With many emerging SEO service providers (or at least claiming to be doing SEO), customers think they are spoiled for choices. But buyer beware. Just because someone says he is doing search marketing service doesn’t mean he is capable of doing so.
So how are we supposed to check if the SEO vendors we are dealing with are the right ones, or close to it? Walk the talk is the key to finding out if these vendors do what they are supposed to do and not just say what they want to say.
Here are some of my ideas.
1. Check their search visibility
I use search visibility and not rankings because the former gives a better idea of how prominent a vendor’s site is in terms of a wider list of keywords (notably long tail keywords), and not just a few (like seo hong kong, seo services, etc), as rankings would imply.
To do this background check, try searching for their brand name. If they are on top, then great. If they show sitelinks in Google, even better. If they’re not on top spot for a query using their brand name, be alarmed and when they’re not in the first page, perhaps just ignore them. If they can’t make their site visible on search results, how can we trust them to a good job on our websites?
I hear they say they’re too busy to update their site? Get rid of this vendor and check out the next one.
2. Check their clients
Some of these SEO vendors have morphed from Web Design companies. Some of them found it too easy to insert a few code into their homepage and voila, they now claim to offer search engine optimization services. Nothing bad with that especially that businesses need to adjust to the changing market. I myself was a web developer before I decided to do search marketing.
My point is that as web design companies, they should build search engine friendly websites. If they fail to do so, they may need one client they can experiment SEO on. I believe that even if client did not commit into SEO, vendors who are also web designers should integrate SEO with every web design and development effort. SEO has to be a part of the whole process, not as an optional add-on.
To do this, check their “Our Clients” page, and investigate. Follow the links or enter their business names as search engine queries. Check their content or URL structure if they have target keywords on them.
3. Check their language
We use white hat yadda yadda yadda.
We are the experts in SEO, SEM and anything marketing you can think of…
The number one
I guess they adhere to the quote that says, if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will. Sadly, they’re the only ones who believed they’re the leading SEO company in the world. Maybe silly clients look at these claims as basis for choosing vendors.
If we want to attract client, we should speak the client’s language. What’s the point of telling clients “white hat”, “nofollow” or “canonicalization” if they don’t even understand how search engine marketing benefit their business?
4. Check how they present themselves. Look at their page title and see whether they are riddled with words like “SEO Company, SEO Services, SEO Expert, SEO Guru” and the like. What value does it bring to prospect clients? Did they do that just to rank high and capture the audience? And when visitors are there, they can’t find answers to questions like “how can you make my site rank on search engines?”
5. Check how they answer our questions. Of course, nothing beats meeting the vendor in person. All content in the website are assumed to be well-written (or copied elsewhere) and has been reviewed as well. But meeting vendors and asking them questions is a great way to gauge their ability to solve our problems. Ask them about their SEO methodology: if they say it’s a secret, show them the door; SEO methodologies should be transparent so clients know what’s going on. They don’t need to dig into details but at least we should let them understand what we are doing.
Check how they answer simple questions, and analyze their answers. Record the conversation if necessary.
6. Refer to a friend. Ask industry peers, go online and search about this company / person and see how others relate. Happy clients sometimes refer vendors to friends, even if these friends don’t necessarily ask about the vendor or service.
I hope these tips make sense.
Selling of SEO services should be done by satisfied customers, and not by the vendors themselves (unless they have no client yet). SEO vendors tend to overpromise and under deliver. Let our work speak more for itself and less with our mouths (or fingers, while on the keyboard). SEO vendors should devote more time on performing a good job on every client. Happy clients whose expectations were set, will be glad to share their success to future clients.
Photo credit: JShine