If you've been neglecting your online marketing, including your social media presence, then chances are your competitors in the area have been cashing in on that fact. Studies have shown that close to 90% of all customers begin their buying process by way of some type of search engine, and roughly 75% of the clicks are going to occur in the top 3 positions. In fact, only 6% of searchers will click beyond the 1st search engine results page! What does this mean for you? If you're not on the first page of a typical local search, such as "City __", then your business might as well be invisible to everyone in that area!
As more people start to use apps such as Google Maps to find services near them, your local SEO visibility and online review quality is going to become paramount. Google Maps alone represents around 37% of review volume. If you want to capture social proof, and I think you do, then you'll need to be able to compete on these local platforms as these apps are indeed the future. Don't worry, you don't even need an SEO consultant to get started, you can started showing up in local searches for free by creating a Google My Business profile!
How to find an expert in your local area
I'd recommend you first start by checking if your prospective agency is ranking in your target market.
What you'll notice, and this will change from time to time, is that the best options are consistently at the top of the search results. This is important to note because anyone can simply buy a slew of illegal backlinks for a temporary rankings boost, as this top-ranking Durham SEO company below did, but it's only a matter of time before their rankings tank, so don't let that be you!
While reviews can be a good indication of quality in areas where there are more tenured agencies, in newer or smaller markets like here in Durham they'll be less of a factor as the sample size will be smaller. Actually, there are quite a few reasons why online reviews should be less of a factor when ranking SEO companies. First, many SEO clients will leave positive reviews right away within the first months of service, then often will not take the time out of their day to update these reviews if/when things go south. This happens a lot with link sellers as their clients get amazing results at first glance, but later their rankings tank due to Google penalties. Second, oftentimes the only customers who are motivated enough to leave reviews in the first place are angry ones, so this can sometimes skew results. Lastly, the major SEO agencies make HUGE profits, which means they have unlimited resources to manufacture fake positive reviews and fight Google and Yelp over the bad ones.
Beware of anyone promising backlinks with your chosen anchor text as these will be temporary, most link sellers will not be able to refund you, so look for money-back satisfaction guarantees instead of ranking guarantees.
Beware of budget SEO services that outsource to countries like India, and big businesses who inflate your digital marketing costs by selling another agency's services via white label SEO. Need a number? A recent study showed that businesses who spent $500/m or more for SEO services were 53.3% more likely to describe themselves as “extremely satisfied."
How to vet an SEO agency
When it comes to analyzing the quality and value of a typical digital marketing agency, some things are simply not as they seem.
- SEO changes so rapidly that what used to work then is not likely to work now. Before Google's massive crackdown on link schemes in 2012, older more "experienced" SEO agencies likely picked up a slew of bad habits that could put a business's rankings at risk of penalty.
- The worst options are those who are not playing by Google's rules as seen in this excerpt taking from a website ranking for SEO service in Durham, NC: "We can create a network of locations that will endorse your site with backlinks so that Google will see your products or services."
- "Niche Edits - Guaranteed Placement - Keyword Anchor." "Optimized backlinks." Link Schemes Galore! Also, look out for excessive internal links in footers, and other obsolete old-school SEO techniques such as meta keywords.
- "Webpage / Blog Copywriting." What you'll discover is that more often than not these are short and unengaging 500-word articles written by freelancers. In the link selling world, many services have started offering 750-word articles to try to slow Google's ability to detect them as a paid backlink farm. So instead, look for 2000-word articles written by professional writers.
- "We'll provide social media links monthly." Nothing will ruin your online reputation quicker than social media spam! Passionate communities, like Reddit for example, can spot a marketer from a mile away, and boy oh boy will they make you pay for it!
We took a more holistic approach to search engine optimization by ensuring everything is working in harmony from the start to send positive signals to search engines. Our quality internet marketing services will establish and grow your online business both ethically and efficiently no matter your location! You can trust our family-run team to treat your online presence as if it was our own. Furthermore, we and promise to never outsource or utilize another company's SEO services through white-label. This policy allows us to remain in complete control of your rankings, while at the same time ensuring the safety of your data.
Founded in a small neighborhood right here in Durham, SEO SEMPER was built to help the little guy, the typical small business struggling to compete with the big box brands. Don't let your business fall into the desperation trap of expensive rank now suffer later schemes. There's absolutely no better time than now, during a worldwide pandemic, to let SEO SEMPER reduce your marketing expenditures and increase your online exposure, it's going to be a win-win!