SEO, or search engine optimization, is a method of optimizing search engines so that websites appear in search results when someone searches for services and products, rather than just company names. It is the idea that anyone searching for something online can find a website of a business without having to know anything about it or its name. SEO can encompass many different techniques, but the best sustainable SEO (also known as “white hat SEO”) is based on the idea that your website should be easier to search engines understand and read, which will allow them to rank you higher for the appropriate terms.

Although it is common to decide to outsource SEO, there are many scammers out there who will take small and local businesses looking for SEO. How can one find a trustworthy, honest, and legitimate search engine marketing professional?

It’s actually quite easy to find an SEO agency online. Search for “SEO agency” in Google or Bing. You don’t need to pay for the ads at the top. The firm that landed at the top search results is what you want. They must be very good at SEO, or else their website won’t appear in the natural listings.

You can narrow down your search by extending it. If you are looking for a local agency in Essex, type “SEO agency Essex” into the search box. If your site is more specialized and you need help, you can also add your industry or website type, such as “SEO tourism” (or “SEO eCommerce”) for example. This is a great way for niche SEO agencies to be found who are experts in your area.

SEO agencies or people pretending to be SEO agencies sometimes try to solicit companies through emailing them or submitting contact form with various offers and enticements. If you receive such an email, it is best not to respond. A company that claims to specialize in search engine optimization is reduced to spamming their inboxes to gain business, rather than doing SEO to ensure their website ranks high and is easily found, then chances are they don’t really know what they are doing. SEO services that are advertised in paid ads at search engines’ top results or banner ads on other websites will be treated the same way. Why should they have to pay for placements if their search marketing is good?

It is important to avoid any SEO agency promising you the “top spot for x keywords” or similar. Nearly all modern search engines use personalised search, which means that each person sees websites in different ranking positions based on their search history. Absolute rankings are passé. Anyone claiming to offer this service is lying. Modern SEO will employ sustainable, “white-hat” SEO techniques to drive traffic to your site. They will not resort to exploits or other tricks that will get them penalized by Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates.

After you have found an SEO company that seems to be doing a good job, you will need to ask some questions about their business before you commit to hiring them. It is a smart idea to talk to them directly by phone or in person, as well as checking for testimonials and client lists. Here are some questions you can ask them.

  1. Who is responsible for their search marketing? Does it get done by in-house personnel? Does the agency outsource to other companies, particularly foreign ones? Many agencies hire cheap link builders from Asia, who can produce low-quality work that can negatively impact websites over the long-term.
  2. What format and how often are they required to report? Professional SEO agencies should provide regular updates to their clients. They also need to send written reports outlining actions taken and progress.
  3. What skills and qualifications does this person have? Look at the client lists of any well-known big names to see if there are Analytics certified employees. It is a good sign that some companies use quality standards such as ISO 9001.
  4. What other activities do they perform? Many of these companies are website designers and resellers of outsourced SEO services to increase their profits. To ensure that you receive a high-quality service, it is better to hire an online marketing specialist.
  5. For more information on search engine optimisation and website marketing designed to be friendly and helpful to small and local businesses, visit Local SEO Agency