There are many companies on the Internet that claim to be legitimate and reputable Internet marketing firms. It can be difficult filtering through the grandiose claims each company makes in order to make a proper business decision. The best way to make the correct decision is to do your due diligence and follow the steps below:
1. Verify Their Company Information
If the SEO company you are talking with gives you a physical address, Google the information they provide to make sure it’s a real location recognized by Google. Call the number they provide to see if they answer the phone, or if an answering service or automated system answers. This is important considering you need to be able to talk to your trusted SEO partner when you need to.
2. Talk To Current and Previous Customers
One of the best ways to check up on a company before doing business is to contact current or past customers. Read the referrals and testimonials from customers on the company’s website (if there aren’t any, it’s a RED FLAG!) and call some of them to find out if the SEO company has delivered on all of its promises.
3. Contact the Better Business Bureau
Reach out to the Better Business Bureau and check the company’s record. See if they have any complaints, but take complaints with a grain of salt – even a company with 100 satisfied customers has one unhappy customer for one reason or another. Be wary of multiple complaints about a consistent issue.
4. Check For the Company on Scam Websites
Reputation Management is extremely important when trying to build your brand presence online. If an SEO company has a bad reputation, it will spread everywhere and fast. Check consumer advocate websites like Scam.com to make sure you aren’t making a poor decision right off the bat.
5. Avoid Companies That Don’t Care About Their Own SEO
If an SEO company fails to position their website on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, and doesn’t care about their own brand presence, how can they succeed for you? Make sure they are ranked for keywords that are important to them!
6. No Need To Rush To a Decision
Everyone wants a proper marketing strategy “yesterday” however making a rash decision isn’t in your best interests. Take your time, and do the necessary research to make sure your decision will ultimately propel your business into the Internet’s elite.
7. How Long Has the SEO Company Been In Business?
In this economy, working with a stable company that has been in business for a while speaks volumes about its services and the company as a whole. Look for an Internet marketing firm that has been “around the block” and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. This is important because if they go out of business, you have to go through this process all over again!
8. Have They Written Blogs and Articles about Internet Marketing?
Has anyone at the company written any blog posts or articles on SEO topics? If so, have them send you references. This is a good indicator that they are experts on the topic and know their stuff. Have any of them spoken at technology conferences where their expertise was showcased? If so, have them reference the event. Both of these are quality indicators that they are a reputable firm.
9. Read the Contract Multiple Times
Read the contract multiple times and don’t sign anything until you are fully comfortable with the contents. Also, read the fine print and make sure you own the marketing material that you are hiring this SEO company to produce. A bonus goes to companies who don’t make you sign a contract, and instead prove themselves over time, month by month.
10. Avoid Guarantees
No company, no matter how good they are, can guarantee you anything on the Internet. There are too many variables outside of anyone’s control to guarantee rankings or even a timeline of results. An SEO firm CAN give you expectations based on their previous results but be wary of anyone offering absolutes. There are no guarantees on the Internet.
11. Are They Answering Your Questions?
Ask any and all questions you think of throughout the process. Be aware of their willingness to answer and if it seems like they are hiding information. You want transparency with your SEO partner.
12. Response Times Are Critical
Pay close attention to how quickly they respond to you during the initial sales process. This is a good indicator of their typical day to day business practices and will give you a solid idea of how they will respond once you are a customer.
13. Do They Use “Black Hat” SEO Techniques?
Black Hat SEO practices are marketing techniques deemed inappropriate by search engines that can get your company in trouble with search engines, drastically lowering their search rankings. Ask questions to make sure the SEO firm you are talking with doesn’t use these techniques and won’t consider them in the future.
14. Do They Have a Large Book Of Clients?
Have you seen multiple projects they have worked on that align with your Internet goals and aspirations? Do the examples given match the information provided throughout the process?
15. Listen to Your Gut, It’s Often Right!
Like taking a multiple choice test in school, your first instinct is typically the best answer. Go with what feels right after you’ve done your due diligence and you should be pleased with the results.
In conclusion, finding a reputable and legitimate SEO firm is tough and made more difficult by the overwhelming number of imposters. Be smart, do your research and follow your gut to start earning the profits you deserve from your Internet marketing efforts!
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