Business owners who invest in Search Engine Optimization can sometimes find that their expectations have been mismanaged.
So you guarantee that you’re going to make my site #1 on Google?
And you can do this in just a few weeks?
And even though you are making some big guarantees here, you’re not going to use any questionable or black hat (i.e., potentially harmful to my web site rankings) techniques to optimize my site?
Unfortunately, most search engine optimization vendors can’t cash the checks their mouths write. So here are a few tips to help you get “no bull” SEO for your business.
Ask about their other clients
Find out who they are working with and get references for several clients. Grill them especially about who they are working with — or have worked with — in your industry and make sure they are not working for any of your competitors. It’s obviously a severe breach of ethics for a Search Engine Optimization firm to do work simultaneously for two or more companies selling the same product/service in the same marketplace. You may also ask to have an exclusivity clause built into your contract.
Ask about their backlinking strategies
A big part of many Search Engine Optimization firms’ strategies rested on their ability to essentially create “backlink spam” all over the Internet. Basically what this means is that they were manufacturing links to their clients’ websites all over the web on the assumption that Google would not be able to tell the difference between a legitimate link and the ones that they were creating — and that this manipulation would lead to better rankings for their clients. Google was finally able to obliterate this strategy though in their latest update. But, despite the ineffectiveness of the strategy and despite the risk that continuing to utilize it may ultimately hurt their clients’ rankings, many SEO firms are still using these practices.
Ask for a monthly plan and reporting
Many reputable SEO firms charge between $750 and $2000 per month, even for small business clients. At these prices, you should be entitled to a monthly report on progress, what specific tasks were performed in the past 30 days, and what tasks are scheduled for the next 30 days. A monthly conference call or meeting would also be a good idea to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
What is their approach on local listings?
Local SEO is especially important for firms that serve specific geographies or regions. Make sure that your Search Engine Optimization partner has a plan for attack in this realm and that they are monitoring success for you. Local results are given preference even over many organic results in some Google searches and you will want to make sure that there is a legitimate strategy in place to optimize your Google Places listing or listings.