We’re going to go over the top five things you need to look for when hiring any SEO company.

Quick disclaimer out there: Yes, I could see how this would be potentially biased. I am an SEO company, I probably qualify for all of these top five things.

However, did make this with the intention of being as objective as possible. There’s actually things in here that might qualify better for somebody else. So, who knows, actually?

Free Download: How to Hire an SEO Company Checklist

Do They Rank for Difficult Keywords

So, number one way is does their own website rank for any difficult keywords.

So, for an SEO company, I can tell you right now, these are gonna be the difficult keywords. It’s either “my city plus SEO”, or “my state SEO”, so, in my case, we rank for NJ SEO.

You’re gonna be looking for somebody who ranks for, like, a “Boston SEO”, or “Long Island SEO”, “San Francisco SEO” if you live in a big city.

If you live in a tiny city, like, “Middletown, New Jersey SEO”, that’s not a difficult keyword. It really has to be a large city or even a State and, if they can rank in the first page in their state, more than likely, they’ve got the SEO chops to be able to rank you and your website for a competitive keyword.

Cookie Cutter Digital Marketing Pricing

Number two thing to look for when hiring an SEO company is do they have cookie cutter pricing.

So, more and more these days, SEO is becoming custom jobs that need to be done. In the past, what used to happen was that everything was done via software. So, you, literally, just put in a website, put in some keywords, throw it into the software. Bing, bang, boom, everything was handled.

For certain local SEO jobs, that’s still the case where they’re just using software. If that’s really only what they’re doing, that’s when you’re gonna encounter cookie cutter pricing. If they’re just throwing you into a piece of software and then, getting a bunch of links in little citations, directories, that’s when you’re gonna see cookie cutter pricing, that’s fine if you’re not looking to rank for a competitive keyword.

If you’re just some local business, if you’re the only baker in town and like, “Hey, I wanna make sure that they can find me, the only baker.” Then, you might be okay with this cookie cutter pricing and a $200 SEO package or even less, but, if you’re going after anything competitive, if you’re in the legal niche, or if you’re in a medical niche, or home services where there’s a bunch of plumbers, there’s a bunch of garage door companies, bunch of roofers, you’re gonna really want to steer clear of anything with cookie cutter pricing, cookie cutter low-pricing really.

Any Marketing Guidance?

Number three, do they provide you with any marketing strategy or guidance? So, in 2018, SEO is becoming more and more of a … the lines are blurring. Before, it used to be like, “Okay, this is just SEO. All we’re doing is we’re adding keywords. We’re adding links and that’s it.” But, nowadays, SEO really blends into all the different types of marketing that you have.

So, when you approach, when you’re sitting with an SEO company, you wanna know or you wanna hear like, “Does this company have an idea about where SEO fits within my broader marketing plan, my broader marketing strategy?” Because, that’s really a great sign of a very strong SEO shop.

If they understand, “Okay. Well, we’re doing the keywords. We’re doing the back links, but you need to have a content strategy going on”, or “What are you doing to build up your brand, so that more people are searching you on brand search?”, or, if they speak to you at all about conversion rate optimization because SEO is all about improving the traffic to a website, but conversion rate optimization is how you turn that traffic into actual customers, so that’s a really important step.

If your SEO company is not talking about that, if all they’re talking about is like, “Alright, let’s get you to the first page. Let’s get you ranked, page one placement.” I would be wary because you really need somebody who understands more about how this fits into the broader picture.

Where Do They Get Their Backlinks?

Alright, number four. Where do they get their back links? If any SEO company, if you ask them, “Alright. Well, how do you guys get your back links?” If they tell you anything like trade secret, or proprietary method, or anything like that, that’s a huge, huge, huge red flag.

More and more, Google is getting better at, and certainly, making sure that all of this is on the up and up. You don’t want any shady links coming to your site, you wanna make sure that your links make sense, that they’re coming from sites that make sense linked to you.

So, if you have a company that makes fireplaces, for example, it makes sense that you’d have links from maybe like home and garden, or sites that talk about home improvement, or, I don’t know, a site that sells firewood maybe, so, like, interior design. It has to make sense. If you’re a baker, you’d have links in your site maybe from cooking, or restaurants, or other local businesses in your area. So, your links need to make sense and they need to be powerful and so, you wanna ask your SEO company or your perspective SEO company, “Hey, how do you get these links? Where are they coming from? Am I gonna be able to see these links?” Really, they need to be able to answer all of those questions in a way that makes sense for you.

There needs to be accountability in reporting there, so, that way, you can really see what’s going on.

What Timeline Did They Give You?

Number five, what timeline did they give you?

Now, if you’re the only game in town, if you’re the only person who’s selling cheeseburgers, I don’t know you wouldn’t have any other competitive people, any other companies, on cheeseburgers, but … yeah, if you’re the only cheeseburger company … anyway, that’s gonna be easy to rank for. You can probably rank for that in a relatively short time if you’re the only game in town.

However, if you’ve got any types of competition, again, if you’re in the legal niche, a medical niche, or if you’re a home services niche, a timeline that you’re provided by with your SEO company, it’s going to most likely be in the nine to 12-month timeline, things just move slower.

Google’s really happy with their search results right now. They are sitting pretty in the number one spot, they got great market share. People are happy with their results and so, they’re not gonna take too many risks, adjusting things around. If you’ve a got a new site, they’re not gonna really … it’s gonna take a long time, especially if you’re a brand new site. It’s gonna take a long time for you to gain the trust in their eyes.

So, beware of any SEO company talking about three months. In three months, you should see some movement, but, if they’re telling you you’re gonna get in the first page or all of these things in three months, I’d be highly skeptical about that.

Realistically, you’re gonna be talking about nine to 12 months, so I’d look for somebody who’s telling it as it is and being honest.

BONUS: Did They Guarantee Rankings?

Okay, bonus. Bonus time here. Number six is did they guarantee any rankings.

Is there a crying baby in the background? So, sorry about that.

Anyway, number six, did they guarantee rankings? No SEO company can guarantee rankings because only Google controls Google.

So, if someone is promising you the number one spot, that is a huge, huge red flag. It’s really a sad state. Sad, you hear the crying over here. It’s sad that no SEO company can guarantee things. We do the best that we can, we just prove and process. Good companies, you should prove and process, but, the timing and how everything’s gonna play out, we can only adjust things and influence.

We don’t really have control, so, because of that, you have to be really wary of anybody who’s giving you a guarantee.

So, anyway, I hope this has been valuable information for you. If you’re seeing this on YouTube or if you’re seeing this on the website, there is a way where you can download basically a checklist of everything that we’ve gone through here.

So, this way, you can just print it out and, if you’re looking at different SEO companies, you can literally just check the boxes and make it super simple for you.

Also, hey, if you’re gonna wanna throw our name into the bucket, into the hat, just go to our website. Fill out the discovery form and we’ll provide you with a video SEO analysis.

It’s always our first step. We try to take a look at the companies we’re gonna work with before, just to ensure, “Hey, is this actually something that we can do and would we even recommend SEO?” Because, many, many times, I promise this has happened multiple times this week, a company comes to us and we’re like, “Look, really, SEO’s probably not the best bet for you.”

Yeah, sign up and fill out the form and we’ll tell you what we think.