How can you find a professional SEO company that you can trust? Wouldn’t all of the best firms be listed in the top rankings on search engines? Not necessarily, and here’s why. Many of successful SEO firms are so busy working on clients’ sites that they don’t have time to optimize their own sites. So, they rely on word of mouth and recommendations for their new clients, which keeps them more than adequately busy. Plus, the firm may be in the top rankings for the keywords that they consider important to them, but you may be looking at different areas that they aren’t targeting.
So, just because a company isn’t in the top 10 doesn’t mean that they aren’t a top-notch firm with the experience needed to help your site achieve success. Back to our original question of how to find a trustworthy company, ask other Webmasters whom they use to optimize their site. Search for related online forums or visit newsgroups and see which firms are recommended. Write to some SEO companies and see what type of response you get. Do your homework before choosing the firm, and you stand a much greater chance of choosing an SEO company that can really help you.
Access to Your Server
How will the SEO firm work on your site? Are you going to give them access to your server, to where they’re responsible for uploading pages and making changes? Or, will they have to go through a Webmaster, thereby slowing down the process?
Some SEO companies like to set up gateway pages on their own server and route traffic to your site. Other SEO firms like to set up separate Web sites on their own server as a means of building link popularity and routing traffic. If that’s the case, who will own those gateway pages or sites if you decide not to continue using their services?
When the SEO firm owns the pages or sites, if you take your SEO work elsewhere, that firm can simply re-route traffic to another client’s site. There’s nothing illegal or shady about this—it’s just a fact of life. However, you can always choose to negotiate ownership of a gateway page or site in the initial contract.
Type of Proposal
Many SEO companies will create a detailed report and offer numerous suggestions before you ever sign the contract. Some of these companies charge for the proposal, and others don’t. Still, others will charge only if you decide not to use their services.
Taking it from the side of the optimizer, it’s very time-consuming coming up with a strategy for a particular company. Not only do you have to visit the site and spend some time, but you also have to run various reports and do considerable research. Plus, many SEO’s are hesitant to give away too much information in the initial proposal, so they won’t do detailed reports or offer focused suggestions until an official agreement has been reached.
In any event, make sure that you understand the process that’s involved. For example:
Do you have to pay for a formal proposal?
If you hire the company, how often will you be sent verifiable results?
What types of reports can you expect to receive?
How long will the process take?
When can you expect to see results?
As with all contractual obligations, read the contract carefully, including all fine print. At the Academy of Web Specialists, we compiled a group of contracts from various SEO firms, and we’ve posted them online. We also came up with a standard contract that incorporates many of the ideas shown in the individual contracts. It might help you to view those contracts and compare what the SEO company you’re considering is offering.