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How to choose an SEO Company

It’s hard because they all look good from a glance. SEO companies good and bad have mostly narrowed in on the formula to create a convincing-looking website. Almost every SEO agency these days has a website packed with buzzwords like,

  • Proven
  • Ethical
  • Honest
  • Leading
  • Recommended

Heck, our website says many of them. Saying things that you want to hear however is not evidence that the SEO agency has the best capabilities. This article will give you tips to look beyond the face value of an SEO company so that you might pick the best SEO agency for your business.


7 ideas how to choose the best SEO company

#1 – Choose an SEO company that ranks for Super Hard Keywords

Do they rank their own website for difficult keywords? If you pick an SEO agency on the front page for competitive keywords like, “SEO + City” you are likely to get an SEO company that is in the ballpark of what you’re looking for. These are the most competitive keywords in the industry and it’s a good sign they know what they are doing.

See how our SEO agency ranks for Super Hard Keywords

Key PhraseRank in Google.com.au
best seo perth1
seo expert perth1
search engine optimisation perth1
best seo consultant perth1
perth search engine optimisation1
5 star seo companies perth1
seo specialist perth1
seo company in perth1


#2 – How to choose an agency based on their SEO reviews.

Rule of thumb: Good reviews + higher price points = consistency

Choosing a SEO company with the best SEO reviews on their Google my business profile is a good way to pick an SEO company. Google reviews are difficult to obtain and even more difficult to keep at an all-star level.

How to check SEO reviews

Search for the company + location to surface Google’s knowledge panel, which should contain Google reviews. If they don’t have any reviews, or they have very few this is a red flag.

Eg this is what a search for, “Scott Shorter Perth” shows.

How many SEO reviews should they have?

If they sit somewhere between 10-100 x 5-star reviews that’s a good sign. We recently collated a list of SEO agencies in Perth who had more than 10 x 5 star only reviews and we found in terms of quantity, the upper end was 100 reviews. We chose to start our survey at no less than 10 x 5-star reviews because it’s easy enough to have 5-10 friends of family to leave the first 10.

How to check for bad SEO reviews

Good reviews can be fakes, however bad reviews are a sure signal to be careful. You can check quickly for bad reviews with these steps. After you have clicked on the reviews link you can sort their ratings and comments from worst to best by clicking the Sort By: menu.

SEO companies who are genuinely capable shouldn’t have any negative reviews. Most SEO agencies in Perth have profiles without any bad reviews. See a list here.

How to tell if an SEO review is genuine

You can’t tell for sure what is fake but there are a few things that you can do to get a feel for it.

Don’t discount genuine reviews.

Don’t automatically discount people who have left only 1 review. Surprisingly this does not indicate with any reliability a fake review. Many people have legitimate Google accounts and have never been asked for a review. They will have only left a single review. It does not mean it’s fake.

Details make a great review. Generic reviews on the other hand indicate the person felt obligated to leave the review.

Another great tactic when trying to spot fake Google reviews is to look at the profile of the reviewer in question. It’s possible to look at every reviewer’s profile by clicking on their avatar. From here, you’ll get a list of all the places they’ve reviewed, shown on a map. Check-in here for the quality of their reviews and be your own judge.

Who are their SEO reviews & testimonials made out to?

The account manager? If the testimonials are made our to specific account manager the might have been a super star. Are they still with the company?

Read all of their reviews.

It’s worthwhile reading as many reviews for any company your considering as you can, especially the detailed reviews.
When you call the company see if you can discuss a couple of the reviews in more details. If anything is fishy with their reviews it might not stand up to easy conversation.


#3 – How to choose an SEO company by the evidence.

Find good evidence

Good testimonials should put forward evidence such as examples of increases rather than being a character reference that is warm and fuzzy.

A good evidence inside in a testimonial or case study will

  • Be more than character reference
  • Give specifics of the improvement

Bonus points if the testimonial or case study is

  • From a company you’ve heard of

Here’s are some good testimonials.

“Scott Shorter turned around a decreasing trend in organic traffic to deliver a 159% increase in organic traffic within 6 months. Scott also provided CRO suggestions which have assisted to deliver additional revenue across channels” Damian Cook – Director – TyreSales

Wilson Security Logo

Within three months Scott improved our position into the number one spot for the key phrases “security companies” and “security company” David Lyons – Project Manager – Wilson Security

Scott’s SEO recommendations assisted our website to increase non-branded monthly organic visitors by in excess of six figures. We saw an increase of 150% within 12 months and since this time we have continued to experience growth beyond a 298% improvement.” Adam Yap – Chief Operations Officer and Executive Director – Health Engine

Avoid bad evidence

A weak testimonial without evidence may be

  • A generic character reference
  • Lacking detail
  • From a company, you haven’t heard of before

A weak testimonial without evidence may also be from a company you’ve heard of but will be

  • A generic character reference
  • Lacking detail

We are really happy with the results this is a great SEO company Joe Bloggs – Company name which you have not heard of before.

Generic testimonials like the fake example above do not cite specific improvements. They are easier to fake. Make sure to look past these type of reviews in favour of more detailed reviews from companies you have heard of.


#4 – How to choose an SEO company by price.

