How to Choose an SEO Company (Who Will Make You Money)

Written by Devon Eddy
Published on December 18, 2020

Wondering how to choose an SEO company? If you pick the wrong SEO company, it’s the same as throwing 15,000 dollars directly into the trash.

SEO is a crucial aspect for every business owner. It can be the make-or-break reason why your company shows up at the top of google driving phone calls to their business and therefore, profit or...not.

Choosing an SEO company can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process. So, we’ve taken on the task of helping you narrow down, nix the bad SEO seeds, and ask the essential questions. If you take these tips and strategies to heart, we can ensure you’re on your way to picking a good SEO company. And importantly, a winning SEO company that will make you the big bucks.

Before Answering How to Choose an SEO Company, Understand SEO & How it Works

how to choose an SEO company


SEO means search engine optimization. If your SEO is spot on, your website appears at the top of Google when a client or customer searches in your industry (without paid advertising). If your SEO is sub-par, then you can expect fewer website visitors, sales, and calls from prospective customers.

When delving into the process of determining how to choose an SEO company, you can expect they’d change aspects of your business online presence like improving the web design, increasing keyword rankings, adding website content, building external links to your site, or improving your social media accounts and reach. These elements make your website stronger and also make Google want to rank it higher. Fortune favors quality SEO.

Feeding Google What it Wants

Though there are numerous factors that can influence your website’s SEO, it really comes down to “feeding” the search engine what it wants. Google functions to provide its users with the best experience possible including providing the most relevant results. Think of it like this. If you went to search for information about “how to choose an SEO company” but only results on “how to start your own SEO company” came up, you’d be thoroughly confused. The information may be relevant to the topic but NOT your intent for seeking out information.

We know that Google and other search engines have an intelligent systems. Mix that with the countless elements of search engine optimization and it can be semi-confusing. That’s why, you deal with the experts in the field.

10 Tips For Navigating the World of SEO Companies & Making the Right Choice:

Look, we get it. After going through the process of how to choose an SEO company, you'll be paying them a sum each month. You’re not going to choose just anyone to handle your business’s online presence. So, take these SEO tips from a company that’s been in the thick of it for years.

1. Do Your Due Diligence FIRST & Take it Slow

  • Check Out & Read The Company Reviews: What’s the first thing you usually do before hiring a business to do anything? Check their reviews. Though an SEO company’s reviews do not always indicate skill, it’s the best place to start. Read what their clients and previous clients are saying about their services. This gives you a great jumping-off point for asking questions and weeding through any potentially poor reviews they’ve received from disgruntled clients.
  • Call Clients or Businesses Who’ve Used Them: When looking through their reviews in Google, it’s usually very easy to identify the business that used them. This gives you a perfect opportunity to actually call that business that used their services.  This will give you extremely valuable information into what your process will be like as well.  With SEO, getting a previous customer's true experience as an indication of your future experience is one of the best things you can do.  SEO is a long-term investment, and so, without this information in hand, you could go months before realizing you’ve been burned by a company, just looking to take your money with little to no results.
  • Referrals are KEY!: If you know others in your industry, ask them who they use for SEO services. Often, a referral is the best choice because it’s a recommendation coming from a person you already know and trust. You may be asking yourself, well, what should I look for in an SEO company? The short answer is someone you can have faith in and trust.

2. Know What Your Goals Are & What You Want From An SEO Company

It can be tricky to know exactly what you need from the SEO company you hire. Frequently, business owners seek out SEO services for local SEO, SEO-optimized content marketing, or backlink acquisition. They often target goals of generating additional site traffic, ranking higher for certain keywords, or simply getting more leads from their website. Once you know your intent and purpose for seeking out SEO services, the picture can become clearer. Many companies actually specialize or have strengths within these various SEO areas. So, ask yourself, does their strength for services coincide with my online business goals? If not, you may want to explore other businesses further.

3. If They Require a Long-Term Contract, Run!

Don’t go with a company that locks you into a long-term contract. If it's going badly, you should never be forced to continue poor-quality SEO services. Most companies structure the contract so that there’s a start-up fee for the upfront process to get going. Then, a majority of SEO companies charge on a month-to-month basis. If they try to sell you on a year-long plan, we’d get the heck out! There’s nothing worse than having to pay a monthly, hefty sum of money to an SEO company that you don’t believe in or trust for what they’re working on for your business.  Don’t get us wrong though, SEO does take a few months to start picking up solid traction, but there should be positive indications of growth and leads by around 6 months and so each month you continue after that without any results should raise flags for you.

4. It’s a Red Flag If They Offer to Take You on Immediately OR Make You 100% Guarantees

Be wary of a company that is willing to take your project on immediately. Each market, niche, or industry will have better or worse results based on competition and online demand which will affect how good of an opportunity it is. At LeadsFroward for instance, we primarily offer SEO for contractors and home service-type businesses that greatly benefit from showing up in local searches. There’s no magic formula for SEO. If they tell you that they’ve found the secret to breaking the google algorithm it’s BS. There are never 100% guarantees for SEO!

