What You Need to Know When Looking for an SEO Provider

choosing an seo company

Getting your business website onto the first page of Google is critical for increasing brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. Targeting the right traffic can lead to increased conversions, providing a great return on investment.

If you decide to hire an SEO company to help improve your ranking, choosing the right team can make all the difference. So, what should you look out for:

What Google looks for

SEO isn’t just about targeting the right keywords, it’s a combination of different factors. In fact, Google uses 100s of different ranking criteria, so ticking off as many as possible will help you to achieve the best results. Some of these factors include meta tag updates, high quality, keyword rich content, a good user experience, a website that runs well from a technical point of view and high quality backlinks. Finding an SEO agency that can provide all of these services is essential so you don’t need to hire lots of different service providers.

No company can guarantee a number 1 position on Google

There are companies that will promise to get you to that all important number 1 spot, but, in reality, no one can guarantee that. An SEO company will show you their best work, which will most likely include lots of number 1 positions, but bear in mind, this is only a small fraction of their customer base.

There are some companies that will offer ‘first page or your money back’ guarantees which are great if they actually honour this agreement. If you enter into such an agreement, check the small print to make sure you fully understand what they are offering. What is the timeframe for achieving these first page positions? Are these positions for your main target keywords that have decent monthly search volumes or are they guaranteeing to rank a longtail keyword that no one is searching for? Do they return your money and end the contract if you aren’t fully satisfied?

Be careful of companies that over promise or claim they are endorsed by Google (not to be confused with a Google partner, a Google partner has achieved certain criteria with Google such as passing exams and running a number of paid Ads campaigns). Google does not recommend SEO companies, and has warned against scam companies that may be trying to rip you off.

Not all SEO is good for your website

Applying whitehat (good) SEO techniques to your website can have great results, boosting your visibility in search results and driving relevant traffic, however, blackhat (bad) techniques can have the opposite effect, resulting in lost positions and in some cases, penalisation and removal from search results. Things that can get you a penalty include spam content, low quality or suspicious backlinks and other techniques that manipulate search engines to achieve a goal.

Recovering from a Google penalty can be a massive, time-consuming job, so choosing a reputable company from the start can save you a lot of stress.

Can they prove their experience or knowledge?

Any reputable SEO agency should be able to prove their experience or knowledge. This may be in the form of positive reviews on sites like TrustPilot, or by providing contact details for a client they have a long term relationship with, that has agreed to act as a reference.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to SEO, so asking the agency whether they have experience of promoting your industry or business type helps you to establish whether they have the relevant knowledge.

If you are wanting to promote your hotel but the SEO company only has experience of promoting photography businesses, they might not know how to take advantage of things like hotel pack that shows expanded details such as prices and reviews on your Google map listing.

If you have a Magento website but the agency only works with WordPress, they may struggle to provide the best results. A company with Magento experience would know all of it’s quirks and limitations, and be able to advise on how best to handle specific Google requirements.

Organic or Paid?

If the agency is able to suggest alternative options to get traffic to your website as soon as possible, it’s a good sign that they care about getting results for you. If you are in a particularly competitive industry, paid ads might be a great initial solution until the organic (free) positions have improved. Depending on your business type, paid social media advertising may also be a great way to get sales fast.

Putting mobile first

Google now features mobile first indexing, this means if your mobile website is up to scratch, Google may give it preference in search results. Checking your Google PageSpeed score is high and that your website is responsive (adjusts to different screen sizes) are great places to start. Check whether the SEO agency is able to implement these changes for you when making your decision.

These are just some of the most important things to look out for when deciding on an SEO provider. Spend some time going through their website to get a feeling for what they can offer, then if you’re still interested, give them a call and get to know them better. An informal chat with someone that wants to understand your business and tells you what they can help you achieve without being pushy or making unrealistic promises will stand out above the rest.