If you are an online business owner, investing in search engine optimization (SEO) is an absolute must. There are millions of sites on the Internet and in order to stand out, your site must be designed and formatted in a specific way. This optimization process is very complex with a lot of variables involved, so it is best to go with a professional to ensure that it’s done correctly. Since more and more businesses are deciding to cultivate a web presence, a lot of SEO companies have sprung up in the past couple of years and it is necessary to do your research in order to choose the best one.The first thing you should ask an SEO company is what kind of tactics they employ. Do they use best business practices and employ “white hat” techniques? You want to work with a company that only uses ethical methods for optimizing your site, otherwise you run the risk of your site being penalized or banned outright.Another thing to look out for is a company’s willingness to share information with you. Are they willing to answer your questions and explain the processes they use? Or, are they being secretive and evasive about their methods? If it is the latter, you should steer clear, because they are most likely utilizing “black hat” tactics that violate search engines’ rules and regulations and will only end up negatively affecting your site.Once you feel confident you have found a reputable company, make sure you check out what others have said about them. Do an online search of their company name and see what comes up. You cannot afford to not take this step, for you will gain invaluable insight into what they are really like and if they have any unhappy customers. Although it would be nice to be able to trust a company’s claims, you just never know, so do not neglect to do a little digging.Keep in mind you will not see results overnight with SEO; rather, it is an ongoing process that is constantly changing and evolving. So, make sure the company you choose isn’t promising you overnight results and request frequent updates. If done right, SEO will yield great dividends and is a worthwhile investment—just be smart about it.