Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 10 years and 59 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.
I really don’t envy people doing their due dilligence in choosing an SEO company or consultant. It is a TOUGH job. There is SO much information available on the web that it is difficult to sift through the BS. In a recent sales seminar I attended, they quoted a statistic that 15% of the decision to purchase is based on technical knowledge while 85% is based on trust. The moral of this story from the consumer side is don’t trust a salesman unless you are qualified to gauge the technical ability of their company!
If you are looking to sign a deal with someone to do your SEO, I hope you have your BS meter set to high, and are willing to call people out for stuff you don’t think is accurate. Don’t fall for the smooth salesguy pitches from people that don’t actually DO any of the search optimization work (especially if they don’t even understand it). I can only imagine what it must be like for SEO’s who have a sales staff selling for them that are not highly familiar with the work itself. It just seems like a pretty big logical disconnect to me. As the consumer you need to be armed with the ability to ask intelligent questions about how a company manages their SEO campaigns.
So I thought I’d put together a little of the best information I’ve seen and heard on hiring an SEO company from some of the saavy consumers that I’ve spoke with. Yes this is a clever ploy to give people good information so that I may sell them (you’re already good at this and caught me red-handed). Watch out for this technique first! It’s actually the best technique because it is valuable to the consumer and helps to establish confidence and trust. Some of the best companies that I’ve seen do articles, studies, and seminars on how to hire an SEO company, or whitepapers on what big brands and companies are doing wrong with their current SEO strategies. Brilliant! This is a great sales technique (so I thought I’d put it to use!)…understand the sales techniques and use them to your advantage as the consumer.
Learn from each company that is willing to offer up information. Be careful how you “tire kick” though because many SEO salespeople are used to having that done to them and will catch on quickly. Also be aware that the more time someone can spend giving away free information, the more likely they are to charge top dollar in the end. Giving away free information establishes credibility and a reputation that allows the company to stay on the high end of the pricing spectrum.
Yes, as an SEO salesperson I am showing you my hand here, but also trying to make you aware of the techniques that others are using. I’ve seen some VERY good SEO sales techniques that were used by not so good SEO’s. If you are aware of most of the sales techniques, you will be able to shop based on the quality of the SEO, and not the quality of the SEO salesperson. I also figure if I arm consumers with how to find better SEO services it will help to improve the reputation of the industry by helping to get rid of some of the snake oil peddlers. Let’s prove P.T. Barnum wrong (ya know the guy that said there’s a sucker born every minute.)
Best Techniques I’ve Seen and Heard for Hiring an SEO Company or Consultant
- Call lots of companies and have good questions about SEO strategy to ask them. Don’t waste anyone’s time asking the same questions over and over and expecting different answers, but take notes and get good answers – you’ll probably be surprised when you get much different answers from different people, but be more inclined to believe something if you hear it a few times.
- Ask each company who they would recommend if they were too busy – Many good companies ARE too busy and will be happy to tell you this.
- Ask each company who they would choose between a few of your top choices…throw in a lousy SEO company to see if they’re being honest.
- Do some searches for some medium level competition searches (2 word phrases not HIGHLY sought after). Call up the companies in the top spot and ask them about their SEO company. Don’t do this with YOUR phrases as you will likely get less feedback from your competitors (if any). Make sure to let the people you call know you are not a threat and just looking for assistance in shopping for help with your site.
- Test the waters with smaller services – don’t jump into a year long contract with someone. Test some of their smaller services and see what customer service and response times are like. Build trust with your company.
- Do searches for the names of the SEO company or the main folks in the company – this will show you their reputation within the industry. Can you imagine how much money and trouble this simple step could have saved people caught in the 1p debacle?
The overall take-away here is – Do your homework! You may consider finding a consultant that has less of a vested interest to help you find and audit the larger SEO companies before you make your final long-term commitment. Choosing a company can be a very important decision, and not one that should be jumped to quickly. Afterall, SEO is about LONG TERM strategy. You can be quite sure I’d be happy to help with this assistance if you’re looking for it (after all, this article itself is a sales technique;).
Top resources on researching SEO companies
- Selecting an SEO firm by Lee Odden
- 6 tips for choosing an SEO company, and more articles about finding SEO services from Aaron
- In SEO do you get what you pay for? by Rand, and some of the folks he recommends
- What to look for in an SEO company
- Questions to ask your potential company
- More questions to ask your potential SEO company
- Marketing Sherpa has a nice guide but it’ll cost ya
- We’re ready, are you? Hiring an SEO company – SEO Speedwagon