How to Choose When Hiring an SEO / SEM Firm?

How to Choose When Hiring an SEO / SEM Firm?

by Dave Curtis on 05/30/2013

in Every Day SEO,Small Business SEO

Dave Curtis, SEO

How do you rate one provider talents over another?

“Easy SEO/SEM Wow! Flash! Bang! Boom!” Obviously this isn’t the gist of the language in an ad or an offer that you want your prospective provider to be using. What you want is someone who’s knowledgeable but modest, introverted or extroverted doesn’t matter, but starting with someone who carefully chooses their words is a good start…

In choosing your SEO prospect, he or she will have limited knowledge about your site and has got to perform what’s called a competitive site audit, Comprehensive SEO Audit, in order to do any serious work.

All good SEOs will perform a perfunctory site audit (because a full audit requires access to the server account itself) and use a few tools to get a general idea of how your site is doing in order to create a decent project map for the proposal. Each project map will be customized.


Through a comprehensive site audit it may take days or even weeks to find out what damage has previously been done on your site by earlier agencies or SEOs – and then you’ll be looking for a warning from the hire to let you know things may get worse for a time (if damage needs to be undone) before getting better. In many cases a site has been hacked. Two republican political websites I worked on were hacked. A restaurant website and a catering website were hacked. An online store taking credit cards was hacked… and in no case were the site owners aware. The website owners themselves had no idea and neither did the webmasters/(fake)SEOs. I had to fix the sites and in one case totally rebuild it to “unhack” it. But a Google result that shows a warning “This site may have been hacked” with a link from Google that says “We advise you not to visit this site” sort of makes it impossible to do any business.

What you’re looking for ideally though is honesty from your prospective SEO even where it hurts their chance of being hired.

Your SEO Prospect Will at Least Offer to Perform A/B Testing on Your Site

You’re also going to want someone who understands that analytics isn’t just a word to use to get a job while installing some Google code onto your site and doing nothing with it. Your SEO needs to know how to access Google Analytics, set up goals, combine it with Google Webmaster tools, and track and analyze changes aiming for an always forward and upward trend over the years. You want to hear about A/B or A/B/C testing.

You want your prospective SEO to offer various visitor input survey captures and other forms with additional information that can be used to scientifically measure what the majority of visitors are considering to be of importance, particularly if it’s something less than good so it can be made better or even great. I’ve used the word “scientific” here because statistical analysis is a major part of true SEO.

You need to find the guy/gal/firm who says “This is what I’m going to do, this is how I’m going to do it” (the formula, not the details since the details rely upon the incoming captured data in its many varied forms).

The prospect shouldn’t be afraid to tell you these things because these things are a lot of real work that take time to manage and can’t be managed right by an amateur.

Analytics is like laying bricks. Strong foundation, laid one brick and one row at a time from the ground up, always forward and upward until it’s on top of everything it needs to be on top of. You’re looking for a true working SEO down in the trenches, not the glitz and glitter personality with all the glib “talk the talk” but not “walk the walk” answers.

That’s the best I can give you… but also this: If you do find a good SEO who actually does the work, leave the science of analytics on the site to the SEO and forget personal preferences as to site design. You want to provide the basic text but that’s about it. Your site’s layout, color scheme, button locations, image locations and so forth all relate to SEO click through, conversion and transaction rates, and the SEO uses data samples to get the public’s preference, not yours. Unless you’re your own best customer then leaving it up to the SEO is the way to go. As long as you’re making money from it leave it alone. working to achieve more status in the upper echelon SEO world bother take on your job (or continue working for you) if your short term actions interfere with their long term objectives to make your site truly great.

Here’s a “simple” SEO video not even trying that hard to rank a couple of sites – in one case against 100,000,000 competing pages against a Dow Jones two word Key phrase which had actually been above the Dow Jones site itself for months until I finally decided to do the video because I wasn’t working on the site any more for quite a while (a year) and it was losing position.

These 85 clues of what to look out for when hiring an SEO written back in 2009 are still valid today. Looking for an SEO you’re going to want to find one that can keep up with what google’s algorithmic changes on a steady basis.  Learn  more on hiring a good by reading my article on a few of Google’s many algorithm changes.


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