Most small businesses looking to expand their online presence hardly know what search engine optimization is – much less what to ask when looking for search engine marketing services. For a small business, it generally boils down to two questions:
- What is this firm going to do for me...? and
- How much do they cost?
If you're hiring for a position in your company, you look at experience and references…not simply how much they cost and what they say they can do. For whatever reason, this way of screening candidates for work isn't applied to search engine optimization firms.
There's a good reason why one search engine optimization firm may cost more than another… the more experience, the higher the costs. You're essentially paying for someone's time - so why not apply the same logic to hiring an SEO firm as hiring a new employee?
Relying on cost alone can set you up for failure – instead, consider these elements when hiring a search engine optimization firm
First, determine the scope of work needed on your website. Are you starting from scratch, or is there an infrastructure already in place?
Have any search engine optimization firms worked on your site before? What did they do and when?
Answering these types of questions will be necessary in determining what needs to be done so you don't end up getting something you don't need.
After determining the scope of work, you will need to know some things about the search engine optimization firm – aside from SEO, do they offer graphic design services, press release optimization, copywriting and social media marketing?
Do they have documented processes they follow? Do they use ethical link building techniques? Are they reasonably open about that and other methods they use?
Transparency is perhaps the most important – unethical practices can get your site banned from search engines
If a search engine optimization firm uses say unethical link building practices – buying as many links from as many cheap sources as possible – all they lose is your business. However, you will lose perhaps the best marketing tool you have since search engines will penalize you and your site, not whoever you hired.
In the end, as site owner, you are responsible for what goes onto your site so that's why it's important to be sure the search engine optimization firm is using permissible practices.
Beyond that, be sure to verify who will be doing and managing the job. Some search engine optimization firms may tell you their veteran SEOs will be working on it when in fact it's a novice – or they may even farm it out to another company altogether.
In essence, think of this process as hiring a new employee at your company – check references, look at search engine rankings of references, know the qualifications of the people that will be working on your site and talk with the search engine optimization firm about their techniques.
Use people with high integrity, enthusiasm, experience and who have a solid understanding of what you're hiring them for and how to be successful – follow these steps and you will be satisfied with your search engine marketing services.
About SEO Advantage®
Led by Stone Reuning, SEO Advantage®, Inc. is an online marketing and search engine optimization firm that helps businesses turn their web presence into a powerful revenue generation medium. Our clients enjoy dominance on Google, Yahoo and Bing through a suite of unique pay-for-performance search engine optimization and online marketing services implemented by a multidisciplinary team of SEO engineers, copywriters and web designers. You'll find us referenced in books such as "Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale" and the BusinessWeek bestseller "The New Rules of Marketing & PR," as well as the popular ebook "The Small Business Blogging Blueprint." Find out more today by calling us at 1-800-366-1639 or email us here.
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