Growing Your Business Through Marketing
As a local business owner, you want to do everything you can to help your business grow. Marketing is of course, one of the best ways to grow your business. Steuart Henderson Britt said that “doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”
So, in order to grow our businesses, we must invest some of our budget into marketing, but which form of marketing is most effective? That’s such a great question because it’s always best to first “count the cost” and do proper research before investing in your marketing.
What is the Best Form of Marketing?
We’d like to make the case that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is going to be the most effective way to market your company. At this point, many of us have at least heard about SEO. SEO is essentially the process of improving your website so that it shows up better in Google and other search engines. As the SEO happens, your company’s website shows up in more and more searches on the top of Google and other search engines. As this happens, this increases your company’s visibility and leads more people coming to your site.
“Your website is your greatest asset. More people view your webpages than anything else.” — Amanda Sibley
As more visitors come to your website, more and more people will begin to reach out through your website and contact you. Whenever someone does this, it’s called a conversion. Ideally, your site should be generating more and more conversions every month. SEO has an average 14.6% conversion rate. So when 100 people visit your site, about 15 should reach out and directly contact you.
SEO improves your website’s search visibility, conversions, and makes your site generate more and more conversions. More conversions means more and more leads. More leads mean more changes to close potential customers and generate more sales. SEO is the best form of marketing because SEO connects you directly with potential clients and brings them right into your sales process. From there, it’s “up to you” to contact those leads and work on converting them into new clients.
5 Tips for Hiring the Best Search Engine Company
Now that you’ve decided to focus on hiring a Search Engine Company, what’s the best way to go out doing that? Sure, you could easily just Google something like “best search engine company” or “search engine company + your city” and get a list of hundreds of SEO firms. Sure, you could contact each firm and find out about their qualifications. Sure, you could hire one of these firms, pay them up front, and hope they produce great results. However, do you have any guarantee that they’ll actually produce results? It’s a huge risk because you really don’t.
In order to minimize your risk and maximize your ROI, you need a better way to interview each Search Engine Company so that you can better assess their competency and make the best hiring decision. Let’s look a 5 tips for interviewing and hiring the best company to do the job.
Tip #1 – Decide What Type of SEO You Need
There are a wide variety of SEO Services that you could to grow your company, including:
- An SEO Audit – have the firm do an in-dept analysis of your site and come up with an action plan to boost your SEO.
- Ongoing SEO – hire the firm to do continuous work, both on and off your site, to increase your rankings in Search Engines.
- Pay Per Click – have the Search Engine Company setup a Pay Per Click campaign to bring instant traffic to your site via ads at the top of Google.
- Linkbuilding – hire the company to build ongoing links to boost your site’s overall reputation online.
- Content Marketing – have the firm publish blog posts and pages on your site to help increase your rankings for specific keywords.
- Retargeting – hire the Search Engine Company to setup retargeting ads that show up across the web to a specific audience which can increase conversions.
If the above options are confusing, no worries. All you need to do is decide what goal you want to SEO to accomplish. Do you want your sales to grow by 30% within three months? Do you need 50% more leads in the next 6 months. Are you looking to double the amount of traffic to your site within 90 days? Once you have your goal in mind, you can measure the SEO Firm’s success by what they accomplish in the light of your goal.
Tip #2 – Interview Multiple SEO Firms
Once you have a goal in mind, reach out to and schedule multiple appointments with a variety of Search Engine Companies. Meet with each one, tell them about your goals, and ask them for help. Most SEO firms usually offer a free consultation simply because you’re giving them the opportunity to impress you and win your business. It’s also great to interview the people directly, face to face, to you can get a read on their body language, get a sense of the chemistry, and see if you like the people you’d be working with. Usually within three days after the consultation, you’ll receive a proposal for working together. Also, it’s a great idea to interview with multiple companies but keep that fact a secret. Sometimes in situations like this, if you freely advertise that you’re meeting with multiple firms, an individual SEO firm can loose interest in working together and they may actually compete less for your business.
Tip #3 – Ask the Right Questions
It’s not enough to meet with a different Search Engine Companies and ask a few questions about their business. No, in order to assess their competency, you’ll need to ask the right questions, such as:
- How long have you been in business? Find out about their years of experience.
