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Hiring an SEO Firm: Tips, Tricks & Red Flags

In the past, I’ve had disappointing experiences hiring the wrong firms to manage my startup’s SEO needs and it wasn’t fun. Not only that, it was an extremely frustrating time because I had paid a considerable amount of money for a what I thought was going to be top notch guidance. As much as I liked chasing “professionals” for reports that I never got, deficiencies in communication and lackluster SEO results, I had to let that firm go. But it wasn’t all bad, despite wasting time and money, I did come out of that process wiser. To help you avoid the pitfalls I went through with hiring the right SEO firm, read my “tips, tricks and red flags” below:

Establish Consistency

The SEO firm I described above had a great reputation and that was why I placed so much trust in the hands of their professionals. At the time my startup was just getting its bearings and I didn’t know much about SEO nor did I have very much time to research SEO, so during our initial consultation I deferred a lot of direction to the manager of our campaigns. I didn’t know the turnaround time for results so I didn’t explicitly set up a schedule to go over progress consistently with the firm, thinking that they would just fill me in when needed. That was a bad idea. It got to the point where I would lose touch with them for weeks and I’d have no idea if anyone was working on my campaign. If you’re paying a professional, it’s important that you create a schedule in the beginning and ask them to send you timely reports. It’s not being pushy, requiring that you’re updated every two weeks or every month with statistics lets you know that you’re paying for results.

Ask A Ton of Questions

You should be curious about SEO, at least to the extent that more knowledge will help you understand how to better your site exposure. A good SEO firm will take the time (as in calls, emails and even in-person meetings) to guide you through even your most basic questions. Not only that, a great SEO firm will provide and explain to you the different avenues that your company can use to improve, for example, how to get more relevant users so that not everyone is immediately “bouncing,” or mapping out site usability direction so that more visitors will lead to conversions. A fantastic SEO firm doesn’t keep knowledge away from you, but is willing to enrich you with information that would be conducive to your success.

Plan to Match Performance With Compensation

I’m not downright advocating Pay for Performance SEO because SEO is a complicated process with many factors and a campaign can take even a year to show results. But don’t flat out pay the full fee that the firm asks for before you investigate the level of effort the campaign will take. Also understand when you’re expected to see results (if results do occur) and what your unique measures of success are. Simply put, spend some time to work out a tiered compensation plan with your SEO firm. Most firms will ask for a down payment, ask them what you’ll get in return for that fee and also talk about bonuses for when good work produces exceptional results. But remember, nothing is instant in the world of SEO. Gauge with metrics over time and you’ll see what works over the long run and what are happenstance flukes.

Bryan JaneczkoFounder, Wicked Start
Bryan has successfully launched multiple startups. His latest venture, Wicked Start, provides tools to plan, fund, and launch a new business. Also author of WickedStart: Guide to Starting a New Venture with Passion and Purpose, Bryan is committed to helping small businesses grow and succeed. | Facebook | @WickedStart | LinkedIn | More from Bryan

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Discussion (2) Comment

  1. PrinceVisitor

    One more thing if the firm says that they have cheapest rates then never ever consider them, because the cheapest rates provides cheap services and it’s always a headache in the future, because their work cause you a lot of problem in the future. So never go for the cheapest, if spending some extra bucks can keep your website on the top then what’s the problem in that.

  2. I think finding legitimate people/firms online is always risky irrespective of industry. It isn’t just about SEO; its about internet that is a world of deception. In SEO, the only way to find out either you are handing your project over to a efficient firm is to have a detailed interview. Break it down into 2 parts strategy and execution and ask as many questions as you can. Give them a trial period of 1 month and lets see if they do respond quickly, work efficiently etc then you can trust on them for 6 months to show you some results.


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