Everyone claims to be an SEO expert these days. In Baton Rouge alone, there are no less than a hundred companies offering search engine optimization services.
But, how many of them honestly know what they’re doing?
How many have the knowledge and skill set to actually help business owners boost page rankings?
In this article we will give you what to look for in when you’re shopping for the best SEO marketing agency, and what red flags to notice.
So-called SEO and digital marketing experts can actually hurt your rankings.
The SEO industry is being tainted by online marketing experts who claim they can help boost website rankings. When, in fact, their outdated tactics are having a negative impact on site rankings, and they are actually wasting their clients’ time and money.
Don’t get caught up in the scam!
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The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced SEO Company
We’ve heard horror story after horror story about a local business hiring an agency to help them with their rankings in Google. The business owner is promised by these “experts,” that their website will get to the top page of Google overnight, and left with a lower page rank, and even possible penalties from Google due to shady SEO techniques.
That’s why you need a professional company. One that can show you that they have the knowledge and experience to help you rank higher, which results in increased sales.
By making a small investment in partnering with an SEO professional, your company will see:
Increased Organic Traffic
Increased Calls / Form Submissions
Additionally, when you choose the right SEO company, you will get:
More time to focus on running your business
An improved website and better user experience
Improved rankings on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yelp
What to look for in an SEO agency:
It’s always a good idea to choose a company that can also provide you with: content marketing, pay per click campaigns, social media marketing, email marketing, maintaining your Google My Business listing, video production, and much more!
When you hire the right company to do this complex work for you, you can focus on running your business instead of trying to learn SEO algorithms and best practices.
Clint and the BlakSheep Creative team are so detailed, organized and strategic in their approach to building websites. They consider your entire digital footprint beyond just your website. BlakSheep is a great asset and addition to our marketing efforts!
Our website build with BlakSheep was the type of experience that you want to share and brag about. Very responsive, organized, to the point with our design. The creativeness of Clint provided us exactly what we wanted and needed. Would definitely use them again and recommend them!
Clint, is one of the most knowledgeable, capable & easy to work with people I have ever had the pleasure to have done business with. His can-do attitude was a breath of fresh air, and the results were amazing and completely blew us away. I could not recommend him MORE!!!! If you need a project done, get this man on it, YESTERDAY!!!
Use the five tips below to help you find a partner right for your business.
Tip #1 – Clearly Define Your SEO Goals
The first step to finding the right team for the job is to define what areas of your online presence that you’d like to see improved.
You may need to work on your website design, you may not have a website at all, or perhaps you just need SEO services.
In order to find the right team for the job, you first need to determine which areas of your online presence you want to improve, and find a firm with the experience and qualifications to make it happen.
If you’re not sure which areas you need to improve, then contact us for a free internet marketing consultation, and we can discuss how to reach your goals from a wholistic perspective, not just by launching endless SEO campaigns.
Tip #2 – Make Sure your SEO Company Tracks Your Data
There’s no one size fits all approach to SEO. To find the best solutions for your unique business, you will want to use a firm that can track and measure all of your company data.
This includes phone calls, contact forms, site visits, click through rates, and more. To choose the right business strategies for your company, it’s important to make decisions based off of results and not someone’s gut instinct.
Tip #3 – Ask your SEO Company for Reviews, Case Studies & Testimonials
One of the best ways to find a reputable agency is to read through their testimonials and online reviews.
A company’s reviews can easily be found by exploring the company’s site or searching for them on sites like Google, Yelp, or even Facebook.
For more thorough information, request case studies from the agency by calling them up or submitting a form online. This is one great way to see what the agency is capable of. Another great way to get a feel for an agency is by requesting a reference.
A true SEO agency should be able to put you in touch with a current client so that you can speak with them about their own experience and level of satisfaction.
Tip #4 – Schedule a Consultation
Whether you are right down the street from the SEO firm or thousands of miles across the globe, you can always ask for a consultation.
If they’re any good, the agency will be happy to pull up some research on your industry and walk you through some strategies they have used on past clients.
A consultation will help you get a feel for both the knowledge and the skillset of their team. (Not to mention their level of passion and creativity.)
Your relationship with your SEO agency HAS to be built around trust. To build a trusting relationship with your SEO agency use this as an opportunity to see how well you connect.
Are they explaining things in a way that you can understand?
Do they seem more interested in selling than educating?
Do they seem passionate about the work they do?
This is your time to ask them specific questions!
Tip # 5 – Define Your SEO Budget
Before you invest in a service you can’t afford, plan out your budget ahead of time.
Hiring an agency that doesn’t offer you improvement in search results is a horrible return on investment.
Ask about package deals and price ranges early on to see if the service is in your price range.
Most SEO companies have a variety of monthly packages to choose from, which should make your life easier.
When choosing a package deal, remember the goal you developed in Tip #1, and see what package will help you smash it.
Red Flags to Notice When Choosing a Search Engine Optimization Company
Often times, it’s easier to know what NOT to do, than what to do. Those of us who have children are definitely familiar with that approach! Here’s five signs that you’re dealing with an SEO hack, and not a professional.
Flag #1 - Fancy Presentations with no substance
Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover, so why business owners keep falling for flashy sales presentations blows our mind.
Far too often, a digital marketing agency creates these beautiful, high-tech marketing pitches but fails to do the same for their customers.
There’s no need for flash and pizazz.
Presentations should be all about the numbers.
Any professional knows that SEO is data driven. We use a comprehensive analytics stack to see what’s working, and what needs to be adjusted.
Flag #2 - “Secret Recipe,” Sales Pitches
There is no “secret formula or recipe” for SEO. There’s no such thing as “one click SEO.”
