Have You Been Burnt In The Past By Over Hyped Promises Of Page 1 Rankings For Your Website?
Due to lack of customer knowledge and to a small number of unscrupulous SEO service providers, there is definitely some truth in the above statement.
How often have you hear comments like “SEO Is The Modern Version Of Snake Oil”
Or promises such as¬† “We Guarantee You And Your Company Page 1 Rankings For Less Than $100 A Month”.
Beware of any absolute Result Guarantees – they are impossible to achieve without fraudulent or misleading practices that will deliver minimal value as a return on your investment.
Writing for Furniture World Magazine, SEO consultant Katherine Andes advises “Beware of SEO Charlatans!”.
I recently read an interesting article at PC Mag.com by John C Dvorak. Titled “SEO Fiasco’s: The Trouble with Search Engine Optimisation”.
I’ve no doubt that Mr. Dvorak’s traffic fell from his experience, but I don’t think it was because he was employing snake oil tactics – more like he didn’t realise the impact his changes would have – and that’s where you need your SEO Professional.
So What Can You Do About This?
For a start you can define a structured way of getting the information needed to make an informed decision on selecting an SEO Professional.
My recommendation would be to go through a formal selection process involving the following steps:
- Prepare a Requirements Document
- Issue it to a selected group of companies
- Analyse the responses and select a short list of potential service providers
- Review 3 references of successful SEO projects for each supplier
- Make you final selection decision based on the above factual information
How Can You Prepare the SEO Requirement Document?
You can follow this simple template as laid out below and complete each section as indicated.
You will need to state the objective of the website (Generate leads/make online sales/increase awareness/branding etc.).
You need to specify whether the site targets businesses, consumers or both
1. Definition of SEO Service Required
State your definition as follows:
“To optimise the specified website for a target country and a set of specific keyword phrases to ensure that specific pages will rank as high as possible in organic search”.
Please confirm that your service will conform to the above definition.
2. Your Keywords and Target Country:
If you know the keywords that you wish to optimise the website for then you should provide the website URL and list up to 10 key words and a target country. Ask each supplier to comment on how they would propose to verify your selected keywords
If you do not know what keywords to use then specify 5 trade competitor websites and specify that you need to know how they would provide keyword research assistance to help you to outperform them.
Specify what if any tracking system is currently used and any assistance in implementing or enhancing the current system.
4. Questions to Ask:
Scott Buresh advises to ask a number of key questions of your potential SEO consultant.
What type of guarantee can you give me?
Many will offer no guarantee. Watch for any unrealistic guarantee that relates to keyword positioning on page 1.
If you get a guarantee on a % increase in targeted traffic for certain keywords, make sure you have a veto on selecting the keywords. You should only select keywords that are both relevant and popular. There is no benefit in getting a 100% increase in traffic for keywords with very low search volumes.
Will you work with my competitors?
It is reasonable to ask that the service provider will not work for any of your top 5 specified competitors.
How much work is expected of me?
Your SEO project will almost certainly require new content to be written. Ask who will do this work, will the company provide this as part of the service with approval by you of all changes made?
Do you envisage adding new pages over time?
If the answer is yes that indicates a higher quality SEO approach.
What do you propose around external link building?
Ask what rate of building new links is proposed (The total number of new external links per month). Link popularity is very important for assessing how quickly your page rankings are likely to improve.
Ask what method of link building is proposed/ If an automated approach is mentioned then beware as this could lead to external links of low or negative value.
Ask if you will receive a monthly report that will enable you to see which new links are added each month and to examine that links for relevance. Relevant links are those that contain keywords in or around the link. These are the type of links you should be looking for as these will get you higher link popularity with the search engines.
What information will I get in your monthly reports?
Ask for a sample of the report that they use?
The key things to look for are:
1.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Monthly keyword visibility and rankings movement (Showing a time related trend)
2.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Last months onsite content issues addressed
3.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Offsite external links activity and progress
4.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Traffic volume and trend (Overall and by keyword)
5.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Plan for next month
What is your charging model?
Ask for details of pricing and if it contains a performance related element.
Here are some thoughts on measuring the return on investment that you may find helpful when discussing pricing with your short listed SEO service providers.
Good luck with your selection process.
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