Let’s face it. It’s technically possible to execute a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy entirely on your own, but it’s ridiculously complicated and difficult to do. So for most people, small businesses, and even large corporations, you will likely need to choose an SEO partner to help you with strategic planning and execution.
But with so many SEO partner options on the market, how can you make this critical decision? What should your top priorities be?
Options for Choosing an SEO Partner
To begin with, you should know what options are on the table. There are four main categories of SEO partners that you can choose from, each of which has strengths and weaknesses.
There are also thousands of options in each of these previous categories.
It’s essential to select your priorities carefully when choosing an SEO partner.
One of your most significant factors of consideration will be cost. How much are you willing to spend on this campaign? In this industry, you often get what you pay for; While it’s certainly possible to find highly inexpensive contractors, these aren’t always the best fit for your brand.
Business professionals tend to be inexperienced or tend to cut corners, ultimately putting you in a worse position than when you started. At the same time, you don’t want to overpay for an agency whose services are unnecessary or overpriced.
In your research, try to compare your apple-to-apple options. Don’t just compare costs directly; be sure to consider what you get for the price with each option. Of course, if you’re dealing with a tight budget, you may not have much room for maneuver on this point, which is why it remains one of your top priorities.
Reliability and Accountability
You will also need to consider the reliability and responsibility of the partner you choose. SEO is a long-term strategy, so you can’t afford to hire someone who will drop you after just a few weeks, nor can you afford to hire someone who spends months executing ineffective or even bad tactics.
Agencies tend to be more trustworthy and accountable than other options as they have access to more resources and have a broader reputation to uphold. But you still need to do some research to make sure this is a company willing to compensate for their mistakes and bad experiences you may have.
SEO is a huge undertaking if you are hoping for reliable long-term results. This means using many different tactics at the same time. So, before choosing your partner, carefully consider their core competencies.
Ethics and Practices
An ethical or regulatory violation in SEO could end up leaving you with a fine that haunts your brand for months. It’s simply not worth the risk, so researching your partner for their ethics and practices is essential. Are they just practicing the white hat techniques? Do they strictly adhere to Google’s terms of service?
By extension, do they take your privacy seriously? Can you trust them not to reveal information about your search engine marketing practices?
Access to Resources and Scalability
Your business may be small right now, but you probably have plans to grow enormously in the future. Consequently, you should pay close attention to this partner’s access to resources and overall scalability. If your needs change in the future, will you be able to stay with this partner and switch to a different plan? Will they be able to continue supporting your business while you request more services or more support?
Communication and Customer Service
Even the best SEO firms and individual experts aren’t perfect. They will make mistakes. They will forget to inform you about things. And they will do questionable jobs in providing initial explanations. When that happens, can you get in touch with them? Do you have a dedicated representative who can help you? How much customer service will you be able to get and will they work hard to solve your problems?
If you have trouble getting in touch with this partner, or if he seems indifferent to you, don’t bother working with him, even if everything else looks fine on paper.
Tools and Reporting
What kind of tools and technologies does this partner use? If your partner avoids the question or refuses to reveal his tactics to you, consider that reaction a red flag. Your partner should be happy to communicate about their technology approach.
Also, they should be ready and willing to provide you with full reports. They may claim to do a lot of work on your behalf, but can they prove it? And can they prove it’s working in your favor?
Customer Reviews and Reputation
Finally, look at the customer reviews of this partner and evaluate their overall reputation. Do people generally seem satisfied with these services? Can you find information online that suggests this partner is or is not trustworthy?
Choosing an SEO partner isn’t easy. This is especially true if you work in a complex or competitive industry or if you have a lot of strict criteria to select from. But with so many options available, it’s only a matter of time before you find what you need.
Image credit: from RODNAE Productions; Pexel; Thank you!
Chief Revenue Officer
Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer of Seattle-based digital marketing agency SEO.co, DEV.co & amp; PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive the growth of websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim likes to play a few rounds of disc golf, run and spend time with his wife and family on the beach, preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter