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How to Select an SEO Firm

Search engine optimization (SEO) is about as close to a no-brainer as any marketing investment gets: you've made a significant investment in designing and building an attractive, easy-to-navigate, content-rich website, so why not invest just a bit more to make sure it's easy to find? Or to put it in Biblical terms, quoting Matthew 5:15, "No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket."

SEO is relatively cheap, it brings prospects to your site when they are interested in your product or service, and it enhances your brand image by associating your company with the problem-solving terms your buyers use.

So, case made, how do you select an SEO partner? Jonathan Ashton offers Ten Tips For Choosing The Right SEO Partner in the Search Insider blog, including:
  • Don't respond to unsolicited emails from SEOs.

  • Prepare an RFP (good advice in any agency selection process).

  • Get references (of SEO firms from your network of associates, and of clients from prospective SEO providers).

  • Be patient (SEO work is fast, but search engines are slow).

I don't agree with everything on Jonathan's list (I think he had to stretch to get to 10 items), but overall his advice is sound. To his enumeration, I would add a few more points:
  • Avoid anyone who "guarantees" you top placement on search engines. Quite frankly, any SEO firm that makes such a promise is spewing bullsh*t. The only person in the universe who could possibly guarantee anyone a #1 spot on Google is Matt Cutts, and he's not for sale.

  • Ask potential SEO partners how they build external links—there's the right and reputable way, and the wrong way.

  • On a related note, ask how the firm performs SEO in general. A reputable firm will outline their process and indicate what automated tools they use to check the quality of their work. Respectable SEO practices are pretty well-known; if a potential SEO vendor starts talking about their secret sauce or doesn't want to share the "how" of what they do, don't walk—run away.

  • Have realistic expectations. While you should expect your SEO firm to follow established best practices, as noted above, no one can guarantee you top placement, particularly for highly competitive two-word search terms. If you want to make sure your company appears on the top half of page one on Google for a specific term, buy the term in your AdWords program. Your SEO partner can make every effort to get you to the top of the organic results, but can't possibly guarantee this. Any valid SEO effort should show improvement in your search engine position, but not necessarily top half of page one on every desired term.

  • Remember the 80/20 rule. A relatively modest SEO effort can produce decent results. The more you are willing to spend, the better the results you can expect to achieve, but the return on investment declines rapidly near the top end. Put another way, it may very well cost more to move your site from position six or seven up to the first or second spot than it does to from the fifth page to the first page.

Finally, keep in mind that quality content is king. While investing in SEO may be a no-brainer, putting useful, relevant content on your site is the first step—make this modest internal effort before you start looking for an SEO partner, and you'll be halfway to success from the start.


Contact Mike Bannan:


All Time Greats

Digital Marketing for Law Firms, How Hard is it?

A lot of "verticals" or industries make sense for digital marketing and the whole process can be very easy and intuitive. For instance, if you are running a Search Engine Optimization company, it's very straightforward to content market:

1- Write blogs or articles about SEO
2- Try to answer questions people have about SEO
3- Optimize those blogs around what the questions are and what you are saying.

But what about an industry that is a lot more complicated and not very straight forward? What about marketing for lawyers?

ACE, one of Philadelphia's top Law Firm Marketing companies, just posted this extremely helpful blog about why SEO is important for Law Firms. It delves into exactly how to do the job for a complex industry like the law and its practitioners.

One of the key points in the entire article is: "If your customer journey does not have a use for search services, then you'll never see SEO campaign results."

We recommend reading the whole thing. …

Tip #3 to improve your digital marketing

Do Your Research You may have ideas for what is going to work best for your audience based on past experience with your ads, but taking the time to conduct thorough research and have data to support your actions is important. You may anticipate that your customers will behave a certain way, when in fact they go in a completely different direction. It’s essential to be prepared for this ahead of time and use the information you collect from research to planning your marketing strategy. Elliot Simmonds explains this concept below:

“ A lot of people use sponsored posts and other paid advertising, and it seems that many are happy to simply pay the money and watch the views and clicks roll in - even if some of those clicks are from individuals tangential to the product or service they're promoting. Most platforms allow you to specifically target your sponsored posts and ads, and my tip is to do so following a period (even if it's only a short period) of actual research. Your gut i…

Tip #2 to Improve your Digital Marketing

Spend Wisely Each platform used to market online provides you with a different value. You need to analyze which outlets you should invest more time and money into, and which ones are not as important. Some platforms that work well for one company, yield little to no results for another. You need to find the one that suits your business goals the best. Digital Marketing is all very specific to your brand, and you need to plan your budget accordingly. Determining what each platform is going to do for your specific advertising efforts should be the basis for the decisions you make with your campaigns, explains Hitesh Sahni, Marketing Consultant at Smemark:

“It’s imperative to understand the value each channel offers. Search advertising platforms, such as Google Adwords, work best when there is a clear demand for your product or service, and you want to target people who search for your product or service online. Search advertising is less effective for a startup that has created a new an…

Does SEO Actually Work?

I wrote this for my new Doctor Digital column over at Results Driven Marketing's Blog. But I wanted to share it here too.

It's the most basic question of all: Does SEO Actually Work?

Yes it does! But not like you think it does.

This graphic should explain it pretty well:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Tips to Improve Digital Marketing: Tip 1

Digital advertising has become a major component of modern day marketing strategies. Here are tips on how to improve your digital marketing strategy:

1. Be Creative Your business has visual elements that make it stand out from your competition. Use that to your advantage in your marketing efforts. Whether it is a logo, mascot, font, or color scheme, having it included can help make your brand recognizable. You want to catch the eye of the audience, but you also want to maintain their attention and have them remember your brand. Incorporating unique and creative visual elements into your ads is crucial to the success the ads will bring you. Sarah Maloy, Content Marketing Manager at Shutterstock points out that you want a variety of creative images, but they should be consistent: "When advertising on social media, it's important to refresh your creative often so that it is relevant and so that users aren't seeing the same post more than once. When testing variations and tryi…

AHREFS tops the marketing blunder list of 2018

It’s Early in 2018 and AHREFS tops the marketing blunder list It’s only the first week in February and you are reading about the Metrics/Data supplier that has provided us with fodder by creating a huge marketing blunder, Ahrefs.

Ahrefs is world's biggest third-party database of search queries with refined monthly search volume and research metrics.  Their data is used by untold numbers of digital marketers across the world.  Arguably they are the industry leader in this type of data.  The only thing that they changed was how a tiny item in their metrics was being calculated. 
About a week prior to the effective date of the change, Ahrefs notified users that a change was coming to how they calculated a domain rating or DR.  They also stated that many sites would see their rankings drop.  I agree that a need for change was warranted.  What I don’t agree with how they calculated the change and its ramifications for roughly 75% of all websites.  

This past Friday evening around 11 P.…