What to look for in an SEO firm

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One of the best, most cost-efficient ways to pull prospects your way is via search engine organic search results (SEO). How Google determines a site worth ranking high has seen a big shift in recent years. 

The best way to execute good SEO is to build it into the framework of your website from the ground up. Your SEO planning should start during the design and content development phase, before you even begin developing your site. Most importantly, you want to set up your keywords so they don’t compete with each other.

The ideal SEO company is very knowledgeable in these areas:

  1. Quality content creation and copywriting for humans by copywriters with substantial experience writing for websites and working in target keyword phrases.
  2. Keyword distribution: do you sprinkle keywords throughout the site or in more targeted areas? This is one of the most important areas of SEO specialization to master and we’ve done just that.
  3. Website technical and speed optimization ‐ Google rewards fast sites because website readers spend more time with them, which in turn, rewards Google with continued usage of its service. Optimizing for speed goes far beyond sizing down images for web usage. It means leveraging your site’s browser cache, enabling gzip compression, minimizing Javascript and CSS, deferring parsing of Javascript, fixing server (hosting related) configuration errors to reduce first byte response time, etc. So, even if you think your site is fast, it may only be because your site is cached and appears to be fast. Google robots regularly scan sites and test various components that determine actual speed and quality of speed optimization.
  4. Website Accessibility ‐ A good SEO company will be able to determine if navigation is intuitive and linking structure is easy to follow for both human readers and search engine robots. SEO companies that are not skilled in HTML development often error in creating keywords as graphics, which are not readable by search engine robots.
  5. Search Engine penalties ‐ A good SEO company must not only know good SEO but bad SEO as well to know how to spot existing bad SEO and remove it. If your SEO company doesn’t find it, we guarantee that Google and other search engines will if they already haven’t, penalize your site, and bump you down the list.

Common errors made by “SEO” and web development companies that don’t have a deep knowledge of SEO:

  1. Fail to set up Google Search Console or Bing webmaster tools to oversee 404 / page-not-found errors, duplicate content errors, and even robot txt block errors ‐ (It’s surprising, but it’s more common than you think that web developers forget to remove robot text blocks from their website test sites before launching a site live. No matter how much SEO you put into your site, a robot text block literally blocks a search engine from scanning the site and including it in its search results.)
  2. Not optimizing for speed utilizing Google Page Insights tips and tools.
  3. Not putting important keywords in HTML, instead of producing them as graphics ‐ Search engines can’t read graphics and your keywords go to waste when designed as a graphic. Sure, you can place assign “alt tags” to images, but they don’t carry near the level of impact that HTML keywords do.
  4. Not planning landing pages.

What to look out for:

  1. Don’t hire a company to handle your SEO simply because their own site is on page 1 Google results. This doesn’t necessarily mean they know SEO.

    Some of the biggest SEO offenders are web design companies that, inadvertently, currently rank on Google page 1 as a result of nothing they did. Testing their website code and SEO, it is clear to us that they know very little about correct search engine optimization. How can this be? We have a nickname for it. We call it Google’s “the rich get richer” scheme which affects websites in many industries. There are companies out there that have poor websites, poorly optimized, yet manage to rank high in Google search results. They rank high because they got on page 1 early on, many years ago. They get a lot of clicks, simply by default being on page 1, and that tells Google that they must be “popular” and, therefore, Google keep these sites on page 1. That’s a very fragile position to be in, and it’s only a matter of time before Google gets around to removing these sites from page 1 organic search results.

  2. Don’t hire a company that exclusively specializes in SEO. Hire a company for all of their design, development and SEO expertise because design and development hugely affects SEO. A true SEO expert understands that doing SEO right means implementing it at the start of design and development and not as an afterthought. There are too many developers or unemployed individuals out there who have poor skillsets and turn to SEO without sufficient expertise because it’s a way to make a quick buck and they know it’s difficult for others to verify their true skillset. (We know this based on our regular interviewing and testing of web developers’ sites.) These people can do great damage to your SEO efforts.

    There are likely many companies that exclusively specialize in SEO and that do a good job, but we believe there is such an overwhelming number of SEO companies who do more harm than good, that the odds aren’t good that you’ll achieve success hiring a person or company that exclusively specializes in SEO. The safer bet is to hire an established web design/development company that offers SEO as one of several specialties.

 Just a few SEO services to consider

  • Search engine optimization
  • SEO copywriting for the web
  • Technical optimization
  • Site speed optimization
  • Site link structure planning
  • Content marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Local search updating and optimization
  • Image search optimization
  • Google Search Console set-up
  • Google Analytics installation
  • Google Places set-up
  • Bing Places set-up
  • Social media set-up and installation on your website
  • Landing page design & development

Karen Skeens

Karen Skeens

Karen is a creative director / writer / designer / strategist with 20 years of passionate dedication in digital agency and broadcast media work helping companies of all sizes grow.

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