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Old 10-11-2005   #1
Buckeye Joe
 
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Reputable SEO Companies

We started a business which advertises on the Web. We work with one Company to try and improve our Pay Per Click situation and "Natural" search result listings. Another SEO company is agressively trying to get our business and promises all sorts of things. I need help to determine if these outfits are "for real".

Is there an objective Consumer Digest type of site which rates SEO companies? How can I found out other people's experiences with these companies?
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Old 10-11-2005   #2
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Top SEOs and Seo Pros are good places to start. You can also look at the SEMPO (www.sempo.org) and the DFWSEM (www.dfwsem.org) sites for listings of firms.

No matter who you hire, always ask for references (and check them) and other information you would normally check before hiring a company, whether it's an SEO firm or not.
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Old 10-11-2005   #3
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Personally, I have a list of folks I recommend and vouch for. They're all people I've met and had interactions with on multiple occassions. I've always been a bit overwhelmed by some of the bigger lists, though they are a good resource.

My personal list is http://www.seomoz.org/blogdetail.php?ID=349
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Old 10-12-2005   #4
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References, ask for those references! Someone once suggested advice I thought was great. Ask for three references. Then ask for another three references, as everyone always has three put in their pocket for a great review. And don't just ask but talk to people. And if you get a slimy, uncomfortable feeling? Trust your instincts, because they are often right.

Stuntdubl did a nice top ten list of things to ask over here:
http://www.stuntdubl.com/2005/03/24/...r-seo-company/

I think the Marketingsherpa guide is an excellent starting place, and Chris Sherman recently did reviews of the SEO and the PPC guides here:
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchd...le.php/3520186
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchd...le.php/3521376

For our Search Engine Watch members, we also have an entire SEM: Outsourcing category that recaps stories on the topic from SEW and around the web going back literally to 2000.

Last edited by AussieWebmaster : 06-22-2011 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 10-12-2005   #5
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Me too

I have the same issue for my site: http://www.viethoteltravel.com. I would like to hire companies to do SEO. But it is difficult to find one in Vietnam, a developing country where IT people go abroad to work for foreign companies.
It is hard for me to find the reliable SEO overseas. When I search SEO in google, there are thousands of results.
I have read all suggestions, howerver, where to start?
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Old 10-12-2005   #6
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A few other listings of SEO firms can be found at seoconsultants.com and recently Marketing Profs has put together a list.

The main thing is references, and I agree with Danny that more than three is appropriate. Also, there's something to be said for companies that have to cold call or send unsolicited emails to drum up business compared to gaining new clients through industry visibility, referrals and great rankings.

A good place to start is to establish your site objectives and criteria for vendor selection. Visit the resources mentioned in this thread with a standard set of questions to ask each SEO vendor.

Here's a short guide listing 7 different SEO firm listing resources and more tips on selecting a SEO company.
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Old 10-12-2005   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randfish
Personally, I have a list of folks I recommend and vouch for.
One day, if I study hard enough, maybe I'll appear on a list like that.

I'm still a major fan of www.SEOconsultants.com as well as www.SEOpros.org and of www.topseos.com too. SEOconsultants in particular always seem to work hard to ensure quality to their own standards. I've never been a fan of any 'guide' that is really just another vessel for paid advertising though. Those that charge for inclusion, which notably includes SEMPO, are always biased, and not helping the industry or consumer at large as much as attempting to help their own coffers.
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Old 10-12-2005   #8
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There was a long thread at seo chat where the providers of SEO argued against providing references primarily because of the confidentiality of methods used to obtain high rankings.

Through most other endeavors I've been a big believer in references. What do you say to the issue of confidentiality?

I'd add one thing to the list of top ten things to ask of a potential provider; show me what you have done recently. With SE's adjusting algo's methods that worked in the past may not currently carry weight.

Dave
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Old 10-13-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Martin
You can start with: http://www.topseos.com/ and http://www.seopros.org/

Then there is the Marketing Sherpa Guide: http://sherpastore.com/store/page.cfm/2200

Correct me if I'm wrong but topseos.com is managed by Zunch....which is an SEO firm itself...there is an obvious conflict of interest!!!
(Unless my info is not correct but since I have 2 directories on which topseos.com submitted it's site from an email @zunch ...well well well)
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Old 10-13-2005   #10
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Here are a few good threads that hope helps you answer many of your concerns.

Outsourcing SEM FAQs Be Prepared to Answer! - If you are new to Search Engine Marketing and/or you are thinking about hiring a firm to help you with any efforts (aka: outsourcing SEM), this threads puts together a list of questions you should ask the expert search engine marketer to respond before signing an agreement with them.

