6 Keys To Look For In An SEO Company

Written by Matthew Ludden / December 1, 2023 / 15 Minute Read
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Learn the importance of experience, understanding of evolving SEO strategies, and the value of detailed documentation for long-term success. Uncover how Valve+Meter’s multifaceted approach can elevate your online presence, ensuring your SEO investment is effective, adaptable, and aligned with your business goals.


An Indianapolis SEO Agency's Guide To Choosing An SEO Company

Your business doesn’t need to include dozens of marketing professionals to understand how Google has transformed how consumers find businesses, products, and services. While referrals from previous clients, word-of-mouth, and traditional advertising may still play a role in the sales process, building a strong organic online presence is essential for every business.

The first step in building your online identity is a website that showcases your business. No matter how beautiful and incredibly designed a website is, you’ll need to promote it. Generally, there are two ways to market your business online: buy it and earn it. While paid marketing services are invaluable for short-term results, earning organic search results has a greater return on investment (ROI). Search engine optimization (SEO) delivers the long-term ROI to attract, engage, and convert potential clients from organic search.

Valve+Meter Performance Marketing designs and executes comprehensive data-driven marketing for a wide range of businesses. Across all industries and target markets, SEO is key.

Our Indianapolis-based SEO team has compiled key factors all business leaders should consider when building SEO campaigns and looking for a good SEO company to increase your website health.

Key Takeaways


  • It’s essential to choose an SEO company with a solid history of successful SEO campaigns. This entails scrutinizing their past work, as there’s no official certification for SEO expertise.
  • The dynamic nature of the digital landscape requires an SEO company that is adaptable and knowledgeable about the latest trends and algorithm changes. Look for companies that employ a multifaceted approach, combining content strategy, user experience, technical know-how, and trend analysis to build resilient SEO campaigns.
  • Opt for an SEO partner who documents their strategies and has a clear vision for the future, reflecting an understanding that the digital landscape and SEO are continuously evolving. The right agency should provide a flexible and adaptable strategy, akin to a roadmap, guiding the continuous enhancement of your online presence to keep pace with SEO trends and best practices.

What Is The Goal Of Search Engine Optimization?

Organic search traffic refers to website visitors who arrive on your website through non-paid search engine results pages (SERPs).

For instance, if someone in Indianapolis searches for “best running trails,” they will see a range of results that may include sponsored (paid ads) and organic results. Organic results include text, images, videos, and features like People Also Ask and Local Map Pack.

There’s a familiar saying in SEO: “The best place to hide is page 2 of Google.” This is because data overwhelmingly supports that users are most likely to choose results higher in the organic results.

The primary goal of SEO is to improve your website’s visibility. A good SEO company will take steps to research, plan, execute, and analyze strategies to strengthen a website. In the case of the results above, Great Runs is well-established with over 29K visitors and 76K backlinks. For a local Indianapolis website like Indy Runs to move from third to first in SERPs may be difficult for such a broad term.

SEO experts enhance content, structure, and technical aspects to align with search engine algorithms. The long-term benefits of SEO campaigns are to improve the overall health and rank a domain higher for specific, relevant queries.

Organic SEO #1
The top traffic source for all websites is organic search (HubSpot, 2022)
Top 3 68.7%
Over two-thirds (68.7%) of all clicks go to the top three organic search results (First Page Sage, 2023)

What to Look for in an SEO Company: 6 Key Criteria

The SEO industry has many options but not all SEO services deliver the results you need. While most SEO agencies provide a full range of services, finding the right SEO company that aligns with your business’s needs and overall goals requires some research.

When you choose an SEO firm, keep these 6 key criteria to keep in mind:

1. Experience and Proven Track Record

SEO is a long-term investment and when done properly the best SEO company for you becomes an invaluable partner.

Nearly all marketing agencies claim SEO expertise, but you should always vet the agency’s work. Unlike a Google premier partner that confirms the credibility of paid search specialists, there is no certification for good SEO companies.

The wrong advice can take you way off path.

Let’s consider our earlier Google Search for running trails in Indianapolis. You could follow Indy Runs’ advice and find yourself on a quiet jaunt on the crushed limestone of the Central Canal Towpath with views of Butler University, Newfields, and Fairbanks Art and Nature Preserve. Or, you could find yourself running along uneven sidewalks and crossing endless streets from Holiday Park to Meridian Hills based on the recommendation of a national blog

Choosing an SEO company should focus on you. SEO is more than just keyword rankings, some blogs, and backlinks. Digital marketing requires proficiency in many tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, SEMRush, Ahrefs, and others to develop SEO processes that drive real and lasting results for your own business.

