You have just been tasked with finding a reputable search engine optimization (SEO) agency that will provide your company with various online marketing services. After performing a quick search, you’ve come to the daunting realization that there are dozens of agencies, and you don’t know how to tell them apart.
Let’s go over a few common misconceptions about what you should be looking for in a marketing firm. Question your hiring motives if you believe the following statements.
“Their website is very well-designed, I bet it would be a trustworthy company to work with.”
“This company is ranking in the top spot on Google for my area, the people who run it have to know what they’re doing.”
“This SEO firm is well-known. It has hundreds of employees, and by the looks of it, it is making a killing selling its services. No one would hire the company if it didn’t know what it was doing, right?”
Here’s how to dig under the surface to find the SEO company that fits your brand’s image and, more importantly, delivers results.
Decide What Your Company NeedsAre you looking for links to be added or removed? A one-time SEO audit, ongoing SEO work, PPC campaign management, online reputation management, or content marketing?
The point is to identify your company’s exact marketing goals before you even talk to a SEO firm. The services you select should be optimized to your revenue model. Why pay for something that you don’t need? Why spend money that isn’t going to maximize ROI? Know what needs to be done beforehand so you’re able to come up with specific goals you want the SEO company to meet. Entrepreneur.com provides this great article on How To Come Up With Marketing Goals.
Once you have determined the services that you need, do some research on what results you can reasonably expect, in what timeframe, and for how much money. Read up on what constitutes ‘black hat’ SEO and stay as far away from those companies as possible. Find out about digital advertising and online reputation company best practices and identify a firm that employs them.
Be Active During ConsultationsAfter finding a list of strong candidates, schedule a consultation. Whether the consultation is in person or over video chat, get a feel for who they are as people and as a firm. Will your company thrive under this marketing agency? Are there obvious differences in company character that could cause problems later? Emphasize the fact that your company demands results specific to your needs.
By the end of the consultation, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, you should have reasonable expectations for what this online marketing agency can accomplish. You should also receive a proposal containing the services you will need, the costs associated with each one, and the amount of time it will take for your goals to be met.
Now repeat the process with various other marketing firms to gather a table of candidates for comparison. But don’t advertise the fact that you’re checking out other agencies. If you do, they may not work hard for your business. After all, the most effective marketing agencies have clients scrambling to work with the firm, not the other way around.
Gather References and Case Studies
Back to our emphasized point, you want to hire a company that gets the job done. The simplest way to acquire this information is to ask the marketing company. What are the results it has delivered to past clients? Did it improve e-mail CTR, grow a strong social media fan base, improve the number of targeted leads acquired through landing pages? Are the companies it has worked with in the past similar to your brand?
Were there any clients who had a poor experience? If so, were their online marketing goals similar to your own? Putting together a rock solid foundation of research is key to uncovering a marketing agency that is right for you and delivers timely results.