I often talk to people who have lost faith in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
firms because of bad experiences. Either they saw no results, felt that they
were tricked into subscribing to a service that could not work, or that they
wasted money on a firm that did them no good. Although I agree that there
are bad SEO firms out there, I know that there are also many good ones. It's
your job to make sure you find an SEO firm that will work for you.
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Search engines are the basis of Internet existence and survival. Recent
studies have concluded that over 90 percent of all web surfers use search
engines to find what they are looking for. Thus, in order to be successful
on the Internet, your website must be search engine friendly. If people who
search the Internet for your products or services are not finding your Web
site, you need search engine optimization (SEO).
Now some of you may take on the task of optimizing your own sites. For
those people, there are plenty of how to articles on the Internet that can
help you. If you need more help, drop me an email and I'll give you some
ideas. However, many webmasters decide instead to let an SEO company handle
their marketing. Search Engine Optimization is a full time job, and many
companies need to hire someone to do it for them. If this is your intent,
you should know what to look for, and what to watch for, when selecting the
right SEO company.
1. Make Sure They, and Their Clients, are
Successful and Well Optimized
If your SEO company does not rank high on most major search engines under
their specific services, then they probably won t have the ability to get
you high ranking on yours. For example, if you re located in Boston, your
SEO company should at least rank on the first page in Google, Yahoo, and MSN
under such search terms as Boston SEO, Boston Internet Marketing, Boston Web
Marketing, or even Boston Web Design. If you found them through
pay-per-click or sponsored listings, this only means that they do not have
the ability to optimize their own websites and are forced to pay for their
In addition, it is a good idea to check the success of their clients. All
SEO companies have a client listing, if for no other reason than to offer
front page links to their big spenders. Take a good look at these clients
sites. Check for quality of content and keywords. View the source and see
how well the meta tags are structured and how well they apply to the content
given. And most importantly, go to the major search engines and find where
these clients land on the search terms they are targeting. If the SEO
company has created a successful marketing campaign for each of its clients,
chances are you re looking at a good SEO firm. However, if neither the SEO
company or its listed clients have high rankings, I would recommend you find
a firm that does.
2. Make Sure Someone Answers the Phone or
Responds to Email
Although this may sound funny, I can t stress how important it is to find
a SEO company that will be there when you need them. Before choosing an SEO
company, call them. If they pick up, you re in good shape. If they don t
pick up, but call back within 2 hours, you re still looking pretty good. If
it takes you a handful of phone calls and emails, or a number of days to get
a response, you might be in bad shape.
Say you've just received a new product that you would like to market. Say
that product is seasonal, only for the holiday season, and your ability to
sell it relies on the timeliness with which you can get it seen on the
search engines. You need a company that you can contact to put immediate
marketing efforts to your new pages and products. If it takes 3 to 4 weeks
for your SEO firm to make changes and improvements, you might want to look
for a company that can keep up with your fast-paced business and demanding
3. Make Sure They Understand How Search Engines
Keeping a website at the top of the search engines has become a science.
The best search engines frequently modify the way their databases list Web
sites, and constantly change the search criteria used to find and present
web pages. To understand the quality of a company's search engine
optimization services, you must first understand how search engines work.
Search engines list websites in two distinct manners: pay per click listings
and organically optimized listings.
Pay per click listings are the listings that appear on the top or right
side of most search engines under the heading Sponsored Links, or some
related term. This type of listing is paid for. Web sites that wish to get
top search engine placement without optimization can pay a certain cost that
is charged to their search engine accounts every time their sponsored link
is clicked on by a prospective client. Cost per click rates range anywhere
between $0.10 and $10.00 per search. Some bigger-budget eCommerce businesses
can spend up to $50,000 a month on pay per click marketing.
Organically optimized listings are the listings that appear at the top of
search engine pages without having to pay for these listings. This type of
listing is free. However, your website must be properly optimized to appear
at the top of all search engines using organic optimization. Search engines
use unique programs which send agents referred to as spiders and robots to
your Web site to collect data. Your website must be structured properly to
aid these robots in their search for information.
A quality SEO firm will know how to properly structure your website for
top organic optimization and, ultimately, top search engine placement. Watch
out for SEO firms that take your money and invest in pay-per-click
marketing. Although this will get you immediate results, it does nothing to
optimize your site in the long run, will not be as profitable as an organic
marketing campaign, and will keep you dependent on SEO companies for your
success. And pay-per-click marketing is something you can easily do
yourself; if that s the route you wish to take.
4. Make Sure They Follow-Up with Internet
In addition to knowing how to optimize correctly, an SEO firm should be
constantly investigating the Internet's most popular search engines in order
to stay aware of the latest techniques for promoting a Web site on the
Internet. If they are not giving you monthly reports on the status of your
listings, the increasing quantity of your links, and the number of unique
visitors to your site, you might not be working with the right SEO company.
These reports should not only show where your site is ranked on each of the
major search engines for each of the major terms you target, but also show
you how you have improved from the previous month and where your competitors
5. Make Sure You Constantly Know What They're
The major problem most people have with internet marketing guys is that
they don t see them everyday. It's not like these guys come into the office
everyday, or even sit down with the boss for a daily conference call. Most
of them work out of their homes, spending 12 hours a day on the computer.
Now I'm not saying that they will take your money and do nothing for you,
but it's good to keep your eyes on them like you would any employee. On the
days that they work for you, have them send you day-end reports detailing
the pages they optimized, the content they added, the keywords they
marketed, and the links they added. This will allow you a better
understanding of what they do on your clock, and allow you to keep your eye
on their progress and effectiveness.
Overall, you can find a good SEO company. There are hundreds out there.
But it is your responsibility to make sure you find the right one. Don't
just pick the first firm you find, then complain when you see no results.
Find your results before you hire any SEO company, and you will put your
business on the right track for Internet success.
About the Author:
Nathaniel Long is an Internet marketing specialist for Allied Internet
Productions. Visit their site at
or call them toll free at 800-935-1820.
January 31, 2005