What to Expect from a Good SEO Firm

Last week I posted about 11 Ways to Recognize a Bad SEO Firm. This week, in response to many requests, I am going to turn it around and talk about a set of things to look for in identifying a good SEO firm.

Unfortunately, it is much more difficult to be declarative when looking at this side of the coin. There may be more things that you will need from your SEO firm than are listed below. Every web site is very, very different, and they all have different needs.

Also, for definitional purposes, I am assuming that the term SEO includes responsibility for developing inbound links to the site. Without further ado, here is the list of things that Good SEOs will do:

  1. Don’t always tell you what you want to hear, right from the start. This may even happen in the first call. Remember, the reason why you are bringing in an SEO is that you have a problem. It’s their job to help you understand the nature of the problem and the fix.
  2. Use a teaching oriented approach. From the very beginning, you want an SEO that will teach you the basics, by explaining everything that they are doing. This is a critical element of a successful SEO – Client relationship.
  3. Start strategic. Good SEOs do not bring a one size fits all formula. They will help you understand the strategic plan for your site. This should start with the first call also. You have investment decisions to make, and you need to have the complete picture to make those investments wisely. Note that there are many high quality people that focus on one vertical area of expertise. Depending on your business, they may be an excellent resource for you. Just make sure you understand how they fit into the broader strategic picture of the plan to grow your site’s traffic.
  4. Know that “Content is King”. At the end of the day, you need links. It’s nearly impossible to get links unless you give people a reason to link to you. The best answer for that is quality content. Even for smaller sites with limited budgets, this must be addressed. Fortunately, there are many creative solutions that don’t necessarily involve a huge investment.
  5. Has worked on a large number of sites (they have breadth of experience). Every site is different, both in terms of its structure and the market it competes in. SEOs with a broad range of experience are less likely to run into problems with yours.
  6. Preach link volume and high value links in balance. It’s great to get lots of links. Most likely though, you need some authoritative links as well. How you going to get them? A good SEO should have good fresh ideas on this topic.
  7. Offers up freely available case studies or testimonials. Not every client wants to reveal all the details of their traffic, but some will be willing to let an SEO do so. At the very least, however, the SEO should be able to offer up testimonials from past and/or current clients.
  8. Willing to provide references. If the case studies and testimonials are not enough for you, then the SEO should be willing to provide you with people that they can call for a reference.
  9. Of course, does not do any of the bad seo things. Quiz them on the bad SEO things and see what they say about them.
  10. It’s a definite bonus if they have a reputation to protect. A reputation is an asset, and business owners don’t like losing assets. That said, there are SEO firms that do good work that may not have as visible a reputation as some others, so view this as a bonus rather than an absolute requirement.

If you know of any other things that belong on this list, let me know about it and I will add it.

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