SEO is one of the best ways to get traffic online. With the help of SEO, you can get targeted visitors. The large businesses and corporations exploit this traffic generation technique in order to increase the visitors to their website. It is high time that small businesses focus on the same. The main advantage of SEO is that once you are ranked, you can get consistent traffic which is targeted for your business.

With that being said, the expertise needed in order to rank your business is not easy to achieve. That is why you should always think about hiring an SEO agency. When you scout for an SEO company, you will realize that there are hundreds of different options available. This is the reason why you have to be very careful while choosing an SEO company for your business.

We will today share with you some simple tips which will help you choose the right SEO company.

1. Check the Portfolio:

Before shortlisting any SEO company, it is important to check the portfolio of businesses which they have ranked. You can directly inquire from them about the type of clients which they have ranked in the past. This will help you get a good idea regarding the techniques and the scale of businesses which they have ranked. This will also provide you with an insight into the scale of work which they can undertake as well.

Thus, it will be very easy for you to choose SEO company which can actually handle the workload to rank your website. If in the past, they have not had any successful clients, it is a red flag and you should not choose that SEO company.

When the SEO Company provides you with the portfolio, it is important to check the existing ranking of those businesses as well. If they have provided you with only limited details, you have to at least ask them for a couple of proofs of ranking. Only when those businesses are ranking up until now as well, the company can be considered legit.

The short-term ranking is not beneficial in SEO. You need to always go for SEO companies which can rank websites in the longer term. Only when you check the portfolio of the SEO company, it will be easier for you to understand whether the company is legit or not.

2. Define Your Goals:

Once you have found a few legit SEO companies, it is important to define your own goals. For many businesses, it can be the traffic for some others it can be ranking for certain specific keywords. On the other hand, for some others, it can be the actual conversions or the leads which pour in. That is why it is always important for you to define your goals. Only when you are able to define the goals, you can set up a proper contract with the SEO company. Rather than just putting up the milestone as ranking for 10 keywords, you have to be much more precise. You have to select those keywords.

When you have a tangible outcome which you need from your SEO campaign, it will be very easy for you to monitor the results. This will help you understand the kind of ROI which you get from your SEO company. This will also provide the SEO company with more insights regarding how they have to market your website and which keywords they have to rank your website for. This will ensure that you are able to gauge the success of your SEO campaign as well.

Unlike some of the other digital marketing methods, SEO does not result in overnight results. This is the reason why you need to be clear about the outcome which you need. This will help the SEO company create a proper roadmap in order to get you those results. The SEO company will then set up key performance indicators as well. You can easily monitor these key performance indicators to ensure that the SEO campaign is going in the right direction. Thus, defining your goals is actually pretty important.

3. Check the Credibility of the SEO Company:

Once you have shared your goals with the SEO company and the company is okay with those, it is time to research more about the SEO company. You have to conduct proper due diligence.

There are a few ways in which you can do so. These include:

  • Asking for references from the SEO company
  • Checking the present ranking of those clients
  • Searching for the brand name of the SEO company online
  • Contact the references to know their experience with the SEO company

These 4 steps will help you conduct proper research regarding the background of the SEO agency. If there are any problems, they will crop up at this stage quite easily. In most of the cases, it will not take you more than a couple of days to conduct proper due diligence about the SEO company. That is why it is important for you to undertake this step before you shortlist any SEO company.

4. Inquire About the Plan of Action:

Many individuals and small businesses are often influenced just by the sales pitch of the SEO company. You need to keep in mind that there needs to be a proper plan of action. You need to at least partially know this plan of action. Only when you are aware of the plan of action, you can decide whether it will be beneficial for your business in the longer term or not. You have to understand that your goal is not just to get rankings for a shorter period of time. It is to keep your website ranked for the relevant keywords for a longer period of time. That is why it is important to analyze the plan of action.

Some of the things which you should check in the plan of action include:

  • Type of backlinks
  • Pace of backlinks
  • Source of backlinks
  • Anchor text use
  • Quality of content used for building the backlinks

When you check these factors in the plan of action, it will be very easy for you to understand whether this plan of action will be beneficial for your business in the longer term or not.

