Should You Change Your SEO Provider?
It would probably be wise to assume that you are a typical business owner, looking to promote your business and get yourself recognised within search engine results as a valid way of increasing your inbound leads. It’s a time-honoured fact that promotion and visibility is what creates business. However, it’s just a fact that most business owners aren’t fully aware on how to do it effectively.
It’s really difficult to ascertain the difference between a good SEO company, and a bad one. If you don’t know much about SEO, there’s no way you can tell if the company you hired is doing what they promised.
Why is a Change Needed?
Communication – This word in the SEO arena is covered by a few definitions. In the ideal world ‘progress’ means that your keyword searches have rocketed your site from the depths of the lower pages – where no one ever goes – to the heady heights of page one. It could also mean that even though you aren’t able to see the work behind the scenes, your business is constantly picking up new leads thanks to the SEO work.
Any SEO company worth their salt will tell you that SEO isn’t an overnight thing, it’s an investment that takes time to achieve. Having said that though, within a few weeks or months, you should start to see a change in your keyword rankings. If this is not happening, then your SEO company should be explaining the ups and downs and highlighting what they mean for your business – if they’re not, this is entirely unacceptable.
Too many SEO firms believe that because what they do is so niche and difficult for the layman to fully grasp, that they can avoid effective communication and tie their clients in knots by overpromising and under delivering hoping the client doesn’t notice.
Communication is absolutely essential, especially with something like SEO. You should be receiving monthly reports, detailing exactly what is happening and when. And even when things are going well it’s important to know that they’re still there to answer any questions you may have – if they disappear of the face of the earth, it’s not a good sign.
No Changes in Strategy – Nothing in this world stays still for long; everything is constantly changing and evolving before our eyes – SEO is no different. Google is constantly throwing new things into the mix, this means that an SEO company must be nimble and able to change course at the drop of an algorithm. For example, in 2014 Google released the Panda update, which was designed to punish thin or duplicate content. Companies had to move quickly to avoid being penalised by the white and black menace. Removing and changing all examples of poor content was essential and time was of the essence. Google can be a cruel mistress. Changes to marketing strategies, website plugins, and keyword opportunities are crucial for any successful campaign; if you’ve seen no evidence of this, abandon ship.
Not Content – Behind every good boxer is the trainer. Behind every good SEO campaign is the content. It’s impossible to run an effective SEO campaign without quality content; Google is all about user experience after all.
A good SEO company will be able to create quality and optimised content that is designed to drive traffic. The expert use of keywords and information will be picked up by Google and they will in turn recognise that this content is relevant to your business, your site, and your potential customer base.
Results – The big daddy. If you pay for a product or service, you’re well within your rights to expect that this product is delivered as promised. Just because this isn’t a physical entity, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect to see some kind of result.
The results you should expect will be based on what kind of sector you’re in and the kind of competition around you. Your budget dictates such a large portion of the results you can expect to see – you get what you give.
However, if you’re operating in a small sector, with little or no competition then there is an untapped customer base there for you to reap the benefits from.
However, if you’re looking for a precise time frame on how long it will take to achieve your goals, you should typically hear ‘3-6 months on average’. That is the short answer, there are many variables and the more you factor in, the more complex the answer can become. Typically, it will take 3-6 months to achieve your goals, but on some occasions – as seen on our case studies page – it could take less time depending on the quality of the work being carried out.
This is where expectation management comes in, reputable companies ensure they’ve clearly outlined their own expectations on how long things should take depending on the variables. There’s absolutely no point in giving with one hand and taking with the other. It helps no one.
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be pushed into the dark. You’ve probably picked up so much more about SEO in the process of searching for a company than you know, so you have the knowledge to challenge them. So don’t be afraid.
How Can I Make a Clean Switch?
What Did Your Previous SEO Company Do? A good SEO company explains exactly what kinds of things they expect to do on your site. If they’re building links it means they’ll be creating content and linking back to your site. If they’re tinkering with the onsite SEO they’ll be perfecting the code and the things you can’t see to make them search engine friendly.
This is not to say that you must understand every aspect of the technical side of SEO. What is does mean is that you should have a fair idea of the links being built to your site. If you’re having content made on your behalf you should ensure that it is at least relevant to basic information of the business.
Understanding what has been done, on a basic level, will mean that the new company will be able to hit the ground running; fix what is wrong, and start to implement new strategies, whilst analysing the current state of the site, by researching what links have been built and what onsite changes need to be made.
Passwords – So much SEO work these days requires passwords – analytics, social media, WordPres etc. Passwords are easily misplaced over time, but if they’re not recoverable then it means the new company must create new profiles and accounts. This is not only a big waste of time, but it means you could lose vital information from current accounts, whilst also getting potentially penalised for producing duplicate accounts. If you’re able to get hold of these passwords it means that you can make the transfer much simpler and much more peaceful.
FTP/CMS Information – These letters themselves aren’t important, but what they represent is very important. Basically, FTP and CMS logins are the very thing that your previous SEO company would’ve used to access your site to make changes.
If you don’t know them, it means that your new company will have to make contact with the old company to retrieve them – as you can imagine your old company may not make this quite as easy as they should.
