In the early days of the internet, ranking high on search engines was as easy as repeating your keywords. Today, search engines are 10 times more intelligent and they even have a way to avoid scammers.
Google’s PageRank is a system that determines the best websites with the most relevant and quality content for every search term. The work of an SEO expert is to ensure that your content is applicable and as helpful as possible to improve your website’s ranking. Choosing an SEO specialist has significant consequences or benefits for your business and bank account. With the right SEO expert, you can increase your sales and minimise your advertising budget. Here is how to choose an SEO expert in 2021.
Wouldn’t it be great to Google “the best SEO firms” and choose the first or second firms that appear on the page? Knowing that they practice what they preach on their website and have also conveniently indicated their prices means they must be good, right? The fact is, you probably do not need the force of a big SEO firm. Your business needs a firm that is dedicated to working for you as if you were their only client.
There are a few places to look for the best SEO expert and you can start by asking other business owners you trust. Check reviews of agencies you found in your research through a Google search or SEO groups and online forums. Watch out for SEO firms that call every time promising you top Google rankings. Some may only offer you a paid spot in Google ads, which is a lot different from ranking highly in an organic search engine.
What is Your Budget and How Much is Your SEO Expert Charging You?
Price is not a great indicator of service quality. However, you want an SEO firm that you can afford. That said, consider how much you can afford to pay before you even look at their fees. Have a figure in mind and then look for a trusted SEO firm that can work within your budget. Conversely, if you are truly looking to take your business to the next level, you should be realistic about how much money this is going to cost you and the quality of the work you will receive. Fees differ across the board. Some firms will ask you to pay by the hour, webpage, project, or a flat monthly fee. Others may also charge a percentage of the revenue you earn as a result of their work.
Remember that SEO is an ongoing process. Ask your firm how much they will charge to maintain your site once Google makes their changes. You should also be made aware of what will happen if you decide to break the contract for whatever reason. Always shield yourself from any early termination fees and remember that these fees could be well hidden in the contract. Flexibility in this aspect is always nice to have since you do not know what lies ahead.
Choose a Professional That Communicates Effectively
Once you have determined the amount you can afford, it is time to ask how much you expect to get paid. In other words, what will be your Return on Investment (ROI) and how does your chosen professional plan to track it?
A reputable SEO company should give you updates and reports to avoid any suspicion they could be doing things that Google disapproves of. Let your firm explain to you the techniques they will use to optimise your website. The basic steps to optimising your website involve keyword optimisation, link building evaluation and content optimisation.
Get a clear understanding from your SEO expert on how often you will receive a progress report and what tracking process they have in place to prove your ROI. Some of the tracking techniques include monitoring the phone calls you receive, the number of email requests and newsletter sign-ups. Ensure that these measurements are spelled out from the beginning and make sure you have a communication plan in place before moving forward. If your candidate really is as good as they say they are, this should be common practice.
The Importance of a Background Check
Reliable SEO firms will have testimonials on their websites. However, look beyond these testimonials because they will include the company’s biggest success stories. You need information from run-of-the-mill clients. Ask for the names and phone numbers of at least three clients to get an honest opinion. Let their willing customers inform you of how long it took before seeing an increase in search engine related results.
Ask the client whether the SEO firm followed through on their promises, what their their level of communication was and if the client was satisfied with the overall work of the SEO firm. You can also check the firm’s ranking to see how well they handle their own SEO. This will be a big eye-opener to say the least, and will weed out any unworthy candidates.
In saying this, you need to weight up the results of this company’s own SEO against what they provide for their clients. Googling the firm’s name will also give you some reviews that will tell you whether or not the company is ideal for you.
Increasing traffic does not automatically translate to increased revenue, therefore you need to have your goals set out straight. Outline what you want to achieve with your SEO. For instance, you could be looking to boost your product sales by ranking high for specific keywords, or maybe you want to reduce your bounce rate. If you wish to increase your revenue, do you want a bigger audience or a smaller one that spends more time on your website? Do you want to grow your social media following?
These are some of the questions that you should answer before hiring an SEO expert. Ensure that you are clear with what you want to achieve so that you can determine if the firm is right for you and if they are capable of meeting these requirements.
Find an SEO Company With Metrics That Work for You
Once you have narrowed your search down to a few companies, it is time to ensure that you and your potential SEO experts are on the same page regarding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are metrics that apply to any business but can mean a lot within SEO. If you are launching a new product, you will have different objectives to an older organisation with an already established clientele. KPIs go beyond that, since it is easy to get lost or track the wrong KPIs. You should hire an SEO specialist who understands the metrics that are essential to your business and consolidates that information into something that you can digest.
Some of the KPIs to consider include organic sessions, conversion rates, keyword rankings, Google crawling mistakes and page load time. Although you may have access to tools that measure KPIs like Google Analytics and SEMrush, you may not have the time to analyse all that data, especially long-term. It is vital to get an SEO specialist team that you trust.
Find Out How They Deal With Penalties
Google does all it can to promote quality content and fight spam by altering its algorithm regularly. Sometimes, they do it manually. When this happens, they penalise websites that break their rules. Even though this may not happen often, you should consider the possibilities of penalisation. When Google penalises your website, it can be challenging to recover.
Prior to hiring an SEO expert, ask them how they plan on helping you survive Google updates. Let the agency explain to you how they intend to avoid Google penalties in the first place. Watch out for companies that shy away from this topic. Competent SEO companies will always have a solid strategy for dealing with personalisation issues. Your SEO specialist should ensure that your pages do not have hidden links or texts, cloaking, keyword stuffing, or duplicate content to avoid Google penalties.
Research the Company’s Ethics
Ethics is one of the crucial factors to consider when choosing your next SEO expert. Look at the leadership of your company and their SEO team. If the SEO team does not have a firm grasp of the company’s spirit or is disconnected from the agency’s vision, they are unlikely to become dedicated to client service and more specifically, your business.
However, SEO companies are all structured differently. You may find one that assigns one SEO specialist to each client and that expert becomes the contact person to avoid any miscommunication or confusion. Others may have one person heading a team of SEO experts. Depending on your core values, you can choose to work with a leadership team or one experienced individual from the company’s SEO team. Regardless of what you choose, ensure that the company is a good fit for you and your business.
While knowledge is a vital factor, curiosity is essential and often dismissed within SEO agencies. Finding an SEO expert who knows the IP addresses for all of Google’s crawlers is incredible. However, finding one who is curious and constantly investigating how those crawlers work means you’ve hit the jackpot. As Google continues to change their algorithm, it’s important that you look for a company hungry for knowledge and up-to-date with the latest changes. Choose a company that can find ways to work around challenges and enable progress. Such companies will also have a passion for getting things done efficiently because they have alternative means to solve your problems if conventional methods fail.
Always consider an SEO company as an extension of your own team. So, you have to find one that is a good fit based on experience, communication and expertise. Our Marketing Sweet team excels in all of these areas and more. Are we the right fit?