Top 7 Things You Must Know Before Hiring an SEO Company

hiring seo companySearching for the right SEO company? Depending on how long you’ve been looking, backpacking in the Sahara might seem easier!

Luckily for you, you won’t have to look any further. We’ve assembled the top seven things you must know before hiring an SEO company.

If you take these to heart, you’ll have no problem identifying the right SEO company for your business.

1 – Avoid Ranking Guarantees

No honest SEO company will guarantee rankings. If you come across a company that does, you should run away as fast as you can and check for your wallet afterward.

You might be thinking, “Why not put your money where your mouth is? What’s so bad about guaranteeing rankings?”

For starters, Google itself expressly warns against it in their guidelines on search marketing.

In no uncertain terms the search giant states in bold, “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.”

It also notes, “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a ‘special relationship’ with Google, or advertise a ‘priority submit’ to Google…”

In essence, Google is warning you that an SEO company guaranteeing a certain ranking is trying to pull the wool over your eyes because it’s impossible to do.

Why is it impossible?

Think about it: search rank is inherently unstable due to the constant changes and updates in search engine algorithms. Similarly, search results depend on a host of different factors that are out of the control of an SEO company.

For example, Google search results vary depending on where you are geographically, if you’ve searched for a specific key phrase before, and whether you’re logged in to a Google account or not––just to name a few.

That means, a person typing in “SEO company” from a Starbucks in Baltimore, MD will get a very different list of results than someone doing the same thing from his office in Asbury Park, NJ.

Ultimately, given the innate instability of search rank and the factors that go into how search results are generated, “guaranteeing” a certain ranking proves downright deceptive.

2 – You Get What You Pay For

Paying for law firm SEO can be compared to buying gas for your car.

When you drive to the gas station, you can choose how much fuel you want to put into your gas tank.
Sometimes, choosing only $20 worth of gas is all you’ll need. Other times, filling just half of your tank will suffice. However, if you plan to drive for a while or want to travel across state lines, you’ll probably want to fill it up completely.

The same principle applies to SEO: the more gas you put into the tank, the further you can go.

MOZ, the number one authority on all things SEO, conducted a landmark study outlining how much SEO costs.

In 2011, MOZ surveyed over 600 SEO agencies, and the data they collected is still quite accurate today.

According to the results, people paid for SEO in three different ways:

  1. Hourly Fees
  2. Project-Based Fees
  3. Monthly Fees
  • The most common hourly fee for SEO services was $76-200/hour.
  • The most common project-based fee was $1,000-$7,500.
  • The most common monthly fee in the United States was $2,500-$5,000 (although most SEO companies in Australia, England, and India charged $250-$500).

Obviously, these numbers depend on how much time, effort, and work went into each project and client, but they should at least give you a ballpark range.

Be careful! There are thousands of shady freelancers claiming that they will do SEO for your business for next to nothing.

Unfortunately, most of them do irreparable harm to your search rank or make doing legitimate SEO for your business that much harder and more expensive.

For example, there are individuals on websites like,, and even masquerading as qualified SEO experts who can get you to the top of Google for just $300.

One suspicious operation claimed to rocket you to the top for just $60 by making a “powerful link wheel” for your business.

What the unsuspecting buyer doesn’t know is that creating link wheels is considered an unethical tactic, scorned by the SEO world, and will get your site booted off of search listings completely when Google discovers it!

This should be a warning to anyone who thinks that hiring a cheap freelancer is low risk because of its low cost. That mindset is short-sighted and dead wrong.

In reality, you just paid a person $60 to do something that will damage your site’s reputation, get you delisted from Google and all major search engines, and set your SEO efforts back several months if not years.

Remember, you can pay an online freelancer next to nothing to “do SEO” for you, and you may end up losing only a little bit of money in the short-term, but what you lose in the long-run is immeasurable.

The last thing you want to do is pay someone to hurt your business. Do yourself a favor: whether you’re a California online speech therapist or selling promotional power banks, avoid the cheapest option and hire a real SEO company.

3 – A Good SEO Company Has a Strategy

No SEO company will give away its “special sauce” that helps drive traffic to your site and boost your ROI, but if they won’t (or can’t) give you at least an idea of what they’ll do for your business, you should run for the hills.

All good SEO companies have a strategy. Most reputable firms will tell you something like: “We’ll start with an on-site technical SEO audit to identify any low hanging fruit. Then, we’ll research and pinpoint the best keywords to target. After that, we’ll launch into content creation, link building…”

If the SEO company you are looking into can’t at least tell you something like this, you really shouldn’t be giving them your money. After all, if they can’t articulate a concrete game plan to their potential clients, they probably don’t have one.

In all fairness, most SEO firms will want to know what your budget is before giving you concrete examples of what they will do for you.

For example, a person with a large online marketing budget will likely be able to afford a Google Adwords campaign, organic SEO, and social media marketing.

