Search engine optimization is critical for increasing website rankings, drawing in traffic, and making money. There are plenty of SEO companies out there, and many will promise the moon. But how do you find one that will not just promise but deliver impressive results and a great return on your investment? We asked SEO and business leaders to share ideas for separating the good SEO companies from the rest.

Sam Olmsted

Sam Olmsted

Sam Olmsted is the Director of Search & Content at Online Optimism, a digital marketing agency based in New Orleans.

Content, outreach, backlinks, and communication


A good SEO company produces content that actually provides value to its readers. This involves avoiding keyword stuffing, which turns the piece into an unreadable, uninteresting jumble that provides no useful information.


A good SEO company has a well of journalists to reach out to. Talking to journalists is one of the best ways to create organic backlinks. It also generates publicity for clients and makes sure they stay relevant in their respective fields.


A good SEO company performs competitor backlink research. This will help you get to know your competitors better and uncover the parts of the internet your customers are going to, which will ultimately lead to better visibility for yourself.


A good SEO company communicates effectively with its clients. For laymen, digital marketing and SEO can be confusing. A good SEO company will explain what they’re doing effectively and establish trust with its clients.

Bad SEO vs Good SEO

Bad SEO companies

Bad SEO companies treat SEO as a line item: build this many links, improve ranks by this much, and generate this much traffic. Don’t waste time communicating with clients unless you need to protect your MRR. Make guarantees to close the sale, and move the goal posts when the time comes. Send long-winded reports that clients are afraid to criticize for fear of looking ignorant. Outsource everything and enjoy the four-hour workweek.

Good SEO companies

Great SEO companies understand the underlying business goals of their SEO campaigns and plan accordingly. That means setting clear expectations, creating an open dialog with the client, learning about their costs and revenue streams, and driving conversions in a way that truly helps them. That also means knowing when to say no to a client, either for their own good or because you can’t help them in the way that they need. That kind of honesty speaks volumes.

Great SEO companies also know how to respond to industry developments in a productive way. Some bad SEO companies ignore new SEO developments to plow ahead with their tried-and-true strategy, while others latch onto every passing fad in an attempt to look innovative. Good SEO companies can tell the difference between a fad, an irrelevant update, and a meaningful update, and they act accordingly.

Joe Goldstein

Joe Goldstein

Joe Goldstein is a local SEO nerd since 2011. Director of SEO at
Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is Founder, CEO and nerdiest marketing nerd at Portent, a Clearlink Digital Agency. He founded Portent in 1994 and has been a leader in digital marketing and SEO.

Competency, skepticism, transparency

A good SEO company has to bring three things to their clients:

Technical competency

An agency must understand how search engines index and retrieve web content, potential roadblocks to each, and how to improve site visibility and performance.


They have to really think about the latest SEO trends and sound bites. Things like E-A-T come and go fast, and any good agency has to bring their own thinking to SEO strategy, rather than jumping on the latest industry reinterpretation of long-standing best practices.


Finally, an agency has to be willing and able to explain what they’re doing and why. They should not promise results. They should clearly outline the risks and benefits of each action they’re taking, then report results with data.


All good SEO companies share a few important qualities. They use ethical techniques to increase traffic across multiple industries, stay up-to-date on the latest trends and will have excellent customer testimonials.

Avoid guarantees

Additionally, you should be wary of any SEO company that guarantee to rank your site in a short amount of time. SEO is a never-ending process that takes time to see the results of, and any company that promises success overnight is one that should not be trusted.

Ricardo Velez

Ricardo Velez

Ricardo is an SEO Associate at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions.

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