If you are working in a marketing or ad agency, the question SEO Partner Stresshas probably arisen about who to use to fulfill the online marketing side of your campaigns. Along with this question come several options. First, you could create an online department within your company to meet all these needs. No big deal, right?

You only need someone to manage accounts, and someone to do the fulfillment for SEO, social media, PPC, and possibly web, and someone to keep up with the evolution of the industry so you can be sure that their techniques are sustainable, and someone to manage that team in conjunction with your company…  Suddenly a simple need turns into a mountainous effort, requiring both time and money (something most people don’t have a lot of floating around).

On the other hand, you could partner with a fulfillment agency that is specifically designed to carry out that kind of work. Skip all that time, energy, and stress, and put your trust in a firm who has the experience necessary to take care of your clients. Now let’s discuss several key points to look for when selecting an SEO partner.

Strategic SEO Partnerships

When you are looking to form a strategic SEO partnership, consider the following:

  1. Treat the Client as Their Own. You are not looking for a firm who would be happy to take your money and look the other way. You are looking for a firm who will act, in conjunction with you, in the best interest of the client. This means that they are proactive in their approach, and they will notify you of any good (or bad) that they see occurring in the campaign.
  2. Transparency. The best SEO firms are those who will explain, in detail even, their processes, their link-building tactics, and even introduce you to the people working on your account. (Sidenote: I know several people who consider link profiles the ultimate transparency—and while I can’t disagree that the capability should be there to produce one—the client’s expectations need to be readjusted so they know what the most important metrics are.)
  3. Evolving with the Industry.  The online marketing realm is an ever-changing industry. What was fine and normal even one year ago can be frowned upon today by the Google gods. Your SEO firm needs to understand that staying on top of the latest trends and industry news should be one of their top priorities. If their techniques can’t stand the test of time (or updates, whichever), they are probably not using sustainable processes.
  4. Proven Track Record. Think of it this way: if you want to SEO kitchen add-onrenovate your house and add that dining area that your wife has so desperately wanted for so long, will you happily go and hire the first contractor you find in your Google search? NO! What your wife (or your agency) needs is experience, and in this case, experience is synonymous to results. What has this firm done in the past that makes you believe they will perform well for your clients too? If they don’t have data or case studies to back it up, they might not have results worth sharing.
  5. Easy to Work With. At the end of the day, this whole outsourcing thing is meant to be a BENEFIT to you, not a STRESS ENHANCER. Your SEO partner should alleviate the burden of you taking this all on yourself, which would really just be too much to handle. Of course, optimism, proactivity, and overall trustworthiness are great characteristics as well.

Red Flags for an SEO Partnership

In addition to the traits you need to be looking for when you are choosing an SEO partner, there are also several red flags to look for that should be avoided:

  1. Guarantees. Any SEO company who says they can “guarantee” your ranking in a certain amount of time should trigger a red alert in your mind. Any good, honest SEO company knows that there is absolutely no way anyone can “guarantee” rankings in this industry. Google is constantly changing, and so are the competition levels for certain keywords (not to mention that not all websites are created equal). There are just too many factors in play to ever set this expectation in a clients’ mind.
  2. Non-Disclosure Regarding Practices. Many people think that hiring an SEO company is synonymous to hiring a magician who simply needs to wave their magic wand to make you appear at the top of the rankings. Be aware that SEO isn’t magic, and there is no “secret sauce.” SEO is a series of consistent and persistent link-building efforts that are by enlarge very similar across SEO companies. So, if a potential SEO partner will not talk with you about what their link-building tactics are, this should be a huge red flag.
  3. History of Black Hat. “Black hat” SEO is the term for shady or unethical SEO practices. These are techniques frowned upon by Google, and they are not sustainable. Though oftentimes your rankings will spike very quickly, they are not destined to stay there. Along with updates like Penguin 2.0, Google will catch on to these tactics and your site will be demoted, if not banned altogether. Companies employing black hat techniques just want some quick cash, and they are not planning on being successful in the long run.

Creating a Positive Partnership

Now that we’ve covered all the characteristics to and to not look for, we recommend that you put these to the test. Make sure you ask all the questions you have before you partner with an SEO company, because after the documents are signed, it might be too late.

Leadgenix works as the online fulfillment branch of many marketing and ad agencies. Contact us today if you are interested in our Partner Program, and we would be happy to get you more information.

photo credit: coco+kelley
photo credit: net_efekt

Jamie Bates
Online Marketing Director