seo firms - How To Choose the Best SEO Service

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seo firms - How To Choose the Best SEO Service

 

10 Best SEO Services Of December 2023

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Updated: Dec 8, 2023, 12:15am

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If you’re searching for the best search engine optimization (SEO) service for your business, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of companies on the market. To help, Forbes Advisor evaluated more than 100 agencies and identified the best SEO services available today.

We chose these top SEO companies based on multiple parameters, including pricing, types of SEO services offered, customer service reputation and track record for providing exceptional return on investment (ROI). We also considered which providers worked best in various business circumstances. Read our guide to find the best SEO company for your needs and budget.

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The Best SEO Services for Your Small Business Of 2023


BEST OVERALL

SmartSites

SmartSites

Rate per hour

Custom

Location

Paramus, NJ

Year founded

2011

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR NEW WEBSITES

Victorious

Victorious
Learn MoreArrow

On Victorious' Website

Pricing

Custom

Location

San Francisco, CA

Year founded

2012

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR AFFORDABLE MONTHLY SEO PLANS

WebFX

WebFX
Learn MoreArrow

On WebFX's Website

Plan costs

Start at $2,500 per month

plus $7,750 initial investment

Location

Harrisburg, PA

Year founded

1995

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR E-COMMERCE

OuterBox

OuterBox
Learn MoreArrow

On OuterBox's Website

Rate per hour

Custom

Location

Akron, OH

Year founded

2004

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR BRAND BUILDING

SEO Brand

SEO Brand
Learn MoreArrow

On SEO Brand's Website

Rate per hour

Custom

Locations

Boca Raton, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Hollywood

Year founded

2006

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR LOCAL SEO

Funnel Boost Media

Funnel Boost Media
Learn MoreArrow

On Funnel Boost Media's Website

Pricing

$300 to $2,000

per month

Locations

San Antonio

Year founded

2012

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FULL-SERVICE SEO AND SEM AGENCY

HigherVisibility

HigherVisibility
Learn MoreArrow

On Highervisibility's Website

Rate per hour

Custom

Locations

Memphis

Year founded

2009

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR LARGE ORGANIZATIONS

Intero Digital

Intero Digital

Rate per hour

Custom

Locations

San Diego

Year founded

2004

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Incrementors

Incrementors

Rate per hour

Custom

average retainer between $750 to $5,000 per month

Locations

Marlton, NJ

Year founded

2012

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

BEST FOR SEO CONTENT WRITING SERVICES

Fannit

Fannit
Learn MoreArrow

On Fannit's Website

Rate per hour

Custom

Locations

Everett, WA

Year founded

2010

Why We Picked It
Pros & Cons

Compare Top SEO Companies


What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website visible to search engines, such as Google, in a way that gives your site preferential visibility. When your website is optimized for search, you improve the likelihood that your site will rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and thus be more visible to those searching for your services or products.

Why Is SEO Important?

Effective SEO is crucial for driving quality traffic to your website. The goal of SEO is to help those interested in your business offerings find you online. Optimizing your site for search improves the odds that those performing related online searches will find your company and click through to your website.

High click-through rates (CTRs) increase the opportunities you have to engage with your website visitors, make a connection and either make a sale or establish a relationship that sets the stage for closing a sale down the line.

SEO vs. SEM

There are two ways to drive traffic to your website: organically or via paid methods. SEO is an organic search strategy that optimizes your site with the best content that satisfies searcher intentions. SEM involves all digital marketing strategies—both paid and organic—used to drive traffic to your website via search engines. SEM often involves SEO and paid search strategies, such as pay-per-click advertisements.


How To Choose the Best SEO Service

When selecting an SEO service, you should first consider your SEO goals. Then, spend time with a few SEO service providers to discuss those needs in light of what each agency delivers. It’s also helpful to speak with current or past clients.

SEO service providers help you increase your visibility in search engines and thereby assist you in generating more traffic for your website. An SEO service provider may conduct a variety of tasks, including auditing your existing website for SEO effectiveness, conducting keyword searches, developing an SEO plan to outrank your competition and writing SEO copy for your site.

Types of SEO Services

Before purchasing SEO services, it’s wise to get a handle on the different types of SEO available. Understanding the basics will give you a considerable advantage when evaluating SEO agencies.

