How To Decide Which San Diego SEO Company Is Best For Your Business

Table of Contents

If you’re a business owner, you already know that you need to somehow compete with a plethora of other businesses, let alone the vast amount of businesses in San Diego. Marketing is one of the many tools you’ll need to use to stand above the rest, but with so many different marketing tactics available, how do you know which suits your business best? How can you take full advantage of this tactic to propel your business to the next level? Is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) the correct decision for my San Diego-based business?

Let’s dig a little deeper. SEO companies in San Diego have reached out to you promising to increase your google rankings by guaranteeing your business on the first page of Google.

That’d be a hoot, wouldn’t it? We’d like a guarantee that our hot pockets will never burn our tongues ever again but that’s just not going to happen. As what every SEO company should be saying, they don’t own Google and cannot guarantee that your business will be on the first page. We warn you not to be fooled by the marketing jargon or acronyms they use to try to convince you that they know exactly what they’re doing. It becomes difficult to differentiate who’s actually an expert or an amateur when they’re offering you their SEO services.

Now, we’re going to break it down for you on the many types of SEO professionals and clarify any questions you may be asking yourself on the clarity of each specific role. As with any SEO expert, they must be able to adapt to the ever-changing Google and its countless algorithm updates to keep up and manage a client properly and effectively. The goal of this post is to help you gain the knowledge to properly decide on how to choose an SEO company and if a San Diego-based SEO company will be the best fit for your local business.

  • Large Digital Marketing Agency – Let’s look at this through the lens of a business and not a large corporation. A large digital marketing agency will have many salesmen, digital marketing experts, and customer service agents that can handle many of your requests. These agencies have preset packages they can offer you that comes with a process they use over and over to get the job done. Sounds promising, so where’s the drawback? You’re looking at hefty monthly premiums, a great disparity between salesperson and your actual product, and their package may not be exactly what’s best for your business goals.
  • SEO Companies in San Diego  – Companies local to your San Diego-based business are typically much smaller than the larger agencies. They sometimes have the ability to customize their package to adapt to your needs. Thus, they’re able to provide a more hands-on service by establishing a strong relationship with you to get attuned to your specific requests. San Diego SEO companies may also have the benefit of having more experience and thus having more expertise on ranking a site in San Diego. Who knows the city better than the locals and having the opportunity to discuss face-to-face with an SEO agency may be better aligned with how you conduct your business.
  • In-House SEO Experts – The business is growing rapidly and you may opt to hire an SEO expert to bring their knowledge of SEO and set them specifically to use their time on your company only. Their sole responsibility is to do what large and small SEO companies are doing for you but for a full eight hours a day under your jurisdiction. There are two options: go with someone experienced or go with someone with a bit less experience but you’re able to mold them into how you see fit. This decision typically comes down to the size of your company, company culture, profitability, and growth rate. Is this a position you see staying with you long-term?
  • Individual SEO Consultants – This one can be very tricky. Your knowledge of SEO truly shines here because with independent consultants, there is a giant cloud of smoke filled with rookies and absolute SEO geniuses that fall under the same category of San Diego SEO consultants. The challenge is having the skills to actually differentiate between the two. This is one of the main obstacles we warned about earlier when we stated that there will be many consultants and agencies proclaiming to be SEO experts, which is why we feel it’s our duty to keep you well informed in the craft.

We’ve explained the market of SEO and the different paths your business can take to help its decision with hiring for San Diego SEO services.

How Is It You’ll Improve My Rankings In San Diego?

First and foremost, don’t be fooled by the age-old smokescreen that SEO agencies will try. If an answer to this question sounds even remotely similar to the upcoming answer without following up with details, be warned. “Our team of SEO experts will utilize Google’s best practices to optimize your site to the top of the search engine rankings”. Be extremely wary of word, “optimized”. This answers your question but in a very broad way without being detailed on how exactly they’re going to be doing that for your site. Pay attention and look for the specifics.

smoke screen

look beyond the smokescreen

The best SEO companies will not say anything before reviewing your site and using third-party tools like SEOquake to audit your site to examine all areas of your website to see where it needs improvement. Research should be the first and most important area that an SEO company ever does. We’re big believers in always researching your clients and knowing every bit of detail about their website, product, services, etc. before ever agreeing to help with their SEO.

