Archive for May, 2008

Choosing a search engine marketing company

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

There are many search engine optimization companies. On second thought, there are too many search engine optimization companies or SEO providers. Choosing a search engine marketing company confuses many web site owners because the majority of these companies promise that your web site will achieve first page listing within Google, Yahoo!, and other major search engines. To help clear up the confusion, here are some suggestions about selecting the right SEO firm for your site.

Do Not Bargain Shop. The Internet is usually a great place to find products at discount and bargain prices. However, if you take this same approach when pursuing SEO services, you put your website in a disadvantageous situation. SEO is a timely and laborious process involving an actual person’s time and attention. Link building, an important aspect of SEO, should be done regularly, if not daily, in pursuit of the ever-important quality Google PageRank. Only pay for a premium service if you know that the person on the other end will perform tasks such as link building regularly. The old clichГ©, “you get what you pay for,” applies perfectly to SEO companies. If a company is offering SEO for $200 a year or $50 a month, then you will likely see minimal results, if any. Expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars a month for quality SEO services that help your site regularly. The competitiveness of your web site’s keywords also plays a significant role in the end price. To be priced fairly and according to your competitive marketplace, request a quote from SEO companies that will assess your specific situation.

Compare Service Attributes, Then Price. You probably have a budget for how much you can spend for SEO. When searching for an SEO company, first compare the service details of a few companies and see whether each company offers similar services. Quality SEO companies that are up to date with the industry and what it takes to attain quality rankings usually offer similar services because there are no secrets when it comes to achieving desired results. Make sure the services include consistent one-way link building, site map creation, and monthly ranking reports so you can see the progress for yourself. Once you have narrowed your choices to a few companies that offer the aforementioned services along with optimization of your site content, then consider the price. You might be surprised to learn that some companies charge much more than others for nearly the same type of work.

First Impressions are Key. We often look at appearances first and then make a judgment. This also applies to the web site of an SEO company that you are thinking about hiring. The quality of an SEO site’s web design can tell you a lot about the company. If the web site looks professional, the company more than likely invested a significant amount of money, which is an obvious sign that they take their business seriously and are successful at what they do. Ignore the words at first and look at the images that might represent a certification or membership of some sort. These aspects show that the company is trusted by other professional firms and organizations and is worthy of your trust as well. Web-based businesses should always maintain an updated look and feel to their offering as well as have affiliations with other professional firms. Another sign of trust is a good Google PageRank. If a company site has a PageRank of 3 or higher, then the site has some quality and relevant links pointing to it. If you have not already done so, download the Google Toolbar to view PageRanks.

Ask for References and Ranking Achievements. Many SEO web sites have testimonials that praise their services. These testimonials appear in several formats but you will usually see a basic quote. Do not trust quotes, as they are often solicited. Ask the SEO company for a client’s contact information so you can speak with them about the service and results achieved. Second, ask for specific keywords that the SEO has attained quality rankings for in Google or Yahoo!. See for yourself what an SEO company has achieved for others before you buy.

Have realistic expectations. Do not expect to take over the search engines overnight just because you have a web site. Quality search engine rankings must be earned and search engine optimization companies will give your site the best chances to earn these rankings. Also, understand that SEO companies do not control search engine rankings themselves. Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. have their own unique ranking algorithms that rank web sites according to many factors but mainly the relevancy of your site content to each searcher’s query and the number of quality links pointing to the site. Search engine optimization companies simply help your site become more relevant and in tune with what the search engines are looking for when they rank sites. SEO companies cannot guarantee a page 1, position 1 ranking. Even Google states that no one can manipulate the search engine listings for an exact ranking. In most cases, SEO’s can promise results and first page listings (positions 1-10).

These are just a few suggestions when pursuing a search engine marketing firm, and undoubtedly, there are many more. SEO should be treated like an investment because many activities such as link building pay off down the line, as your site becomes a more relevant web site in the eyes of the search engines. Do not be afraid of SEO companies; there are some truly outstanding companies available to you. Just make sure to do your due diligence before you invest your advertising budget in a search engine optimization service.