SEO providers run the gamut, providing widely ranging value, foresight, and ethics. Top SEO companies stand out from the crowd in a number of ways.
If you are planning to hire an outside SEO service to manage your SEO strategy, help with a website launch, or build links, it pays to know what you are getting yourself into. Anyone can spin a good story. But not everyone will serve your best interests fully.
Here are some things to look for when evaluating potential partners to manage SEO on your behalf.
Top SEO Companies: What They Do Differently
Insist on Ethical White Hat SEO
The SEO services industry has gotten a bad rap in the past, primarily resulting from black hat SEO practitioners. It amazes me to see how many of them are still out there, making money and playing the same old game they’ve played for years.
Loopholes still exist, even with Google’s algorithm. That’s part of the game when you try to automate processes based on analysis of unstructured data. Odds are it will never be perfect.
But that doesn’t excuse cheating. Getting slapped by Panda or Penguin should be a wake up call. For most end users, it is. After all, if you lose over half of your organic traffic, you’ll take notice.
For Black Hat SEOs, it’s nothing more than a distraction. They will put in countless hours figuring out how to game the system. For every action, there’s a counter. Then they can go on selling shady SEO support to new, unsuspecting clients.
Who loses during this game of cat and mouse? All the clients who were burned the first time Google caught them cheating.
Don’t be that victim. Insist on using one of the top SEO companies, one that uses only white hat SEO practices. Build it into objectives and reporting. Let them know you are serious.
If they don’t like it, call Return On Now and we will do it the right way from the start. It’s your website and your business, so be smart about it.
Set Appropriate Performance Expectations
SEO is a process. It is not and has never been an event. Nor is it a quick fix.
If an SEO consultant pitches you on how they can guarantee any level of performance, be leery. Even worse, if they promise it in a specific amount of time, it’s time to call BS.
No one can promise you exact rankings, traffic volumes, or timelines with full certainty. There are simply too many factors at play:
- Google keeps changing the rules
- Everyone else is working hard in pursuit of the same rankings
- Ethical White Hat SEO takes time, and there are no shortcuts
- Tracking rankings is overrated (more on this in the next section)
A good White Hat SEO will make you aware of the uncertainties listed above. Can they help improve performance? Absolutely! But they cannot guarantee a thing. The “powers that be” at Google change their minds all the time. Just ask the folks who followed their direction to pursue backlinks, only to get slapped off page one in April 2012.
Picking one of the top SEO companies will bend the equation in your favor. But they are lying if they tell you they can command it. Only the Webspam Team at Google can wield that power with any level of certainty.
Focus on Real Business Metrics
What metrics do you think of when someone mentions SEO? Rankings? Keyword Search Demand? Page Rank?
None of those matter if they don’t help you drive growth. Unless you are a media company or content service where traffic is all you need to succeed, then you should be analyzing real business impact.
- What is a visit worth?
- Do you know how many visitors view more than one page?
- What percent of those visitors are new eyeballs vs. repeat visits?
- How many of them convert to a lead?
- What’s your conversion rate for the site? For each landing page?
- Do any of your website conversions turn into paying customers?
For many of us, particularly in very small businesses, it is tough to measure all the way from click to revenue. But that doesn’t mean you can’t build proxies to help you estimate where the most value originates. All visits are unique, and you need to pursue the visits that contribute to your success and/or bottom line. Otherwise, it’s traffic for traffic’s sake.
Do you have traffic on your site, or potential customers? Do you know the difference? Top SEO Companies do.
Understand Integrated Internet Marketing
It has been a great run for the SEO industry. We have had ample opportunity to sell organic search optimization as a specialty that should operate unencumbered by the rest of marketing. In the real world, it ain’t so simply my friend.
I hinted at this in the previous section on metrics – SEO is another tool in the overall Marketing repertoire. If you allow it to be managed in a vacuum, you are definitely leaving value untapped.
We take a holistic view of SEO. Does SEO dovetail with your existing marketing efforts? They should be complementary.
Content marketing provides the most logical overlap between SEO and marketing as a whole. Clearly, if you are writing content to drive traffic, it will have an SEO overlay. But this goes much further. Some examples:
- How do you pick topics to blog about and curate on social media? They should all align with your brand, your target audience, and your main topic area(s).
- Does your PR team think about SEO when writing, distributing, promoting, and planning press releases and article placements?
- Is your community affairs team taking SEO into account when earning mentions on nonprofit and/or *.ORG websites?
- What verbiage is being used to describe your company on social media profiles and bios?
- How can everyone learn from conversion optimization across the various marketing tactics?
- Does your Product Marketing and MarCom staff optimize for ranking on PDF-based documents such as data sheets, spec sheets, and price lists? These are indexed now, you know, and corporate speak tends to rank terribly for the good keywords.
- Is SEO being taken into account for placed content such as guest blog posts and articles on reputable websites?
- Has your analytics team figured out how to properly attribute across SEO, SEM, and other marketing efforts to give a more accurate view of where your leads are originating?
As you can see, SEO is part of a much bigger set of processes. It needs to be aligned accordingly. If your provider doesn’t understand all of the nuances and intricacies of a well-run marketing team, you can do better.
Top SEO Companies earn their reputations by operating differently from many of the old school SEO practitioners. They do it by staying on the right path, managing realistic expectations, taking a business-oriented approach to measuring results, and integrating strategies across multiple areas of marketing. Don’t settle for black hat trickery. If you have dealt with these issues in the past and want to work with a professional SEO services company that does it better, contact us today.