According to a 2015 survey by Constant Contact, finding new customers is a top concern for 66% of small business owners. This only stands to reason, customers are after all, the lifeblood of any business. And with Ecommerce growing at a rate of 23% year-over-year, it is unsurprising that companies are increasingly turning to SEO in order to stand out from the crowd.
The Importance of Hiring the Right SEO Company
However SEO companies, like accountants, are both an investment and a risk. Engage the services of the right company, and you can look forward to reaping the fruits of that investment. However, hire the wrong company and your business could face potential disaster.
The first step, even before you contact them, is to create a shortlist of SEO companies. When you have done this, you can see if they have online portfolios and testimonials available. You can learn a lot about a company from their previous work. However, just what are you looking for in these sites?
This is where the ‘Misfit Interactive Magic 6’ list can help.
1. Site/Page Speed
When you click on an URL, how fast does the site download? This may seem trivial, but it’s a fact that that slow download speeds cost you traffic. The days of waiting for dial-up are long gone, and we’ve only gotten more impatient as time has gone on. In fact, not only do Google algorithms use site speed when ranking pages, but slow site speeds have been shown to negatively affect conversions. A study carried out by Google last year showed that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load.
2. How Do Mobile Versions Look?
Speaking of mobile site visits, how do those sites look on your cell phone? The matter of mobile optimization is an important one. Because not only is Mobile optimization one of the (approximately) 200 factors that affect the ranking of a website, but M-commerce is set to be the next big thing in online shopping. In short, SEO companies that do not pay attention to this area are doing their customers a massive disservice.
3. Quality of Content
Content is increasingly becoming everything in SEO. Well, not quite everything, but content does make up a large part of the SEO picture. This makes it extremely important to assess the quality of the content on any sites you review. In the olden days of SEO, content was all about keywords, keyword strategy, and the art of inserting keywords into content. However, with the arrival of semantic search, search engines are getting much better at identifying and rewarding content that is actually good.
So how are those sites to read? Are they actually well written and provide a good user experience? Or do they remind you of something you might read from a fake quote generator?
4. Site Consistency
You’re almost done now, I promise! Now, take another look at those sites, do they look consistent?
You can learn a lot about the strengths of any SEO company by looking at the overall consistency of their sites. For example, a site with excellent design but poor content, slow download speeds, and no mobile optimization suggests that the company in question is more competent in design than in other areas. When you hire an SEO company (or web design company in general), you really want them to be competent across the board. It may not seem like a big thing at first, but do you really want to have to pay someone else later to fix the things the first company couldn’t do?
5. User Experience
The biggest thing to keep in mind though, is that Google’s guiding principle has always been to reward sites that provide user value. To assess this, think about yourself as a visitor to those sites and how the overall site experience was. Were they well laid out, fast, and intuitive to navigate? Was the design clean and pleasing? Did the content provide actual information in an easy to understand way? These are things that we all subconsciously take into account whenever we encounter any website. This is also ultimately what Google’s ‘Phantom’ algorithm also assesses when crawling sites.
6. SEO Claims
Lastly, does the SEO company make any claims on their own site or social media of efficacy that just sounds a little too good to be true?
Because as irritating as it is, SEO is no short game. It takes time to create sites that offer a great user experience. And despite what some of the more black-hatted variety of SEOs may say, there are no shortcuts. Moreover, any shortcuts you use, may end with your site being penalized and your ranking lost!
It’s also problematic to view rankings as the benchmark for success, because what we’re really looking for is conversions/sales. You can find an excellent timeline for how long it takes for SEO to begin to work here, but in general, it takes around 6 months to start to see those results coming in. Any company that tries to promise you a ridiculous amount of new sales within a month is just lying to you to get your money.
While I’m here talking about SEO and hiring SEO companies, it would be remiss of me to not mention my own company, Misfit Interactive. We’re based in the Gettysburg and Chambersburg areas of PA, but are anywhere the Internet is. We are committed to working with our customers to create long-term SEO and design solutions for their businesses. Solutions to both give you the best results for your needs now, but that also withstand future changes in SEO. This often involves a lot of thinking outside the box to find better solutions – heck, that’s part of being a Misfit! We think we also have a great portfolio and kicking testimonials, seriously, go check them out!
So if any of that sounds good to you, why not give us a call at 717.382.8556 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us show you why it’s good to be a Misfit.