- How did you get into business? What’s their background like? If you’re talking directly to the Owner/CEO, you need to learn as much as you can about their background. You need to determine if the Search Engine Company is more left brained (more analytical which can be an asset for Pay Per Click services) or right brained (more artistic which can be beneficial for SEO & Conversion Optimization Services). Ideally, the best firm will do both analytical and artistic type of work.
- What types of services do you offer? Do they just do SEO? Do you they SEO & Pay Per Click? Once you determine which type of services they offer, you can begin to see if they’d be a good fit for what you looking for.
- What type of clients do you have? Do they primarily do SEO for service type companies? Do they do SEO & Pay Per Click for Products type companies? Do they do eCommerce? This question is important because if you have products type company and the company you’re interviewing primarily handles service companies, this could be a problem.
- What types of jobs do you typically do? Are they mostly handling Pay Per Click clients? Do they only do SEO clients? Understanding their current client portfolio is very critical so that you can be sure that you’re hiring the right firm for your particular needs.
- Explain your process for doing SEO. Since SEO has dramatically changed since 2012, you need to determine if they are doing SEO “correctly.” That is, the Search Engine Company should be spending 80% to 90% of their time working directly on your site doing “inside tweaks” to make your site show up in Google. If you find out that they’re doing 50% of the work on your site and 50% of their time working off your site, avoid these SEO Firms at all costs because they aren’t working at Google’s current standards.
- Show me examples of your work. Can they show you websites that they’ve ranked at the top of Google? What type of monthly local traffic do those keywords have? You need to see examples of keywords they’ve ranked at the top of Google for search terms that have traffic.
- Ask for referrals – Do they know anybody that you know? Do you share any friends or acquaintances in common? If you aren’t sure, you can even look them on Facebook at your mutual friends. Once you find a referral in common we recommend reaching out to that person, ask the hard questions, learn about their character, and get the overall vibe.
Without knowing the above questions to ask, you’ll totally be in the dark. Once you ask the right questions and get firm answers, you can start to develop a comfort-ability assures you that you can safety move forward.
Tip #4 – Make Them Share War Stories
A good SEO Company does both analytical (left brained) and creative/artistic (right brained) type of work. Creative people just love telling good stories about projects they’ve worked on. These so called “war stories” are a great way to learning what the SEO firm is all about. Think of each of these stories like looking up a potential employees LinkedIn profile before hiring them. If you’ve been asking the above questions from Tip #3, you’ll hear plenty of stories about their backgrounds, experiences, projects, successes, and failures.
Failures? Yes, be sure to ask “What has been your greatest failure?” Be very wary of any company that can’t tell you about any of the failures they’ve experienced on the job because following the path of failure leads to success. Dale Carnegie encourages us to “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Once you find out what their worst client experience was, how they handled it, and how they’ve improved over the years, you’ll be able to determine their character.
Tip #5 – Hire Them Initially on a Short Term Basis
If you’re considering working with an SEO Company, it’s important to realize that that they all work on different payment plans:
- Project Based SEO Payment – these project based jobs are often used as a introduction to SEO Services that firms offer. This option can sometimes lead to hourly SEO or Monthly SEO Payment plans. If you’re needing a small job done, this a great option to get a feel for how the search engine company works.
- Hourly SEO Payment – hourly prices for SEO can range from $25/hour to $300/hour. How must they charge can depend on a number of factors including the services they product, their reputation, current client demand, and more. Since this price varies so much across the board, we would not recommend ever considering this option.
- Monthly SEO Payment – most SEO firms work on these monthly payment plans. We highly recommend this option because you’ll get unlimited hours, a much better client-agency relationship, and you’ll know exactly what’s been worked on.
- Quarterly SEO Payment – more mature players will insist on working on a Quarterly or 6 month contract.
- Annual SEO Payment – larger firms work only an annual contracts with renewables built in.
When considering working with a new firm, which Payment option is best? Since a new relationship with a potential client could go either way, we always recommend first working with a company on a Project Based Payment or Monthly SEO Payment plan. Hiring the search engine company initially on a short term basis is a great way to “test the waters,” see the type of work being done on a monthly basis, and proceed accordingly.
Hire With Confidence.
Now that you know these Five Tips for hiring a search engine company, you’re totally prepared to get out there and start interviewing. Remember, the goal of the interviewing process is to minimize your risk and maximize your ROI so that you can make the best hiring decision. Go forward, hire confidently, and grow your business.