The right SEO strategies require experts in your industry with a proven track record of success in bolstering search engine rankings and driving organic traffic. Good SEO companies don’t wait for you to ask for data from other clients; a reputable agency delivers documented results from day one.

2. Understanding of SEO Strategies

Understanding SEO strategies is vital for selecting the right SEO company. The digital landscape is dynamic, with search engines like Google continually updating their algorithms. These changes can significantly impact SEO effectiveness, making adaptability a key quality in an SEO provider.

A one-size-fits-all SEO plan weakens your long-term health.

In the SEO industry, there are often packages offered on websites and included as part of a sales pitch. Weathering changes in algorithms and user behaviors can be a daunting task. This is often why SEO is described as a marathon. There will be times when you feel in stride and others when you are ready to break down and abandon all hope. The best SEO company feels like a running partner. When someone is by your side, you don’t go it alone. With an entire team focused on accomplishing SEO goals and achieving higher rankings, a knowledgeable SEO firm is invaluable.

Effective SEO companies, like Valve+Meter, recognize the importance of a multifaceted approach. They combine robust content strategy, user experience, technical know-how, and trend analysis. This diverse mix ensures resilience against algorithm changes and enhances overall campaign strength.

The primary objective of any SEO company is to make your website easily discoverable by your target audience. On-page optimization is a critical component of this, involving keyword optimization to clarify your offerings to search engines and users. This strategy helps search crawlers accurately index your site, while a focus on user experience ensures visitors find what they need efficiently.

A proficient SEO company should have a comprehensive grasp of both on-page and off-page SEO techniques. Inquire about their strategies for content, how they plan to enhance your site’s user experience, and their methods for staying ahead of search engine algorithm shifts. Their ability to interweave these elements effectively is crucial for improving your website’s search engine rankings and overall digital presence.

3. Documentation and Long-term Strategy

All digital marketing understands your digital presence evolves in tandem with shifting search algorithms, user behavior trends, and your business objectives. Therefore, a seasoned SEO agency understands the nuances of SEO services and will always provide clear documentation of immediate SEO activities and vision for the future.

Planning leads to success.

You wouldn’t show up at the starting line of the Monumental Marathon unprepared. Runners train for weeks ahead of a marathon and arrive prepared physically and mentally ready with the right shoes, apparel, nutrition, and hydration plan to cover ground from Lucas Old Stadium to Broad Ripple and back to the State House.

When you choose an SEO company, they must understand the importance of documentation. By recording your SEO goals and regularly tracking results, the right SEO agency provides a roadmap for your digital journey. This ongoing record-keeping is more than just a ledger of past actions; it’s a dynamic tool enabling your SEO partner to pivot strategies as market conditions change.

A well-documented SEO plan serves as a blueprint for success. It allows for the replication of effective tactics, scaling as your online presence grows, and provides the flexibility to revise strategies that may not yield the desired outcomes.

This approach is true for local businesses aiming to strengthen their online presence in specific Indianapolis neighborhoods or brands targeting a broader, national audience.

Ultimately, selecting an SEO agency is about forging a partnership that grows over time. A documented strategy is not just a static plan; it’s a living document that evolves and adapts, mirroring the ever-changing landscape of SEO. This approach ensures that your online presence is not only maintained but continuously enhanced, keeping pace with the latest trends and SEO best practices.

4. Transparency in Methods

The best SEO companies focus on sustainable growth and execute SEO strategies that adhere to search engine guidelines. When you choose an SEO company, steer clear of any agency that cannot offer complete transparency in methods. An SEO strategy must prioritize people-focused content that engages visitors with relevant information about your products or services.

SEO services should focus as much on user experience as boosts in algorithm visibility. Afterall, you don’t need more website traffic alone. Businesses need an SEO strategy that delivers sales qualified leads and generates revenue.

Transparency provides more control over your success.

When SEO agencies promise results but cannot provide transparency, the risks are high. The term “black-hat SEO” describes unethical methods, such as keyword stuffing, duplicate content, cloaking, paid and manipulative links. Black hat SEO is the equivalent of taking shortcuts in a marathon – they may seem like a fast solution, but the risk of getting caught and the ensuing penalties can be detrimental and long-lasting.

When it comes to SEO, the path to long-term success is much like preparing for a marathon. Just as cutting corners in a race like the Monumental Marathon can lead to disqualification, employing ‘black hat’ SEO practices can have serious consequences for your website’s ranking and reputation. Choosing an SEO company committed to ethical practices, particularly adhering to Google’s guidelines, is paramount.

