Let’s face it. Most marketers (and even business owners) think they understand SEO better than anyone else. The sad fact is, these SEO “experts” convince many businesses to spend hundreds of dollars a month on a service that they cannot even show results. I have had many clients who have asked me to evaluate the marketing efforts of other companies, and to be honest, 9/10 times I am presented with a website that has never been optimized or the website was somehow a victim of black hat SEO.
If this has happened to you or you think it is happening to you, don’t you worry – it has happened to many professionals. Unfortunately, SEO is the type of service that is hard to justify the time spent. Just like how you can never tell what a mechanic did, all you know is if your car is or isn’t working. Similar issues lies with digital marketing experts who promise to get you to the top of the search engines, but never follow through or sadly don’t even know how to truly accomplish it.
So why is it easy for SEO professionals to lie and tell you they are optimizing your website? Below are some helpful tips for anyone who is currently paying a SEO “guru”, has been approached by one, or is thinking of hiring someone to help them with their marketing efforts:
#1 – Do your research about SEO
Lets face it, most business owners do not know what SEO is. They just want to drive revenue and do not care how it happens. SEO is unknown to a lot of professionals and unfortunately anyone with half knowledge on how the search engines work can work their way around a client who knows nothing.
Stephanie Biscow, VP of Digital at DCW Media explains, “As much as you don’t need or want to be an expert, be sure to at least understand the basic concepts of SEO and how it will help your company. This will ensure that you can at least talk to talk to show the company that you understand the basic concept of what is going on.”
Some important phrases you may want to understand and know: keywords, index, search engines, crawlable, link building, title tags, citations, meta tags, disavow, sitemap, keyword ratio
#2 – Website companies tack it into “maintenance”
I have seen so many “maintenance” packages where website companies will package SEO together and charge $500 a month to basically do absolutely nothing. It is an easy solution for clients to just use one company, so many fall into this trap. But bottom line is, most of these companies don’t actually do SEO at all. So if you are in an arrangement like this, ensure that you are getting a detailed report on the results.
#3 – Always ask for their opinion on your website, but be cautious to the response
“Many businesses don’t know this but SEO has a lot to do with how the website is built.”, Says Tommy Jay from MSCO, a local Westchester Marketing firm, “Something as simple as the appropriate header tag in the right spot can have a drastic impact on your overall search optimization. If an SEO professional doesn’t explore your website for these simple but powerful on-site upgrades, move on.” If someone wants your business, they will gladly tell you how wrong your current SEO efforts are. So be sure to ask the company a detailed response on what is currently wrong and what they plan on doing when you hire them. Most companies may tell you that you have to pay for an SEO audit, but bottom line is that they can at least give you a general overview of the issues of your website within 10-15 minutes of their time. If they are not willing to put that effort in, you can easily find someone else who will be.
Caution: It’s sort of like when you ask a programmer what they think of another programmers code, they will always be able to find issues with the previous marketing firms efforts. Granted, there may actually be a lot wrong with your website, however just be cautious that they are not trying to fool you. If you get a broad response like, you need more links to your website and you need more content, then you should rethink if they are the right company for you.
#4 – Don’t accept “My Technique is Complicated”
I once called a bunch of companies pretending I was interested in SEO and I actually received a response that their techniques were too “complicated” to share with me. Obviously for me this didn’t work, but to someone who doesn’t understand technology – this could be an easy sell. Well don’t fall for this. A SEO professional should be able to clearly tell you what their plan is.
In this day of SEO, if a company is hired and the clients website is not responsive, right off the bat they have no clue what they are doing.
#5 – Get monthly reports and stay on top of the firm
A lot of companies refuse to give monthly reports on what they have done, which is a big red flag. If all they are giving you are keyword reports, then you need to pull the breaks. Demand that you get a detailed report on what was done, the improvements that were made and how it has positively affected your website.
Running a business is hard enough, so letting an outside company worry about your website and SEO is the right business move to make. However, just be cautious of the scammers out there. At the end of the day, if they can get away with collecting your paycheck and not having you down their throats, they are going to do the littlest amount of work possible. So just stay on top of them and make sure you are seeing results, and you will be just fine!
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