  • On-Page SEO: On-page SEO involves optimizing on-page content elements such as headlines, page content, image alt-tags, page titles and the page URL. Including appropriate internal and external links within your content also boosts on-page SEO.
  • Off-Page SEO: Off-page SEO involves tactics that improve your overall search rankings but are irrelevant to individual page content. Building high-authority backlinks to your site is a critical off-page SEO service that a top-notch SEO service group should provide.
  • Technical SEO: Search engines need to understand your site content and structure, so an up-to-date XML sitemap is crucial for effective technical SEO. Other technical SEO necessities include eliminating site problems, such as slow page load times, mobile responsiveness issues, duplicate content and HTTP error codes, for example, 404, which indicates content is not found.
  • Local SEO: Some service providers specialize in helping your site rank higher than competitors in your local market. Optimizing your Google Business Profile listing is key to local SEO success; a reputable local SEO service provider can handle this for you.
  • E-Commerce SEO: Websites built for e-commerce need to be optimized somewhat differently than non-e-commerce sites. Some SEO agencies specialize in helping websites with online stores increase site traffic and improve sales conversion metrics.
  • Voice SEO: Voice search users typically ask conversational questions that contain more words in their search string than used in a text search. Voice SEO is particularly important for local service or hospitality businesses likely to benefit immediately from people looking for options for urgent needs, such as the nearest service station, bakery or dog groomer.

Portfolios and Results

When evaluating SEO service providers, be sure to look at their client portfolio and case studies that detail what they’ve accomplished for others. Pay attention to whether the SEO service specializes in specific industries or audiences and their typical client size.

Get a clear idea of what results might be possible—based on what the provider has done for others—as well as how long it will take for the new SEO efforts to start gaining traction. If you’re working with a strong SEO agency, you should start seeing some positive results within 60 to 90 days of initial strategy implementation, but keep in mind that it may take 120 days or longer to make a significant impact.

Potential Conflicts

When interviewing SEO providers, check for competitive conflicts. If an agency represents multiple companies targeting the same search content in the same, limited local market, that’s a potential red flag. While that type of SEO agency likely understands your market well, it is also likely using similar SEO strategies for direct competitors, which may put you at a disadvantage in tight local competitive climates.

Reporting and Transparency

It’s best to work with a provider that offers complete transparency on what they will do for you and how they’ll generate and report results. Some SEO agencies merely use powerful SEO analysis software such as Ahrefs, KWFinder or Semrush and regurgitate findings in the form of polished SEO reports for their clients. You could do that level of SEO on your own, and likely for a much lower cost than hiring an SEO agency.

While the search statistics from top SEO software programs are helpful, stats alone are insufficient. When evaluating SEO service providers, make them explain how they add value to your SEO efforts beyond what you could do for yourself via off-the-shelf SEO software.

Your SEO agency should deliver actionable insights on where and how to adjust your website content to achieve optimal search visibility. Your SEO provider should also help you better understand your search competition plus uncover untapped or under-tapped opportunities to elevate your search rankings.

Before agreeing to work with anyone, ask for a full accounting of what metrics will be reported, when the numbers will be reported and how performance trends will be tracked and reported over time. Your SEO service provider should offer detailed progress reports every month so you can measure the return on investment (ROI) of your SEO expenditures.

Ethics: White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO

White hat SEO refers to tactics that are aligned with search engine best practices. If an SEO tactic is Google-approved, you are safe to use it for your website. Black hat SEO refers to tactics that aim to improve a website’s visibility in search using more manipulative methods that distort reality. Black hat tactics are banned by Google and could result in a traffic-dropping Google penalty or get your site blocked by search engines permanently.

Examples of black hat SEO include keyword stuffing, link spam, link exchanges, hidden text or links, buying backlinks and sneaky redirects. It’s important to vet your vendors well to ensure they only use white hat SEO tactics.

Customer Service and Reviews

You can and should expect exceptional customer service from your SEO partner. One way to assess a provider’s reputation is to search online for reviews written by actual customers. If you’re working with a local business, check out customer reviews on their Google Business Profile page.

Another way to learn more about what you can expect in terms of service quality is to ask your professional network whether anyone has worked with a specific agency. Getting feedback from someone you know and trust is ideal. You can also ask the SEO agency you’re considering working with for customer references and speak directly with an active customer.