At the same point in time, you have to always question the SEO company regarding this plan of action. Whenever you have some queries or questions, you have to communicate with the SEO company at once. This will help you better understand the plan of action and help you gain more insights. Of course, none of the SEO companies will reveal their entire plan of action but you need to get the gist in order to make a decision.

In case, the SEO company is not revealing anything about their plan of action under the disguise of maintaining business secrets, it can actually be a red flag. That is why; you need to inquire about the basic plan of action from the SEO company before taking a call.

5. Check their Own Website:

It is obvious that any SEO company worth their salt would rank their own websites for relevant keywords as well. That is why; you have to always check the rankings of their own websites. If you do not know the tools to do so, you can directly ask the SEO company regarding the rankings of their own website. This will help you understand whether they are actually capable to rank your website or not.

If they haven’t even ranked their own website for relevant keywords, there is no point in hiring such an SEO company. That is why; you have to always check their website.

You have to look at things like:

  • Number of keywords ranked
  • Position of those keywords
  • Type of backlinks used to rank
  • Relevancy of the keywords

There are quite a few tools which you can use in order to do this research like Ahrefs, Majestic, and Semrush. This will help you find more about the techniques which are employed by the SEO company in order to rank the websites. Only when you’re okay with those backlink types as well as the quality of those backlinks, you can go ahead with hiring the SEO company.

Pro Tip: If the SEO company hasn’t ranked their own website, that is a huge red flag.

6. Customer Support:

During the campaign, at some point in time or the other, you will have doubts or queries regarding the backlinks or the positions attained. At such point in time, you will, of course, contact the customer support of the SEO company. That is why you have to find out in advance whether the customer support of the company is up to the mark or not. There is no point in waiting for a couple of days to get the reply when you pay for the SEO campaign. You should ideally be able to get prompt support. This will allow you to get your questions and queries resolved in no time.

You have to look at some of the following factors while checking the customer support of the SEO company:

  • Number of support channels: Ideally, E-mail should not be the only support channel offered by the SEO company. Live chat or Skype chat should also be provided.
  • Availability of live chat: Once you ensure that live chat or a Skype chat is available, you have to look at the number of hours for which the support is online.
  • Resolution of your queries: The support executives should be knowledgeable and they should be capable of resolving your queries. Only when that is the case, you can be sure that any queries in the future can be resolved.

You can contact their support department in advance to judge them. This will allow you to easily know whether the customer support provided by the company is up to the mark or not. Only when the customer support provided is up to the mark, you should think about choosing that SEO company.

7. Milestone Based Payments:

Many SEO companies will require you to pay on a monthly basis. This, however, is not conducive for a small business. Many large businesses and corporates can afford to get differed results with the help of SEO. However, small businesses should focus on SEO results which are based on milestones. Even though the ranking can take a while but you need to create milestones like 5 keywords should reach the Top 5 pages in X amount of time. When you create such milestones, it will be very easy for you to gauge the actual progress of the SEO campaign. This can help you effectively monitor the results rather than just the number of backlinks built.

The payments should also be based on these milestones. This will ensure that you are insulated from the cost of an ineffective SEO campaign right at the start. As a result, if the SEO campaign does not work out, you can easily hire another SEO company. Since you would not spend your entire budget on the present SEO campaign, it will be possible for you to hire the SEO company which can actually provide effective results. Most SEO companies can provide you with milestone-based payments at least for part of the SEO campaign cost. This will be a win-win situation for the SEO agency as well as for your business.

Right at the start, you have to enquire from the SEO company regarding the availability of milestone-based payments. If indeed, they do provide milestone-based payment schedule, you should definitely go for that instead of opting for a monthly payment. However, if the company does not provide milestone-based payments, it indicates that it might not be a good SEO company. Many SEO companies have upfront cost like the content creation and cost of the link building and that is why they might only offer the monthly payment schedule. However, it is a good idea to always enquire from the SEO company regarding the milestone-based payments.

So, when you’re looking to choose an SEO company for your small business, it is important for you to always use these 7 tips. With the help of these 7 tips, you will be able to filter out most of the SEO companies which are not up to the mark. Thus, picking the right company for your small business will be much easier. You will have only a handful of options to choose from which you can make your choice easier. It will also significantly shorten the time which you need in order to pick the right company.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.