In 2017, search engine optimization (SEO) is pretty much a requirement for any serious small business.
That makes sense. According to a 2016 Wordstream report, 72 percent of consumers who make local searches then visit a business within five miles of their location.
But small businesses run on tight budgets, which means they aren’t likely to have a dedicated SEO on staff. If they’re doing it, they’re likely working with a local SEO company.
This is an excellent cost-saving strategy provided they know what to expect.
Here are a few key details to look for.
1. They Offer an SEO Audit Up Front
Hopefully, your team has already done or contracted an SEO audit, which is why you’re looking for a local SEO company in the first place.
But even if you have, it’s important to make sure the business you’re going to work with will conduct their own audit.
This is essential for identifying gaps and key areas of improvement in your company’s website and SEO strategy, but also for you to get a sense of how the SEO company approaches the work.
2. They Have Proven Case Studies of Their Success
There are a lot of SEO companies out there, so one way to separate the good from the bad is to ask for examples of past work.
Unless the company is very new, they should have case studies showing off their best work. If they don’t, prepare to back out.
The nice thing about SEO is that even people with little SEO knowledge can head over to Google and check out the results of your potential SEO company’s efforts for themselves.
3. They’ll Develop and Share a Clear Implementation Strategy
“Trust, but verify,” the old expression goes.
At this point, you’ve vetted your local SEO company of choice, but you should make sure that among their deliverables is a clear plan for implementing your strategy.
After all, SEO advice is only half the battle. A process to animate the strategy and identify and make fixes to existing SEO deficiencies is the other half.
4. They Offer Reporting to Track Progress
How can you know if you’re succeeding if you don’t have reporting to back that up?
Reporting is sometimes an afterthought, but a successful SEO strategy absolutely requires it.
Tracking trends, traffic, and search ranking success can be tricky and it can feel like treading water in the beginning of the process.
Good reporting helps alleviate some of that stress by showing progress is being made even before you get on page one.
5. They Establish Clear Lines of Communication
Good communication between the SEO firm and your business is the final piece that makes a strategy work.
You can start to get a sense of this earlier in the process, but go ahead and make sure that everyone knows who their point people are, who to consult if a problem comes up.
Then, check in regularly to make sure these communication lines are still healthy and productive.
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