Be skeptical of firms promising instant top rankings or dramatic results in an unrealistic time frame. Remember, SEO is an ongoing journey, not a sprint.

Ethical SEO practices involve clear, open communication about strategies and techniques. Like a well-documented marathon training plan, an ethical SEO agency will provide a clear roadmap of their methods, ensuring you’re not left in the dark. Link building, for instance, should focus on earning high-quality, relevant links, not on purchasing backlinks or engaging in dubious exchange programs.

Partnering with an SEO company that values ethical practices is crucial. This approach fosters not only the enhanced performance of your website but also upholds the integrity and credibility of your brand.

5. Customization of Strategies

What has worked for one business may not work for yours. Search engine optimization is diverse with dozens of specialized focuses. A local business serving a specific geographic area needs a local SEO agency whereas retailers with a national footprint benefit from ecommerce SEO. For nearly every industry, there is an SEO agency with a distinct value proposition.

Choose an SEO company that has the capability to customize search engine optimization.

Keep the focus on your business, not the SEO provider.

Every business has its own identity, goals, and audience, making a one-size-fits-all SEO strategy ineffective. A good SEO agency recognizes this and offers customized strategies that align with your specific business objectives.

Like a coach who understands an athlete’s unique strengths and weaknesses, your ideal SEO provider should take time to understand your business and craft a strategy that fits your goals.

In the case of Valve+Meter, we are more than an SEO firm. As a leading digital marketing company, we employ math before marketing especially in our SEO work. Our strategists collaborate with you to learn your business’ strengths and opportunities. Our specialists then research strategy using Google Analytics, Search Console, and proprietary tools to build customized strategies.

This bespoke approach goes beyond generic packages, ensuring that the SEO plan resonates with your brand, audience, and industry specifics. An SEO agency should focus on your business and ensure the tools and tactics will yield the results you need.

6. Clear Communication and Reporting

A key trait of a reliable SEO company is its commitment to transparent communication and reporting. The best SEO company practice is to start with collaboration between your team and their specialists.

If you choose an SEO company with clear communication, you typically earn faster results, reduce unnecessary marketing activities, and learn more about digital marketing.

Maintaining open channels leads to success.

Remember you control your brand’s identity. The right SEO agency focuses on delivering the best results for you. This means keeping you informed about the strategies being implemented, providing regular updates on your website’s performance, and delivering clear reports that showcase the tangible results of their efforts.

Inquiring with your prospective SEO agency about the frequency and metrics of their reporting is crucial. It’s like getting regular updates during a marathon on your pace, distance covered, and adjustments needed to reach the finish line successfully.

No matter how accomplished, well-prepared, and determined an SEO company is, the way people are searching online is constantly changing. A high level of communication ensures you’re always in the know and can see the direct impact of their SEO work on your business’s digital growth. 


In conclusion, when looking for the right SEO company these six key criteria are essential:

  1. Experience and Proven Track Record: Choose a company with a robust portfolio and a history of successful SEO campaigns.
  2. Understanding of SEO Strategies: Ensure the company is adaptable and knowledgeable about current SEO trends and practices.
  3. Documentation and Long-term Strategy: Look for an SEO partner who plans strategically and documents their process for long-term success.
  4. Transparency in Methods: Opt for a company that uses ethical SEO practices and is transparent about their strategies.
  5. Customization of Strategies: Your SEO strategy should be tailored to fit your specific business needs and goals.
  6. Clear Communication and Reporting: Effective communication and regular reporting are key to understanding the impact of your SEO efforts.

Remember, the right SEO company is more than a service provider; it’s a partner in your business’s growth and online success. Keep these criteria in mind to make an informed decision that will benefit your business in the long run.

How to Choose the Right SEO Service Provider

With the six key criteria guiding your research, choosing an SEO agency requires a few additional steps. There are many digital marketing agencies and even more businesses that offer partial services. Consider the following when you are looking for the right SEO agency for your business:

