Ten Considerations When Hiring a Search Engine Optimization Company
by Robin Nobles
If you’re in the market to hire a search engine optimization company, you probably feel bombarded with promises of #1 rankings and instant success. But how do you know which claims are important and which to believe, and which are classic snake oil pitches? Let’s look at ten important items that you need to think about if you’re considering hiring a professional search engine optimization firm.
Get prepared, because search engine optimization work is very expensive. And with few exceptions, you get what you pay for in this business. If you find an SEO company that’s cheap and whose Web site resembles a used car lot, trust that you’re not going to get quality work.
How much should you be prepared to pay? That’s a difficult question, because it depends on many factors. First, if you’re going after highly competitive keyword phrases, you may have to pay more than if your keyword phrases are focused and fine tuned. If your site is enormous, and if you want each page optimized, the cost will be more. If you want to set up new sites to bring in traffic, that’s a different charge. Or, if your site is using difficult technology, the cost may be higher.
Some SEO firms now offer a pay-for-placement plan, where each keyword has its own price category, depending on the number of search results and degree of competition. Still other companies offer a pay-forclick-through plan. Another consideration is that most SEO’s require a portion of the fee to be paid in advance. It might be 50 percent, or in some cases, 100 percent of the initial fee.
In any event, unless you’re simply wanting to hire a consultant for an hour or two, be prepared to spend at least a thousand or two in getting your site optimized by an expert.
2. Understand what You’re Getting for the Price
Most SEO companies offer various packages that include certain services, and you can choose to add on additional services from there.
So, find out exactly what is included in the package price. Does this include submitting through the pay inclusion programs? Which engines and directories are included? How many information or doorway pages will be created? Does this include maintaining the site after results are achieved? How many keyword phrases do they work with? Does the cost include building link popularity?
If you have a brand new site and are wanting “instant” traffic, you may want to go with a firm that will purchase keywords for you through one of the pay engines like GoTo. You’ll also want to make sure that the SEO firm submits your pages through the various engines’ pay inclusion programs.
Yes, these are added costs to you. But, it can take literally months to see results through regular search engine optimization strategies. If you have a brand new site with no traffic, or if you’re anxious to get traffic going for a special promotion or holiday sales, purchasing keywords through the pay engines and paying to submit to the engines will boost your site’s visibility much faster.
If the SEO firm you’re considering has a guarantee, study that guarantee and all of the “fine print” carefully. If they’re guaranteeing to increase the traffic to your site, that’s fine. If they’re guaranteeing an increase in your rankings, that’s fine too. But, if they’re guaranteeing that you’ll get a top 10 ranking, consider this guarantee carefully. There are so many factors that come into play when optimizing a Web site. For example, how established is the site, or is it brand new? How competitive is in the industry?
Does the guarantee require that you choose a three-word keyword phrase, under the assumption that it’s impossible to get a two-word phrase ranked high, or even a single keyword? For one thing, that assumption is incorrect. Depending on the keyword phrase itself, you can certainly get two-word phrases ranked high, and even certain single keywords. So, if you go with that firm, you’re going to have to choose keywords that are less popular than what you might have chosen otherwise.
Some firms require you to sign a form stating that there are no guarantees for top ten rankings, which keeps misunderstandings down from the onset of the working relationship.
Here’s what one SEO explains when customers ask him about a guarantee:
“I make an analogy about search engine placement in order to illustrate what it is like and why it cannot be guaranteed. Obtaining high rankings is comparable to predicting the weather. You can look at the clouds, you can check humidity, you can watch wind patterns, etc. These are absolutely necessary to do in order to have any idea about the weather, but you still can’t say for sure that it will in fact rain. I can do page tweaking, submissions, link promotion, etc., and have fantastic results and be right on the money, or it can rain on me. Doing what I do is a necessity to have a decent chance at obtaining search positions, but I cannot promise how the rankings will perform.”
4. Competing Clients
Some SEO firms will only work for one client in a given industry. For example, they will only work for one life insurance client, one furniture wholesaler, one bank, and so forth.
Why? Because they don’t want their clients competing against each other for the same keywords.
Other SEO firms set themselves up to be experts in a particular industry, such as online casinos or legal Web sites.
Still other firms will take on more than one client in a given industry, but only if each client has a different set of targeted keywords.
If this is important to you, check with the SEO firm you’re considering and see how they handle competing clients.