The thread My Favorite SEM Elevator Pitch is... is focused on how to get a potential client hooked while being as short as you can.

Finally, the thread Suggestions for the ideal SEM/SEO RFP Guide - Addresses when an SEM firm or SEO consultant is seeking a potential client, it's important to know as much as possible about them before actually forming a business relationship. This thread's focus is for members who practice SEM/SEO for clients to share suggestions for the ideal RFP (Request for Proposal) guide. In your case, these might be questions that you should be prepared to answer.

Saludos and Buena Suerte!
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Old 10-13-2005   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckeye Joe
We started a business which advertises on the Web. We work with one Company to try and improve our Pay Per Click situation and "Natural" search result listings. Another SEO company is agressively trying to get our business and promises all sorts of things. I need help to determine if these outfits are "for real".

Is there an objective Consumer Digest type of site which rates SEO companies? How can I found out other people's experiences with these companies?
Interesting enough - a firm [or consultant] that is "red hot" in one industry may not be well suited for another [possibly yours].

Plus - a website with mimimal opening resources [smallish] competiting in an industry with firms that have enormous size websites [and well-tuned] - is a major disadvantage.

Adding... a larger site but poorly developed is further "a major undertaking".

None of these factors can be address to an absolute without absolute knowledge of the site [and site history] and industry - particularly through third party referrals.

That said... your best bet is to look at many firms and have them "compete" - compare notes on all, and use what you learn to narrow the field down to 1 or 2 and then you will likely have your answer.
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Old 10-13-2005   #12
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Quote:
How can I found out other people's experiences with these companies?
You truly have to judge for yourself. I'm familiar with someone who RAVES about their "SEO" getting them #1 rankings for their keyword phrase - only problem being it's a four word phrase that NOBODY searches for that can get ranked for by accident by anyone with half a mind to, and there are less than 50 searches shown at Overture and probably half of those are by that party. Totally worthless, yet they highly recommend their SEO and unless someone knows enough how to judge on their own they won' t know whether they're qualified.

Quote:
Is there an objective Consumer Digest type of site which rates SEO companies?
No way, there's too much confidentiality involved and plenty of fantastic SEOs are not listed anywhere. Not only that, but a "consumer digest" site wouldn't be privy to the techniques used by many in the business, nor would they be privy to their client list.

Recommendations can only be made to people any given party personally *knows* or knows of but that leaves out any number of dynamite people. Not everyone goes the "networking" route, it's not everyone's cup of tea. Plenty don't and are among the *best* around.

For example, off the top of my head if I were a client looking for services, based on my observations - just as an example - just to name a couple - I'd personally definitely be interested in Greg Boser (WebGuerrilla) or Robert Charlton (who doesn't even run an SEO site that I know of) - among several others. But frankly I don't know if they're on anyone's lists or recommendations, though IMHO there are few around in their class.

Time isn't necessarily a factor. There are people around for years doing the same things they always have, which regardless of their standing and reputation for expertise, may or may not work any more. I've personally seen two people who turned out to be DYNAMITE SEOs within six months from the time they were first clueless and asking newbie questions in forums. IMHO either of them has many old-timers beat by a mile.

The best thing a person can do is get as knowledgeable as they can themselves, and then they can make more informed judgments.

Last edited by Marcia : 10-13-2005 at 04:22 AM.
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Old 10-13-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flam
Correct me if I'm wrong but topseos.com is managed by Zunch....which is an SEO firm itself...there is an obvious conflict of interest!!!
(Unless my info is not correct but since I have 2 directories on which topseos.com submitted it's site from an email @zunch ...well well well)
Actually, topseos is most likely trading linking/submissions services for advertising with Zunch. They are not managed by Zunch.

Added: I checked with Bill the owner of topseos.com and Zunch is a vendor and an ad client, but has nothing to do with owning or managing the topseos.com site.

Last edited by toprank : 10-13-2005 at 05:30 PM. Reason: follow up comment
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Old 10-13-2005   #14
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Often these lists are either compiled because people pay to get on it or they it's a list of their friends in the industry. Many top-notch SEO firms get left out of such lists while many not-so-hot firms get listed.

Getting a recommendation from another SEO firm is great, but you also have to make sure you can trust the referrer implicitly. Getting a recommendation from someone with experience with a particular SEO firm is the best recommendation.

If you can find a list that tries to both be inclusive while maintaining certain standards for inclusion (without charging a fee), that would be a good list as a starting place, but lists do not replace your own research.
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Old 10-13-2005   #15
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Quote:
topseos.com is managed by Zunch
No, it's not managed by Zunch, as far as I know.
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Old 10-14-2005   #16
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The Client Plays a Huge Role

The client's expectation of the work to be done can make a huge difference in the quality of SEO consultant they hire.

