The Shady Bunch
There aren’t many industries that have as many shady professionals as our industry. Some industries that are similar in terms of shady people include pain clinics, casinos, investment bankers, and people on craigslist. Seriously I love what I do and the power of Google but I get discouraged more and more as I see some of the practices or sheer lack of knowledge in our industry. Not to mention blog posts like this. Shit all over SEO if you want. The truth of the matter is that it works. So much so that I have launched a new business in an industry that has been decimated by the housing crisis (Land Surveying) and SEO alone is keeping it slammed. The hardest part for any business owner is finding a good SEO consultant that knows their shit.
One rule to go by is never ever accept help from an SEO company that calls you. The whole point of SEO and organic search is to generate leads from users that are interested in your products or services. If an SEO company can not find leads form themselves they surely cant find any for you. It fact they had to find you somehow. The fact that they found you in the first place means they are looking for low hanging fruit, in other words they are looking for a website that is easy to rank so they can milk you for a monthly fee and with minimal work.
Second I would ask or referrals. A good SEO consultant will be slammed! Why? Because they generate a lot of business for their clients. In turn these clients are happy they made a good decision that directly impacted their bottom line. Especially in this shaky economy when a business owner makes a high impact decision that provides an robust ROI they are going to brag to their fellow business owners and that particular SEO consultant or company will be netting more and more word of mouth business.
Third I would do research to see if a particular company is doing SEO for more than one client within the same vertical. It is an inherent conflict of interest for an SEO company to optimize two different websites for the same keyword. A lawyer doesn’t represent the plaintiff and the defendant.
Secondly there will come a time when a good SEO consultant realizes he can do better for himself optimizing his own websites versus a website for someone else. This will ultimately depend on how entrepreneurial this individual is and if they work for themselves or a large company.
Lastly I would advise against hiring a large company that did not rank well for a large number of competitive keywords such as “SEO Company” “Internet Marketing” “Web Design” etc. The reason I say a large number of competitive terms is the fact that this type of intellectual capital is very hard to amass and scale up effectively. A smart SEO consultant doesn’t give out secrets and has to do a lot of research to stay up and ahead of the game. Recent changes to google’s algorithm a.k.a. Farmer/Panda update means that tactics that were effective a few months ago will now cause your rankings to decrease. An SEO Consultant at a large company with a large workload may not even be aware of these recent changes nor have ample time to adjust tactics.