Here are just a couple of techniques that SEO agencies look for while researching a website:

  • Backlink Structure – Are the links on sites with high authority? Are they generating a great amount of clicks?
  • Content – Is new content being regularly produced? Is the content relevant to the keywords it’s being clicked for?
  • Site Speed – Is your site slow?
  • Is It Mobile-Friendly – Is your website able to be viewed on a mobile phone? Is it functioning properly?

These are only some of the questions that an SEO expert should be asking themselves before giving you an answer on how they will optimize your site. From technical fixes to strategy, these tasks should be able to be tracked and measured to show their clients exactly what they are getting and how they are getting it. Communication between client and SEO agency is critical to work on a functioning game plan.

Be extra careful of link building

Link building is another aspect of SEO that you’ll need to be a bit cautious of. When done correctly and with integrity, links can help generate a mass amount of traffic to your site. As the saying goes, “It’s quality, not quantity”, and it couldn’t be more true in the world of SEO. One quality link is worth more than a thousand low quality links. The building of a low quality link can be automated and outsourced, which means there is already not much thought being given to your website and that’s exactly what you don’t want. Freelancing sites like Fiverr offer link building for as low as $5 to $10 but these links offer no substance. Eventually, Google will recognize the malpractice going on and will penalize your website. This is just another tell-tale sign that your website is not being given that much thought.

In particular, for your San Diego-based business, you want an agency or consultant that is perhaps well-connected in San Diego and even in your industry. Reaching out to authoritative sites in your industry will increase your own website’s authority but an SEO agency cannot promise how many links they can provide on a regular basis. Link building takes time and patience.

The Differences in Technical SEO, On-page SEO, and Off-page SEO

The differences these three are very important and you must be able to clarify between each to be able to ask the right questions when evaluating each candidate to be your next SEO consultant.

This is another easy curveball to throw that will help differentiate between a competent candidate and an amateur. Which of these three will you begin with to help my website. Any other answer besides technical SEO would not be correct. Technical SEO is the basic function that makes it easy for the spiders to crawl your website and index your content for Google.

Think of it this way: You may have excellent content that is absolutely loved by your readers and they want to share it with everyone they know, but there’s a slight problem, your website is having massive technical issues that they can’t relay any of the information to their friends. These are all would-be eyes you’re missing out on because of some technical difficulties your website is experiencing. Where’s the SEO company that helped provide this amazing content but could not solve some simple technical issues? Or it’s not that they weren’t able to fix it, they weren’t even able to catch it in the first place. These sort of errors should not happen, especially during crucial times like a new product, a new office, a new service being offered.

As we say these things, we caution you to be aware of the opposite. SEO companies will have packages set that will offer two out of the three SEO practices, like say Technical and Off-page SEO.

Here lies the problem with this scenario: The technical issues may have been resolved and they’re working diligently to get you authoritative links but are hardly helping you generate any new content. It would be wasteful to pay every month for optimizing images, schema markup or updating meta descriptions for the same static content that’s been on your site for months on end. There is a reason why there is a universal understanding in the world of marketing, and that is that content is king. Fresh content drives the most traffic to your site and Google recognizes brilliant new content. People also recognize when a website takes the time to bring new content for them to absorb. This gives the notion that the website is not inactive and they won’t turn to other sites to get information.

SEO companies will have a very labor-intensive first month for their new client, but as the months go on they don’t have to do much to keep those web pages optimized. They are collecting the same fee month after month for doing much less work than they did for that first month. The only exception is if you’re producing new content internally each month and the SEO company is ensuring that it’s optimized and posted. If this isn’t the case, find a company that will start with the Technical and On-Page SEO and then regularly produce high-quality content. Generating sound backlinks is a great way to enhance your strategy.

