There’s a relatively high entry barrier to doing SEO the right way.
Outsourcing your SEO may not be something that you’ve considered yet, but as you start making some sales, you need to create a plan for constant SEO growth.
Of course, with the right knowledge and skill, you can manage almost everything that needs to be done yourself, but honestly, you’ll find it very hard to match the kind of results that you can get from outsourced SEO services.
Also, as a blogger or online business owner, you’re likely already stretched for time, and outsourcing some of your website-related tasks is a great way of getting some of that time back.
But, if you don’t know what you’re doing, the process can turn out to be extremely time-consuming.
Read this beginner’s guide to help you avoid the frustration of having to burn through a lot of bad eggs before finding the right SEO partner.
Screening for SEO Success
The process of screening to get the right SEO services provider involves a lot more than simply looking at portfolios or past work.
A lot of those ‘examples’ provided by freelancers are for small business niches with very limited competition.
Also, many of their customers lack a proper understanding of SEO requirements or tactics, which means they can be easily led down ANY route.
Some SEO specialists will provide you with a report on your site that can be pulled from any respectable SEO tool simply by typing in your domain and exporting the data – and yet they charge you for hours of work!
Others may include additional information that isn’t tailored specifically to your site (and it’s often information that you could find in a 5-second Google search), which means it won’t add value or help you get the results you’re after.
True, this type of data is important to your business, but it’s the logic and analysis that’s applied to the information that is valuable.
So, if all your SEO partner does is just hit the export button, it probably means they don’t possess the skills or the capacity to drive the kind of results you want.
But before we get into the tips for finding the best freelancer to take care of your business’s SEO needs, you need to understand the different types of engagement available.
Different Types of SEO Engagement
SEO involves ongoing effort, which is why the most common engagements are retainer-based.
This type of engagement allows for consistent actions, which makes more sense as SEO is a long-term play.
A project can consist of a simple tune-up, the technical aspects pertaining to how your website is built, or competitive analysis which looks at the keywords your site should go after.
When you enlist the services of an SEO company, you may be charged by the hour or per project.
If your project is a particularly large one, a consultative approach may make more sense. This means the SEO professional comes in to educate you or your team about SEO best practices and helps you devise a strategy for ongoing effort including the creation of targeted content, link-building, and so on.
However, this approach only works if you’re committed to internal accountability when it comes to your SEO process. If not, this will prove harder, more expensive, and it definitely won’t stick.
Typical SEO Services Costs
Professional SEO may cost you $1,000 or more. But you’ll find some SEO companies offering their services for $500 or less. To be honest, at that price, you’re probably getting spammy and ineffective work.
The price point is usually a good indicator of what you’re getting. When you come across this ‘too-good-to-be-true’ type of cheap SEO, run the other way!
Good SEO takes time – and money.
Spending money on your SEO (or time, if you insist on doing it yourself…) is the only way to see real results.
Spending more money allows you to outsource SEO services to somebody who can then focus their time or allocated resources to writing content, procuring links, making sure your site’s technical aspects are improved, and targeting all SEO activities effectively.
Keep in mind that engagement for $1K might include much fewer links and less content than one on the higher end of the spectrum (e.g. $5K).
As an online marketer, you’re already aware that the two most crucial factors in boosting your rankings are content and links, so this is something you need to consider carefully before choosing your SEO package.
3 Things You Should Be Suspicious Of:
There are tons of SEO spammers online waiting to sell you their bogus claims. Listed below are three obvious signs that you need to look for SEO services elsewhere:
1. They claim to be able to rank you fast
SEO is a delicate matter, and if you’re going to rank that fast, there’s no guarantee that those rankings will stick.
Even worse, if you don’t continue that effort, you could experience a drop in rankings just as quickly. Slow and deliberate gains are what you want in SEO. These are the real rankings that last.
Also, quick rankings are often volatile and can get you penalties from Google.
2. They guarantee rankings
While it’s great to have a confident SEO services provider, they really shouldn’t be that confident.
Anyone who ‘guarantees’ rankings if often associated with seedy practices like black-hat SEO.
This could turn around and burn you after the SEO engagement. Legitimate companies do not take this approach when trying to make sales.
3. Suggesting results without knowledge of your market realities
If they offer ideas about what you can expect your return to be, they need to at least have some knowledge of your competition or search volumes for the top terms in your particular industry.
Without this information, any ideas of returns that they offer you just won’t be realistic.
Be wary of SEO people preaching the effectiveness of tactics in your situation when they don’t actually know your situation.
