With so many SEO companies out there, it can become overwhelming to choose one that fits your company. Here are five considerations when choosing an SEO expert that works for YOU.
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1. Communication and Listening Skills
It’s one thing for someone to understand search engine optimization and another thing for someone to effectively implement the right SEO strategy for your business. This is because many people in the SEO field may possess the right know-how, but may not understand how to bring it to your business where it can be profitable.
If you’re getting solicited by emails that talk about their expertise and how they know everything about Google’s algorithm, they are best suited for a marketing team, not a local business. 9 times out of 10 they will talk about their product, but not about the problems they can solve for you, the paying customer. If you feel you are sitting in a lecture hall then you’re most likely going to spend more time talking about SEO and learning about it, than reaping the joys of its effectiveness.
Additionally, a common issue is a lack of listening and understanding. Many SEO experts will try to show you why they are always right and why you need to listen to them. But in reality, they need to listen to you and your brand. They need to ask you questions regarding your goals, your comfort level with being involved in the project, and other outside-the-box questions that will ensure you’re clearly understood. Lack of understanding on the SEO team’s side is a sure-fire way to have a bad SEO experience.
Next time you suspect they lack communication and listening skills ask them:
- How are you going to implement my brand throughout the SEO campaign?
- You’re looking for them to confirm what your brand is about and ask clarification questions.
- What do you guys consider to be “results”?
- This tests whether they are straight shooters, or just want to land a sale. You’re looking for consistency.
- Who do I speak to if I have questions?
- This is just to gauge their willingness to grant you higher-ups, should anything serious come up. You always want the manager’s information if there is one.
- What do you need from me to ensure success?
- You’re looking for specific items and clarity.
2. English Speaking and Cultural Familiarity
Hiring overseas is becoming more common, especially with more affordable talent being found in countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Eastern Europe, and South America. That being said, it’s important to gauge their familiarity with your local customs. If you’re hiring an SEO expert, you want them to have strong verbal and written communication skills that go above and beyond basic English. Have they worked with American businesses before? Do they know the differences in time zones and how that affects business?
At JCSURGE we outsource some of our manual work to overseas workers and have long-lasting relationships with our vendors, but that doesn’t always work for a small business looking to hire an SEO expert. Part of our job involves coordinating meetings at different times, carefully rewording instructions, and making everything crystal clear. But as a small accounting firm, plumbing company, or lawyer, you may not have time to cater to different workstyles and therefore you need to hire an expert who is professionally fluent in English, knows your cultural needs, and is familiar with your industry.
We highly advise against hiring overseas unless you are already familiar with SEO and plan to be involved in the process yourself. You will waste more time explaining your work and customs to them than having them take the initiative. Overseas talent is sometimes a great asset, but it is best leveraged by SEO, marketing, and website design companies and not the average business owner.
3. Creativity and Authenticity
The problem with search engine optimization is it’s a repetitive task. According to Develomark’s founder, Ruan Marinho, SEO is not as “custom” as people might assume and it’s a standardized process that can be reapplied to different businesses. While this is great for SEO business owners, it can sometimes pose an issue… a lack of authenticity.
When an SEO expert templates the same process over and over again, it can feel as if your website isn’t authentic or unique. It might rank well, but the lack of creativity may pose a problem if you’re trying to build a unique brand and surge your business forward. In other words, it may come off as if they are blatantly trying to manipulate the search engine algorithm which can sometimes lead to a bad user experience and cause prospects to exit your site.
Examples of this are when search engine optimizers get carried away with SEO and don’t focus on branding…
The first example over-optimizes the location and this can easily be a turn-off for customers. The second example over-optimizes with keywords, and locations. Remember, you’re looking to build a brand alongside SEO.
Make sure that your SEO provider values authenticity and creativity just as much as they value repetition and solid systems.
Extra: Technical Knowledge of SEO
If you’re hiring an SEO professional, you want to make sure they know how to get the job done. But how do you do this without mastering SEO yourself? One way of determining their know-how is if they can explain their process in just a couple of minutes and it clicks with you. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t invest. You’ll spend more time and energy micro-managing them.
4. Do They Understand Overall Digital Marketing?
As we’ve mentioned before, many SEO experts hyperfocus on their industry and sometimes forget about the macro-view of marketing. This can be troublesome if you’re looking to get rid of the online marketing problem.
Make sure you ask them, for clarification on what responsibilities are theirs and what responsibilities you need to take on. We’ve found a common theme that experts in the search engine space will not touch website design, Facebook advertising, or other important digital marketing strategies.
Ask them, “How do you envision combining SEO with other digital marketing strategies?” and see how confident they are in their response. Remember, you want the entire problem to disappear, not for new ones to reappear.
5. References and Testimonials
Do they have a track record of success? If they do, can you read client testimonials and reviews? What about case studies? We all know the importance of doing our homework, but oftentimes we are so caught up in the seller’s pitch or have our confirmation biases overwhelm us that we forget to do this basic step.
Try looking for reviews that are not on their website but rather reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, Clutch.io, and any other platform.
With so many SEO companies out there, it is important to consider what factors make them worth the investment. Technical know-how is only one piece of the larger puzzle. You want to make sure that the SEO company you end up choosing listens to your brand, knows your culture, inputs creativity and authenticity, has wholistic knowledge of marketing, and is backed up by lots of positive reviews.
Get the SEO Experts at JCSURGE
If you’re looking to hire a professional SEO agency, consider reaching out to our team at JCSURGE. We work with local and national business executives across the United States to increase their search visibility.
Phone: (917) 747-4234
401 E 74th St Unit#1B
New York, NY 10021