Many SEO consultants, SEO companies and SEO Professionals have attracted a lot of bad press. The SEO profession has somewhat of a bad reputation. This is as a direct result of some unscrupulous tactics employed by the few, also known as black hat tactics.
As a result so many companies refuse to use SEO professionals. But it’s not all bad, if you know what you’re looking for. You need to ask the right questions as well as know what the right answers need to be. So here is a list of questions you need to ask your next SEO consultant. Then judge them by their answers.
How well does your website rank?
Listen, if he can’t rank well for his own site, how on earth do you think he is going to get a good ranking for your site. But not only rank, what phrases does he or she rank for. How many competing pages are there? How many daily searches for the phrase are there? Anyone can rank for obscure, no-competitive words and phrases. Example: I have a page that ranks 1 and 2 on Google.co.za for the phrase “avoid SEO suicide”. But then there are only 141,000 competing pages, with very little search activity. On the other hand I rank no 2 on Google.co.za for the term “website design and development” with 76,800,000 competing pages and a very high search activity.
What guarantees do I get?
Everyone wants guarantees. You want returns for your hard earned cash. The correct answer though is NONE. No SEO consultant can guarantee organic search or ranking results. Organic or Natural rankings are never guaranteed. That’s it, no if’s, and’s or but’s, no negotiation! Organic rankings take time to achieve, and they are in an ever constant flux. Nobody can guarantee traffic either. If they inform you that they can, they’re either doing PPC instead of SEO or performing traffic redirection from Web sites they have already optimized. You should rather be asking the following questions.
How do we measure success?
Search Engine Optimisation is all about measurement. It’s all about movement over time. But be careful, how you measure success might be totally different to how the SEO consultant measures success. Success for you might be to achieve Google rank no 1 in 1 month. The SEO might be to be listed on page 1 or 2 in 6 months. To the SEO professional any move up in ranking is success. Make sure your goals are achievable and reasonable. There are just some phrases that you are going to have a hard time ranking for. Recognise this, accept it and look for an alternative.
What is your inbound and outbound linking strategy?
Link exchanges are a thing of the past. “Bad neighbourhoods” have eliminated the benefit to link exchanges and link farms. What benefits you the most, is natural organic linking. This is a lengthy and time consuming activity. Don’t expect to get tons of inbound links straight off the bat. This could take months even years.
Have you ever been unsuccessful? The answer you want is YES. Be wary of SEO companies and consultants that say they have never been unsuccessful. It’s just not natural. Everyone fails. It’s how you learn from those failures that counts.
What tactics will they employ?
An answer like, we do a lot of internet promotions. Well doh! You want a more detailed answer than that. How will they promote? What software will they use? Which sites will they promote to? Do they use Social Media like Twitter, Facebook? Do they make use of blogs and forums? What about article writing? These are the kind of answers you should be looking at. Be carfeul of anything black hat. Like keyword stuffing, link farms, paid links, hidden text or hidden links, doorway pages.
Will you need to make changes to my site?
If the answer is no, then stay away. Any good SEO professional will need to make changes to the site, both to content and to code. Any search engine optimization companies that answer “no” to this question are either using shady tactics or are only scratching the surface of true search engine optimization. Search Engine Optimization is about quality content. So if you are not ranking well with your current content, then it stands to reason that it must change. Yes there are also unseen elements like meta tags, page descriptions and so on. But they do not affect the search engines as much as good quality content.
Will you be adding any new pages to my site?
Once again, if the answer is no, run. Search engines love fresh content. If you want to rank well you need to start adding new fresh content on a regular basis. But don’t expect the SEO consultant to do all the hard work, unless you are willing to pay handsomely. A good SEO consultant will educate you on adding good fresh quality content to your own site.
There are tons of other questions one might ask. Like client references, experience, qualifications, reports etc. We certainly can’t cover all in one blog post. Suffice to say that if you get reasonable answers from the above questions then you know you are on the right track.