For better or worse, the internet has changed our lives. From organizing our lives and lobbying politicians, to staying in contact with friends and conducting business, we use the net. We live in a world in which we can buy products from the other side of the globe at the click of a mouse. And yet, human nature being what it is, we still tend to prefer to do business face to face. Especially when that business is important business – like hiring an SEO company.
There are few hires as important as the SEO company you hire. It’s a critical hire, even, because there’s just so much damage that bad SEO companies can do to a business. And it’s for this reason that a lot of business owners prefer to hire locally.
But how do you choose the right local SEO company? We’ve created a handy four-point guide to help you do just that.
1. Rankings, Schmankings
Choosing the right SEO company should be easy, right? After all, isn’t it just a case of doing a few searches for your area, and seeing who ranks the highest?
Unfortunately, if that’s your approach, then you may be doing your business a huge disservice. You see, as I also explained here, local SEO is fast. It’s the proverbial SEO hare to the organic SEO tortoise – which is pretty neat. However, it also means that if a company wants to stay up there, then they usually need to work very hard. And the companies who have the time to put in that kind of work often do so because they don’t tend to have many clients. See what I’m saying?
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not always what’s going on. But it’s important to understand that top ranking does not automatically equal greatness. You’re still going to have to do your homework before making your choice.
2. Get the (Local) Rep
Unlike ranking, reputation matters when it comes to local hires. So what reputations do your prospective companies have in your local area? Do you know anyone who’s worked with them before? What about their online reviews and testimonials? Do they look like they were written by real people, or are they just content generated by the company?
3. Knowledge is Power
Hopefully by this point, you have a shortlist of companies to contact. Do so, and find out a little about their process and knowledge while you’re at it. There are a few things you’re looking for here:
Online Reputation Management
How would they manage online reputation? Do they track it, and if it is bad, how will they work to improve it? With 72% of customers saying that positive reviews make them trust a business, this is not an area that you can neglect.
Being listed on sites like Foursquare and Yelp can be beneficial to your business. But not all location and citation sites were created equally. Some are just a waste of time, so ask how your prospective company handles that kind of thing. Do they partner with tools like Yext or Mozlocal?
Reporting and Tracking
There are many different metrics for measuring and tracking the success of an SEO strategy (you can get an overview of them here). So it’s good to ask potential hires about the kind of reporting and tracking they offer. How will they give you a real and actionable picture of how your website is doing? How often? And if things don’t seem to be going all that great, how do they handle that going forward?
Desktop vs. Mobile
We increasingly conduct our business via smartphone. So it’s important that your site functions as well when viewed from a smartphone as from a desktop. This may seem minor, but it’s really not, search engines actively penalize sites that are not optimized for mobile. So it’s good to ensure that any companies you hire can also optimize for mobile as well as desktop.
Additionally, it is a good idea to also ask for referrals and examples of work done for former or current clients. Read this blog post to find out more about what to look for when checking out this work.
4. Go with your Gut
Finally, be sure to meet with your prospective companies before choosing – it’s one of the perks of hiring locally. So have that face-to-face meeting and see what your gut says about a company. It’s all too easy for people and businesses alike to market themselves online as being better they are. At the end of the day, both gut feeling and research will help you make a solid choice. So don’t neglect your gut in this, it is after all, our “second brain”.