The SEO industry is completely unregulated.
Anyone can set up an SEO company overnight if they want to, and the unfortunate truth is that many people have done exactly that.
There are hundreds of SEO agencies out there that will happily take your money and then use decade-old SEO tactics on your site that may negatively impact your rankings and revenue.
Working out who can be trusted and who will get results isn’t always easy, particularly if SEO is something that you don’t know much about.
Fortunately for you, as an SEO consultant with over a decade in the industry I know a reasonable amount about SEO so here are a few suggestions that will help you choose a good SEO company to work with:
If you know someone whose business has grown and grown thanks to investing in SEO then a recommendation from them is an easy way to find an agency that you know can deliver results.
That said if your friend runs a local gardening business and you run a car finance business then their SEO agency may not be the best fit for you.
Car finance is a far more competitive industry than gardening so will require a very different approach.
Ideally, you will be able to find someone in a similar industry to you who has experienced significant business growth with SEO.
When asking for an SEO agency recommendation be careful to ensure that whoever gives the recommendation has got verifiable facts to prove that the agency has grown its revenue.
People are quick to recommend agencies that haven’t actually made much difference to their bottom line just because they like the people who work there.
2. Ask For Case Studies
If you don’t know anyone who can provide you with a solid recommendation then looking for an agency that has some good SEO case studies is your next best bet.
SEO case studies typically take the format of…
- We increased organic traffic by XX% for this client or..
- We increased revenue by XX% for this client, here’s how
They should include a clear breakdown of exactly what they did and how the results were achieved.
That said when reading case studies always be wary, a case study that tells you that they grew a client’s organic traffic by 300% may be missing the vital fact that this growth in traffic didn’t account for any growth in sales or revenue because it all went to irrelevant blog posts.
If a big agency only has one or two case studies on their website be careful as this can indicate that they’re cherry-picking a couple of their rare success stories out of a pile of mediocre performances.
Look for agencies that have plenty of case studies (preferably with some in your industry) that talk about revenue growth alongside organic traffic growth.
3. Check Their Reviews
Another way of getting a feel for the quality of an SEO company is to check their reviews.
Obviously, an SEO company with loads of one-star reviews is best avoided, however the unfortunate truth is that reviews are relatively easy to manipulate and some unscrupulous companies will happily do this.
A good idea is to find some business names that have left a range of Google review ratings for the company in question.
Search for those business names and then contact them and ask about their experience with the company.
This way you will get some honest feedback before you make an investment.
That said be wary of using this approach exclusively.
Most businesses will only solicit reviews from clients who they are confident will leave a five-star review.
Just because a company has all 5-star reviews it certainly doesn’t mean they’re perfect…it may just mean that the clients who had substandard experiences didn’t bother saying anything.
4. Avoid Guarantees
If an agency approaches you with an offer and gives you a guarantee, saying something along the lines of:
- We will get you to position 1 for this keyword
- We guarantee we will get 20 keywords onto Google’s first page
- We will increase your organic traffic by at least 20% within 6 months..
There are no guarantees when it comes to Google, no agency can guarantee anything.
A good SEO company should absolutely be able to improve average rankings across the board but it’s impossible to give specific ranking or traffic guarantees because there are so many variables beyond our control.
Guarantees like this can also mean that the SEO agency in question uses dodgy software to fake their results.
For example, there is are various ‘click-jacking’ services that pay people all over the world pennies to Google your keyword of choice and click on your result.
Do this enough times and you will (temporarily) rank higher and it will also look like you have gained more organic traffic..
..the reality is it’s all faked, when none of those visits turn into sales they will hold their hands up and say we did our bit!
5. Find An SEO Company That’s Right For Your Budget
So you’ve done your research and you’re confident you’ve found a company that is known for delivering results.
Before you sign anything you need to make sure that your budget aligns with their pricing.
High-competition national SEO campaigns can cost tens of thousands of pounds whereas far simpler local campaigns in low-competition niches may cost as little as £400 per month.
The easiest way to avoid wasting your time is to be upfront about your budget and your SEO needs from the start.
Be wary of agencies that set their pricing too low, cheap is rarely good in SEO.