How to Find and Hire an SEO Company

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Chris Dawkins, founder of Trace Media Marketing, offers a 7-Step Process to find and hire the right search engine optimization (SEO) firm for a company.

Without being listed at or near the top of search engines, a website is like a doorway to a business that no one can find. According to Chris Dawkins, founder of Trace Media Marketing, "Potential customers must be able to find a website quickly and easily or the site is little more than an online business card."

Mr. Dawkins offers the following search criteria for website owners looking to hire a quality SEO firm.

1. Monthly Reporting
This is a must. Website owners should have access to monthly reports that illustrate the work being done and the progress being made each month. If a company does not provide monthly reporting, the site owners have no way of knowing if progress is being made, or worse yet, if any work is being done at all.

2. Some Type of Guarantee
We are not talking about the "Guaranteed #1" type of promise, but something more realistic. This is where website owners may need to negotiate with SEO firms. While many guarantees in the SEO industry are signs of a scam, if website ranking does not improve over time the site owner should be entitled to some sort of refund.

3. An "SEO company," not a "company that does SEO"
There's a difference here. It's important to have specialists working on a website, not web-designers or marketers who claim to know SEO. Website owners should look for a company that does only Search Engine Marketing. There are many firms that are willing to take money for "SEO Service" but many fewer that specialize solely in search engines.

4. References
Website owners should ask for references, even if they don't plan to call them. If a company is shy about providing references, chances are they don't have many happy clients.

5. A Company that Is Well Established
SEO is a new field, but the real experts have been around for several years. Website owners should ask how long a company has been doing SEO, not just how long they have been in business. There are lots of marketing companies that have been in business several years but just started doing SEO. A good rule of thumb is to look for a company that has been doing SEO for at least 5 years.

6. A Company That Does the Work, Not Just Recommends Changes
Some SEO firms only provide recommendations and leave the actual work for website owners to do. This is a great way for SEO firms to escape responsibility for an unsuccessful optimization. Website owners should make sure that the SEO firm implements the changes so they will be accountable for their work, as well as the results.

7. How to Find The Best Local SEO Firms
Using Google is often the easiest way to find the best SEO companies.... a search for "(your city, or nearest city) Search Engine Optimization" should yield very good results. By definition, the companies that come up near the top have demonstrated that they are good at SEO.

When looking for an SEO company, website owners should NOT use the Sponsored (PPC) listings to find a company -- they want to find a company that is good at SEO, not PPC.

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