How to Select an SEO Company?

A work-related question that turned out trickier than it looked: where do you start searching for a company that provides search engine optimization services if you are not familiar with the SEO space?

Here are a few tips by Aaron Wall back from 2004 -- search SEO forums, read ClickZ articles, get recommendations -- but this is not very helpful for someone who has never been exposed to SEO before. You could probably try looking at the highest-ranking competitors then seeing if their names would come up on some SEO company's client list, but again, this involves some understanding what to look for and I'd imagine this method is not horribly reliable either.

But then, how about typing "search engine optimization services" or a few similar combinations into Google and work your way from the top down? Doesn't it make sense? Do companies that rank higher charge more? I see a few results that apparently have been pushed up by Google based on my Boston IP address - even better.

What do you think?


  1. Just ask if they are happy to be paid for results, not the process. None I talked to agreed :-)

  2. Choosing an SEO is not an easy task. Since SEO get right to the insides of your site comparably to SEMs who try to bring the traffic without touching your content too much.

    I think a person even not familiar with SEO can do couple of things:

    1)If company changes flat rate fee that means that it is not a good company. Since every project is different. That quote should always be based on the hours involved. Be aware of "guaranteed" position in 24 hours - it is all scam.

    2)Get couple of quotes to compare hourly rate

    3)The best thing to do while searching for any type of supplier is to make sure you talk to their previous clients. Get as many references as you can.

    4)If you decide to give a try to SEO company. Make sure you get the list of the keywords and none of the bogus spam words are in it.

  3. I love questions like this, as infrequent as they are these days. Do PR agencies asked to get paid by the column inches of ink? Do ad agencies get paid based on resulting sales? Why should SEM firms have to work against a different standard?

    Any good SEM professional is a marketer first and foremost. Unfortunately, like many other forms of marketing, we are limited by the client or company's infrastructure, as well as outside influences like competition and search engine algorithms.

    Assuming we could work in a vacuum, with complete control over product, service, placement and the entire sales process, I might entertain the idea of pay-for-performance. That has never been possible in my situation.

    That said, there are ways to evaluate a good SEM or SEO vendor, but I encourage you not to start by looking at rankings. Look at reputation and results, with sites like Look at the visibility of clients, case studies and testimonials.

    I've outlined ways to evluate an SEM vendor in this article
    in the Resources section of our site:

    Good luck.


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