3 Things That Show Effectiveness
There are certain things that demonstrate effectiveness when trying to determine which SEO company is the best one for your needs.
This includes specific keyword rankings, growth in organic traffic, and most importantly, an increase in sales from organic traffic.
Let’s take a closer look at the things you need to consider:
1. Top terms that matter to your business
Part of great SEO engagement success involves tracking the top terms that are important to you. These are the terms that you get most leads from, those crucial keywords bringing in money.
Good SEOs don’t miss those, but they expand on them and find even more terms that you can profit from.
2. Overall organic traffic
Organic search traffic is probably the actual starting point in determining whether an SEO professional did their job or not since it’s most likely what you hired them to improve in the first place.
Well, this and leads/sales.
However, it’s important to realize that there are some types of traffic that don’t actually bring in any revenue. A good SEO company won’t rank you for low-value terms that aren’t likely to end in a sale.
3. The number of leads or sales
If your site converts one out of every 100 people who click on it, then it stands to reason that your sales will go up if you increase traffic for those business-related terms and topics that your customers are actually interested in.
This isn’t always clear-cut, though.
But in the end, it’s the leads and sales that are most important, and this justifies ongoing SEO expenses. That’s why they should be prioritized as the ultimate guiding factor for the engagement.
How to Choose the Right SEO Company for Your Small Business
Step 1: Find Out What the Deliverables Are
It’s important to have some kind of frequent reporting for showcasing effort, content, and links.
How much that is usually depends on what you’ve agreed on, but can include:
Regular or monthly reporting (this could be a report or dashboard)
Building out high-quality, useful content on your site
Finding and earning valuable links
Clear details on your site’s technical changes
Step 2: Determine What Tools They Are Using
Great SEO services professionals should be able to give you a short tour of how they monitor progress and reach their targets.
Some of the most commonly used SEO tools include the following:
Google Data Studio
If you’re wondering why tools matter, it’s because if the SEO professional isn’t using top-of-the-line tools, then it’s hard to imagine that you’re getting the best possible SEO service from them.
Having good tools at their disposal means that they can get things done a lot more effectively and efficiently than someone using poor SEO tools.
Step 3: Determine What the SEO ROI is
This depends on the industry you’re in, but it can be very high.
It’s vital to be real when it comes to the actual opportunity from search traffic in your specific niche – and track the dollar value from leads and sales acquired through organic growth.
Some of the keys to determining the ROI of your SEO include:
Find the actual value of each lead
Have your reporting in place
Tally up results and ensure your SEO services are boosting profits
The degree to which you have to increase organic traffic in order to justify your ongoing SEO services is going to depend on the industry you’re in as well as your average sale price.
The value of each lead or sale dictates the amount you can (and should) spend on your SEO efforts.
How Do You Know If You Have The Right SEO Company?
Well, you know what they say, ‘When it’s right, you’ll know…’
You need to make sure that the company you choose to work with aggressively pursues results and is attentive and responsive to your needs.
Four important factors that will help you to know that you’ve made the right choice are:
Pivoting with new data
Updates on new developments in SEO
Results actually bringing more money to your business
Major changes in their digital marketing over the next 5 years or so
The reason you want a company that’s constantly evolving is that Google’s algorithms are forever changing.
So it’s vital that your SEO specialist’s methods evolve, too.
There may be times when your original agreement may need to evolve, or you may need to reexamine the relationship or terms, and change them if needed, and so on.
What’s important is that you’re clear and honest about the things that are important to you and your business to ensure that the result you get is focused.
As long as you follow our tips and tricks on finding the best SEO partner (and avoiding the bad eggs), you can then relax and allow time to achieve the desired results.
Keep in mind that SEO takes time, so let the relationship breathe. Don’t overemphasize early results as this could hurt your SERP (search engine results page) standing in the long term.
Now we’ve come to the end of the article, and the question on a lot of people’s minds right now is: How long is it going to take to see results?
The answer to that is, it takes up to a year or more to see substantial movement, but you can have evidence of traction and clear gains within 3 to 6 months.
In 7 to 9 months, you should have more obvious ROI, and after a year, you’ll know if there are any major adjustments that need to be made (such as getting a new partner if your ROI isn’t clear).
Just remember that SEO requires constant attention, and once you get started, make sure you’re in it for the long haul. That’s the only way your SEO efforts will yield a significant return in revenue to what you’ve spent.
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Updated: originally published February 11th 2019