Choosing an SEO Company in 2013

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SEO is a very fluid industry that has a history of shape-shifting, leaving many who need these services in a tricky position when it comes to choosing an SEO company in 2013. The online SEO industry offers a cloudy mix of SEO tactics. Many are still being sold online as viable methods, despite their obvious lack of SEO value in the current SEO landscape that Google has terra-formed through its algorithms. Avoiding SEO companies that abuse and game both clients and the system is one of the first tactics you should adopt in your SEO strategy. Easier said than done – we are in murky waters here.

Aiming for Page One

The effort to get to page one includes a myriad of optimizations to content, media, website page structure, linking – the list is very long indeed. Standard optimization using regular and well-known methods includes adding keywords and tags and using social media to popularize the site. In the past tactics used by “optimizers” brought instant results and many were impressive. Getting to page one for any keyword within weeks were common claims and still are to be found in the recesses of the Internet. These optimizations either did not last long or, most likely, caused the site to be hit hard by Google, filtering out spammers and SEO gamers in their updates.

The different flavors of SEO companies

SEO Pick and MixIn an attempt to demonstrate what is available, we categorized the SEO providers that exist today into these types:

Resellers – they’re great at closing the deals, but simply outsource 100% of the work to their counterparts which leaves little to no room for flexibility. They bid on PPC, and usually talk a big game. These are more focused on traffic generation than SEO.

Cookie Cutters – typically larger companies with many past clients. They’re great at demonstrating their SEO prowess with sophisticated reports from clever looking SEO software. They usually have little up to date knowledge of trends sand movement in the industry/algorithm changes.

Followers – these are the medium sized SEO firms trying to be like the larger SEO firms. They want to be ranked on all the top paid SEO lists out there, and thrive on buzz. Their ultimate goals fame, industry recognition, and more profits; often at the expense of their clients’ mediocre performance or a short term result. They supply designer SEO reports from the same expensive SEO software as the Cookie Cutters.

The Guy Next Door – This is probably a guy or web design company offering SEO services as a secondary income. They can talk the talk and somewhat follow basic search engine guidelines, but may lack the requisite knowledge or resources to get sustainable results. They probably cannot afford mainstream SEO software like the larger SEO firms.

Seo TypesThe Company Next Door – These guys are the smaller boutique-type SEO companies you see with an office next to a real estate agency, or local corner plaza. They usually have a connection with a few larger contracts that allow them to keep their doors open. They are little more than a storefront version of the guy next door and rely on image and marketing to survive. They will have the same banter as your average carpet salesman and often the same level of knowledge of SEO.

The Company You Should Stay Away From – This company will guarantee rankings, submit your website to thousands of search engines, directories and promises many other useless activities like a fast food menu. They offer thousands of inbound PageRanking links for $100, promise super-fast top of page one ranking and tout their methods as a lucrative industry secret that only they know. Yeah sure! Generally these are offshore enterprises using dubious tactics. Their backlink strategies can ruin a site SEO in the long term. Heaven help you if you get them to write your blog too, or market articles with your name on them, your reputation may never recover.

The Company You’ve Been Looking For – has references for you to contact and testimonials from real clients. They should offer a clear strategy which they should be willing to share with you -it’s no secret! This should be backed up by credible (and most importantly), uncomplicated information that you can easily understand. They will integrate a Social Media and SEO hybrid into your SEO campaign strategy. You should be able to read proper case studies to prove their worth, accompanied by regular reports from Google Analytics whose information can be trusted and not manipulated. They also follow search engine optimization and publishing guidelines and stay up to date with trends and algorithm changes. In addition, everything you pay for will be documented in a clear and understandable format. Their website will not look like a dollar store front window.

How Do You Measure SEO Success?

We measure our SEO success through traffic reporting, rankings in the search engines, and lead/conversion rates. Ultimately, did you get a return on your investment? The calculations are not difficult to make if you have before/after report on traffic. To check if you had a good ROI, you can simply look at the percentage increase in traffic. If that resulted in more revenue and a good position in search for appropriate keywords, then you probably chose well and can claim success.

Parting Shots

SEO strategies have come a long way since the 1990’s. Successful SEO is now based on keeping up with algorithm updates, watching and reacting to ranking trends, and taking the appropriate steps to combat web spam (as viewed in Google’s eyes) on your own website. You would expect your SEO company to do this for you, but it pays to understand what they are doing and why before you pay out any cash for SEO. “If it looks too good to be true it probably is” has rarely been more appropriate.