SEO Service Essentials

Every SEO service provider varies a bit in the type of services offered. Service essentials include SEO audits, keyword research, link building services, competition analyses, website reputation management and optimized content development services.

SEO Audits

An SEO audit is an evaluation of the current state of your website, factoring in on-page SEO, off-page SEO and technical SEO. The SEO audit is the first step of effective optimization, so if you haven’t had a full SEO audit lately, you likely need one.

A quality SEO service provider will conduct an extensive SEO audit of your website before making recommended changes. Your audit should include insights into keywords you’re currently ranking for, crawling and indexing errors, internal and external link analyses, site architecture effectiveness, page speed analytics, mobile responsiveness and other details on duplicate or otherwise problematic content issues.

Keyword Research

A keyword is a single word or string of related words that people enter into the search bar when conducting a web search. To maximize website traffic, you want your website to rank high for all the keywords related to the services or products you sell. You also want to know what keywords people use, so you can adapt or create website content that ranks high on Google.

Keyword research is essential to effective SEO. Your SEO service provider should monitor which keyword you’re ranking for, how high each keyword is ranking and track keyword progress as the site is optimized. Your agency should also provide new keyword suggestions to help your site perform well in search results.

Link Building Services

Many SEO agencies provide link building services to help you get more backlinks to your website. When a high-authority site links to your website, that elevates your website’s credibility and trustworthiness. Backlinks are a top search ranking factor, and an SEO agency can often help you build quality backlinks to your site through digital public relations and other outreach link building services.

Competition Analysis

You want your website content to appear higher in search results than other sites vying for the same attention. To do this, you need a solid grasp on who your main search competitors are, what they’re doing, where they’re outperforming you and what keywords they rank for that you don’t. A strong SEO agency should deliver exceptional competitive analyses while developing effective SEO strategies so your website can outrank competitors.

Website Reputation Management Services

Online reputation management services are designed for those who want to boost their website’s authority and credibility. Reputation services can help you control how your business is perceived online. Services typically include generating positive business reviews and actively pursuing opportunities for reputation elevation through social media and public relations initiatives.

You may acquire reputation management services to help create a positive online image when your website is new or assist with damage control if your business has suffered a public ding to its reputation. Website reputation management services are also popular for websites that have incurred a Google penalty and need to restore their reputation, so that Google will lift the penalty.

Optimized Content Development Services

Many SEO agencies offer optimized content development services. Popular content services include blog writing, video content development and website copywriting services. Before committing to any agency, ask if content development services are offered and, if so, how these services are priced.


How Much Do SEO Services Cost?

SEO service pricing is typically done on either a project or monthly retainer basis. You may pay an upfront fee for your initial audit and existing site optimization. If you want to work with a service provider for ongoing SEO support, you’ll likely need to enter into a multi-month or annual contract. A longer contract commitment is often required because SEO efforts take several months to yield results.

Most small businesses that invest in SEO services typically pay from $500 to $3,000 or more monthly. Several factors determine how much SEO services will cost for your small business. The volume and veracity of online competition, the number of pages you need to optimize, how effectively—or ineffectively—your current site is already optimized and the service provider you select can all impact your total SEO costs.

When working with an SEO agency for the first time, you may be presented with several SEO service options, with tier pricing relative to the level of service you’ll receive. Before signing a contract, make sure you are clear on the deliverables. Also, if your project or retainer fee nets out to more than $150 per hour, you’re likely paying too much; the average hourly rate is closer to $75 to $100.


Methodology

Forbes Advisor gathered thousands of data points from more than a hundred SEO service providers to create this list of the best SEO services. We considered the depth and breadth of SEO services offered, including keyword research, on-page and off-page SEO, competitor tracking and analysis, technical audits, link-building and search-optimized content development services.

We also scoured hundreds of online reviews from actual customers to assess SEO service providers’ reputation for responsiveness, technical proficiency, quality control, project management, progress tracking and reporting, and success at achieving significant ROI.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best SEO services?

Are SEO services worth it?

Can I do SEO myself?

How do I choose keywords for SEO?

How long does SEO take?

What is white label SEO?

Do blogs improve SEO?

What are backlinks in SEO?

How can I improve my website's search ranking?

What are internal links vs. external links?


Next Up in Business


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