The cartoon Dilbert recently poked a little fun (or malicious intent, whichever) at the search engine optimisation industry. The company hires a weasel, sans pants, to “game the system and corrupt the integrity of all the internet search results for our industry.” The weasel’s job title is “accomplice.” Every industry has its share of jokes at its expense; just ask attorneys, and SEOs are used to it. But it does bring up an important point for businesses: how do you make sure you are getting a real, legitimate SEO company and not a weasel? Because they are out there, pants or not, and they can do damage to your reputation and SERP positioning.
If anyone could create a legitimate appearance online, it would be an SEO company. Because of this, you have to be doubly, and triply, careful to vet potential SEO companies very carefully.
- Check every detail; if there is a physical address listed on the website, check Google Maps to make sure that it is real; call the phone number, do a reverse lookup. When you call, does someone answer or does a service or voice mail box pick up? If you don’t get a human, move on.
- Look at the testimonials. Don’t look for “This is the best company EVER!” Look for contact information, and then do the contacting. If they do not have any information listed, cross that one off the list.
- Check how long the company has been in business.
- Scour forums for mentions of the SEO companies. When people have bad experiences, they are often very eager to share them. On the flip side, disgruntled people may leave false negatives, but you can at least get a sense of their reputation.
- Check with police agencies. If they have reports of fraud, they may be willing to share them to prevent further crime.
- Does this company have a blog? Read through and see what they have to say about SEO: do they sound knowledgeable? Do they provide good tips?
- Does the company offer a money-back guarantee? This is good. Does the company guarantee top ten rankings? That’s not good. No one can guarantee top spots, and it is a big red flag if they do.
- Read, reread, and read the contract again. If you can, have a lawyer scour the agreement.
If something doesn’t seem right to you, do not select this SEO company. There are scores of legitimate, high value companies that can benefit your business immensely, but there are also those weasels that can cause penalties, low rankings, and a damaged reputation.
Posted by Gurdeep Matharu, Senior Account & Business Development Manager at Bullseye Media