HOW TO: Choose A Right SEO Company – Your Checklist for 2011

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SEO in 2011 is becoming more and more important and has a wider connotation than just rankings now. If you have an online business,  you can’t afford not to invest in a Search Engine Optimization campaign. Once you have developed and designed your website having  an organic search engine presence and to reach out to as many people as possible who are searching on the web is becoming more and more competitive and a challenging task.

Investing in a good SEO company will be one of the best marketing choices for a business to do, to ensure that their products and services can be found easily and get targeted traffic to the website. What to look for in an SEO firm

Now, where do you start?  With so many SEO companies online, which one do you choose? How do you know if they will do you justice, and the money you  will spend will generate a favorable ROI?

New SEO companies are emerging online everyday as the demand for SEO is increasing more and more new companies are mushrooming on the web offering SEO services to their clients. But the million-dollar question is – How to sieve out the grain from the chaff?

So what do you really look for in an SEO firm?

There are many business and stories online where website owners have got their hands burnt due to false promises and misunderstanding between SEO firms and business owners, mainly due to lack of knowledge from the website owners. As the website owner, wants the best service possible for their website to market their business online.

Many of the times you will be hiring an SEO firm to carry out your SEO work on your site, rather than doing it in-house, for multiple reasons, as you may not know how to do SEO, or to free up some time in house for other business activities.

So what are some basic things that a business and website owner can do to ensure that they hire the perfect SEO firm to carry out their campaign. Some of them are as follows:


The first and foremost thing that one should look for in an SEO firm is the assurance that they are offering. Are they guaranteeing you certain results such as first page listing in Google, or are they assuring you that the quality of work and the process will be based on Search Engine Guidelines.

If they are guaranteeing you certain positions in search results, I would advise you to ask more questions on how they can achieve this as it is impossible for anyone to guarantee a website owner a certain position in search engines, as even if you work for the search engines you cannot guarantee such factors. If they are offering such positions in such a short time, then they are probably carrying out tasks that may not be legitimate and cause your site to be banned and blacklisted from search results.

The assurance and the guarantee that the company should give is that they will carry out the work as promised, and ensure that they keep up to their word by helping you to put the best foot forward for the website on the WWW.

Willingly To Offer Information:

Secondly, please see if the company is willing to answer all your questions and willing to clarify your doubts by offering SEO related information. If the company is secretive about their methodologies and are not willing to answer your questions then that means they themselves do not have the right perspective towards SEO or are up to some kind of methods which may not be according to the norms of the search engines which they do not want to share, and in the long run can have a negative effect on your site and rankings.

SEO Ethics:

Something many new online business may not totally be aware of, learning just a few basic aspects about SEO such as how it works, what it is, and what results realistically can be achieved, will give the business owner basic background knowledge about the SEO campaign that they are signing up for and how the firm, person, or organization carries out the SEO.

This will also help the website owner to determine whether the SEO is according to the search engine guideline or are they adapting to Black Hat SEO to show you the results quickly. As we should also by now know that SEO is not a ‘get quick traffic scheme’ but a good SEO company will help you establish an online brand for your business which in return will help you get a good WOM, but it requires patience and testing as long as the work is carried out according to guidelines, your site will start to rank well and also your website will get more and more visibility online.

Feedback / Testimonials:

Ask the company to provide you with some customer feedback, besides checking the feedback on their websites, search the web, type their name into search engines such as “company name “. Ask them to provide you feedbacks that’s not on their own website. As this will give you a true picture of the company, as you can see what others are saying on other websites, forums…etc which are not in control of the SEO company.

Now, the social media platforms also convey a lot about the online reputation of the companies as the way they interact on Twitter and Facebook tells a lot about their company culture.


Before making your final judgment, look through the SEO Companies portfolio, the projects that they have worked on, and they are working on at the moment, check to see if the portfolio is living up to its name in search engines by carrying out the searches and checking the rankings. This will give you an idea if the SEO Company is really carrying out the work that they are promising.

Take Adequate Interest In the Project Yourself And Have Patience:

As SEO is not magic and cannot be done over night or with few changes here and there, it requires research and background knowledge, and companies that claim that they can do SEO for you for a small amount, will not do you justice, as SEO requires constant work throughout the year on your site on-page and off page. If a company is charging a one off fee, then the work that they will do for you is one off. Search engines keep changing their algorithms and the way that they display search results. It would be the SEO Company’s responsibility to ensure that they keep up to the trend and changes so that they can carry out the work on your site. A good option would be to arrange a yearly contract.

Periodic Reports:

Ask them if they will be offering regular reports to monitor the SEO campaign every month or every quarter. Google analytics is ok but what is important is to understand where the site is heading to and what online presence it is gathering and the co relation of the metrics offered by Google Analytics.  The Google Analytic Reports should be backed by their observation and conclusions.

