?
- Will the SEO company be writing content or will they work with what you have?
- What do you do when things aren’t working? What problems have arisen and how were you able to resolve them?
Determine their devotion
Point blank: A good SEO company should be transparent in their motives and have a clear and effective means of communication. Although it is necessary to ask SEO companies questions, it is a two-way street. To determine if they’re invested in your success, the SEO company should also be asking you for critical input to help them understand how they can best serve you. Questions should relate to your vision, information about your company as well as well as what results you are looking for. The SEO company should ask you for information such as a list of target keywords, access to your CMS, Google Analytics and social accounts.
Determine the SEO Company’s Success
Although you can’t expect immediate results, after a few months you should ask for deliverables from your chosen SEO firm, and request a 6 month review of the campaign. You should be able to see a clear break down of the work completed by the agency and map this against the metrics in the 6 month review, hopefully seeing a strong increase in both organic traffic to your site, as well as a real impact on your business and its bottom line. These are clear indications whether your SEO supplier is a winner or a loser.
Graeme's focus is now on process optimisation and systems creation in the performance marketing space.