Choosing an SEO agency is a key decision to get right, as the impact of undertaking poor SEO could cripple your business. Online success today means following good ethical SEO practices, based on Google standards with the latest developments regarding the ranking algorithms. Practices such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, mass link building and banner stuffing are tactics of the past and should be avoided at all costs.
How do you know that your agency is doing the right thing, or how do you pick the right agency if you don’t have one yet? Here are some key things to consider:
You should be aware of exactly what your SEO company is doing to grow your business. SEO is a key part of your marketing so there needs to be clear communication. Even if you don’t completely understand the explanations, seek to learn and understand, it’s too important not to. Detailed reporting is important, but more important is the insights and actions that should come from analysis the data, otherwise it just becomes a blur of figures without meaning.
Many have been seduced by the promises of page one rankings on Google. SEO is an art, not a science and Googles algorithms are too obscure for any company to make a specific guarantee on results. SEO takes time to see results but the good news is that once positive results are achieved, then it’s hard for your rankings to be displaced, providing a good volume of relevant visitors to your site. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have agreed KPI’s around how you measure the success of the campaign, in fact this is vital, and you need to have a focus around actual conversions and not just headline stats around visitor numbers.
Quality SEO isn’t achieved by paying $500 per month, which might get you two to three hours per month working on your account – does that sound like enough time? You should aim for a minimum of 10 hours per month and build a solid relationship with your agency, who are accountable for the results and work with you to succeed.
Gaining good quality backlinks to your site from trusted sites is absolutely a ranking factor with Google and should form a good part of your SEO strategy. Building a successful website takes patience, with great content that attracts natural links. Buying links to try and influence Google rankings is short term thinking, and while it might achieve results initially, long term it can harm your business – just don’t do it! Linking is crucial these days since the release of Google Penguin update which puts the focus on the quality of the backlinks a website has garnered over time. Ensure you have visibility over the links built, and again, it’s about quality not quantity.
Whether it’s an SEO agency or a plumber, it pays to do some research on them before you commit to using their services. Ask for examples of their work and results achieved. Verify the experience and knowledge (are they a Google Premier Partner?) – you don’t want to have a friend of a friend who just graduated with an IT degree working on your SEO. It’s just too important to your business. Contact references and see if they way they deal with clients aligns with your expectations.
Once you have engaged with an SEO agency don’t just “set and forget”. Make sure that you work closely with them and understand the work being done, measuring the results and also being part of an additional work, to help the process.
Paul Carroll, CEO, Pure SEO Australia