IMO, people who are hanging an entire business marketing plan on getting search traffic tend to be a little more open to claims of "top secret processes","relationships with all the search engines". "won't change a thing on your site" and "listing your site on thousands of search engines". When you want the impossible, impossible claims make sense. If a client's only goal is to get to #1 for this and that keyword phrase, they are more likely to get taken, just my opinion.

A client who is realistically looking to grow their online business through search marketing is more likely to be attracted to benefits like conversion improvement, broadening keyword targeting, and usability analysis in addition to search rankings. A business approach to improving their rankings means that more realistic offerings will appeal to them, making it more likely that they will find a consultant who can build their bottom line, not just their rankings.

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Old 10-14-2005   #17
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I'm new to the industry with a cruise site almost ready to launch as well as a real estate investor site which should be ready to go in about a month. I just realized that it's not as easy as purchasing sponsored ads and am currently going through the same issues in finding a reputable company to do SEO for us. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Marc
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Old 10-14-2005   #18
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SEMs can be a lot like architects. Many specialise in building things that suit a particular need.

Its not a case of you needing something built and us saying to you well Christopher Wren is a particularly fine architect. Christopher Wren would not be a good choice for building you a hen-house. Nor a home. And probably not an office either. But if you ever need a monument, something cathedral-like, sure, Wren was a damn fine choice.

How much budget you have is certainly going to limit your choices. Quality usually costs. In general, you get what you pay for.

How interesting or prestigeous the work may also limit choices (certain SEOs can pick and choose only jobs that truly interest them). Certainly many SEOs won't be interested in handling yet another 'jumping on a blandwagon' site trying (without any originality or USP) to be the next travel site, online-casino, etc.

Personal tastes and styles will also affect your 'best choice' options. There are many ways to build something, yet each architect will choose a different and personal blend of style and materials for their approach to the building task. Just as with an achitect, you must choose someone who's work and integrity you value, and with whom you can get the rapport to ensure you'll be happy with the final creation.

A bare list of architects will do you no good. You need to see what they have built before, and to know who you will find comfortable in all respects to work with.
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Old 10-15-2005   #19
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I can assure you that it's not just another fly by night travel site. The travel agency that I have partnered with to do the site is one I used to work for and has been in business for 26 years. The reason the site came about is because they have lost a lot of business to the internet and finally came to realize what they are missing out on. The site is www.topcruiseclub.com and we are incorporating a forum among other things to be helpful to our members. We are trying to bring more of a "brick and mortar" feel to the internet cruise site.

On a side note, has anyone heard of www.beyondink.com

Last edited by Chris_D : 10-15-2005 at 04:39 AM. Reason: Delinked - Topic is reputable SEO companies - see http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/faq.php?faq=code_of_conduct#faq_self-promo
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Old 10-15-2005   #20
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I can assure you that it's not just another fly by night travel site.
Of course not. Neither, I expect, are the other 25 travel site startups I've seen this week alone in the various forums I frequent. I didn't even know your project was another travel site until you just replied. Its just that travel sites have been the most frequent requests in my email for the past 9 years. You'd have to have something mind-blowingly different to everyone else out there to get me to pay any attention past the mention of the word 'Travel' because it is all just so old hat to me.

Of course, there are many other SEO companies who'll gladly take your business.

But you won't actually succeed on the strength of SEO alone. Its not like you're going to be the first travel site to ever think to employ SEO. Nor the 101st, nor even the 1001st. SEO is no 'secret trick', no business edge in the travel industry. You will succeed or fail not in how visible you are in search, but in how memorable, professional and credible your business model is compared to all the top sites like expedia.com that even people without a computer have heard of.

So, most reputable SEOs are probably going to want a lot of details about your business model so they can market it properly to the right 'niche' market within the broader travel market. Any SEO who's reputation lives or dies on the success of thier clients can do no less.

Internet businesses are just like any other businesses. They work on the law of supply and demand. Google can already offer over a billion suppliers of Travel, which, so far as I am aware, significantly exceeds the demands of the US travel marketplace. If your business is literally the one-in-a-million uniquely superior product then you'll need an SEO who can help turn that incredible strength to your advantage despite existing players having stable incomes and existing deals. On the other hand, if you are relying on SEO to get you to the top of the SERPs where even 0.1 percent of all travel offerings compete thats still asking to top a list of 1 million on the strength of SEO alone. An SEO who can reliably do that is almost certainly already doing it for someone else in the travel market with deep pockets. Prepare to spend some serious cash to outbid rivals for the services of such an SEO (plus enough extra for the SEO to be prepared to switch from an existing deal to a new client), or to hire a long-shot.

However it goes, the best of luck to you.
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