It’s very well documented how to succeed in SEO. But, the landscape and algorithms change daily.
Our SEO experts stay abreast of these changes and trends to perfect our craft, resulting in a better benefit for you, the client.
Flag #3 - Bottom Dollar Pricing
You get what you pay for.
Typically those agencies who offer “cheap” SEO services outsource to India or another country.
This is ok if your target market is in that country. Just remember, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Flag #4 - Lack of Proof
Make sure that your SEO candidate has proof of previous SEO work.
Look at at their case studies.
Read their online reviews.
Browse through their blog.
Does their language vibe with you? Do their clients remind you of your company? Do they have documented results similar to the ones you want? Save yourself time and money by vetting potential agencies.
Flag #5 - Poorly Designed and Optimized Websites
This is one of our biggest pet peeves. Some self-professed SEO guru promises to sell their clients domination of the search engine results pages. They may even offer graphic design, and profess to be a design company.
But their OWN website is a SEO trainwreck!
Call us crazy, bored, whatever, but one of our things we like to do is audit our competitors’ websites. (We do the same for our clients to ensure that they’re a step ahead of their competition – that’s SEO 101).
Just today, we found an SEO “expert” in Baton Rouge who didn’t even rank on Google for their own brand.
That’s right. If you search for the business name, they’re not even listed on the first few pages. (We stopped at page 2). Chances are, they haven’t even had their search properly indexed, let alone launched any link building efforts.
Or here’s another one.
Another firm that claims to specialize in Baton Rouge Web Design has a site that’s a technical SEO disaster. (they don’t even have an XML sitemap!)
Technical SEO is critical to your website and technical errors could be hurting your SEO. Page loading speed, heading placement, accessibility, clean code, page metadata, and server response codes are among the many ranking factors that search engines look at to determine your page rank.
It’s all about user experience!
If an SEO company doesn’t (or can’t) properly handle the technical side of search engine optimization for themselves, can you trust them to do it for you?
So, How Do you Find the Best SEO Company for Your Needs?
We thought you’d never ask!
Whether you’re looking for the best local SEO companies for your small business or need an enterprise solution, picking the right company is crucial.
An SEO partnership is long-term, so you need to be sure of who you’re picking.
Not all SEO companies or digital marketing firms live up to their promises of more traffic, better rankings, and more leads. (sidebar: higher rankings don’t necessarily equal success.)
Avoid any SEO company that promises anything like the following:
Search engine submissions
X amount of backlinks
If you come across a company that offers any of these, RUN! While some of these results may be possible, it would most likely be as a result of black hat practices.
Indicators of Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is the practice of using questionable SEO practices that try to “hack” the system.
Google punishes sites that use Black Hat techniques, and the damage can take years to reverse.
Bottom line: it’s not worth it. Any gains you would make from Black Hat SEO would be temporary, and a subsequent ratings losses would be worse, and longer-lasting.
Black Hat SEO is bad, very bad!
If SEO expert makes any type of guarantees or promises about results in X amount of time, run! Good SEO takes time, and is a process.
Some signs you’re about to be conned include SEO strategies like:
Purchasing backlinks from random, spammy websites
Using software to produce pages full of nonrelevant content.
Using duplicate, scraped, or “thin” content
Submitting fake press releases in order to spam links
If you haven’t used Black Hat SEO tactics on your site, don’t start!
But if you have, or suspect your developer or SEO team has, we recommend working with a reliable company that can help clean up your website.
Contact Us, and we’ll take a look at it for you for free.
Don’t risk the chance of being penalized by Google!
Questions to ask an SEO company before hiring them
Before you just randomly pick one from a list of SEO companies, or call up your friend’s brother-in-law who built a website once, make sure you look at SEO company reviews extensively.
Ask up-front for examples of reviews and case studies that prove success in your industry. It’s crucial they have proven success in your particular industry because each industry has different nuances and different consumer expectations.
You should also additionally ask the following questions:
What’s the process to cancel? Sometimes contracts have an end date or a fee for canceling before a certain length of time.
How will we communicate and how often? Any decent SEO analyst should want to communicate with you, if for nothing else, than to show you results on your rankings.
Do I have full access to my Analytics/Adwords accounts and my website? It’s helpful to know who has FTP access, CMS access, Analytics access, and AdWords access.
Will I own my website? Many SEO companies have website ownership clauses built into their contracts. For example, some will build “free” websites but if you leave your contract early you lose all rights to it.
Do you provide performance guarantees? A reliable SEO company doesn’t. Because of all the moving parts and because each website is different, it’s impossible to guarantee results. If you talk to a company that does, you need to run and don’t look back.
Have you done work like this for companies similar to mine? Different industries have different nuances and SEO requirements, which means you need to find an SEO provider that knows your specific industry.
What are some of your recent success stories? Any marketing agency should be proud to tell you of some of the marketing campaigns that they launched for clients and producted results.
What contracts, budgets, and options are available? Your budget should depend on your starting point, goals, competitive landscape, and internal capabilities. No one size fits all—there are no cookie cutter solutions, at least not from the best SEO companies.
What are all your fees and payment options? Be sure you know every single aspect of how you’re going to pay for what SEO costs. Otherwise, you might have work withheld because you “didn’t pay.”
Your Baton Rouge SEO Experts
Would you like to know more about our SEO Services or do you need a full service digital marketing agency?
Are you unsure whether or not your existing website is properly technically optimized?
We build awesome responsive websites with your success as our motivation.
Contact us for a free SEO consultation and let’s create some marketing strategies to get you ranking higher in Google and other search engines.