This is just a simple overview checklist to ensure that you choose the right company to carry out SEO work on your site. Go ahead and establish your online business with confidence and just because of a few Black hat SEOs don’t judge all the SEOs in the same light. There are many good SEO companies and individuals who can do justice to the online presence needed by your business and help your business and online reputation grow positively.

Wasim Ismail

Wasim Ismail

Wasim’s a project manager at Alrayes Web Solutions along with an online SEO consultant & blogger for business at, specialising in online industries.
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    Though an SEO firm cannot guarantee page on ranking, they can promise some moment in the SERPs. Unless you’re trying focus on an insanely competitive keyword like ‘real estate’ optimizing for niche keywords like ‘real estate in spring, tx’ should yield near immediate results and placement.


  • Take Adequate Interest In the Project Yourself And Have Patience < Like this point with others. Still clients need to understand that SEO is not a one day game, pay and get kind of a thing… even in the ground marketing you can't get the results in hours or days… Patience is the key to successful projects in SEO.

    • Anonymous

      Yes Moosa, Patience is the key to success online and in many factors, especially in SEO, and educating the client in this is vital.

  • Transparency, accountability and a solid track record are the three most important factors to me too – but the one that where you hit the nail on the head was “Take Adequate Interest In the Project Yourself And Have Patience.”

    I love it, thanks for this great post.

    • Anonymous

      I’m glad you like it ☺, making everything clear for the client, and keeping them informed will not just get you happy customers, but also win new projects.

      • Adaptability of the SEO company to change and implement according to new trends is very very important. Many SEO firms just rely on old methods to SEO approach and eventually they lose out

  • Anonymous

    Not a bad piece at all, but I have some trouble with the word “periodic” when it comes to reports…

    IMHO, they must be “regular” reports with a set timeline…ie every Friday, we run serps for our clients — that kind of need is more imp to both us as the SEO firm and our clients who know exactly when they can go online and see their current standings, eh!



    • Jim don’t you think providing weekly reports is a bit difficult? I prefer to go on Monthly reports and obviously you should provide the report in between when ever clients need it.

    • Anonymous

      Yes Reports can be sent weekly, fortnightly or monthly it just depends on what the client is comfortable with , as sometimes too many frequent reports might create more confusion.

      As this may also depend on how net and SEO savvy the client is.

      As more than the reports it is the corelation, analysis and explanation of these metrics which is important so that the client can know about the online presence of his business.

    • Totally agree with you Jim. But this is a nice post. Happy New Year!

  • Kathyhokunson

    This is well written, sound advice. It is important that all clients be educated buyers.
    Two important points:
    1) Position – I appreciate your point on not promising position. While position is important it should not be the focus of conversation, success measurement or reporting. The end game is growing the clients business – NOT where they position on the SERPs.
    2) Time – it takes time, monitoring, measuring and tweaking for a successful SEO program.

    An honest SEO will have these conversations up front with companies as they consider their services.

    Great reminder to kick off 2011, thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Very right Kathy, it’s about getting more exposure and growing the business, and making sure their investment in SEO was worthwhile.

      Happy New Year

  • Nice Post. This would really help..specially to those who are starting their businesses online. At least they could have a hint on how to choose the right SEO Company to boost up their business.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great post. I think all of us wish that clients would be more patient, but I think they are more patient in general compared to what it used to be. I think that is due to more marketing teams gaining at least a basic understanding of SEO.

    • Anonymous

      True many of the times clients end up comparing with others due to lack of knowledge.

  • I agree with all the things which you have mentioned in your post. Nice work Wasim

  • Do you know any company who provide these service but on low price ?

  • I know in my locale, many Small time SEO firms are popping up all over the place, guaranteeing a “Top 3 results” placement.

    I know for a fact that this can’t be guaranteed – not only due to budget restrictions, but also due to the competition’s actions, Google’s frequent algorithm changes, and also the competency of the firm.

    When choosing an SEO firm, I’d look for a proven track record, and speak with my potential account manager to measure his competency.

    Like it’s been said above, you need to gain the knowledge yourself to ensure that they are not scamming you, or just to ensure you know what they’re doing all of the time!

  • Arvind

    Im currently searching for an seo company and find many ppl who meet the criteria above but still are not trustworthy. many ppl talk the talk but as a biz owner its hard to know who walks the walk.

  • mmm great information thanks for sharing it is more helpful for me keep posting

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been doing local SEO for a couple years now. I’ve been seeing more and more big national companies passing themselves off as local SEO experts. I only do business with companies I can meet with face-to-face. This has worked well for me as it gives the small business owner reassurance that a) I know what I’m talking about, and b) He/She “knows where to find me”.

  • If would be useful if someone could actually point out some companies whom they have worked with.

  • Though this is an older post (2010), I think this would be a great re-post as an updated version for 2013. Any volunteers? No, ok I’LL DO IT! 🙂