Vet Your Local SEO Company With This Checklist

It’s about that time. SEO time.

The website is up and running. The design is beautiful. The content is high quality.

It just needs to be optimized. You may have tried it yourself, but you know by now that in order to take it to the next level, you’re going to need help from the pros.

Before you flip open the phonebook (or more accurately, Google) to hire someone, remember you’re seeking help in something you most likely have little to no working knowledge of.

This leaves you open and vulnerable for getting screwed. (If you’ve ever taken your car to the mechanic, only to nod ignorantly as he rattles off technical names of expensive car parts and procedures he swears are “absolutely necessary”, you know what I mean).

Knowing the right questions to ask is priceless when dealing with SEO companies. They are a dime a dozen out there, some offering SEO as one of their services and others with a business model completely devoted to providing SEO for clients. Due to the volume of your choices in the digital marketplace, you’re going to need an effective vetting process in your arsenal.

Here are four things you MUST find out before hiring any SEO company:

#1: Does the company rank for any keywords for their own company?

As a local business, it’s best to find a local SEO company in your area (although you can find a great one elsewhere). One reason is that you can talk to them in person and get a feel for their legitimacy first-hand. Another reason is that a local SEO company is better suited to rank you (a company in the same geographical area) in the local search engines—which is why you need to know the following:

An SEO company should rank for keywords relevant to their business. Let’s say you find a local SEO company you’re interested in hiring. The first thing you do is a Google search using the words “Local SEO company” and the phrase using your city, “Los Angeles SEO company” to find out if the business shows up on Google’s first page.

If you live in a large metropolitan area such as Los Angeles, New York or, Minneapolis, get even more specific. For example, in New York City, search the phrase “Local Brooklyn SEO company,” or even more specific, “Williamsburg Brooklyn SEO company”.

Why all the work? You want a dentist with nice teeth, right? Well, you want an SEO company who knows how to get their own company in the search engines if they’re promising to get yours there.

#2: Do they provide other companies a certain ranking for keywords and which keywords are these companies ranking for?

Once your company has passed the local Google test, you need to see their track record. This would include their portfolio of satisfied customers. Visit the SEO company’s website to find a list of past clients. (Most SEO sites have a list of former clients and testimonials on the home page or an individual page with a similar title).

See an example of a working SEO portfolio here.

What you want to do next is search previous client’s websites on Google to see if the company ranks on the first page using terms such as “local San Diego bakery” if the client is a bakery in San Diego.

Now the question is, can they achieve this? I would ask the SEO company directly if they can get my company to rank for certain keywords. This is where they should share their success stories with other companies and how they achieved this.

Your challenge: know what keywords you want to be ranked for before meeting with an SEO company. You can’t ask if they can rank you for keywords you don’t know. If I hired an SEO company I may want to rank for the keywords, “mobile app development company.” What keywords do you want people to put in the search engine to find you at the top of the list?

#3: Can they list action items that can be measured on month-to-month basis? (what actual work they’ll be doing that can be assessed?)

Many SEO companies have different methodologies, but you should find out what action items they’ll be executing that can be measured from month to month for ROI. Otherwise, you’ll never know if what they’re doing (and what you’re paying them for) is making a difference in your marketing strategy—such as increased website traffic.

Examples of action items are content writing and social media activity. The SEO company’s action items may be to publish 2 blogs per month or 2 postings on social media per day. These items can be tracked and measured for growth, which can be shown to you on a spreadsheet at the end of the month.

#4: Do they promise you a 100% guarantee?

Hang up the phone or click the “X “ on the website if an SEO company promises you the world!

Remember, if you’re a small business seeking to increase your online presence, you won’t be able to compete with mega- giants like Amazon, Target, Ebay, Wikipedia and others on the search engines.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, but this is where a good SEO company comes in. Although they cannot promise to get you on the first page of Google for “pet” or “pet groomer,” they should be able to get your company ranked on the first page in your local search engines under “local pet groomer”.

Need to know more about SEO for your small business? We want to help. Chat with us here.