It’s hard to compete with Amazon and big brand name stores when it comes to search rankings. This is especially the case if your small business has just started. However, you need to know that you can eventually climb the top of the results with the help of SEO. Short for search engine optimization, this is all about improving the quality and quantity of website traffic via organic results.
So why is this important for businesses? Well, the answer is traffic. The more is merrier, after all. With more traffic, of course, comes better chances of closing more sales.
As SEO is vital for small new stores, this process is best left to the hands of an SEO company. But how do you pick the best service provider for your company?
Well, here are the six basic things you need to do:
1. Check the Performance
Say you need to have your teeth fixed. Are you going to a relatively new dentist or one with 10 years of experience? More often than not, the answer is the latter.
The same applies when picking an SEO company – you need to go with a seasoned provider.
You can do this by researching more about the company. Follow them on social media and read their blog. Look up its reviews on a third-party website, rather than its official website. Of course, they’ll only post the positives here and not the negatives.
Go through the agency’s portfolio examples and case studies. What happened to the receiving clients’ websites? What do they say about the agency’s services?
Another website to check is that of the Better Business Bureau to see if the company is rightly accredited.
It’s also good to scan through industry award bodies to see if the company has received commendations recognitions. If it has some acclaim under its belt, then it’s safe to say that the company has a commendable performance track.
2. Ask for Referrals
If you don’t have the time to look up SEO companies, then you can ask for referrals from similar business owners – even your friends. Since you know them personally, they are more likely to cite a company that has truly done them well. There’s no bias here – it’s not the agency asking them for reviews, anyway.
A great thing about the referral system is that you can get to learn more about the company. You can ask your friend about the service process – and you can even ask for metrics and results as proof.
Here are some other questions you need to ask when asking for a referral:
- Is there a dedicated SEO expert for the client? Or is it an availability issue?
- How fast does the company respond to calls or e-mails?
- How much time does a client have when reviewing reports and plans?
3. Go to a Specialist
SEO companies have their niches as well. There are all-around experts, and there are specialists. What you choose should depend on your niche.
For example, if you run an online store, then it’s best to go for an agency that specializes in eCommerce. If you have a real estate company, then make sure to pick a company that focuses on real estate SEO – and so on.
While a generalist is good too, if you want to dominate your field, you need to go to a company with a proven track record in the niche.
4. Think About Other Services
SEO encompasses a lot of things. It’s more than just optimizing on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. More often than not, your website will need other (but related) things that can help boost its rankings.
As such, you may want to opt for a company that offers other services related to SEO. Some agencies also perform social media marketing and content marketing, both of which are also vital for improving your search engine rankings.
5. Set a Meeting Before Deciding
Picking an SEO agency is not like online shopping – you can’t place returns if you don’t like the item. So if you want to get the best value for your money, set a meeting first before committing. Even if the company is a referral from your best friend, you still need to be 100% sure.
Whether you set a real-life or video meeting, remember to ask these important questions:
- How much are your services?
- How vast is your experience with the SEO industry?
- When will I see the positive results for my website?
Also, remember to source inputs from your team members. More often than not, they can pitch in vital ideas that can influence your decision.
6. Mind Your Budget
Generally speaking, most companies spend about $1,000 to $2,000 a month for services. However, small businesses usually have a lower rate of $500 to $1,000
That being said, it’s important to find a company that can meet your budget. You also need to ask for the payment terms – are you going to be locked in a year-long contract? Or can you commit to a monthly paid service?
If you’re just starting, the truth of the matter is you may not have much capital to blow over SEO. This is where the research process comes in. You need to have a list of reputable SEO companies so that you can weigh each agency’s pros and cons.
While the price is of utmost consideration for most small businesses, it should not be your only deciding factor. Although a cheap agency doesn’t necessarily equate to poor performance, it’s usually the case. Worse, they may be observing black-hat methods that could put your good name in jeopardy.
In essence, you should weigh your budget with the company’s services. You may be paying a little more than you intended, but if they’re proven to make good results, you can count this off as a worthwhile investment.
If you want your website to rank high in search engines, then you need to seek the services of a good SEO company. As long as you follow the tips above, you will be able to get the best value for your money.