However, it’d be foolish for an SEO firm to recommend all of its offerings to a business that can only spend $500 per month.

Consequently, if the SEO firm you’re talking to asks about this, don’t view it as invasive or avoiding your questions. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The more they know about your business and budget, the better they can personally tailor a package that works best for you.

If you find a company with a winning strategy asking these kinds of questions, you can be sure you’re headed in the right direction.

4 – High-Quality SEO Takes Time

The fourth most important thing you must know before hiring an SEO company is that you have to be patient. High-quality SEO takes time.

seo company not magicSEO is not magic. No wand is waved and no magician pulls your site out of a hat and puts it into the number one spot on Page 1. Likewise, Google and Bing will not put you on the top of its organic search results simply because you want them to.

You’re going to need to create content that people will be interested in reading, promote that content, and convince reputable sites to link back to yours––just to name a few. That doesn’t happen overnight.

If a company tells you that they can get you to the top of organic search engine results in a very short period of time, that’s your cue to get extremely skeptical.

Results tend to kick in after 4 months of solid content creation and link building, although this varies depending on your industry.

If your website is brand new, it could take longer. Also, if your business can only afford a modest amount of SEO, it will take even longer. (Remember the gas station analogy?)

We know: this might seem like a lot in up-front costs. However, you’re paying for results that will increase exponentially over time. In truth, the more patient you are, the more your ROI will increase.

Not quite convinced? Check out this detailed article from Forbes for more information about how long SEO takes and how patience is the key to steadily increasing your ROI.

5 – Understand the Value of SEO

If you don’t understand the value of SEO, you’ll never really appreciate what you’re getting for your money.

One of the most important things to recognize is that a great SEO company is worth its weight in gold.

Getting on Page 1 of major search engines is not simply a bragging right, it’s access to millions of potential clients and customers looking for your product or service.

According to, 1.17 billion people use Google.

Search engines have become our instinctual go-to for all our needs and wants. Similarly, with smartphones always within arm’s reach, search engines are also the fastest and easiest way to find a business.

That said, if people can’t find you in search results, you don’t have a chance of getting their business.

An SEO company that does its job properly helps you:

  1. Gain access to these millions of potential clients and customers
  2. Draw them directly to your website
  3. Give them content they want to consume
  4. Use that content as a vehicle to turn them into warm leads
  5. Convert those leads into clients and customers by showing how and why your business is the best solution to their problem or provides them with what they are searching for

When looked at in this light, the value of SEO becomes crystal clear: it builds your brand, enhances your reputation, puts your site front and center for consumers to see, and helps you make a lot of money.

Knowing all of that will help you better appreciate what you’re paying for while putting you in the proper mindset before hiring an SEO company.

6 – Older Companies Do NOT Equal Better Companies

Contrary to popular belief, being in business for a while is not necessarily a good indication of the quality of an SEO company.

Many SEO firms have been in business for decades, but they got stuck in their ways regarding what works. They continue to rinse and repeat––day in and day out––for all of their clients, without changing much.

However, the SEO landscape is constantly evolving, and newer companies are realizing the importance of adapting their tactics and tailoring their offerings based on these changes.

Aside from that, a newer company will want to prove itself to you and will almost always invest more time and energy into getting your business the best results possible.

Also, older companies usually have more clients than younger companies, so they tend to have much less time and resources to dedicate to your business (regardless of what they tell you).

This all might seem contrary to the idea that “newbies” lack experience and are risky to do business with, but if you are looking for a company that will tirelessly work to get you results, has a vested interest in your success, and probably costs less but produces the same (if not better) quality material, go with the younger one.

In spite of this, don’t be naive. If an SEO company doesn’t have a track record of any kind, you should consider a different option.

7 – Don’t Believe the Hype!

Many people are tempted to Google “SEO” and their geographic area (e.g. SEO Baltimore) and hire the company that appears first in Google.

Similarly, attorneys have been known to Google terms like “law firm SEO” and hire the first company they see.

They think, “Woah! These guys must know what they’re doing. They’re number 1 in Google!”

Unfortunately, this approach is flawed in so many ways.

SEO guru Josh Steimle explained in Forbes that when you searched Google a couple years ago for “utah seo,” the top firm that showed up was not necessarily the best, it was simply the oldest.

Mr. Steimle, the owner of that company, revealed:

“I’m going to let you in on a secret. My own firm showed up first in Google for ‘utah seo’ for several years, but it’s not because we’re the best SEO firm in Utah. It’s because we were one of the first SEO firms in Utah, we have an old domain that’s been in use since 1996, and because we did a decent job on SEO. But nothing more outstanding than 50 other firms targeting the same keywords.”

Don’t assume that an SEO company highly ranked in Google can automatically do the same for your business.

Your keywords are different than theirs, your industry is different than theirs, and the amount of time they spend doing SEO for you will be different than the amount of time they dedicate to doing their own SEO.

Do your research, follow the advice in this post, and don’t believe the hype.

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