how to find the best seo company

Best SEO Company: How To Tell The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

February 19, 2015 - 11 minutes read - SEO

To many business owners, Search Engine Optimization is a mysterious science. On one hand, the detail-orientation of the day-to-day tasks attracts professionals who love data, enjoy building websites from the ground up, and who are current with all the latest search engine news. On the other hand, SEO also attracts a bad crowd — the kind who string you along with promises that “it takes 12 months to build a good web presence” — but, in reality, are doing nothing at all or are incapable of achieving the objective because they have not adapted with recent changes in SEO… or who “guarantee first page results” and achieve it through cheating that could get your site blacklisted! It can be hard to tell The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly at face value because all SEO companies are at least good at building their own websites. In this guide, we’ll give you a helpful checklist of factors to consider before hiring.

To start, let’s take a look at why your company needs SEO.


How Much Does Good SEO Cost?

Cost weighs heavily in the decision of which SEO provider to choose. Naturally, you want to steer clear from either end of the spectrum. SEO companies that cost less than $750 are usually garbage. On the other hand, you don’t want to pay $50,000 for your project. According to Jayson DeMers at Search Engine Watch, you can expect a pricing structure like this:

– Monthly retainer: You pay a set monthly fee for an agreed-upon number of services like analytics, on-site improvements, link building, keyword research, and content. This is the most common payment model and provides the greatest ROI. Most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000. If you are in a very competitive niche, have a very large website or multiple websites, retainers can reach $10,000 or more per month.

– Fixed Pricing: Nearly all SEO companies also offer SEO setup services and fixed prices to let prospective clients “test the waters” before starting monthly services. Often, service begins with a comprehensive website SEO audit at a fixed price ($500-$7,500), a link profile audit ($500 – $7,500), keyword and competitive research ($500-$7,500), social media site setup ($500 – $3,000), or copywriting (15-30 cents a word).

– Project: Custom projects set up specifically for the client can be put together, ranging from $1,000 to $30,000, depending on how much work is involved. This may include special attention to in-depth research,  local marketing, fixing of technical issues, blacklisting issues, in-depth social media work, SEO strategy, or fully outsourced content.

– Hourly consulting: Businesses looking to tap the expertise of an industry pro can often buy a few hours of time to gather the research they need to do SEO work themselves. SEO consultants usually charge between $100 and $300 per hour.

Most of the best SEO companies offer all models of payment.

Here is a great infographic on agency SEO services including pricing and models. Although it is from 2011 a lot of the information is still relevant in 2015 – keeping in mind agency SEO retainers may have increased slightly over the past 4 years.

seo cost infographic

Source: (click image to enlarge)

Checklist: What To Look For In Seeking The Best SEO Company

Ideally, you want a firm that offers:

  • On-page and off-page SEO
  • Comprehensive SEO audits
  • Technical SEO knowledge
  • Competitive market and keyword research
  • An in-depth understanding of your business model
  • “White-Hat” link-building on quality sites
  • Strong knowledge of social media marketing
  • A team large enough to service you (or at the very least a small client roster)

Some Things To Avoid

Pass on SEO companies with:

First page ranking “guarantee”

Costs lower than $750

– No content offering

Spammy techniques

A poor website

No clue about Panda, Penguin, or Hummingbird

– A “30-Day Free Trial”

– No reviews .

Does The SEO Firm Fit ME?

Often overlooked — but extremely important — is the match between the SEO firm and the enterprise. SEO companies that claim to help Fortune 500 companies and small startups equally well are probably serving neither. Does the company serve “all industries”? New SEO firms may benefit from a one-size-fits-all approach to amass whatever clients they can get with their lack of experience.

However, as a digital marketing firm that has been around for nearly a decade, we have found it helps to specialize to get the best results for our clients. Our “sweet spot” is forward-thinking companies in the healthcare, home services, technology, and professional services industries — from doctors and medical technology firms, to home builders and home improvement firms, to mobile app providers and software firms, to financial service providers and other marketing firms. Our firm does service a variety of businesses in these industries, but we are not a fit for everyone. The best way to determine if the SEO company is a good fit, is to contact them and start a conversation. Emailing and talking is free and the worst that can happen is you discover they aren’t a fit. The best that can happen is you find the ideal SEO agency to partner with in growing your business.

Expect to see #1 results like this when you partner with the right SEO firm:

tampa bay plastic surgeon first page ranking SEO
(results from one of Mod Girl’s clients – click to enlarge)

Ultimately, the BEST SEO company is one that caters to other businesses like yours, one that fits your needs, and can help you accomplish your specific goals. You want to feel comfortable with your point person and trust them. Look for credentials and specialization, but don’t overlook your gut instincts either. Ethical SEO companies that actually deliver results are not as easy to come by as you think. Many of Mod Girl’s clients have had poor results with previous SEO companies because they didn’t do their homework to begin with. Realistic expectations should be set from the beginning and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Do your homework, go with your instincts, and make sure the expectations of results have been set and are realistic.

What Mod Girl SEO Clients Say:

If there’s a better company for SEO than Mod Girl Marketing, I have yet to find it! Working with my company for close to a year, we’ve had nothing but a great experience!

Fast, friendly service, great communication, and more importantly, amazing results! They provide incredible service that no one else has been able to beat! Thank you Mandy!

Alvaro Perez, DynaCorp Auctions

Susan Erway
In the ever changing world of SEO, Google algorithms, and social media, it has been a blessing to have the Mod Girl Marketing team working with us for the past few years.

Mandy and her team are always on top of latest SEO trends and continually make recommendations to help us increase our rankings. They welcome any ideas we have and the entire team works diligently to assist us achieve our goals.

Mod Girl has been instrumental in assisting us with our blogging campaign, which has resulted in remarkably high organic rankings. Mod Girl can help with everything from back linking, to blogging, social media posts, newsletters, or videos. Mandy and her Mod Girl team will do what is required in order to get you higher rankings.

Susan Erway, Bill Beazley Homes

Why Mod Girl Marketing?

Mod Girl Marketing is your all-in-one SEO solution provider — offering expert consulting, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, inbound marketing, quality link building, social media monitoring, and content services. Our team features over 15 dedicated professionals that have been performing search engine optimization for over a decade. Everything we do is high-quality, “white-hat,” and Google-friendly. Ongoing SEO education is a huge part of what makes us the ideal SEO service provider. We are always on top of the latest algorithms and digital marketing trends. Social media and content are big parts of SEO, and we have been focused on these areas since our company first launched. In addition to our SEO professionals, we also staff a full team of professional content writers with industry experience and college degrees, as well as social media experts with proven track records of increasing traffic and leads. From global B2B firms to thriving local B2C firms, Mod Girl has helped numerous companies increase revenues through effective search engine optimization.

Contact us to see if we are truly the best SEO company to meet your needs.

More SEO tips:

The 3 Pillars of SEO in 2015
On-Page SEO Checklist
Off-Page SEO Checklist
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