Why “No Contract” SEO Works Best
The services of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant are wide and varied. If you were to look at a list of Best Practices, it would include about 20 major topics with dozens of sub-headings. The goal of working through all these SEO requirements is to please your prospective readers (who may become your customers) and get your website on page one for important search queries.
Since this is such an in-depth and complicated topic, there are many approaches, and most of them will take time to gain traction with Google and other search engines. You will, however, have a gut feeling of whether your site overall is gaining more leads and satisfying more people.
If you don’t see the proper amount of effort and the results are not where you’d want them to be, you do not want to be stuck with your current provider until the 12 months have elapsed on your contract. Learn how to choose the right SEO company for your needs.
When hiring an SEO consultant, it’s best to hire on a month-to-month basis (No-Contract SEO). If you do not see the results you want at the ROI you need, you can reevaluate your engagement and find a new SEO company. Also make sure that you own everything created for you by the SEO agency. Look for expert key employees who have been at the company for a long time and ask about any outsourcing the company does. Outsourcing isn’t a sign of a poor company to engage with, but try to choose a company that outsources as little of its high-level work as possible.
The Best SEO Companies for Small Businesses are No-Contract
There are many reasons why you should avoid SEO contracts. SEO isn’t a guarantee, but trustworthy agencies will guarantee full transparency and the ability to leave if you are not getting results.
Agency relationships can, and often will, degrade over time. We’ve had clients come to us after hiring an SEO company that hasn’t driven new results for the last years of their engagement. Sometimes leaving is easy, but some companies have been burned. Contract SEO companies can try to claim ownership of your website, listings and social media pages when you try to leave (yes, it happens).
These are our top reasons for not hiring an SEO company on contract:
SEO may not work on your site.
SEO misunderstandings are common.
SEO Has a Time Delay (AKA “The Gap”)
Contracts Are A Sales Strategy
Key Team Member Churn
Look For Better Results
You Own Everything
SEO can be unpredictable. It simply may not work on your current website. If you sign into a year-long commitment with a company only to find that their specific expertise doesn’t add value for your company, you’ll be scratching your head for a way out.
SEO is vaguely defined by many people. Before you buy SEO services online, ask the SEO consultant to provide you with their definition of SEO. Make sure that you and they are on the same page. Have an idea of the results that you are expecting or create some concrete goals with your SEO provider at the beginning of the relationship. This will give you the ability to hold them accountable for results and make it clear to the SEO agency what your goals are. It’s a win-win situation.
Perfecting SEO takes considerable time and talent. Ask your SEO company salesperson how many full-time people they have on staff. Google “How Long Does SEO Take” and you’ll find differing answers, but on average, SEO takes 4-6 months to see results. And that depends on the current state of affairs of your website. For example: if you are taking a poorly-performing website that isn’t built on a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, it could take far longer or require a new website build. The no-contract SEO agency that you choose should be honest with you up-front about this and offer a diagnostic of your site.
This one may not be universal, but it’s often true that companies use them as revenue tactics. Some SEO agencies who aren’t completely devoted to getting results choose to offer contracts because it’s a guarantee that they will have your business for at least the time of the contract.
When the nature of the relationship changes, you need the chance to leave. When key team members leave, the level of expertise you are being given might change. Make sure you know how long key team members have been on staff so you have an idea how stable your SEO relationship will be.
Without a contract, your SEO company will actively be trying to drive results and keep you satisfied. That means that your sales leads should keep growing. And if they stop growing? Your business might be growing beyond the scope or expertise of your current SEO agency. It might be time to negotiate a more comprehensive service or shop for a new agency.
It might seem sensible to many, but those who have been burned have learned the lesson the hard way. Always make sure that you own everything that your no-contract SEO company creates for your business, from Google My Business (formerly Google Places) and social media pages to your website and the content within.
How Do I Find the Best SEO for My Business
Timely delivery of changes and results.
Are they able to deliver on time? If they do not have a minimum of two people in Content and two in IT, they probably will not be delivering timely updates. Ask about these facts before signing on with the company:
What is their client-roster-to-account-manager ratio? The lower it is, the better the results.
Current staff specialties? This includes technical SEO techniques, Google Ads certifications, software experience, graphic design experience, server database management, etc.
Do they outsource? It’s not a deal-breaker if they do, but make sure they keep a reliable, full-time staff.
Evidence of Results.
If no prior experience, you may want out sooner than later. SEO can require a lot of testing. Does the SEO company that you are interviewing have enough staff to test what they are recommending? Have they used it on another website before? Are they familiar with the results? Can they give a concrete strategy to increase the conversion rate of your site?
Experts Make Great Relationships.
How long have the people you are working with been there? If they leave, who will you be working with? Professional SEO services need deep learning and expertise. It also works best when the company you hire has specific experience in your industry. Many small SEO firms rely on the extensive knowledge and experience of key team members, and if those team members leave, you want to be sure that the entire team demonstrates the same knowledge. If they demonstrate that, you can bet that entering into a long relationship with that SEO agency is a safe bet.
In-House SEO Experts.
Do they have a team of in-house SEO experts and IT staff, or do they contract it out? Online marketing quality often suffers when work is outsourced, not to mention the time lag. A sole proprietor with an outsourced team of freelancers will have a harder time guaranteeing quality and driving results. And hiring a professional SEO company without a personal account manager who can spend time strategizing for your company means your ROI will suffer.
Summary: Trusted SEO Services
You should own everything created for you by your SEO agency, no exceptions. Choose a company with accomplished full-time SEO experts who can demonstrate the results they have driven for their clients, and always ask how long the key employees have been with the company because firms with low turnover will be the most likely to give your company great results.
There are many firms that work without a contract. Check them out. Compare them. See which one is a good fit for you. Besides our companies, OttawayDigital.com and UnbundledSEO.com, consider tophatrank.com, attract.click, zagoumenov.com, makeitactive.com, oneclickwi.com and reputableseomarketing.com. All of these companies offer “No Contract SEO Services.”
The author, Bob Ottaway, is President and Founder of Ottaway Digital. Established in 1999, it has been a pioneer in SEO, digital advertising & social media since 2006.