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How to Choose a Good Performance Based Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Company

Updated on January 29, 2013

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is what makes your website rank higher in search engines. For example, I have a website selling vitamins. When people search “vitamins” on Google, I want to appear on the 1st place in the search results. SEO is what does that for my website, if done right, of course.

SEO Diagram
SEO Diagram | Source

How to Do SEO

There are many things associated with a successful SEO campaign. And two parts of SEO are “on-page optimization” and “off-page optimization.”

On-page optimization is what I do to my website. If I want my vitamin website to rank high for the search term “vitamins,” I want to put quality information about vitamins on my website. This way the search engine knows that my website is about vitamins, and that I have good information that people might be looking for.

Off-Page optimization is what other websites say about my website. When other websites have links to my website (called backlinks), search engines consider my website as popular, and that helps my website’s ranking. And it is always better if the websites that backlink to my website are quality websites, and even better if they are related to my website’s topic.

There are specific ways you need to approach on and off-page optimization when you’re optimizing your website for search engines. I’ve described on and off-page optimization very briefly here. But I won’t focus on those in this hub. I will focus on how to find a good company to do the job for you at a reasonable price.

Paying for SEO

When you are new to SEO, and don’t know where to start about starting SEO for your website, I recommend hiring a quality professional SEO company. Especially for online business owners like me, it is crucial to have my website on the first place on search engines because it means sales.

When you pay for a SEO campaign, you are most likely paying for off-page optimization. Your SEO professional may suggest what to do with your website, and some may even provide exact text to put on your website. But you know what to put on your website better than anyone, so most of their work is on off-page optimization.

Build an e-commerce website, hire a company to do SEO for your website, and make money from sales. Sounds fun and easy, but finding a good SEO company is not as easy as it sounds.

Performance based SEO vs. Regular SEO

So what is the difference between performance based and regular SEO companies?

Regular SEO Company: You pay a monthly fee. They do their best to get your website on the first place on Google search results. If they don’t get you on the first place, or not even close to it, too bad, they didn’t guarantee the result. If they guaranteed the result, it would’ve been a performance-based SEO.

Performance based SEO: You only pay when you rank high. For example, I have a website selling vitamins. When I search “vitamins” on Google, my website isn’t even near the first page. If I choose to do a performance based SEO, I only pay the company when they get my website rank higher. For example, if they get me 30-21st place, I pay them certain amount, if they get me 20-11th, I pay them little more, and so on. And if there’s no result, I don’t pay.

I like performance based SEO because its rate system is reasonable. I like to pay people when they do a job for me, but only when they get the job done. I’ve tried quite a few regular SEO companies. Yes, they did some work, but they weren’t the results I wanted. I felt I deserved much more for the money I paid them. Yes, some showed me all the things they’ve done and the time they’ve spent. But so what? What is the point of all the work if they didn’t do what they’re supposed to do?

Yes, there may be quality SEO professionals who are not performance-based. But you never know how good they are before you actually pay them and see them work. So to be safe, I stick to performance based SEO. And for the remaining part of the hub, I will focus on finding a quality performance based SEO.

Things You Need Before You Look for Performance-Based SEO Companies

1. What is your keyword?

You must know your keywords before you talk to your SEO professionals. They may suggest some keywords after they take a look at your website, but you know what words are best for your website and business.

I have a website called I sell vitamins and other nutritional supplements. When people search “vitamins,” I want my website to appear in the first place. Then my keyword is “vitamins.”

One thing to keep in mind is that you want to have various options when choosing keywords. For example, since I am selling vitamins at, it would be best to rank 1st for the keyword “vitamins.” But the keyword "vitamins" is a highly competitive keyword. Think of all the big vitamin corporations like GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Centrum, and much more. I can tell my SEO company to work on the keyword “vitamins," but they will probably tell you they can't work on it, and will tell me to choose a different keyword because the keyword is too competitive. Remember, they only get paid when you rank higher. So they will try to make you choose the keyword that is easy to work on, one that is not so competitive.

So what do I do? I choose more specific keywords such as “multi vitamins,” “best vitamin c supplement,” or “discount vitamin D.” Or you can ask your performance based SEO professional to suggest some keywords that will work for your website. But once again, you know what keywords are best for your website. Don't let them choose for you; make your own choices.

2. Which webpage do you want to optimize?

When you’re first starting a website and SEO, you want to optimize your homepage (The homepage is the first webpage you see when you go to a website). But you might want to optimize inner pages of your website because you might have a different topics or type of products on different parts of your website.

