The Guaranteed SEO guide to choosing an SEO Provider

Written by Julien Berard Choosing an SEO provider/vendor is a bit like picking an auto repair shop. This isn’t a simple choice and if you pick the wrong mechanic it will likely have serious consequences for months and possibly years to come. Choose wisely and it will be the beginning of a long and profitable partnership! If you are searching for an SEO provider, you have probably already done your homework. You should have read other articles on the same topic for example: SeoMOz- “How to Choose the Right SEO Vendor?”  or Outspoken Media’s “How to choose an SEO company?” These articles are all about how to put your potential SEO vendors to the test to sort the professionals from the amateurs, the serious vendors from the phoneys. However be aware that your job is not over, now that you know how to separate the wheat from the chaff, there is still a lot of work to be done and questions to be answered before you can start sending requests for proposals or begin talking to potential vendors.

What Type of Business Are You?

Some SEO providers may not work well with you depending on the type of business you are and this is not specific to Gambling or “Adult” businesses only. Some vendors only work with B2C (Business to Consumer) while others prefer to work on more corporate/B2B (Business to Business) clients. Some markets are more competitive than others, some consultants and some agencies have specialties or topics on which they work better because they have more knowledge, more experience or a better network etc. …

What do you expect from your SEO campaign

It may sound like a silly question but it’s probably one of the most relevant.  You do not want to walk through an SEO vendor’s door saying: “I want to be first in Google results pages.” If you want to choose the right vendor for your SEO project, you must first ponder what the ultimate goals of your campaign are. Is it the promotion of your brand? The protection of your brand? Getting more traffic? Leads? Sales? Being able to accurately pinpoint your project goals will influence your choice of a provider as this will have an impact on which strategies will be implemented.  SEO or SEA (search engine advertising), perhaps link building will be required or possibly other traffic channels such affiliate marketing or social media.

What are your resources?

CAUTION! WARNING! VERY IMPORTANT POINT OF THE ARTICLE! WARNING! CAUTION! SEO vendors are not all the same, some vendors will implement code optimization themselves, others will just give you recommendations, some SEO vendors can handle the copy writing, and some will require your assistance. It is therefore very important to know how much of your own technical, semantic and marketing resources will be available and how much you will need. It is very important as well to assess your relationship with the other vendors that would eventually be involved in the SEO campaign (Web development agency, Web design firm, Marketing Consultants etc).  You must be aware of the costs involved in the modification of your website. Success of your SEO campaign relies on the successful collaboration with your SEO team, your web agency or your advertising agency. If you are lucky you may find a firm with excellent capabilities in all the key areas, but no matter what the key thing is that everyone needs to push in the same direction. Before starting an SEO campaign with any vendor you MUST know:  WHO will code optimizations, WHO will write the website content and WHO will manage Link Building, Blogging and Social Media efforts.

What is planned for your company/website in the near future?

SEO is a long term process, if you have plans to completely revamp your website, if your company is about to acquire another one or to be acquired by a competitor, this will have an impact on the SEO actions previously implemented. In this case you may want to wait before starting your SEO campaign to avoid having to trash everything that has been done on the website so far. SEO involves a year(s) long relationship with your provider and depending on your website/company future you might choose one strategy over another. Being able to identify the next steps in your website’s life cycle will allow you to save significant amount of time and money.

What is your geographic location?

The location parameter is primarily for convenience. SEO is something one can perform pretty much anywhere in the world as long as you have a computer and a good internet connection, having said that, it is good to be able to be able to have regular discussions with your SEO provider “virtually” or “in person” from time to time because nothing can replace real life contact when it comes to covering aspects of any project. Furthermore, even when you speak the same language there are often regional differences and certainly local knowledge that simply cannot be replicated without proper research. SEO and SMM are about resonating with your audience so a key question is – does your SEO team/vendor “get it”?

What is your budget?

How much is the budget available for your campaign? This is the question every single prospect is reluctant to answer or has no clue about. And yet, the amount of money you invest in your SEO campaign is probably one of the main things you really need to know when looking for a SEO vendor. Knowing your SEO budget will thin out the herd of potential vendors very quickly. If you are too small some agencies will simply not work with you but if you are too big small vendors may not respond fully to your expectations and it is possible you might even scare them off.

Agency vs. Independent

This actually is a very good question and the answer is: Well … it depends! Independent consultants tend to take smaller projects … but we have seen independents handling very large contracts. The two types of vendors have their pros and cons. An independent consultant will often be more flexible, may be more responsive and will possibly have a more personalized approach. An SEO agency service will be more standardized, they usually have more internal resources, they have a high level of multitasking and can work better on certain types of contracts. It’s really case by case. One limitation with an independent is how much work can they do at once. Usually a well staffed firm has people that can work in parallel. This means that touch-ups to your website to improve conversion rates, a new link building campaign, PPC and on page SEO can all occur in a coordinated fashion and results will start much sooner. Of course you need to be able to pay for such resources, so as we pointed out earlier knowing your budget and needs is always key.If you have an active SEO requirement where competition and growth are going to mean staying on top of things all the time, a deeper resource pool is necessary. Having an independent marketing contractor on summer holidays while your competition walks all over you is simply not a good option. Need a flexible, experienced and excellent SEO provider? Choose Guaranteed SEO. Contact us to see how we can help take your business to the next level.

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