The SEO Industry – From Nightmare to Dream 1

It is not uncommon to hear horror stories from small business owners about their experiences with SEO companies. Many businesses find it necessary to outsource their SEO work due to insufficient knowledge, time, or resources to conduct such work themselves. However, due to a legacy of insufficient regulation, SEO has been clouded by suspect practices, fly-by-night companies, and poor delivery on promises.

The businesses that tend to be most negatively affected by poor and shady SEO practices and agencies are SMEs, as they usually don’t have the finances or knowledge to ensure that they are hiring a legitimate SEO company. Tom McSherry from Premium SEO ( recommends that businesses seeking to outsource their SEO work should keep the following in mind when deciding on who to hire:

Is there a no-term contract option?

While most SEO companies still operate with a fix-term model, more and more agencies are beginning to offer no-term contracts that are far more customer-friendly and prevent clients from forking out excessive amounts of money with little to no guarantee of returns on investment. Not only do no-term contracts give clients more freedom and safety, but companies that offer this option are also more likely to work harder to ensure that their customers are satisfied.

Do they do their research?

All good SEO companies should offer some kind of strategy that’s based on research. What makes an excellent SEO company is when that research is based on direct competitor analysis, local and specific key search word evaluation, and industry-specific solutions that best fit a client’s unique requirements. If an agency is able to offer tailor-made solutions, they could be the better option in the long run, even if they might cost more to begin with.

What’s their size?

In SEO, bigger does not necessarily mean better, as oftentimes bigger agencies have a tendency of palming off new and/or smaller clients to less experienced staff members. Smaller agencies that offer hands-on approaches may be better able to identify client pain-points and offer relevant solutions.  

Are they local?

There are many broader national and international SEO companies to choose from, and chances are they might be effective, especially for larger, multi-national operations. However, SMEs may be better served by smaller, local-based agencies that are more familiar with the local market, competing local products and companies, and the kinds of solutions that are most effective in reaching niche clients.

SEO companies that mould their offerings around data-driven insights, conduct their own experiments to ensure that what they offer clients is actually effective, and can easily adapt to changing trends and demands could far better serve SMEs than those who don’t practice a flexible model. In order to avoid the nightmare of investing in SEO only to find that, at best, it has been less effective than hoped or, at worst, that a charlatan has duped you out of your money, it is necessary to be very clear about your SEO goals; understand what an agency can and can’t do for you; research best practices and avoid companies that implement black hat tactics; and contact previous and/or current clients of the SEO agencies you’re considering, so as to confirm their performance and legitimacy. Doing this little bit of extra homework could ensure that your SEO dream becomes a reality.

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