If you want to improve your website’s rankings to drive leads, hiring an SEO consulting service is a great plan. Despite its complexity, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more a science than an art, and having an expert on board can help you hit the ground running with a strong strategy.
But not all SEO consultancies were created equal, and the options can be overwhelming. In this blog, we’ll look at six indicators of an SEO consulting service’s quality – three to avoid and three to seek out – so you can conduct your search with confidence.
Guide to SEO Marketing
SEO Consulting: Three Red Flags
Some SEO services guarantee first-page results on several keywords, or high traffic, in the immediate future. While this might seem persuasive, the problem is that SEO is based on a complex algorithm that’s continually updating – so no one can guarantee specific results.
Instead, great SEO is about laying the groundwork. A good consulting service will understand the mechanics that underpin Google’s algorithm and use those strategically.
An agency offering guaranteed SEO is either displaying naive overconfidence or, more likely, using ‘Black Hat’ strategies for short-term success. Black Hat SEO refers to a collection of unethical processes used to superficially inflate traffic and rankings – such as through low value, manipulative content, and bot traffic. This strategy will eventually implode, wreaking havoc on your reputation.
Paid Placements and SEO Consultants ‘Near Me’
The volume of Google searches including the phrase ‘Near Me’ has grown by over 200% in the past couple of years – and for good reason. For a lot of services, it makes sense to shop locally.
But it’s a misconception to think this carries over to your business partnerships. Unless you’re explicitly a local business with no ambitions for wider reach, there’s no special benefit in hiring a local agency for your SEO consulting. Avoid limiting yourself to just your local area right from the outset.
Related to the above point, searches for SEO help can often turn up lists with titles like ‘The Ten Best SEO Consulting Services in Houston’ or similar. While of course some of these lists will be based on research, others may be sponsored promotions for agencies willing to invest in good PR. The number one agency may just turn out to be the one that paid the most. It’s not always clear what is or isn’t sponsored, so do further research on your own when you see a consulting service you’re tempted by.
Anything Too Rigid or Gimmicky
Any agency that claims to rewrite the rulebook completely or has mastered a unique technique for driving leads should be viewed with some skepticism.
There are best practices in SEO that exist for a reason, and if a company doesn’t respect them, that’s probably a bad sign. Ultimately, what makes for good SEO is dictated by the algorithm.
Similarly, watch out for agencies that only offer opaque SEO bundles, with certain outcomes promised but little clarity on their day-to-day workload. Your SEO consulting service should be adapting their strategy to your needs, and not be afraid to show you how they’re spending their time. Part of what makes this a challenging process is that B2C and B2B marketing are wildly different beasts. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution in marketing. When hiring an SEO consultant, the best one is going to be aligned with your needs.
SEO Consulting: Three Good Signs
White Hat Practices
We talked about the dangers of ‘Black Hat’ SEO above. Now, let’s look at its heroic counterpart: White Hat SEO – SEO that follows best practices.
Some examples of White Hat SEO are:
- Using information-rich content to drive traffic to your website
- Doing keyword research and developing a strategy based on relevant keywords
- Performing a website audit to clean up duplicate content and defunct links
- Ensuring your blog posts contain reputable backlinks
- Improving load speed to offer a better user experience
Ideally, your SEO consulting service will have a diverse portfolio of clientele and be able to demonstrate skill in several areas (crafting engaging, optimized content and great technical SEO, for example). Look for accreditations in relevant tools – SEMrush, Hubspot, and Google Analytics are all key to the work of an SEO consulting service. And ensure their portfolio lists relevant clients – preferably with testimonials.
Their own website and marketing are also a good indication of their skills. It’s one thing to understand the steps in search engine optimization, it’s another to perform them consistently.
Passionate Workers Who Are in it For The Long Haul
Look for an agency that values and upskills its employees. A driven and committed team is just as important a signifier of future success as satisfied customers. Some SEO consulting services outsource portions of the job to freelancers or churn through short-term interns to keep costs low. Avoid this as much as possible. Find an agency you can form a partnership with, and grow with going forward. If your SEO partner is continually replacing its staff, the quality of work you receive will be inconsistent and there will be a ceiling on their improvement.
A Flexible, Proactive Strategy
As mentioned in the red flags section, inflexible, bundled offerings can be a way for lesser SEO services to mask limited knowledge. Your potential SEO consulting service should be willing to adjust their offer to what your business actually needs now.
SEO, while undeniably effective, can take a significant amount of time to get off the ground – 6 to 9 months to reach its full potential. Look for an SEO service that doesn’t sugarcoat this, and is strategic and resourceful about using other methods in tandem to generate quicker demand.
The Right Partner
Ultimately, great SEO consulting services will work on three levels:
- Integrating good SEO into your website for a better user experience
- Formatting content to drive traffic, including utilizing optimized content, H1 tags, meta descriptions, and more
- Ensuring your website is crawlable, indexable, and designed to rank highly in the SERPs
Hopefully, this article helps you find the best SEO consulting service for you. At Nituno, we’re a full-service marketing agency, staffed with accredited SEO experts to help your business thrive. Experience has taught us that the best marketing is disruptive and dynamic. In addition to SEO strategies, we use a combination of content marketing, outbound, paid, and even video ads to turbocharge your growth. Need effective SEO? Get in touch with us today.