As with any partnership, there are various objective criteria to examine when one is choosing an SEO company to provide services for one’s website. A company’s existing portfolio can be highly illustrative. As well as highlighting past successes, it sets the stage for a prospective client to gauge the relevance of the SEO company’s experience, and whether its work with past clients will easily translate to the new partnership.

But there are vague features of the assessment process, as well. This is often an unavoidable feature of doing business, and it underscores the importance of simply being a good judge of character, with good insight into a prospective partner’s potential. This is arguably truer of partnerships with an SEO company than it is with other partnerships, because search engine optimization is an ever-changing industry, in which return on investment can be rather difficult to quantify.

We aren’t trying to justify guesswork or suggesting that the clients of an SEO company will be forever in the dark about what their money is paying for. But we are saying that those who are in the market for an SEO company should understand that a contractor’s past work and proclaimed successes can only tell part of the story. It is ultimately up to the client to determine whether a given SEO professional is capable of adapting to unexpected updates in search engine algorithms, embracing new industry resources, and generally serving the unique and difficult-to-express needs of a specific client company.

In other words, as important as personal insight is in the process of selecting an SEO company, it is at least equally important in the actual work of that company. An SEO professional must rely on judgement and problem-solving as often as he or she relies on established expertise. This is because the selection an application of SEO keywords depends on a certain amount of deduction and trial-and-error regarding searchers’ intentions and the type of content they are looking for.

These issues are underscored by a study published in the November issue of Marketing Science, which points out that the same search terms can have different, nuanced meaning depending on who is using them. Based on this premise, the study presents alternative approaches that might be employed by an SEO company to “better match actual search results with what users mean or intend when they key in specific search terms.”

The problem is that their solutions depend on resources that are not widely available. The study actually relied on the presence of filter between Google and the user, which altered individual search results according to the context of other user actions. This may represent a new stage of development in the field of search engine optimization, but for the moment it only reaffirms that an SEO company must rely on insight and experimentation to pin down the most effective keywords and provide users with the precise content they’re looking for.

So when prospective clients select an SEO company, they must rely on their own judgment to make sure the company will be capable of navigating the vagueness of the SEO landscape while also preparing to adopt valuable new resources as they come available. There is no simple formula for making correct judgements along these lines, but we find that there’s greater insight into prospective partnerships when one works local – when a client in Charlotte can visit the office of a Charlotte SEO company, review its portfolio in person, and decide whether a long-term relationship would be productive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial.