This is a followup post to “7 Things To Avoid When Choosing An SEO Company” originally published in 2014.

At some point in time, you may realize that you will need professional assistance to help your businesses website grow. If you are like most people, you will either ask a friend or associate for a recommendation, or you may use a search engine to find a company that you feel comfortable working with. This is the time to ask yourself what to look for, or perhaps more importantly, what to NOT look for. I’ve broken down some things that you should concern yourself with:

1. Ask how long they have been in business, specifically ask them how long they have been helping companies improve their rankings in the search engines. If their website says “In Business Since 1989”, this does not mean they have been actively engaged in marketing other websites since 1989, they may previously been designing websites and have recently begun offering marketing services.

2. Ask them for a link to their portfolio, look to see if they have a link to each of the websites they claim to have worked with. Most legitimate marketing companies will link to their clients. If there are no links, call a few of them to see ask them about their experience with the SEO company. You may be surprised about what you find.

3. Be wary of companies that boast unprovable claims such as they are “America’s Leading/Best SEO Company”. There is no governing agency that provides ranking or reviews of websites regardless of their content and no such claims can ever be proven.

4. Avoid websites that provide rankings such as “Find The Best SEO Agencies” or “Find Rankings Of Best SEO Agencies” as these can be websites where placement can be purchased. Some will say “Sponsored”, or something similar in small type, and others will not even disclose this to their visitors.

5. Avoid a prospective marketing agency if English is not their primary language. This could lead to poorly written content, or even worse, content that is already in use on one or more other websites. TIP: If you have text on your website created by an agency that you suspect is just duplicating content from other websites, take a snippet of the text that they provided you and add it to the form on Copyscape, an online plagiarism checker. Before you sign up with an agency, make sure you ask them where their work is actually created.

6. Avoid a company that tells you that they have a “Secret Methodology” that only they know about to help your business succeed online. There are no hidden secrets among internet marketing agencies, just good or bad implementation of common practices. Ask the agency about exactly what they are going to do for you. If they give you the old “I can’t tell you, it’s a company secret”, walk away. Fast.

7. Don’t be fooled by a company that drops terms such as “PageRank”, “Keyword Density” or “White Hat versus Black Hat”. These are buzzwords that really provide you with little value and should be seen as a red flag. A good internet marketing firm will spend as much time as possible explaining to you in detail using easy to understand terms about how they will help your business improve in the search engines.

Net101 has been developing SEO strategies since before the term SEO was ever coined. For details, contact Stormy Knight today for more information, she has over 22 years of online marketing experience.

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Marc Harris has extensive experience in SEO, content creation, website development and internet marketing. He is a moderator at WebmasterWorld, one of the largest websites for news and discussions geared toward website professionals.