sandyeggo - 5:25 am on Mar 24, 2005 (gmt 0) This is only my report - nothing above is carved in stone.
I just interviewed a dozen of the top SEO firms to take over our marketing. I can report this to you:
1 - Just because a firm costs more DOES NOT make them better SEO's. Most of the time you are interviewing with a salesman who gets paid commission, and some of their seo techs start @ $12 an hour (comforting eh?). One company, (probably the largest that I interviewed), had cheering and bells going off twice in the background during my call when someone made a new sale - just like in a boiler room. At these prices, it's not very comforting at all.. And to be honest, I was leaning towards signing with them before i heard this over the phone. The salesman aploogized to me twice for it and said that they were having an "unusually good day". They actually called me out of the blue on a cold call. How did they get my name? One of their customers is in the # 1 slot on google for a search term. I am #5. They wanted to know if I wanted help moving up positions. All I have to say is that if I were the customer in slot 1 and I knew they were soliciting business for the same page - i would be pissed.
2 - Depending on the size of your site, make sure they are adequately staffed. Ask how many employees (excluding sales and A/R). I have found that some companies are spread very thin, and of course they still want all of the money. More employees is not better all of the time, more importantly would be the ratio between the customer and the SEO team.
3 - I will say that only based on my interviews, that 70% of the top companies should not be in the top at all.
This is only my report - nothing above is carved in stone.