SEO has always been a long-term effort for those who are successful at it. Choosing the right SEO company is largely about trusting that they are prepared for a long term effort, and knowing what that effort will involve. We all want to go viral and see those huge traffic numbers but in reality few ever do; if they do, it is usually very short-lived and hard to replicate. Making the right choices in selecting an SEO firm can require little more than common sense accompanied by an innate disbelief in SEO hype. A little background checking does not go amiss either. Always keep in mind that your SEO company is going to determine your online business success to quite an extent – Choose carefully my friends.

Henry Hernandez
Henry H. Hernandez is the CEO and Founder of Texas SEO. Henry got his feet wet on the agency side in 2005, and moved to... Read Full Bio
Henry Hernandez
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  • SeoSemantic

    If you are not getting traffic on your website whatever you were expecting , it means you are lacking somewhere. This problem can take place if You are not Using Webmaster Resources or those words people search for. Other option is there, choose SEO company to obtain high rank on search engine.

  • I’m working with a client whose former SEO company started out of the gate strong but momentum died really quickly. I was combing through their link profile the other day and of the 1000+ links I’d say that 97% of them were directories. Not the kind of work you can expect to help you get to the top now!

  • Keyword Removed

    Great points, Henry. There are so many SEO companies and so-called experts out there that people don’t know who or what to believe. The best way to stand out is to do what you said, be transparent and not make any grand promises and be willing to share references and past examples of your work. In other words, be honest and trustworthy. If you get a reputation as such, you will place yourself on a much higher level than the rest.

  • Abel Ibarra

    Just as you stated, when an “Seo Company or Guru” is not forthcoming with their methods or providing credible information, it’s time to stand clear and say no thanks. Very few companies will provide data on their prior past projects and show how they’ve done it.. It’s really tough to find a genuine Seo Company that does it the right way and maintains integrity and has nothing really to hide. The sad thing is that many don’t take the time to educate themselves on the basics of Seo and just give in and signup with the company that gives the biggest promises.

    P.S Mr. Hernandez
    If you Google “Choosing an SEO Company” this article is at the top already, it seems like your company is doing something right.!

  • Great article, a bad SEO company can cause serious harm to a client’s website! But a legitimate firm can provide invaluable services. Every website has unique strengths and weaknesses, SEO firms should provide customized service based on a client’s particular needs. A good SEO firm always stays on top of the industry to recognize changes that have taken place online and evolve and adjust service offerings to stay ahead of the shifting landscape. This also means that a good SEO firm will not engage in shady practices that may penalize a company’s site or lose value after a short period of time.

  • Abel, thank you for your kind words.

    Kristina, Yes i agree, every campaign should be custom to the clients needs. Every website and business is different thus so should be their online marketing strategy.

    It is very important to set the expectations right from the beginning and ensure they are understood by both parties. It is always good to have a questionnaire on hand that can squash these issues before they arise.

    i.e. What do you expect from Said SEO Company? What do you consider a successful campaign to be? etc.

  • Your article is dead on. I have been doing SEO for my (other) software company since 2000. SEO has evolved from good content (onsite), to link building, and now back to good content (and social media and link building). The most challenging aspect of this business is separating your ethical and professional services from the fray of sales hype that most SEO companies solely rely on. Divulging everything in your campaign to the client is simply the honest way to do SEO.

    My only peeve about your well written article is that it hints that larger SEO companies are the only ones that know what they are doing and provide quality, results-driven, and transparent services. In my case, we are small by design, but have more than a decade of experience. Company size doesn’t matter. It’s the knowledge, experience and professionalism of the consultants that you are contracting that matters.

  • Thank you Kevin for your insight .

    “My only peeve about your well written article is that it hints that larger SEO companies are the only ones that know what they are doing and provide quality, results-driven, and transparent services. ”

    I would simply state they have a little more “in-house” data to look at in regards to analysis’ and what is currently working in the Algo’s. Though I would have to agree with you, being small by design does have huge advantages in garnering results for your clients.

    “Company size doesn’t matter. It’s the knowledge, experience and professionalism of the consultants that you are contracting that matters.” – AGREED!

    Hope your company is doing well!

    I see you are the “Best SEO Company in Tysons Corner VA” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Henry,

    Great article. I see that every website has its differences, However, SEO firms should have provisions concerning the needs of the clients.A good SEO firm should be able to adapt on changes to stay on top in order to not lose value after a short period of time.

  • Hey Henry, Its a great topic you chose. SEO is certainly becoming faster and bigger. There are so many agencies who say that we can do the work for you. Choosing one right SEO agency is a question mark in 2013. In such a mixture your selection must be accurate. I’m glad with this topic and the points you’ve clearified must help many of us in future ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hello !
    I would like to thank you for the time you have contributed in composing this blog post keep posting and helping us ๐Ÿ™‚