Talking with as many decision-makers as I do, I know it is hard to select a Search Engine Optimization agency. Few business people know what to ask or what to look for.
Google can guide your decision with useful information on how to select an SEO agency. Click on this link for Google's advice for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
I could not agree more with Google advice. Here are excerpts:
Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, including:
• Review of your site content or structure
• Content development
• Management of online business development campaigns
• Keyword research
• SEO training
• Expertise in specific markets and geographies
If you're thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you're considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.
Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:
• Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
• Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
• Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
• What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?
• What's your experience in my industry?
• What's your experience in my country/city?
• What's your experience developing international sites?
• What are your most important SEO techniques?
• How long have you been in business?
• How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index. Here are some things to consider:
• Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
• No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google.
• Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do.
• You should never have to link to an SEO.
• Be sure to understand where the money goes.
While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they "control" other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn't work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you're considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.
I hope this sound advice from Google helps you select an effective Search Engine Optimization agency for your business.