This is why in order to avoid being conned by a company that just makes tall claims and never makes good on their promises, it's handy to know what questions to ask. To start off, create a short list of SEO companies that rank the highly for keywords like "SEO service" or "[your industry] SEO service" etc. Once you have short listed the number of companies to around six or eight, run through the below interview questions prior to deciding which is the best one for your website.
Question no. 1: What will you do to improve my rankings?
There are a fair number of SEO companies that do not freely discuss the SEO method they use in much detail. These companies a lot of the time have something to hide from their clients. They are afraid that their deceptive, often Black hat SEO techniques may scare potential clients away. If a company discusses the tactics they use in order to drive up your rankings, they should also give you a realistic timeframe on how long it will take to achieve the desired results.
Initially, the SEO Company should provide you with a full diagnostic report included in their proposal, which would identify any problems that may be causing your site to rank low. This should also include a full on-page & off-page analysis of your website.
It is also important to ask an SEO company if they will provide any strategies in order to raise awareness about the products and services you sell via blogs, social media and press releases.
Question no. 2: Will you strictly adhere to Google's webmaster guidelines?
You need to ask the company if they will abide by Google's guideline which forbids tricky and often deceptive SEO tactics like automatically generated spam comments / content, adding false links and text, sending unsolicited emails, and spamming video sharing sites like YouTube. Engaging in any one of these tactics could result in your website being de-indexed from the search engines.
Question no. 3: Will you guarantee that my website will rank no. 1 on Yahoo, Bing and Google?
If the SEO Company answers "Yes" to this question then there is a 99.9% chance that they will scam you. It is better to move on if you get this type of positive response. It is impossible for any company, regardless of how experienced or hardworking to guarantee a top spot on search engine rankings. If the answer is justified by a claim that they have a person on the inside of Google that feeds them information this is another red flag, and the company should be avoided. Run!
Question no. 4: How much experience do you have with lifting local search results?
If you mainly target a local audience then reaching to the top of local results is very important. A brick and mortar business may want their SEO mainly focused on local results. The SEO Company needs to be experienced with local search methodology.
When a website is optimized for "local search" someone who is searching for a product, service or keyword relating to what you do near you, your business will pop-up. This requires a slightly different approach from regular search.
Question no. 5: Will all changes made to my website be shared with me?
The SEO Company will have to make an array of changes to your web page's coding and content structure. But as the website's owner you should know exactly what adjustments are being made or what is being planned. You'll ideally want that the company first gets all the changes approved by you prior to moving ahead.
You will need to know things like if the company will modify existing code or rewrite new code? Will the company also engage in additional copywriting of the content in order to highlight various services and products while focusing on keywords related to your business? They may also decide to change the navigation structure to improve conversions.
Question no. 6: How is the success of a campaign measured?
A good SEO company will not only track progress based on the number of visits but also on the number of targeted visitors that convert. This will often require that the company be experienced with using Google Analytics which is used to track a site's performance, and what links are driving the most traffic towards it.
It is also equally important to find out exactly how often the company performs important analytics, because this data will be used to gradually improve the work being done to rank well. As a minimum, monthly performance reports should be provided to the client, outlining current ranking positions, traffic levels, new inbound links acquired, traffic acquisitions, conversions and so on.
Question no. 7: What happens if we decide to part ways?
If the contract expires or if it's terminated early, you need to be able to maintain complete ownership of all the content, links and graphics that the SEO Company provided. So, the contract needs to clearly state that when you do part ways the SEO service provider will not in any way modify or remove any of the content they added to optimize the site. Also, find out if the company will charge you a fee if you decide to terminate prior to the contract naturally ending, if this is the case it should be specified in the contract.
The best service provider is one that answers every question above honestly. However, even then you may want to start with hiring a company for a short period of time to gauge what type of results you see prior to signing up for a long term contract.