If you are a small business owner then beware of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) companies promising you the world. I am constantly getting emails from business owners who have spent up to $600 a month with SEO companies promising them they will be ranked number ONE on Google in a month.
The problem is that there is no way to guarantee your search rank and especially not in such a short time frame. Getting increased traffic to your website doesn't happen overnight. This is not to say that there are not some very good companies out there but if you are not an expert on SEO then I would certainly recommend that you do your homework before engaging any company or parting with any of your hard earned cash.
Below are some things you should take note of before talking to any SEO company.
1. Agreeing to hire any SEO company that solicits you and/or makes outrageous guarantees.
As I mentioned above there are many 'legitimate' companies that deal specifically with improving ranking, these companies however do not send you spam emails or feel the need to email you from around the world (I think you know the type of emails I am referring to). A good SEO company will be very quick to tell you that results won’t be seen for at least 6-12 months and that search engine optimisation is just a small part of a larger, more holistic marketing approach.
2. Buying hundreds or thousands of backlinks.
One of the ways that Google ranks your website is by how many other (relevant) sites link back to your site, for example, if you sell bikes, how many other bike related websites link back to your website. Unfortunately, there are now ways to actually purchase or rent hundreds of these backlinks, mostly through choosing companies referred to in number 1. The problem is, these links are more than likely not relevant, already blacklisted as spam or poor quality and this will get you in trouble with search engines.
3. Inserting keywords into every corner of your website.
Search engines like Google use highly advanced algorithms, which are mathematical equations that are constantly being updated and changed by people a great deal smarter than you and me unless of course you are actually one of the individuals I am referring to.
Basically, what this means is that any 'so called' techniques that might have worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow. Things like the overuse of keywords and Meta tags stuffed throughout your site in the hopes of improving ranking. This may have worked back in 1996 but now Google will refer to it as spam and this of course can lead to your site being blacklisted by Google.
It is important to use your keywords wisely throughout your website in well written and relevant content and in your headings and page titles.
4. Not writing relevant and 'keyword rich' content for your readers.
Take for example a website selling a variety of washing machines - this requires minimal writing so there is rarely any conflict between keywords and quality. Driving potential customers to the website takes priority over everything else. High quality writing content is not necessary as decisions to buy or not buy are made by reading the price tag and little else. With this particular style of website your 'keyword rich' content would be in the form of the brand, product description, model number and price of the items.
In comparison a legal website would require more than a price listing as far as writing 'keyword rich' content goes and good quality writing is needed to engage visitors. The content has to be compelling and persuasive to convince potential clients that their legal needs will be best met by this particular firm, however saying all this, it is still important to drive visitors to the site in order for them to be able to find out more. This is where the tug of war between quality and keywords occurs in SEO writing - the 'Holy Grail' so to speak.
Finding a happy medium between determining the right keywords to direct traffic to a website and then writing around those keywords to convert a decent percentage of that traffic into customers is a fine balancing act with which SEO writers often struggle and which requires an expert eye.
By taking note of the above you should have a better understanding of why you need to do your homework when it comes to enlisting the services of an SEO company. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and do not let them baffle you with technical jargon. I would always recommend getting feedback from their customers or research any online forums. A good referral from a friend or colleague is also a bonus.
Denise Ora - SSHED Marketing Manager/Business Advisor