Do Some Homework – You wouldn’t hire a builder without seeing some of their work, nor would you buy a car without seeing it. It’s important to do your homework on the new company; finding out where their site is ranking, is a great place to start. Inputting this search term on Google: ‘SEO Company + Your Location’, will provide you with the best SEO’s in the area. It will give you an idea of how good they are at the job. The first position on Google typically gets 33% of the average traffic share, but after that the share begins to tail off, so position two falls to 17.6%, three is 11.4% and if we look further down to the bottom of page one we see position ten with only 2.4%, so as you can imagine the search share for page 2 is virtually non-existent. You wouldn’t hire a mechanic who couldn’t fix his own car, so by the same token you wouldn’t hire an SEO company who can’t perform the job for themselves.
Always remember; if it seems too good to be true – it probably is.
Trust the New Company – It’s really hard to take a hands off approach when that same hand has been burnt before. But you must remember that you’ve chosen the new company for a reason, because they can deliver what they’ve promised. Any real SEO company will be careful not to put stars in your eyes and promise things that simply aren’t achievable.
Real SEO, like a diet, takes time and quick fixes just aren’t the answer. Okay, you don’t see results straight away but over time you’ll notice small changes and these little changes are enough for you to think, ‘this is working, I’ll keep it up.’ We often tell our clients to give their SEO efforts at least a year, and this is because anything that moves too quickly is unnatural and will surely catch the eye of Google. It’s back to the diet analogy again, if you lose weight too quickly it isn’t natural and you’ll be punished when you pile the weight back on again.
This case study is a perfect example of why you should persevere. This client is operating in a competitive environment and came to us needing changes to the site as well as ongoing link building work. We knew that the work we would need to create required time to evolve into results, and this is because their main competitors had a 2-3-year head start with their SEO efforts than ourselves. So it was as much about catching up than it was about surpassing their efforts.
After 9 months we had stirred something and the competitor increased efforts, and they are now fighting back with a campaign similar to ours. This not only highlights the importance of being patient, but also the fact that your competitors won’t sit around twiddling their thumbs for long.
Who Should I Switch to?
There’s a multitude of different aspects that you should keep in mind when choosing your new company. Before you give up and say, ‘SEO is just a big con. How can every SEO company in the world promise to get their clients onto the first page of Google?’ Well the simple answer is this, some companies can deliver, and some can’t.
‘These Guys have a nice website. They must be good at SEO.’ If you’re looking for a web designer, then yes, assessing the aesthetic appeal of a website is essential. But, even the worst looking sites can rank highly. This is because the bots that crawl sites in search of keywords and relevant information can’t determine the aesthetic appeal of the website that it is searching through. The looks and intricate little details of a website are purely for the human consumption.
‘This company is massive, they’re making millions, of course they know what they’re doing’. Yes, that firm is good at something, but whether that something is SEO is yet to be determined. They may be good at selling the dream, rather than delivering. How high is their turnover of clients? The ability to sell and form the right kind of business relationships isn’t always an indicator of quality SEO services. Bigger is not always better. It really does depend on what your company needs, it might be that new start up or it might be the multi-national SEO firm. Assess both on its own merits. In our experience smaller ‘boutique’ companies are ideal for smaller, niche businesses as they are more equipped to roll with the punches and have the time to change processes to suit ongoing changes. Large companies are more suited to service other large companies. Marketing for a big company is often just a tick in a box, it won’t exactly make or break them, and the mould of a big SEO company often suits the corporate image of big client.
Assess What You Need:
Decide What Work You Need – If you’re not initially sure what you need, try to figure out what you’d ideally like to have. Do you want a higher percentage of sales in the next year, or 30% more leads in the next three months? Your goal is perhaps increased rankings, or maybe you need to tick the corporate box to show someone is working on your online efforts? Most of our clients come to us with a set number of customers they’d like to achieve in a certain time bracket, this is great for us, it gives us a figure to work with and we base all of our strategies around achieving these goals.
Have a clear picture in your head of the end goal and make that the centre of all communication with the companies you speak to. The only way both parties can be successful is to have clear communication.
Shop Around – Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, arrange a meeting. This will give you the chance to figure the company out a little bit; if you don’t like the guy sat in front of you they’re not the right choice for you. Most SEO companies will arrange a meeting before they take on new clients anyway, so in this time you will be able to chew the fat and look over the proposal they’ve sent you. After this process (unless you really click with the first firm you meet with) go ahead and do the same with two or three other companies. But it’s important that you don’t advertise the fact, the best SEO firms don’t fight for clients, the clients fight for them. The best companies will only take on clients that they believe they can achieve good things with.
Assess Case Studies & References – When hiring any company for any job, you ask, ‘Are you going to do what you promised?’ If you’re climbing the Alps, you want an experienced guide, this is the same when trying to climb the rankings. Alas, we are unable to see into the future, so we cannot see if they can achieve what they claim, but what they can do is show you previous work from similar clients. If you’re a small electronics company, then you want a company that has dealt with similar clients before with good results. If you’re particularly niche, then you’ll need a firm that has at least dabbled in sectors of your industry. Pour through these case studies, research is key. There are too many companies out there that are willing to take money and completely under deliver.
You Only Miss it When It’s Gone
Most businesses only think about switching providers when something has gone wrong, such as a drop in traffic, a loss of positions or a catastrophic Google penalty. However, if it has got to the point where you notice a drop off it’s probably too late to salvage some of those lost leads.
There is nothing to fear when moving SEO company as long as you take all the relevant steps. There are no guarantees, but you can all but guarantee success if you select the right company for you.