Every business needs a little help from time to time. And plenty of companies have benefited greatly from partnering with a digital marketing or SEO agency. However, the unfortunate reality is that not every SEO agency delivers positive results. In worst-case scenarios, poorly implemented SEO tactics can even damage a company’s visibility online. To help you avoid that fate and ensure that you team up with a reputable SEO agency, check out these four best practices for vetting marketing companies:

Shop Around

SEO services don’t come cheap; the decision to hire an outside firm to handle your SEO efforts is a big one, and it should be treated as such. This means that business owners must shop around to determine which agencies they can afford to work with and which are cost-prohibitive. While it may be tempting to sign on with the first agency that impresses you with a proposal, know that shopping around is crucial to getting a good deal with an SEO agency.

Review Previous Clients

Many modern marketing agencies cater their services toward niche markets. Thankfully, this means that you should be able to find an SEO partner that has experience in your industry. Even if your business manufactures relatively obscure products like 48 well plates, for instance, there are sure to be SEO firms that are familiar with your field. Take the time to read previous client reviews and ask any prospective SEO partner if they’ve worked with a business similar to yours.

Ask for a Sample

SEO tactics can take months or even years to produce solid results. Still, that shouldn’t stop business owners from asking for SEO sample work from potential partner agencies. Don’t be afraid to request a landing page or even a list of SEO tips to follow; an agency that isn’t willing to meet you halfway in the interview process isn’t likely to be flexible down the line either.

Beware Grandiose Promises

If something sounds too good to be true, then it almost certainly is! Odds are, you’ve come across a marketing “expert” who has promised you massive and immediate returns from an SEO investment. Beware of these marketing firms. Predicting SEO performance is difficult for even the most informed professionals –– so watch out for SEO hustlers who are just looking to take advantage of your business. Lastly, never parter up with a company that employs black-hat SEO tactics.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right SEO agency partner can be a tricky prospect, but getting this decision right could make a big difference for your brand. Remember to keep these tips in mind the next time you’re looking for a marketing firm.