Will My Site Be First On Google?

We touched on this briefly as we introduced this post but if you want the quickest way to sniff out who’s the real deal and who’s not worth your time, ask them if they’ll guarantee you a spot on Google’s first page. If you’d like to let off a little steam from a long week, humor them. You can have a nice laugh because you know everything they say after is utter nonsense.

The unfortunate side of SEO is that your website cannot be guaranteed to be on the first page. Google has an algorithm that is comprised of hundreds and hundreds of data points they use to rank websites. The best and the worst part is that no one knows the exact algorithm; it’s a level playing field for all SEO companies. If you want to check out an updated list of Google’s many algorithms, we invite you to check out Search Engine Land.

We urge you to be open to their honest answer as to why they can’t make a guarantee. A valid answer would explain to you that due to a number of variables in the Google’s algorithm updates and competition, it’s out of their control to give such an assurance.

Mark this as a point for San Diego SEO companies to provide you with the highest probability of getting you those rankings because they can offer you a custom plan. San Diego SEO companies can offer services that guarantee to execute the plan that you both come up to give your business the best chance of succeeding.

What is Local SEO?

What is San Diego Local SEO? Local SEO is all the best practices associated with ranking your business locally. Remember we spoke of Google constantly updating its algorithms? Google has been steadily updating its algorithm to give much more importance to local search

Go Local

Google prioritized local with an update back in 2014 called Pigeon. Once again, google updated it back in 2016 with an additional importance on local results, which is referred to as Possum. The most recent update for Google’s local algorithm update is known as Hawk, which was a change to how the local filter works. With this update, Google still seems to be filtering out businesses in the same building as you, but it’s not filtering out as many businesses that are close by.

What do all these updates mean for your business? Well, historically it has been difficult for businesses outside of physical city limits to show up for a query for another certain city. For example, if you searched “San Diego Plumber” a plumber located in Del Mar would have a hard time showing up in the search rankings. Of course, Del Mar is part of San Diego county, but it’s not within San Diego city limits.

Yelp became even more important on the search engine results page for local businesses to stand out. Yelp still takes the space in several organic listings when searching locally. Google is paying more attention to where you physically are located and tailoring searches accordingly. This is why your searches are appearing much differently than those who are searching for the same thing from a different location.

Is a San Diego SEO Company right for me?

There is a lot to say about Local SEO but our goal is to arm you with knowledge to know which SEO would be best. You want a San Diego SEO company that knows exactly how to maneuver your business to rank high in Local SEO.

You want your SEO company to list your company on prominent directory listings. Google classifies this as a citation. When you have a plethora of accurate and consistent citations, it helps your local seo presence stand out. Consistency is key across these directories.

NAP – yes, we all could use one around 2 p.m. but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. NAP is the acronym for Name, Address, and Phone Number. You want consistency when applying NAP across those directories to stay in Google’s good graces.

Schema – no, there’s no joke to start this one off but we’ll try next time. Be sure they implement Schema on your website with local information like the address and phone number. has a few options that businesses can implement as part of the site or in the footer to help your site rank locally.  Another word for schema is “markup” so don’t be quick to throw an SEO company to the wolves if they say it differently. Markups help search engines understand where your business is located and influences local rankings.

Lastly, Google Business Profile should be heavily utilized by your SEO company. Your account should be thoroughly built and a Rel Publisher Tag should be added to your website to connect your Google+ page to your site as well. This enables the knowledge graph to show up on the Search Engine Results Page for branded searches.

Use Your Own Network To Gain Insight


Being a San Diego-based business, you’ve come in contact with many you may deem as connections. We’d say you can always start with your very own network to find a San Diego SEO company that’s really great at what they do. We’re not saying you go straight to hiring someone because they fall within your network, we’re saying it’s a great place to start. Use the questions we gave you earlier and test them to see if they’re right for you. Take into consideration if they have the traits that you’re looking for as well. They may be perfect for the job, they’re great at getting results and are in line with your plan but if perhaps they have conflicting clients in the same industry. This can be a red flag.

