With so many companies offering SEO services, deciding on the best fit for your business can be a complex choice.

With the rapidly changing SEO landscape, more than ever, having a long term approach to SEO performance is critical. It’s still relatively easy to deliver a short term spike in  rankings using techniques that will almost certainly cause long term harm to a clients websites performance.

Rapid advancements in the science of SEO over the last few years have been about delivering a better result for search engine customers. This means rewarding websites which provide the best user experience with superior ranking.

The days of no brainer bronze, silver and gold SEO packages are gone (well at least they should be). Building 100 low quality links to a website and stuffing it with niche keywords may boost a websites ranking in the short term, but it will do nothing to build the user experience that search engines love. These out dated approaches to SEO are doomed to failure in the long term. At the very least they will lead to diminished ranking, however its more likely they will breach Google’s terms of service and result in a penalty being applied to your site. We’re talking disappearing from the search results altogether.

With the SEO ante being so high, I thought I’d outline a few basic requirements that will help you choose the right SEO Company –a partner who will not only avoid the possible negative impact of bad SEO, but deliver the amazing benefits a well-executed SEO campaign can offer.

While far from comprehensive, these essentials are a good place to start:

1. A good strategy is essential

Every company is uniquely different, so it’s stands to reason that a unique SEO approach is required. A good SEO company will give you a strategy for how they intent to deliver long term results and why the strategy will work.

2. Look further than keyword ranking

A common misnomer in the SEO world is that success means getting 1, 2, 3 or even 5 keywords on the front page of Google. It’s true that keyword ranking can be one of the most real indicators of success, however it can be misleading. For starters, do you know what the traffic for your ranking keywords are? There is no point ranking for a keyword that no one searches for. Real success requires an increase in actual organic traffic for a broad range of targeted, relevant keywords.

3. Look for an over-arching approach to your SEO

A good SEO campaign addresses everything from your website interface, hosting, load speed, technical site performance, social profile, link profile, content, local profile and more. Avoid like the plague any approach that doesn’t follow a holistic approach to your SEO.

4. Verify past results

A good SEO company will provide you with examples of sites they worked as well as some performance results. Don’t just accept these results on face value. Check for evidence of ranking, SEO best practices, ask for the actual increase in website traffic that has been achieved. A great indicators of results is client testimonials.

5. Have a clear outline of deliverables

Before any work commences, be clear on exactly what you will be getting. What on-site optimisation can you expect? Will content be handled in house or out sourced? If link building is part of the agreement, what sort of links and how many can you expect per month?

6. Regular reporting

Firstly, make sure you get a clear snapshot of your organic traffic (via Google Analytics) before any work is done, it will provide an invaluable benchmark to compare future results against. Once work commences, you should receive a report at the end of each period (weekly or monthly) with not only your keyword rankings and the organic traffic coming to your site, but verification the work that’s been completed in that period.

As with choosing any service provider, choosing the right SEO specialist starts with asking the right questions and developing a relationship. You need a partner who offers transparency and openness and provides you with a clear direction for how your online presence will grow. Well executed SEO will bring targeted leads, deliver results and turn practical steps into a return for your business not only now, but for years to come.