Hiring either a freelance SEO or even an SEO company is a big decision for a business owner. Part of what makes it such a difficult decision is the fact that many business owners do not really have an understanding of what search engine optimization is, let alone how it is done. This lack of familiarity can lead to many worries and questions. Questions like, “how do I know if I am working with the right person or company?” Or, “Is this the right decision for me, will I make money, and if so how long will it take?” To reduce your risks and help your understanding of what you are actually paying for, we have prepared a list of things you can do and questions you can ask to help protect your investment and promote your companies interests.
When hiring an SEO you are of course going to want the best quality work at the best price. As you look around to find a company that is offering SEO at a price that works for your budget you must remember the simple rule that you get what you pay for. If you find someone offering SEO services at a price that is too good to be true, it is. However, you also need to remember that just because you are paying top dollar, that doesn’t guarantee that you will be getting the best service either. Finding the right price won’t necessarily mean you are getting the best results, but it is a step in the right direction. Basically, don’t underpay or overpay.
6 MONTH BATTLE PLAN
You don’t get any significant results without a dedicated and serious SEO strategy and content management campaign. Any experienced SEO should have a process. This is true whether they a freelancer or work for an agency. Ask them to come up a with a 6-month battle plan to pitch to you. Hire an SEO off of what they are going to do each month and why. It just doesn’t make sense to pay someone for work if they aren’t making it clear what they are going to do for you. Request a detailed 6-month battleplan and where you can expect to be after 6 months. Make sure you ask for as many deliverables as possible, whether that is time spent, backlinks gained, anticipated placement in the search engines, the number of blogs or press releases, etc. Whatever it is, do your best to take the mystery out of the equation and know what you are paying for. This will help you judge how hard your SEO firm is working and what that is doing to help bring visitors to your website.
MONTHLY DETAILED REPORTS
This one comes from the same mindset as asking for a detailed battle plan. In our opinion, it is the responsibility of the SEO to report all their monthly activity and results. You should be kept up to date with every new project, and be told how it’s helping better your website performance. It should be agreed upon that you will not send a monthly check out until your SEO has provided a report of what was done that month. Doing this will keep them honest and keep you informed.
NO LONG TERM CONTRACTS – NO HIDDEN FEES
Don’t get in a long-term contract unless you know the exact way you are going to get out of the contract should you end up being unsatisfied with the results you are seeing. Due to the nature of SEO, companies will want you to sign on for a minimum period, usually a few months at least. It will take time for SEOs to make any noticeable change, and longer for those changes to show significant results. However, If you aren’t seeing positive results, or are not satisfied with their work within a reasonable amount of time you should be able to back out without any worry. What happens if for some reason you need to terminate the contract? You need to know your options. Find out if any fees are written into the contract for early termination. Have the contract changed to protect your business and intellectual property. It is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Our recommendation it to ask for a 3-month contract. This is a customer centered timeframe because within three months you should be able to see some results and make a decision for the long-term.
The quality and consistency of your content can make or break your online marketing efforts. Monthly content creation should be part of your package. If you’re trying to grow your search traffic, you have to combine your content marketing with your SEO efforts. Content marketing is actually all about SEO, and SEO is about content marketing. If a potential company does not bring up content then it is a fair assumption that they are not planning on creating any for you. This is going to be a problem. Make sure you keep your content part of their deliverables and don’t hire any company that will not create great content for you at a reasonable price.
RETAIN ALL RIGHTS
Be sure that when you hire an SEO company you are retaining all your rights to your property. Your content, images, coding, and designs. Some SEOs will try and keep the rights to your website until your contract is up and everything is finalized and paid for. Watch out! You should not lose complete ownership of your website at any time. There are many companies that will sneak this into their contract to keep your business and make it difficult and expensive for you if you were for some reason needing to back out, or discontinue working with them. Make sure you know where your website is hosted and how to access your design files.
A company that’s not the perfect match is going to make promises that it can’t deliver on just to get your business. What’s your job? To ensure you wade through the bad companies to find the good ones. If you know what you’re searching for, it’s not that difficult to do. Remember that SEO is a long-term investment. To help get the best results make sure you are staying on top of your SEO campaign. Stay informed and look for signs that you are getting all you deserve each and every month.