Here is how to select a good SEO company to work with:

What services should the SEO company perform?  On site optimization is a given… make sure that link building and social media is included in the price too. Ongoing link building (not just one time bulk directory or blog submission) is necessary on a monthly basis. Social media factors (how many Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.) are really important ranking factors as well (they did not used to be). Make sure that the price includes blowing up your social media.

Should I make a one time investment in SEO or choose a firm that offers an ongoing monthly fee?: Definitely ongoing. In some industries, the keywords are not incredibly competitive so one can quickly optimize the site and build a few links to acquire strong rankings. However, that strategy won’t work with competitive keywords. Most keywords worth targeting are far too competitive. Your competition is likely spending lots of money on a monthly basis chasing rankings… so you will need to invest a decent amount of resources to catch/ keep up with them.

What is a fair rate?: It really depends on how competitive the keywords are that you want to target and how many terms you want to target. So a fair price can range from just a couple hundred dollars a month to many thousands of dollars a month.

How long until I see results?: You should start to see improvement in your rankings/ online presence in the first month or two… but with lots of the really competitive, high traffic terms it might take five or six months to really acquire strong rankings, especially if you have lots of ground to make up.

Some tips in choosing as SEO company:

  1. Make sure that the company that you go with has a website that ranks high in the search results for competitive terms. So the company you choose should probably rank in the top three in Google. If they can’t get their own site to rank high then how can you expect them to get your site ranked high? There is tons of value in terms of a consistent supply of quality SEO leads in a high ranking so there is really no excuse for an SEO company not to rank. Don’t go with a hypocritical company that says they can get you rankings but doesn’t rank high themselves.
  2. Don’t go with a company that is primarily a web design company but does SEO as well. There are TONS of website design companies that figured out that there is money to be made in SEO and started calling themselves an SEO company one day. The vast majority are terrible. Even if they have relatively high rankings themselves… that is usually just because they have 1000 links from every single website they have ever built (“site by XYZ company” in the bottom right hand corner) but have no idea how to build links/ optimize a site for a client. Go with a company that specializes just in SEO.
  3. Ask how they choose exactly which specific keywords to target for the website. I have seen many SEO companies aggressively target terms that no one is searching for. That is the equivalent of putting up a billboard in the middle of a forest instead of alongside a busy highway. For example, you might think that it would be a great idea to get your law firm to show up #1 for “Dallas commercial litigation attorney”; however, in reality there are literally zero searches for that term (whereas there are thousands of searches a month for others).
  4. Make sure that they show you current clients that they currently have ranked very high for competitive keyword terms. Anyone could get a site to rank for something with no competition (“affordable plumber in Garland”) within a matter of weeks. An SEO company that can show you a top ranking for a competitive/ high traffic terms such as “Dallas plumber” would definitely be one to consider.
  5. I would be really hesitant to sign a long term contract. There are some good SEO companies out there that require a contract; however, I know a lot of people who have been extremely unhappy with being locked into a contract when they were not seeing results.