We advise to have at least three prospective SEO companies. In the aforementioned, this SEO consultant can have everything you need and want but their values are not aligned with you. Do a quick research on some of their previous clients or keep tabs on them in their social media. You may realize that they conduct themselves differently after the initial interview process.


We’d like you to be very careful when evaluating an SEO company because this is a very delicate situation. We don’t want you to choose exclusively on price or experience. As with the most common rationale, when you go with the lowest price you usually get what you pay for. We want to tell you that to not rush into an agreement just because an SEO company has years of experience or have experience with a competitor or in your field. It’s definitely warranted in importance but we don’t want you to lose sight of all the criteria that we mentioned above. There are many times when relevant experience doesn’t always come above an energetic newcomer who’s willing to do what it takes. As long as the newcomer is able to get it done and knows exactly what they’re doing, that passion and lack of experience can open a lot of opportunity and creativity. The amount of dedication a newcomer can bring is priceless.

Measure everything

Data analysis

Transparency is everything. Will your new San Diego SEO company be completely up front with the entire strategy, with all of their data, and tell you exactly all the results from the strategy. This is where we like to emphasize communication and it can go a long way for both parties. Before the strategy is even mentioned we highly advise that both you and your SEO company are on the same page. You may have one expectation but the agency was going in another direction. Every SEO company may not be a good fit and vice versa. For us, at The Ad Firm, we evaluate each business and heavily research their website and product before ever deciding of moving forward.

Agreement upon what success means is critical as well. Discuss this up front and agree what success means to you. If organic traffic to your site is success or perhaps a couple of more phone calls that lead to sales is success, be honest with what you want. Here are a couple of metrics for you to gauge what a solid SEO company will share with you on a successful campaign.

  • Keyword Rankings
  • On-page Metrics (Bounce rate, session duration, etc.)
  • Conversions
  • Return on Investment (ROI)

We’d like to focus on ROI because this will justify your decision if you’d like to keep going with the SEO services of this agency or not. The ROI is not as clear with SEO because it takes time, money, expertise, and patience to rank a site. Again, communication is key. Think about your own budget, your time commitment, how much you’re willing to spend, and the progress that has been made to evaluate potential increased revenue if you wish to continue.

Take into consideration Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). It’s important for you to know what to optimize, where to optimize, and who to optimize when you try to apply CRO to your website. Data, data, data. At The Ad Firm, we use a quantitative data analysis to produce exact numbers regarding on how people behave when they’re on your website. These numbers can provide insight on what action to take to initiate engagement when customers are on your site. As an example, this analysis can tell you the first page they go to when they enter your site, the features they spend the most time with, which links led them to your site, etc. Now, you don’t need to follow your gut for the next step when you have all the information in front of you guiding you to the best option.

Who We Are

Here at The Ad Firm, we’re crazy about numbers. We look at anything and everything that has quantifying data to make our decisions. As we’re heading into a new market in San Diego, with our base being in Carlsbad, we’re ready to unleash all of our expertise and all of our knowledge to gather the most data to help increase your San Diego-based business’ traffic and ultimately, revenue.

Our first office in the OC first opened in 2009 and we’ve helped countless businesses achieve their goals and we have our sights to help San Diego. Check out some of our testimonials. Our scientific approach allows us to be completely transparent with every client to show them exactly what they’re getting, how they’re getting it, and the potential for future results. We use our state-of-the-art analytic and data tracking software to know exactly what our clients need and we personalize each strategy to make sure it’s aligned with their needs.

We hope by now that you’re well-informed in choosing the best San Diego SEO company for you. We’ve equipped you with many techniques to weed out the solid from the amateurs. The marketplace is crowded with almost everyone claiming to be an expert. Choose wisely when hiring for SEO services. If you’d like to learn more about The Ad Firm and how we plan to set San Diego ablaze with the best San Diego SEO services, be sure to browse around and give us a call. We’d love to hear from you!

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