As a business owner who has a website for your company, you’ve probably heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To put it in simple words, SEO is a combination of on-site and off-site strategies that improve your website’s ranking within search engines. It is important for your website to rank well so that your existent and potential customers can easily find you online.
Besides that, SEO is also an art and a science that requires time, dedication, research, and extensive knowledge of search engine’s inner workings. Through training and experience you could SEO your own website, but more often than not it makes better sense to hire a professional.
When you should outsource SEO
– When you don’t have enough time and/or manpower. If you are running a small business, quite often you are your own accountant, lawyer, marketer, and a hundred other hats you get to wear on a daily basis. Depending on your daily schedule and availability of other employees, adding another task might not be an option.
– When it’s not your cup of tea. All of us have strong and weak skills, and the strong ones probably defined your career path. So if you are a great plumber and a handy man, it doesn’t mean you’ll be just as good with HTML and SEO. Of course, you can teach yourself any skill, but sometimes all the time and effort that goes into learning are not worth it.
What to expect from an SEO pro
With an abundance of internet marketing companies and individual SEO “gurus” and “experts,” it gets more and more difficult to find someone reliable. Many self-proclaimed experts take advantage of the complicated nature of SEO and lack of “SEO literacy” among business owners. As a Maryland internet marketing firm, we’ve had a few clients that came to us because their SEO specialist suddenly disappeared on them. Yes, that happens! Don’t become a victim of a bogus SEO company. Here’s what your SEO company should do:
1. Offer a clear explanation of SEO and the company’s work process
From an expert’s words, you should be able to build a clear picture of what SEO is and how it works. If you are more of a visual learner, the expert should refer you to ebooks, blogs, or infographics that break down the concept. After the first meeting or a phone call, you should leave with a general idea of the company’s SEO process.
When the company claims its SEO method is “top secret,” walk away. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be open with you about their service. If you are getting confused and frustrated, the expert is either trying to confuse you on purpose or he/she just doesn’t know how to lose the “SEO jargon” and talk to you in plain English. Either way, find someone who can do better.
2. Promise reasonable results
“Rank #1 on Google today” – I bet at least once you’ve come across someone advertising this. Sounds enticing, right? Who doesn’t want to be number one? Beware of “experts” who guarantee first position rankings, because there’s always a catch:
– What you want are high rankings for relevant keywords that will generate traffic. The key word here is “relevant.” As an example, ranking your recipe website #1 for “blue fly massage” is easily achievable, but it won’t help your business at all.
– With Google there’s never a guarantee of anything. The search algorithms constantly change, which makes ranking a highly dynamic concept. Even if you are on top today, doesn’t mean you’ll be there the next morning.
– Watch out for “black hat” SEO. When someone promises you great results overnight, they might plan on bending some rules to deliver. Any shady SEO activity is punishable by the search engines, and can get your website in A LOT of trouble.
A good SEO company can get you on the first page of the search results for keywords relevant to your industry. However, no one can guarantee you #1 ranking unless they are working for Google.
3. Talk to you about your business
When your SEO contractor shows no interest in your business and doesn’t ask any questions, get wary. Simply looking at your website is not enough to formulate a successful SEO strategy. The SEO expert should ask you about your goals, your business model, and most importantly, about your target audience. This information is required to tailor an SEO strategy to your business’s specific needs, and any good SEO specialist would ask you these questions.
4. Discuss reporting process
At the end of the day, what you want as a business owner is more phone calls, emails, inquiries, and – ultimately – more sales. You expect results from your investment in SEO, and your contractor should know how to measure them and report. There are analytics and call tracking tools that are designed to measure website traffic, leads and overall online visibility of your business. If your SEO expert doesn’t have anything like that set up, his services are most likely bogus.
Keep this checklist in mind when you are having your first consultation with your SEO specialist. Contact us with any questions regarding SEO for your company’s website. We will be more than happy to help!