Rule of thumb: Good reviews + higher price points = consistency

Generally, a company with a lot of good reviews over time at a higher price point is going to get you in the ballpark of what you’re looking for however it’s worth considering that the most expensive agencies are often ones with a lot of operating costs.

Before you get any SEO you’re paying for the

  • Rent of a fancy office
  • The advertising they run to acquire customers
  • Admin staff, they carry who do not work on your account.
  • Propping up of other less profitable areas of the business

Expensive SEO Packages

The highest price SEO is not always an indication of capacity. Price alone is not a guarantee that an agency is competitive.

Are expensive SEO packages worth it?

Looking for a company with higher pricing and good reviews to support their work isn’t a bad idea however, paying the highest price out of all quotes won’t guarantee you the best result. SEO is a contest and you’ll need to find the player with the best strategy. There isn’t always an exact correlation to price. Lesser SEO companies can create $5k month SEO packages it has no bearing on capacity.

If you are considering paying a premium for SEO it’s best to seek as much evidence as possible that this SEO company has been successful in the past. Reviews, testimonials, etc.

Cheap SEO Packages

Cheap SEO is like buying cheap wine… It’s harder to find a winning formula.

Cheap SEO is usually cheap because Google won’t score it well. If it was the winning formula the price would be at a premium. SEO is a contest so the most competitive companies tend to charge more but as explained earlier in this article, anyone can charge anything they want so an expensive price tag alone does not make for a good measuring post.

Cheaper SEO

A smaller agency or freelancer who shows strong evidence may be a good choice with smaller operating costs and cheaper pricing. There is more ownership of the account by the director at a smaller agency. At larger agencies, a $5k a month commitment does not necessarily make you a VIP.


#5 – How to choose an SEO company based on location.

Choose an SEO company that’s truely local.

If you’re doing SEO in Australia. Choose an Australian based company.
If you’re doing SEO in New Zealand. Choose an SEO company that is based in New Zealand.

Local SEO companies have a competitive advantage in their respective Google. It all comes down to knowing where the best local link building opportunities are. Asking a foreign SEO agency to do SEO will result in a lot of generic links. It has taken local SEO companies a long time to gather their local resources. Match your SEO agency to your location for the best result.

Offshore SEO companies are more risky. They are less accountable.

It’s all about risk when it comes to offshore SEO. Can you afford to damage your business? As a rule of thumb, offshore SEO tends to be spammy. Many offshore SEO methods can cause a Google penalty. This is a very serious risk when offshoring SEO.

Fake reviews are a massive problem with off shore companies.

Anyone overseas can claim to be an SEO specialist from the safety and distance of their remote keyboard and chair. There are more companies with no capacity claiming to be amazing than there are legitimately good SEO companies.

This makes finding a safe choice very difficult.

Why do offshore SEO companies use high-risk spammy methods?

It’s hard to know why for certain that overseas companies continue to use high-risk strategies. If I had to guess I would put it down to two factors.

Zero accountability

Firstly there is zero accountability. If they burn brightly and then get a Google penalty they’ll take your money are run. Offshore companies operate through dozens of fake names, websites and accounts which from a glance all look good. As mentioned the problem with fake reviews is a big one.

International SEO is super difficult

International versions of Google is so much more competitive than the Australian version of Google, using high-risk strategies to compete is all off shore providers know. You’re not going to break into the international Googles without some extreme SEO strategies. We are lucky here in Australia where we don’t need such extreme SEO strategies to get on the front page of Google.com.au. This scenario is very different globally and hence most offshore companies do not approach it correctly.


#6 How to choose an SEO service based on link building

Stay away from the following red flags

Asking a prospective SEO agency how they plan to build links for your business can reveal some red flags

  • If it sounds extreme in any way that’s a red flag. Link building should not sound extreme.
  • If it sounds exclusive like an exclusive network, sometimes called a PBN (Private Blog Network) that’s another red flag. PBNs are fake websites and a big Google no no.
  • If it sounds like it’s automatic with software that’s a big red flag
  • If it sounds like it’s done a great scale that’s a massive red flag

Many of the above red flags are strategies which will cause you a Google penalty.


#7 Do not pick your SEO company because they promise to build the most links

You do not need hundreds or thousands of links to rank locally.

Many companies build a lot of links hoping something will stick. The fewer links a company builds while still getting results the better. Many salespeople will also point to the great quantity of link building their packages offer in the hope to win the apples to apples comparison.

Google can see if you’re building too many links and has given penalties

We call it slinging mud against the wall and hoping it will stick. Overseas link builders often use this strategy and locally salespeople also fall into the trap of boasting, “we do more so it costs more” this is balonie and it’s dangerous. A good SEO company won’t be building the most links, they will be building the best links.

About Scott Shorter

He is a 20 year SEO & Digital Marketing specialist in Australia with multiple guest speaking engagements for Edith Cowan University, from which he graduated with a B.Comms – BSc (M) Multimedia & Internet Computing in 2005. Working for prominent SEO companies in leadership roles before starting Scott Shorter PTY LTD in 2011, his learning has been validated with over 1500 search campaigns. He is recognised within testimonials for 159%-267% increases to New Homes Guide (The West Australian), HealthEngine (Telstra, Yahoo/Seven), GolfBox & Tyresales.com.au

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