How to Work with & Shop for a SEO Services Firm

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If you are a small business owner or an in house marketer looking to hire an outside SEO firm to outsource all your search engine marketing efforts, this article might be right for you. If you have never really ventured out to find the right SEO company to partner with you might be in for a very bumpy ride or you can be prepared before you get out there so you don’t waste your time partnering with the wrong type of person or company. If unprepared you could find yourself wasting a great deal of time with the wrong firm. Educate yourself prior to your hunt and you could find a partnership that meshes better than spaghetti and meatballs.

When interviewing SEO companies probe as much as you can in order to find the right one that fits you and your team best. Asking lots of questions is ok. If the company is eager to help you they will be more than happy to help you out. Remember they don’t want to partner with the wrong type of business either so they shouldn’t mind a great deal of question asking.

Here are some key points you should think about when you are looking to hire a firm and also when you have finally picked one to work with:

  1. Do they outsource work overseas? You are going to want to know if the company you just hired outsources any work overseas to be completed. It is important to realize that this could impact your results in a negative manner so it is crucial you find out ahead of time. A usual tipoff is the price is outrageously low.
  2. Ideal client size? You will want to know what the company’s ideal client size is so you know if you fit into the parameters of their business culture. If they typically only work with larger companies and you are only by yourself or with a few employees you might not be the right fit for that agency. This could make things a bit strange down the road.
  3. Understand the service: This is very important; you need to fully understand search engine optimization and marketing before you decide to outsource the activities. Failure to fully understand how the medium works will results in you making irrational decisions from lack of understanding how to effectively analyze positive results from the work being completed. Take the time to understand what goes into this area of marketing before you try to hire a company. It can often times be difficult to actually gauge the work being done so a better understanding of where your money is being spent will allow your relationship with your company of choice to flourish that much better and smoother.
  4. Don’t fire them when they are getting you “good results”: You need to familiarize yourself with the service so you don’t fire a client for the wrong reason. If you hire a firm to help you increase traffic and they provide you with visitor reports showing an increase of traffic by 300% in less than 6 months don’t fire them. If your website is not converting and your traffic has significantly increased it could very well be your website layout or even your product. The job of an SEO firm is to help you deliver targeted visitors from the search engines. If you have not hired them for website conversion recommendations don’t chop their head off because your website is not converting.
  5. Hire only one SEO company at a time: This should just be a given but never hire more than one SEO company at a time. This will be disastrous to your business and also your online presence. If you hire and SEO company and a separate copywriter and they communicate to each other that will work as long as the communication is effort is there. But never hire two separate firms to help you with your link building because that will most likely blow up and lead to nothing good. Hiring two firms at the same time could also get your website penalized by the search engines from having too much activity happening in a short period of time.
  6. Treat them like a team member: Your SEO company is not your enemy, they are your friend. Treat them as a team member because from day one it is in their best interest to really provide you with the work they promise. If you do your due diligence prior to hiring you shouldn’t have a problem finding a firm that will follow through with their promises.

These are all very important areas to really focus on and execute. The right SEO partner could be by your side for years to come so make sure you take your time to find the right one. Remember that you get what you pay for so don’t just shop on price or you could find yourself going nowhere fast!

Nick Stamoulis is the Founder of the Boston SEO Firm, Brick Marketing. 

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a full service Boston SEO firm. With nearly 13 years of experience in the Internet Marketing industry, Nick Stamoulis shares his B2B SEO knowledge by contributing to the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 160,000 opt-in subscribers.
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis

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  • Hugo at Zeta

    Solid piece, Nick!

    The only thing I would point out is that some of the larger SEO agencies do have employees in places like India. They’re not outsourced labor, but actual employees.

    As long as these folks are only responsible for technology platform development and some of the more repetitive production work (and as long as someone in the US is QAing the work before it’s delivered) it shouldn’t be a barrier to a parternship.

    That said, very few can actually claim this methodology. Most folks using outsourcing are really just cutting corners, and that can definitely lead to poor or even negative results.

  • SEO tool

    Great, sound advice Nick. It’s interesting how some of the age-old fundamentals in working-with-an-SEO are still true to this day; even in an ever-changing industry like SEO. I would like to add; from the agency/SEO provider side, it’s important that business owners realize the firm(s) they’re considering are not going to invest hours, upon hours analyzing their sites and giving away tons of FREE advice. If this is an expectation, you’re not going to get very far — at least with advanced, leading SEO providers.

    Yes, it’s important that some “freebies” be given during sales/proposal discussions to establish buyer confidence & trust, but do not be unrealistic and expect tons of advice before you’ve paid the agency any monies.

  • gudipudi

    Do they outsource work overseas? this could impact your results in a negative manner
    Nick, can you mention some real time case study to support your statement. Your statement is too generic . I guess irrespective of the location, as long as you are doing right SEO, it shouldnt be a problem.

    If you are against Outsourcing, thats a different game plan and please mention it as your personal opinion.

    Well before it could mislead the small business owners ( reading this post) please edit your post with supporting statement case studies)

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Hi gudipudi,
    Thanks for reading and your question/comment.

    I do not have 1 case study I can bring up, only 12 years of experience (on the client side and agency side) to support this. Let me clarify, in my personal opinion, hiring an SEO services firm overseas might not be a bad choice as long as you can verify that the skill set, knowledge and experience all fall within the type of SEO service provider you might be looking for.

    • gudipudi

      Hi Nick,

      thanks for considering my comments in a positive way.

  • Brian Farrell

    Hi Nick – great post. Point number 4 is so important. SEO’s would get much more respect and recognition if they did thorough analysis of the website from a marketing and conversion perspective before they agree to perform SEO services.