Recently I was perusing through Reddit and stumbled across an interesting thread about SEO. As an avid search marketer, naturally it caught my eye. It wasn’t as much as the familiarity of such topic but rather more of the commentary. In the reality of things, other SEO companies simply create bad karma for others and therefore flatten the industry in itself. So, when working with an SEO company, how do you determine the real value behind its service? How do you know if you’re earning value from the service? Is your SEO provider cheating you?

Gauging Your SEO Provider & Service Value

After being in the search world for a total of two decades now, I think I’ve seen the all too familiar cases of poor SEO services. But as the industry continues to evolve, creating a new wave of providers and competitors, I’ve come to realize that it’s a bit easier to spot their mistakes. Now, for you on the other hand though, that may not be the case. Trust me when I tell you this that skepticism shouldn’t be ruled out when assessing or exploring SEO services. As a matter of fact, I highly recommend that you employ the following tactics when scouting a reputable provider or even assessing an existing one.

So, what do YOU look for in a reputable SEO provider? How do you weed out all the clutter and mischief?

  • Transparency is key! Make sure they’re not leaving out any small details behind or not answering your questions. It’s not uncommon for certain providers to respond to a question by merely changing the subject. That would be a red flag to watch out for. Also a clear sign that they may not be up-to-speed on current best practices. That’s one way I would look at such response.
  • Clear explanation of service – Ensure that your SEO provider clearly explains the deliverables you’ll be receiving on monthly basis. For example, monthly reports, keyword rankings, SEO account overview, recommendations, etc. Even if you don’t understand the value in certain areas, be optimistic and patient enough to allow for a thorough explanation. After all, your brand is on the line.
  • Education establishes recognition – SEO is a heavily misinterpreted and underestimated. Especially by dinosaur type brands who are yet to see the value in it. So, when seeking SEO interest, I would highly recommend exploring the educational side. Allow your SEO provider to offer a bit of education on the service and hopefully tying it into the value added proposition you’ll be receiving. I feel that this particular aspect of the service is key especially if you’re incoherent to its potential.
  • Ask for testimonials – This is perhaps one of the most commonly overlooked areas. If your provider is reputable and established, known for their expertise, then they should definitely have credible sources/past/prior clients who can attest to their subject matter expertise. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of the first things I would acquire first prior to service engagement. Everyone seeks trust, credibility, authority, and subject matter expertise.
  • Set realistic goals & objectives – This one is a Yin Yang approach unfortunately. One of the most common reasons why SEO fails in general is simply due to the fact that unrealistic goals and objectives are set in the first place. You have to understand that SEO works, if done correctly. Certain industries require a slightly more dominant monetary investment for success mainly due to competition. Allow your SEO provider to explain how your industry factors into these goals and objectives. Believe it or not, SEO may not be suited for your particular industry. This is highly unlikely though as SEO is versatile and necessary for just about every single industry.
  • SEOs are NOT magicians – This is a really tough one to explain. You will not gain Page 1 rankings on Google or any other search engine overnight. Anyone that claims to do so is most likely lying to you, stealing your money, and banking on a shady tactic. Building up organic growth and visibility takes time. Organic search drives over 50% of traffic to majority of sites across multiple industries according to a recent study. It’s a necessity, not an option, but getting there is no easy task. So, be a bit patient and optimistic about the overall approach.
  • Seek an action plan – Well established SEO providers will enforce the need of an SEO action plan. Anything that is successful requires a strong action plan. SEO is no exception to that rule. If your SEO provider has failed to mention the need for an action plan, make sure to ask for one or at least question the lack of it.
  • The big promises – A good portion of SEO providers attempt to rope in clients by making empty promises. “We can get you on Page 1 of Google.” or “We can boost your organic traffic in as little as 48 hours.” These are some of the most common and rather inflated empty promises that a poor SEO will run by you. Be cautious of these types of shady tactics that may get you in trouble rather quickly.
  • SEO Audit – I’m yet to run into an established SEO provider who won’t recommend an audit prior to engaging in the actual service offering. The exception of the rule is building a brand-new website where an action plan is factorial. If you have an existing website and struggling with organic visibility then an audit will probably be one of the first things your SEO provider will recommend.
  • Backlinks – Online relationships are of equivalent importance like the traditional ones. Search engines seek correlation between different sites and complimentary verticals. A reputable SEO provider will be able to tally up in a report format the total number of backlinks your domain has accrued on monthly basis. Also, it’s something that they should regularly report on in attempt to manage existing online reputation.

The above mentioned are common challenges are ones to watch out for. There are other confusing and questionable areas to keep an eye out for and typically something an experience SEO will be able to rectify.

The SEO service offering in itself is simply heavily misconstrued. A vast majority of companies out there still fail to see its real potential. Maybe that’s a good thing though because it keeps people like me in business. On the realistic side of things though, it’s an extremely tedious service to offer especially to companies who fail to see the value. So, typically I prefer to work with brands who value their perception in the marketplace, understand that presentation is key, and express strong interest in organic growth. SEO takes time, money, and patience.

Are you in an SEO dilemma, seeking outside perspective, or simply want to chat more about it? I offer free consultation with no strings attached. Yup, that simple.

In conclusion, I hope that this article gives you some insight on assessing your existing SEO endeavors and would love to acquire some feedback in the comments section below.