If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)
This may have been correct in the business paradigm of the 19th and 20th century, but in the new paradigm of the Internet, it no longer holds true – especially if you substitute ‘house’ with ‘website’. Over This means that you must achieve good ranking in one or all of these search engines in order to reach your target customers. Because search engine optimization (SEO) is better left to an expert, this means you must choose an SEO consultant to enhance your web presence and maximize site usability, thus increasing your profits. You would choose a SEO company the same way you would assess any company you were going to purchase a service from. Find out how long they’ve been in business, and see if they’ll tell you exactly how it is they do their work. Ask them about their previous work and clients and check if you can use these clients as references. Check their methodology. Don’t expect exact specifics, but ensure they are offering more than just ‘submission services’ and ‘meta-tag optimization’. Look for their ability to perform on-page optimization, to improve site architecture, to research good keywords, and to optimize content, and to do link building. SEO doesn’t use a “magic bullet” and it takes a variety of techniques to improve search engine placement. If they have a blog, read a few of their posts and see if their techniques make sense or come across as being “tricky”.
Make sure that the SEO consultant has thorough, up-to-date knowledge and understanding of the major search engines and their algorithms. These algorithms are ever changing and improving so the consultant should be able to show that he/she keeps up with the ever changing markets by belonging to various forums, discussion groups and peer organizations. Look at their affiliations. Do they belong to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? Do they belong to any of the search engine marketing or online advertising trade associations? Who are their clients? Are their clients reputable? You can usually get a good indication of a company’s reputation by seeing who they align themselves with or who they don’t.
Another overlooked factor to check is this: Do they rank naturally for SEO related keywords? If they cannot even rank their website for even one reasonably competitive keyword phrase, this should set off some alarm bells. After all, how can a SEO company do something for you that they can’t even perform for themselves?
Search engine optimization is not a ‘once-off’ magic pill to get you to the top of the rankings, and beware SEO consultants who offer this. Ensure that your SEO consultant not only can increase your ranking but can keep you there with a maintenance program. Check to see what the long-term strategy is going to be employed on your behalf. Finally, enquire about their business methods. Do they subscribe to the Best Practices for the SEO/Search Engine Marketing Industry? Are they using white hat or black hat SEO techniques? All these are questions are important considerations for choosing the right SEO for your business.