A reputable SEO company won’t simply attempt to sign you on without vetting you and your business as well. They’ll want to take a look at and ask questions about your business situation to understand where you’re at and where you want to go, considering your target audience, goals, and competition in this niche. Then, after completing research, the SEO team will make recommendations for their plan of attack and talk you through the reasoning for it. Based on these questions, a trustworthy SEO company, might just simply find that your opportunity is not one that would yield the best results, either because of the opportunity itself, the niche, or the competition in a specific market.

5. How to Choose an SEO Company for Your Business? Ask In-Depth Questions to Guarantee They Have Your Best Interest At Heart

Make sure the company is focused on long-term results and takes its time explaining EXACTLY what they do for SEO and how they do it. A good SEO company will make sure they ask you about your company background and reasons for seeking services. They also will explain in layman's terms what’s expected of their process and the results you can expect.

Questions to Ask Potential SEO Companies:

  • How long have they been in business & a mission for providing SEO services?
  • What’s your process for reporting results?/How often are these reported to me?
  • How do you collect data for my business’s SEO goals? What software/app do you use?
  • How do you approach tasks when something isn’t working? What’s the “backup plan”?
  • What other companies have you helped grow in our industry? Can you show a case study of this?
  • When do you typically see results?
  • How much do your services cost?

6. They Need to See the BIG Picture & Provide An Ethical Service Approach

Go with a company that’s more focused on generating actual business, NOT just rankings. They need to be able to listen to you and what your SEO goals are for the company versus solely focusing on ranking you in Google. Ask them about their process and the strategies they use. If they only talk about how fast they can get you to the top of Google results...proceed with caution.

What is Black Hat SEO?

We consider black hat SEO practices to be the villains of the industry. Think of it this way, a co-worker hears there’s a promotion coming up. So, on their next project, they rush to get it completed cutting corners along the way. They made it to the finish line before their competitors BUT there can be some unintended consequences of this like processes falling through or things getting jumbled because of unethical practices. This is what happens when black hat SEOs cut corners, violating search engine terms of use. You may see positive results upfront, such as a higher Google ranking but don’t be deceived. Common black hat practices include hidden content on web pages, keyword stuffing in the content, and purchasing backlinks to the sites. It may not sound villainous if you’re ranking in the short term but when Google picks up on these workarounds, your website can get banned or de-indexed! Such a headache in the long run.

We get it. The white-hat strategies take time for success but you’ll be grateful in the long term as the results are well worth it and help you build an SEO foundation for your company.

7. Don’t Settle for the “Cheap” SEO Company!

If an SEO company promises you results at $100 a month, it’s a lie. Those low rates may sound promising upfront because it’s not much off your back. BUT you’d be throwing your money down the drain. Typically, businesses pay anywhere from $750 to $2,000 a month for high-quality SEO services. So, definitely consider, whether or no your business is in a good place to afford these services. On the other hand, any quality company will also consider what your business requires and base costs on your goals (their time commitment), company size, and reputation in the industry.

8. A Big SEO Company Does Not Always = Big Results. Instead, Look at Past Performance.

how to choose an seo company

A lot of larger SEO firms are more like a factory. They take on more clients than they can manage and therefore, clients frequently drop them because they’re not receiving the customized services they were promised. And so the wheel spins, around and around. Though they may show up at the tippy top of Google when you type in “best SEO company”, this does not mean they can be considered the best fit for your business. A Big SEO company does not always equal big results.

We’re in an era where we trust brand names too often. Is what they’re providing truly quality? Maybe they’re never questioned on it. Instead, we opt to look at a company’s past performance. Can they show you data on the previous businesses they’ve helped in your industry? How about case studies and previous successful campaigns they’ve launched? Effective SEO comes from a careful, thought-out strategy when approaching the market and creating unique campaigns that Google will notice.

9. Do They Practice What They Preach?

While it’s not always the best choice to choose an SEO company that is a hotshot business with hundreds of employees, you want to make sure the company “practices what they preach.” Meaning, you should ask them how they rank their own company’s site. If they’re the real deal, they’ll offer you transparency sharing with you their own business goals and strategies they’ve customized to their own website.

10. Go With a Company Whose Values You Align With.

When all is said and done, you need to go through the steps for how to choose an SEO company and contemplate who you mesh well with. Ask them about their values. A tell-tale sign of a poor match is if they 1. Feed your rehearsed answers 2. Don’t have values or a company mission guiding them. Sometimes, you’re right to trust your gut. If the SEO company doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, trust us, there are countless others to pick from out there.

The Takeaway

All in all, here’s what we know. Does SEO work? Yes. Should you rush into hiring an SEO company? Most certainly not. Do some sleuthing around to find the perfect match for you.

The best advice we can offer is completing your due diligence, making sure your goals are crystal clear, understanding the SEO red flags like black hat SEO and long-term contracts, and ultimately, making sure you vibe well with them. Does your communication style match theirs? Do they seem genuine?  After all, an SEO company will be a partner for your company, someone who has a direct impact on your ability to make sales, generate business, receive leads and direct organic traffic to your site. You want the partnership to be a long one so put the time in upfront to find an insanely awesome SEO company. You won’t regret it!

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