Nielsen, the global information company that tallies Americans’ habits on internet and television consumption, reports that the average adult spends around five hours online every single day. If anything, that number should seem unexpectedly low. Think about it: More web-based businesses are popping now than any previous time in our history. We rely on web banking and e-retail to allow us the maximum amount of convenience in our daily lives. It’s a booming time to be doing business on the internet.

But if you’ve just started up a small business and are racking your brain trying to come up with ways to successfully break onto the web scene, you need look no further than local search optimization, or SEO, services. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean any of your prospective clients can find it easily. In fact, Google is becoming increasingly more advanced, now tailoring search results to what its algorithms believe its users’ interests and habits are. The only way to get inside the system is to hire a little outside help.

A small business SEO company specializes in doing exactly that. But you probably want specifics, and rightfully so. After all, you’re not going to invest the future of your brand new operation in the hands of a search marketing company if it doesn’t have the proven results to back up its promises. That’s where you go right back to the source — in this case, Google — for a little recon work.
Begin by searching for local SEO companies in your area. You’ll want to keep in mind that the higher up in the search rankings a company’s link appears, the more likely they are to be a solid, reputable and highly successful firm. Scope out the company bio. Try to find a list of clients and look at their onsite content. If this small business SEO company is the real deal, you should be able to tell by how successfully you can navigate their professional website.

You’ll want to look into a number of different agencies and ask for quotes from each based on the service you’re interested in. For example, an overwhelming majority of SEO firms are now focusing on producing high-quality, relevant content at a consistent rate. It’s become a matter of quantity and quantity, with quality taking a bit more priority. As such, a good small business SEO company should be able to wow you with its work. Once you’re properly wowed, you can trust this company to provide you with the best results to help boost your business’s visibility in the search engine rankings.

It’s not quite as simple as that, but for your purposes (as a first-time company looking to boost your online rep), it’s all you’ll need to know to get you started. Don’t forget to start sculpting your social media profiles, too, into the kind of destinations your audience would like to visit regularly. Most of all, keep your eye on the prize, and in the SEO world of 2014, that prize is always good content.