I sell vitamins on my website. For my homepage, I want it to rank high for keywords that represent my website in overall, such as “vitamins,” “dietary supplements,” or “nutritional supplements.” But I have specific products I want to sell a lot of in particular, my best sellers. For example, I sell “Schiff MegaRed.” Schiff is the brand name, and MegaRed is name of the one of the bestselling omega-3 supplement in America made by Schiff. And since I have a truckload of MegaReds in my warehouse, I want to sell that more than any other products I have. So I choose “Schiff MegaRed” as my keyword, and I choose my inner page,, as the target domain name. Then what happens? When my performance-based SEO company does their job, my inner page will rank high for the keyword “Schiff MegaRed.” Why I want to do that? It is because I want to put the product right in front of my visitors. I don’t want them to come to my homepage and look for what they need. I want to give them what they’re looking for.

So give it some thoughts and choose your keywords wisely. Choose one or two for your homepage, and maybe choose one or two for inner pages as well (If your budget allows, that is).

3. What is your budget?

Set your budget before you talk to SEO companies. If your marketing budget is $200 a month, talk to SEO companies with that budget in your head. Don’t let them sell you a keyword that cost $1000 a month. They may convince you by saying something like: "What's the big deal of spending $1,000 if you can make $10,000?" But life doesn't always go as planned, so budget yourself and stick to it.

What to Look for In a Performance-Based SEO Company

There are things you need to ask your SEO companies before you choose one and pay them.

Is there a setup fee? – Some companies require setup fees. From my experience, they are few hundred dollars. My recommendation is to avoid companies with setup fees. Their excuse for setup fees is because they are doing more work on the first month. But that’s their job if they want your business.

How long is the contract? – All performance based SEO companies will put you in contract. They can range anywhere from 3 months to 1 year, or even more. For performance based SEO, you want to go with the company that has shorter contracts. Since they only get paid when you rank higher, shorter contract means they’re confident that they can get the results faster (so that they can make money). So find out the length of the contract, and the cancellation fee if you ever need to cancel early.

What happens when the contract ends? – Let’s say you are in a 6-month contract. But your contract will most likely continue as month-to-month basis when the contract ends, unless you tell them you want to stop. But some companies require prior notice if you want to cancel. So make sure you know how to cancel when you want to.

What is the price for the maintenance mode? – Let’s say you had a contract with a performance based SEO company. After a 6 month contract, they got you on the first page of Google. Now, you got to where you wanted to be, so you may choose to stop your SEO service. If you do that, you should be able to stay in the high rank for some time, but if you just stop SEO, your ranking will most likely drop because your competitors will keep doing their SEO. So there is a something called maintenance mode. After you reach your desired rank, let’s say 1st place on search results for a keyword, then your SEO company will charges you a fraction of the monthly fees you’ve been paying since it is easier to maintain than bringing something up. So ask about how much the monthly fee will decrease when you get into maintenance mode. They are usually 2/3 or ½ of the original monthly cost.

Any Questions or Comments?

When I write hubs about online business, I try to make them as easy as possible. I assume that my readers don't have any previous knowledge about online business. I do that because a big portion of online business owners are retired seniors who are looking for a new source of income, and big portion of them are not very used to computers and the Internet. And even for a young generation like me who is very familiar with computers and internet, online business is totally different than watching YouTube videos or ordering a t-shirt from online.

As I mention in my other hubs, I make a lot of mistakes. So if anything in this hub isn't clear or if you have any related questions, please leave me a comment or send me an email. Your input helps me to help others like you better.

And as always, thank you for reading my hub! :)

A Side Note

Many people have messaged me since I published this hub, asking for a recommended performance-based SEO company. I don't like to recommend marketing companies because you have to research, compare, and decide on your own to really understand how companies differ, what they promise, and get what exactly you are paying for. And although it is a sad truth, many established online business owners have their own story of being ripped off by a marketing company of some sort during their online business venture.

But for those who has no idea where to start,even though I cannot say go with this one, I would say RankPay is a good place to start. They are among top 3 search results for the keyword phrase "performance based seo" on Google, so they have a point made on knowing what they are doing. Remember the websites in the orange box in the top of the page of the Google search results are ones who paid to be on there, not because of good SEO. So when you are looking for a quality SEO company, it is good idea to avoid those in the orange box. If they can't even do SEO for themselves, tough luck they can get results on your site.

To make the long story short, if you want a starting point when looking for a performance based SEO, I recommend starting with RankPay. I've used them for one of my website, and got the results I paid for. And if you decide to go with RankPay, use promo code "SAVE" at checkout to save $50.


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    • singhrakeshs profile image

      singhrakeshs 6 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      you sharing a good information thanks for sharing

      Vote up and useful

    • bryanbaldwin profile image

      bryanbaldwin 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Good tips here for this very confusing and overwhelming topic.