Editorial: Four “must-know” tips to help you choose the right SEO firm
By Derek Gehl
Derek: One of my readers, Richard, recently wrote to ask me for some advice on choosing a company to take over his search engine optimization efforts.
Now, search engine optimization is something you can easily do yourself — and when you’re first starting out and don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on your business, I strongly recommend you do oversee your own search marketing campaigns.
Not only will you save a ton of money — knowing what keywords to use when promoting your business (as well as how and where to use them) is an essential skill for any serious online marketer to have.
But as your business and profits grow, you should be on the lookout for ways to free up your time by outsourcing time-consuming tasks.
(Remember… You’ve got to work ON your business — not in your business! It’s absolutely key to growing your success.)
And — honestly — when it comes to time-consuming tasks, search engine marketing is close to the top of the list. Taking full advantage of the massive traffic potential of the search engines is no overnight job. It can suck up many hours a week.
So as soon as you can afford to do so, you should seriously consider outsourcing your search engine marketing to a dedicated SEO company.
However, choosing that company can be difficult! There are lots of businesses out there that capitalize on people’s ignorance about SEO and make all sorts of outrageous promises they can never fulfill.
So in order to help you make this important decision — and to help you steer clear of all the scammers out there — here are four essential tips you need to know in order to choose an expert SEO company that really will drive swarms of targeted traffic to your site!
Tip #1: Don’t believe companies that “guarantee a #1 ranking”
There is no SEO company in the world that can guarantee a #1 ranking for high-traffic keywords in Google or Yahoo. If you come across a company that advertises such a guarantee, approach them with caution. They’re promising the impossible.
I regularly have students ask me about companies that “guarantee a #1 ranking with the major search engines.” But when I look at the fine print, it always includes conditions that make the guarantee worthless.
(For example: the company will get you a #1 ranking for a search term that gets absolutely NO traffic!)
The only guarantee I would consider legitimate is one that states, “We get you [enter specific results here] in [enter specific time frame here] or you get [enter percentage here] of your money back.”
Try make sure those specific results have to do with the amount of qualified traffic you get — not your listing’s position in the search results.
Remember, it’s not your ranking that’s ultimately most important — it’s the quantity and quality of traffic your SEO efforts deliver.
After all, who cares about a top ranking that doesn’t send you tons of visitors who actually want to buy your product?
Which brings me to my next point…
Tips #2: Look for companies that define SEO success as sales — not just random traffic.
A successfully optimized site speaks to human visitors as well as search engine spiders. Don’t sacrifice the former for the latter!
Yes, you have to insert your top-performing keywords in strategic locations all over your site, including your copy. But you have to balance that with the need for your site to appeal to your visitors and convert them into buying customers.
A good SEO company understands that. A bad SEO company will argue that more traffic is all you need.
But what use is traffic that costs you money — but doesn’t pay the bills?
So when you are interviewing potential SEO companies, make sure their optimization practices really focus on driving quality traffic to your site — and converting those visitors into sales.
Designing a web page that gets a high ranking in Google really isn’t all that difficult. Designing a web page that gets top ranking and has a good conversion rate is an art form — and it’s the reason why good SEO firms get paid well.
Tips #3: Are they focused on one “miracle strategy”?
Whenever I interview an SEO firm, I always make sure they have a well-rounded campaign strategy. Many SEO firms focus on a “miracle strategy” and then put all of their efforts into that one strategy.
But if you want to make sure you keep your high ranking — and don’t get booted out of the search engine results the minute Google updates its algorithm — you can’t put all your eggs in one bucket.
Your SEO campaign needs to contain a mix of strategies (such as on-site optimization, article sharing, and viral link-building) in order to deliver consistent results for years to come.
It’s the only way to guarantee that your hard-won ranking doesn’t disappear overnight.
Tip #4: Does their insanely low price make you say, “Wow, that’s too good to be true!” Well, guess what — it is.
A good SEO firm that delivers real results isn’t cheap. Depending on the size of the job, you can expect to pay at least $1000 just to kick off your campaign — and then a monthly fee of $150 or more to continue the marketing and maintenance of your campaign.
So if you come across a company offering “complete search engine optimization and submission for only $99!” — run!
When it comes to SEO, the phrase “You get what you pay for” couldn’t be more true.
And remember, before you start searching for a company to help you with your SEO, make sure you do your homework and are familiar with what it takes to get your site ranked well. A little education can go a long way in helping to make sure your SEO company provides your with the services you need to win the search engine game.
So, Richard, I hope that helps!
To your success…
Reprinted with permission from The IMC Insider Issue August 13, 2007 Issue #160
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