I have decide to write this article as a result of numerous emails. It seems more and more people are falling victim to bad SEO. The main complaint is that they are paying entirely too much for little or no results. Additionally, many fall prey to bad SEO practices. If you plan to hire an SEO pro in the future, I suggest you use this article as a set of guidelines.
Before going with any SEO firm or individual, do the following:
A) Find out how established and experienced an SEO firm is before you negotiate.
Do they have a sizeable client list under their belt?
Are they published?
B) Scrutinize their portfolio.
What kind of results have they achieved?
Contact a few of their clients. Were they satisfied with the work performed?
C) Consider and confirm their methods?
How will they optimize your site to reach your keywords?
Do they use organic methods? Some individuals or companies use doorway pages, hide text in the background, utilize re-directs and other blacklisted methods. Stay away from these.
D) Get a least three proposals from different SEO firms.
Look at each one carefully. Are there similarities? Proposals will help you see which companies are honest and which are trying to sell you something you don't need.
What is the cost? The cheapest isn't always the best, however, the highest price may not be attached to a comprehensive and viable course of action. Try to find find an individual or organization that will give you what you want within your SEO budget.
E) Contract, Contract, Contract.
Get everything in writing. Look over the document carefully. Be sure it covers everything you have discussed, including methods of achieving your desired results. Have the copies signed by both parties. If the job is a large one you may want to consult a lawyer.
F) Clearly state the terms of payment.
While most SEO firms will not do any work for free or agree to a results based pay scale, many competant SEO professionals will not shy away from a base plus performance incentive package. I am not a firm believer in prepaid contracts.. Most SEO professionals will abide by the 50% up front, 50% upon completion standard. Make sure all financial terms are as clearly defined in your contract as the actual scope of work. This will protect all parties involved in the event that expectations are not met.
All in all, try to do your best to educate yourself on SEO. Have a basic understanding of SEO terminology and SEO methodology. Anyone offering SEO services should not have a problem explaining how they intend to get you results. If they fail gain your confidence or raise a red flag for any reason whatsoever, keep searching. You will eventually find someone who will help you reach your goals for a fair price. Happy hunting.