How do you differentiate the good from the bad in respect to SEO Companies? As with any industry a little knowledge goes a long way and SEO is no different. If you read up about SEO beforehand you can more easily differentiate between the good and the bad.
Your first point of call is to work out exactly what you want from SEO. Are you looking for mass traffic hitting your site or are you looking for targeted traffic? A good SEO company will be able to assist you with whichever of these you require.
Do the SEO Companies rank well in search?
This should be obvious however I’m sure we’ve all missed this bit of due diligence when deal with companies, especially the ones that cold call you. This part is as simple as doing a google search for SEO companies in your area and seeing if they get first page rankings. After all, if they cannot rank well for their own website how confident can you be that they can rank your website over all your competition.
If you’re dealing with SEO companies that are not local just add their location into the search. For example if I was to search for SEO companies in Sydney Australia I would type “SEO Company Sydney Australia” into the google search. If the company you’re looking at doesn’t come up in at least the first two pages I would avoid them.
A short while ago I analysed a website and its SEO rankings for a friend as they were paying for SEO on the site in question. What I discovered was that while the site was getting first page rankings for agreed keywords, those keywords were very low traffic. By this I mean they were only getting around a dozen (12) searches a month. Since this was an e-commerce site with allot of competition the keywords in question were not good enough for the amount of money being spent on SEO, and it was allot of money for no real return.
When dealing with SEO companies double check the keywords via Google Adwords keyword planner before you agree on them. It is really easy to rank a site on the first page of google when the keywords are low traffic and low competition. This however will not likely help as you will get very little traffic to your site.
The modern search engine takes location into consideration when ranking sites. That is a business located in Perth Western Australia will rank higher than a company in New York when the search is done from Perth Western Australia. The opposite will be true if you search from New York. You can further boost your rankings by registering your business in reputable online directories. In Australia True Local is one that comes to mind. Be careful however not to register your site in spammy low quality directories as this may harm your rankings.
Steer clear of any SEO companies that offer link building. This is an old black-hat method of boosting your SEO and for a while this worked brilliantly. However as with any method of tricking google you will eventually get caught and penalised (even delisted). One method that was used is a PBN (Private Blog Network). These are still being used for gaming google and while if done correctly can work in the short term, however once Google works out what you are doing (and they will!) your site will be delisted, and good luck in getting good SEO after that has happened.
While link building can boost your SEO if done correctly it is in fact very difficult to do properly. The problem being that you need to get links for subject relevant sites that have very good rankings. The problem is that there is rarely any beneficial reason for relevant subject matter sites to add your link as more often then not they are your competitors.
In my opinion you are better off spending your time building up a social media following and attaching that to your website.
An old method for boosting your SEO rank was putting the keywords in your domain name. While arguably this can still work it does not in our experience work that well anymore so is not work the effort.
One method used to be that you would register every domain that is a variation on your main domain, register these and redirect them to your main page.
This is no longer relevant as domain names have little effect on SEO anymore. The only thing we would recommend is get the .com and your local country, in our case .com.au. If you want one of the new name like .host in our case get that too but I wouldn’t recommend getting every variation of your company name you can come up with.
In our case we have registered the following:
The only reason we didn’t register altair.com is because it was already taken, otherwise we would have gone with that.
Can rank be guaranteed?
Can SEO companies guarantee rank? No they cannot, any company that says otherwise is either lying or they are using some black-hat trick that will in the end likely get you de-listed. Google doesn’t release how-to manuals on exactly what to do to get rank and due to the probably incredibly complex natural of search engine algorithms I’m not sure Google can even predict exactly anymore what sites will rank the highest.
Leverage Social Media
Social media is the current craze and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. Once you’ve figured out which offering suites your business model make sure you connect them to your website. If you have a good following in your social media profile firstly this can drive traffic to your website and secondly it appears that social media boosts your google rankings.
Before you go down the path of Adwords ensure you have properly optimised (as in SEO) your website before hand. Google Adwords will take the quality of your website into consideration when ranking your keywords. You will find when reviewing your Adwords console that it will rate the relevance of your keywords in regards to the page your targeting. If Google cannot clearly see that the keywords you are trying to rank for are relevant to the page you are trying to direct your visitors to, then you are unlikely to rank well (or at all) even with paid search.
Measure your progress
You will need some way of measuring your progress and this can be done with a combination of Google Webmaster tools and an analytics package like Google Analytics or Piwik. Google Webmaster tools will give you an insite into what keywords are showing your website and more importantly whether google is seeing any errors with your site. If you see any errors in the console you would be advised to resolve them immediately. Google Analytics and/or Piwiki will provide you with live stats in regards to traffic reaching your website. You can also add rules via your website that will provide you insites into where people are going on your site and where they are coming from.
SEO these days is a combination of allot of little things from on-page SEO to link building (relevant link building) to social media. While you can DIY your SEO it can be very frustrating if your not ticking every box you need to and you’re not ranking highly. It can also be detrimental if you are using outdated tricks to boost your rankings as they can either have no effect, or a negative effect on your rankings.
SEO takes time and from my experience to do proper organic SEO can take from 6-8 months to get real results. If that is not feasible then we would recommend SEO coupled with Google Adwords and/or Facebook Ads. You will get traffic to your site immediately this way and if you do your SEO correctly your costs will go down over time as you get more organic hits.
And the good news is, if you do your organic white-hat SEO well you’re likely to get good rankings and stay there. A good SEO company can certainly assist in this respect and if you don’t have the time and/or knowledge to do it properly then pay for a good SEO companies services.
The following pages are good sources of information on SEO.
Moz Blog – This Moz blog is a very good source for SEO. Moz also provide a plugin for your browser that rates your site.
SEO Copilot Blog – A good source for SEO and a useful tool for checking your on-page SEO.
Yoast SEO Blog – Yoast make an awesome SEO plugin for WordPress and Drupal.