10 Creative Ways To Know If An SEO Company Is Legit
If you are looking for an SEO service provider, chances are, you’ve found yourself overwhelmed with a vast number of SEO companies to choose from — each one of them claiming to have delivered top rankings among the major search engines.
The truth is, more than 70% of these SEO companies are counting on their clients’ ignorance of SEO to get quick cash without delivering tangible, long-term and sustainable results. It is imperative that you filter out those shady SEO companies to spare your company from unnecessary expenses. There is no shortcut to this task. You must do your due diligence and follow the steps below to ensure that you make the right decision.
1. Verify The Information Of The SEO Company
A legitimate SEO company should be able to provide you with a physical address and contact information. If they do, verify that they provided you with the correct details. Call them to verify if their numbers work. Google should be able to recognize their physical address so take some time to check it on Google Maps.
When said company is managing your SEO campaign, you should be able to talk to your the agency/consultant when you need to, and making sure that you can reach them by phone anytime is a good indication that they value customer support.
2. Talk To Current & Previous Customers
One of the most effective ways to investigate an SEO company is to talk to their current and previous clients. A reputable SEO Company should have some client feedback and testimonials on their website or around the web. Take time to read through them and, if possible, call some of them to confirm if that SEO company has delivered on their promises.
If it’s a Facebook or LinkedIn recommendation, don’t be afraid to visit their client’s profile and send them a quick message. Keep it light and be respectful.
3. Contact The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Although not all SEO companies will have records in the Better Business Bureau, you might still find some helpful information on your other prospects. If an SEO company gets the same problem with their clients consistently, it’s a red flag. It doesn’t mean, however, that if a company gets 100% positive feedback from their clients that you should choose them.
Even a company with 300 satisfied customers might have one unhappy client for one reason or another. While some companies will buy fake reviews, it’s usually quite easy to spot when you read through the context of the reviews or visit the reviewer’s profile.
4. Make Sure That The SEO Company Is Not Listed On Scam Websites
Scam.com is one of the websites that list companies that scammed their clients. Another popular website that lists customer complaints is PissedConsumer.com. Companies on either of these sites should be treated with caution if engaging them in your SEO project.
Reputation is a big deal online, especially for companies who are building their brand presence. By search the company name with the addition of the term ‘scam,’ ‘legitimate,’ or ‘reviews,’ you should be able to easily find out if your SEO company has a bad reputation – it spreads like wildfire.
Three example searches to copy and past right into Google,
- SEO company + scam
- SEO company +reviews
- SEO company +legitate
Of course, replace “SEO company” with the name of the agency or consultant you’re looking to hire or are currently working with.
5. Don’t Work With SEO Companies Who Don’t Care About Their Own SEO
This one is my ultimate pet peeve online. You should be wary with SEO companies that don’t walk the talk. They are an SEO company and their first proof in demonstrating their skills should be their own website.
How could they help you succeed if they don’t rank on Google, Yahoo, and Bing for keywords that are important to them? If they don’t care about their own rankings and their own online presence, how would you expect them to care about yours?
Another way to find out if an SEO company is legit is to study up on SEO and quiz any company you approach.
Here are some quick questions to ask before hiring your next SEO company,
- How important is keyword density for ranking web pages? What’s the optimal keyword density?
- What strategies do you use to increase search engine visibility?
- How much quality traffic can I expect to see in the next month, two months, and three months?
- Are you familiar with how LSI correlates with SEO?
- How will you keep me updated on progress? Do you provide reports?
- Can you guarantee me page one rankings for any of my desired keywords?
- What’s the optimal content length for blog posts and article to rank higher in search engines?
6. Check The SEO Company’s Length Of Operation
By all means, avoid working with fly by night SEO companies. This is very important because if they go out of business, you have to go through the same process all over again. Considering the economic conditions, working with a stable SEO company can give you a certain level of security. For these reasons, you should make efforts to check the SEO company’s length of operation – typically the longer they’ve been in business, the better.
7. Are They An Authority?
Knowing that you’re working with an SEO company considered an authority in the field of search engine optimization is another assurance that you are dealing with a legitimate SEO company. They are usually an authority if they have spoken on technology conferences where they have showcased their expertise in search engines and SEO.
Another quality indicator that they are a reputable SEO Company is their presence in the Blogosphere. If they have written blog posts and articles on SEO for popular and established authority sites, then you can be sure they know their stuff.
8. Make Sure You Understand Their SEO Contract
A company that requires you to sign six months to a one year contract for its SEO services should be handled with extreme caution. Make sure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of their contract. Don’t sign it unless you are 100% comfortable with the content and don’t have any questions regarding any paragraphs, words, or verbiage.
SEO Companies that don’t make you sign a long-term contract are much more preferred because they have to prove themselves worthy month by month (or however long the service duration is). In an industry where the average length of results for SEO is six to twelve months, the challenge for them to better their SEO service month per month is greater, which works to your advantage and benefit – however, it does come at a cost.
Find a timeframe you’re comfortable with investing. A more reputable company might require a contract, but with a deep pool of existing clients and a portfolio to showcase their work, the contact might be worth it.
9. Definitive Deliverables
While it’s difficult to guarantee #1 rankings on search engines because of the myriad of factors involved in their algorithms, an SEO company should be able to define their deliverables clearly. They should give you a monthly report and should keep you posted on the progress of your campaign.
It’s a red flag if they can’t commit on a regular meeting and at least to a monthly report. An SEO company can give you expectations based on their previous results but be wary of anyone offering absolutes – as with any online services there’s potential for overpromising and under delivering.
10. SEO Companies Should Be Transparent
A legitimate and reliable SEO company should exercise transparency when dealing with their clients. They should be able to explain the reason for each of their strategies and keep you informed on all that they are doing for your SEO.
Don’t hesitate to ask them essential questions to clear out doubts and potential concerns in the future. If an SEO company is reluctant at answering your questions or dislike the idea of transparency, that’s another red flag, and you should consider researching a few alternative options such as learning about SEO yourself by taking courses, outsourcing your SEO offshore to a reputable agency, or hiring a team. Although, the latter comes at a much higher cost.
Wrapping Up: Tips For Finding A Trustworthy SEO Company
As someone with almost a decade of SEO experience, I’ve learned first hand the trials and tribulations from both sides of the fence. When I didn’t know where to turn I hired individual consultants/freelancers, then hired agencies, and to no avail, my efforts weren’t successful.
I decided I needed to obtain this skill, just as I did with web design. I spent years practicing and researching and eventually saw success. Yet, over time I began noticing the same trend appear. The same type of shady SEO companies and freelancers still exist, and it’s a vicious cycle.
As with any industry, there are always those that give the entire industry a bad name. SEO is a proven marketing strategy that has been around for nearly three decades now.
The evolution of the digital landscape is only making it easier to find reliable and legitimate companies to trust your projects with. Following my tips also ensure you steer clear of the scams. What else am I missing? Please share your thoughts in the comment.