  1. Research Potential Agencies: Start by compiling a list of potential SEO providers. Look for agencies with good reviews, strong online presence, and relevant industry experience. Utilize business networks, online forums, and professional connections for recommendations.
  2. Evaluate Their SEO Expertise: Investigate the depth of their SEO knowledge. This includes their proficiency in keyword research, content optimization, link building, and adapting to the latest SEO trends. Check if they are well-versed in both the technical and creative aspects of SEO. Consider if they specialize in any particular types of SEO, such as:
  • Local SEO: Focusing on optimizing for local search results.
  • B2B SEO: Tailoring strategies for business-to-business interactions.
  • SMB SEO: Customized approaches for small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Enterprise SEO: Large-scale strategies for major corporations.
  • E-commerce SEO: Specializing in online stores and e-commerce platforms.
  1. Examine Their Portfolio and Case Studies: Review their past projects and case studies to gauge their expertise and the results they’ve delivered. This will give you an insight into their working style and the types of businesses they’ve successfully managed.
  2. Consider SEO Budget and Pricing: SEO pricing on the first page of a website is a warning sign that the sales process is more important than your success. When search engine optimization is executed properly, it operates as a revenue generator not a cost for your business. SEO is a long-term investment that can transform how you view digital marketing.
  3. Ask About Their Strategy and Approach: Inquire about how they plan to improve your SEO. Credible SEO agencies should be able to provide a clear, strategic plan tailored to your business needs. This plan should include short-term and long-term SEO goals, tactics to achieve them, and key performance indicators.
  4. Communication and Reporting: Assess how the agency plans to communicate with you. Regular reporting on the progress and performance of your SEO campaign is crucial. Ensure they have a systematic approach to reporting and are willing to have regular check-ins.
  5. Consider the Long-term Partnership: SEO is not a one-off task, but an ongoing process. Look for an agency that views its relationship with you as a long-term partnership, showing commitment to continuously optimizing and improving your SEO strategy.

By following these steps, you can select an SEO service provider that not only understands your business goals but also possesses the expertise to elevate your brand’s online presence effectively.

Beyond Technical SEO Expertise: The Competitive Edge of Performance Marketing

When selecting an SEO company, technical expertise in on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO is crucial. A proficient SEO agency is adept in advanced practices such as HTTPS security, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and schema markup. These components enrich the user experience and play a significant role in elevating a site’s search engine visibility and ranking.

Because the right SEO agency can exponentially improve your online presence, consider the advantages of aligning with a performance marketing agency. A full-service marketing agency goes beyond traditional SEO tactics, focusing on driving revenue through comprehensive marketing activities.

Performance marketing agencies, like Valve+Meter Performance Marketing, offer a distinct advantage. They are not just SEO specialists; they are equipped to fuel the growth of local, national, and international businesses. Integrating SEO with a broader digital marketing strategy, and choosing an SEO agency within a digital marketing firm ensures that every aspect of your online presence works harmoniously towards common business objectives.

One of the key benefits of partnering with a performance marketing agency is its capability to deliver a wide range of digital marketing services. This includes website design, lead generation, conversion rate optimization, branding, and creative services. Such an integrated approach ensures that your SEO efforts are not in isolation but are part of a larger, cohesive strategy aimed at boosting your overall digital footprint.

For instance, while SEO can drive traffic to your website, conversion rate optimization ensures that this traffic translates into tangible actions, such as sales or inquiries. Similarly, effective branding and creative strategies can enhance the recognition and trustworthiness of your business, complementing your SEO efforts.

Valve+Meter Performance Marketing exemplifies this approach. As an Indianapolis-based agency, we are well-versed in the nuances of local and broader markets. Our team’s diverse skills and experience mean they can tailor their strategies to meet various business needs, whether it’s enhancing local visibility, expanding national reach, or making an impact on an international scale.

In summary, while all SEO agencies should possess strong technical SEO skills, those that are part of a performance marketing agency bring additional value. Their comprehensive approach to digital marketing ensures that all aspects of your online presence are optimized for success, driving not just traffic but also revenue and growth.

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FAQs: Navigating the Complex World of SEO Companies

When you meet with a potential SEO company, it’s crucial to ask specific questions to gauge their expertise and suitability for your needs. Inquire about their experience in your industry, their approach to keyword research, their strategies for link building, and how they plan to measure and report progress. Understanding their approach to these key aspects can provide insights into their capability to handle your SEO needs effectively.

Hiring an SEO company can bring a wealth of benefits to your business. SEO experts have the knowledge and experience to optimize your website effectively, drive more organic traffic, and improve your online presence. They stay updated with the latest trends and algorithm changes, ensuring that your SEO strategy remains effective over time. Hiring a professional SEO team can also save you time and resources, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.

SEO companies specialize in optimizing your website to rank higher on search engine results pages. They conduct various activities such as keyword research, content optimization, technical SEO improvements, link building, and more. Their goal is to increase your website’s visibility, attract more organic traffic, and ultimately drive business growth. They also provide ongoing analysis and adjustments to ensure the SEO strategy evolves with changing search engine algorithms and market trends.