You’ve heard of Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Everyone is telling you that you need SEO and that success is driven by quality SEO.
You know you want to increase your website’s search engine rankings (SERs) but do you even know where to start or how to find a quality SEO consultant or strategist? Don’t pull your hair out just yet – I’m here to help you understand SEO and give you some tips for when you’re ready to work with a SEO company or consultant.
(This post is long but please stay with me. It will save you both time and money.)
First, what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making a web page or website more visible by search engines such as Google. People are searching for services or products like the ones you offer on the web every day by typing words into search engines.
For example, if you’re a dog trainer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and someone types “Milwaukee Certified Dog Trainer” into Google, you want your page to be one of the top results.
The highly coveted first page of Google is what everyone is aiming their SEO guns for in order to be found online and attract customers. The third page is the deepest depths of search engine purgatory seeing as hardly anyone travels past the first page of Google when searching for something specific.
So now that you know what SEO is, let’s get you (organically) to that first page, shall we?
The two main reasons your business would want to working with a SEO company or consultant is:
- The SEO experts stay up-to-date on the latest search engine algorithmic changes
- Doing it yourself could hurt your business more than it may help – costing you time, money and potential customers
Now, before you run to the first person that shows up for “SEO Expert” in the search engine, please note that many SEO companies will exploit business owners with big technical words and guarantees that you will get first page ranking. SEO is very complex and a majority of these so-called “SEO Experts” care more about your checkbook than about your business. They are unethical hustlers – giving themselves a fancy title because they know the lingo. If you are not careful, they can get your blacklisted from the search engines.
Yes, I’m a SEO consultant but I care more about helping you succeed than the size of your checkbook. I’ve trademarked the phrase “Human SEO” because it should always be “humans first, then the robots”.
To help, I’ve compiled a list of 7 helpful tips to guide you when looking for or working with a SEO company or consultant:
1. Ask the SEO Company about the types of changes they recommend for websites. Just because a website is pretty awesome looking, doesn’t mean it is search engine friendly (SEF). Some sites may need a complete overhaul while others just need some help on the coding side to make the search engines happy.
2. Do a background check on the SEO Company. Check with your network and see if anyone can refer a quality SEO consultant to you. If the company lists SEO client testimonials, ask to contact the past clients to verify that the testimonial is real. Believe it or not, there are many SEO Companies that will use fake testimonials or have their family members write some. Always check before you write a check.
3. Don’t go by the SEO Company’s ranking alone. Some SEO Companies use black hat (unethical) SEO tactics to get their website on the top of the search engine rankings. Also, the term you are using to search may not be what the quality SEO Company is using as their keywords. For example, my website won’t come up on the first page if you search for “cheap” or “inexpensive” SEO services. Remember, you get what you pay for offline and online.
4. Verify that they are the one doing the SEO work. There are many website development companies and other Internet marketing firms that offer SEO services but outsource them to teenagers or college students. Many will offshore their SEO services to India or other countries and have those “experts” remain invisible. You want to know exactly whom you are going to be working with and know that person’s reputation, as a SEO expert, is solid.
5. Transparency is crucial to quality SEO. If the SEO Company will not give you insight to their work, then you want to run. This does not mean that they should give away all their knowledge or in-house programs but rather, they should be able to tell you their procedure and give reports on keywords for both you and your competitors.
6. Understand SEO – in human terms. SEO is not rocket science but quality SEO experts use both art and science to be the best at what they do. Become familiar with the basics of SEO before you meet someone who says they are a “SEO Expert”. Big words are impressive but it’s up to you to be knowledgeable enough to know when they are pulling your chain. Guarantees and “secret sauce” are red flags for you to run.
7. Realize that SEO is a process and is not magic. There is no waving of magic wands to make your website zoom into top ranking on the search engines. Quality SEO service takes months so much patience is needed. Today you may rank at #1 but tomorrow you can have 20 new competitors. Quality SEO consultants understand this and work with businesses to develop long-term SEO strategies through online marketing, long-tail keywords, social media optimization and human (customer) engagement. Get a contract and know the deliverables at every stage.
Yes, I know this is a long post but it is important that businesses understand the difference between people who label themselves as “SEO Experts” and those that devote all their time and energy into being the best SEO consultant for their clients. The success of the SEO Company should always be in direct proportion with the success of its clients online. Quality SEO is a partnership that should be formed and nurtured for long-term success and growth.
Ultimately, it’s your decision to make – quality verses money. Now, armed with the information above, I hope you choose the former – no matter what quality SEO Company you decide to hire.