Thieves, Scoundrels, and Good Guys: Hiring an SEO Consulting Firm

We provide SEO consulting services to our clients, and our model is we don’t do SEO “for you,” we do it “with you.” Part of that model means that we only work with clients who are actively involved in their Internet marketing. SEO Consulting FirmThese are people who don’t feel that SEO is a burden or a nightmare, but rather recognize that in today’s economy people often go first to Google (or Bing) when they are looking for a product or service. We provide the technical insight into how to set up the website to be SEO-friendly, how to create SEO-friendly content, and how to build links and do other “off page” SEO tasks in an above-board, white hat manner.

But we need the help of the client, too. The client understands a) what the goal(s) is/are of the website (usually a registration or an actual sale), and b) the industry itself. We need the client and their staff to inform us about industry trends, help us with keywords, and write or approve content for their own blog so that it “fits” the needs of their industry and it uses relevant keywords. SEO, in short, is a task in which the SEO consulting company needs to work hand-in-hand with the client. It’s a “team effort,” and not something that the SEO company can do “for” you.

SEO Thieves and Scoundrels

Which brings us to the problem of thieves and scoundrels in the SEO industry. Let’s face it: the SEO industry has a lot of pretty crazy folks, and unfortunately a small minority of them are pretty much thieves and scoundrels. They promise the world to their clients, often use “black hat” SEO tactics, and bill large sums on a monthly basis. Because the client is “kept in the dark,” the client doesn’t understand what is going on… and because SEO is seen as mysterious, the client just pays the bill and hopes that this “SEO thing” is helping. This unfortunate process can go on for weeks or even months or years, before the client might realize that there are little results, if any, to show for it.

Tips on Selecting an SEO Company

Here are some tips on selecting an SEO company to work with you –

  • Do your homework and educate yourself. Read my book on SEO (SEO Fitness Workbook 2016), at least to inform you of the basics of SEO so you can talk intelligently with potential SEO companies. There are not a million ways to do SEO – there are just a few, and the basic tasks (e.g., good SEO-friendly content, the proper use of keywords and tags, link-building) are universal to all SEO efforts.
  • Ask for references! A good SEO company might not publicize its clients on its website (we don’t), but they should have a client list, and they should be able to a) show you websites that they have worked on and corresponding success on Google, and b) have at least a few clients you can call or email who will vouch for the SEO firm. If they do not provide references, that is a huge red flag!
  • Ask the SEO company for terms on which THEY rank.  We rank well, for example, for SEO Training Online, SEO Training Chicago, etc., and my own site ranks well for terms like SEO Consultants Bay Area, SEO experts San Francisco, etc. Not to mention if you Google best books on SEO… it’s my list on Amazon that ranks. So my own arrogance aside, you should be able to ask the SEO company for examples for which they themselves actually rank. If they don’t rank, another red flag!
  • Ask / demand on-going performance reports. Your SEO company should provide you (at least monthly) with a rank report showing your target keywords and the rank of your website on Google, traffic reports using Google Analytics, goal reports showing web inquiries or other desired actions, etc. SEO is a “metric-driven” endeavor and a good SEO firm will provide reporting on at least a monthly basis.
  • Ask questions! If you talk with your SEO firm and they are arrogant, unwilling to take questions, unwilling to explain things.. if they respond with anger or what I call “techtimidation” (the use of technical terms to intimidate your from asking questions), another huge red flag.  People who “know their stuff” are not intimidated by being questions. If you are confident in something, you do not get angry when someone asks you about it.

So those are some tips in selecting an SEO firm, and/or questioning the firm you have today. Do your homework!

Don’t Be So Trusting: Do Your Homework!

Unfortunately, many clients are too trusting (actually I might say MOST clients are too trusting). Like choosing an attorney or a medical doctor, there are many, many good and trustworthy SEO firms out there. But you should be “proactive” in using them: by doing SEO “with” your SEO firm rather than having them do it “for” you – you’ll get better results.

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About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.