Selecting an SEO Agency: Step-by-Step Advice
Philosophy of Search Engine Optimization
If you want to strengthen your internet presence or establish a name for your brand, this is the most critical consideration when choosing a partner. You can lessen the likelihood of having your site removed from search results by working with a search engine marketing or placement firm that sticks to “white hat” or ethical search engine optimization practices. Having your dreams shattered by the realization that you’ve been “Google sacked” for violating the search engines’ unspoken guidelines or stated policies is something no one wants to go through.
Techniques for and Expertise in Search Engine Optimization
Can your professional SEO firm optimize just static, HTML-based sites? A reputable SEO firm will have experience developing sites in PHP, ASP, ASPX, HTML, Cold Fusion, Flash, and other popular languages and frameworks.
What expertise does your SEO firm have in optimizing static and dynamic websites? What e-commerce platforms (such as Monster Commerce, Yahoo Stores, OS Commerce, Storefront.net, and Volusion) does your SEO firm have experience optimizing for?
Optimization Levels | Ad hoc Support
The most basic SEO services available are submission services that submit your site manually or automatically to various search engines and directories. Due to the lack of on-site coding, linking, or content development on the part of the submission company, these services tend to be relatively cheap. These submission services typically cost between $19.95 and $399 per month.
By changing your site’s code, conducting keyword research, constructing inbound links, and producing new content, a company in the middle of the optimization spectrum gains a firmer grip on your marketing strategy. They might also dabble in off-site SEO by submitting press releases, creating articles, and maintaining a blog. Companies in this price bracket often charge between $399 and $850 monthly.
The top SEO agency not only carries out the tasks mentioned above for SEO agencies in the middle tier but is also accountable for tracking and analyzing conversions. The time and effort spent on optimization at a remote location is also significantly increased. This means that top-tier optimization agencies must figure out which aspects of the client journey (from initial search to final conversion) are successful and which are not. Search engine companies will need to charge more each month to offset the cost of hiring more people to do searches. Monthly rates for such services typically start at $850.00 and go as high as $10,000.00, though you should expect to pay far more than $1,000.00 on average.
Companies who optimize their campaigns piecemeal do so because they view individual components in isolation. Sometimes, SEO agencies take a piecemeal strategy that hurts their clients’ websites, like when they charge different rates for “linking” and “content construction.” The key to effective optimization is coordinating several, often concurrent and occasionally sequential, approaches. Optimization campaigns that are piecemeal rather than holistic generally yield bad outcomes.
Methodology For Assessing And Reporting
In general, SEO firms hate the idea of their clients being able to rate their performance. The opposite is true with a trustworthy SEO firm. When assessing the efficacy of an SEO firm, we advise using a combination of four tools.
1. Software for Real-Time Statistical and Statistical Conversion Analysis
Real-time data on traffic growth and conversion rates can provide insight into the effectiveness of your SEO company. Access to information about your site’s visitors—including the search engines they used and the phrases they typed into the search bar—is crucial.
2. Reports on Placement or Exposure
Position reports for the keywords you are most interested in should be emailed to you every other week. The percentage of individuals who can find you on Google, Yahoo, AOL, and MSN using keywords significant to your business is your “visibility.” However, make sure your company doesn’t abuse the use of automated search engine searches, as doing so may be seen as spam by the search engines.
3. According to Alexa, the rating is:
Now at alexa.com, you can get your hands on the Alexa Toolbar. This provides a thorough overview of your website’s traffic pattern over the past three months compared to other online sites. There is a good chance you won’t have any visible data or an Alexa ranking if your website is spanking new. In addition, the Alexa rank can give you a rough idea of how popular your site is compared to others in your field. Your site’s traffic increases relative to other places in the Alexa universe as your Alexa rank decreases. Please be aware that having an Alexa rank of “1” does not signify that your site is the most popular on the entire internet; rather, it indicates that you are running a Yahoo Store, in which case the ranking applies to Yahoo as a whole rather than your specific site. Such a tool can give an overview of traffic growth and patterns quickly. However, these are merely averages (like the Nielsen Ratings for television) and not hard and fast facts.
4. PageRank on Google
Visit google.toolbar.com now to get your copy of the Google Toolbar. In the menu that appears, select the “display PageRank” option. Google will reveal its importance ranking for your site from 0 to 10. You can monitor the progress of the optimization firm’s work on your campaign by checking it regularly. A typical website may experience a PageRank gain of 1-2 points throughout an optimization effort. Remember that improving your PageRank at the lower end of the scale is simpler. It gets harder to increase your PageRank as you get closer to higher PageRanks.
Researching the Company’s Objectives, the Industry, and Suggested Keywords
How does the SEO firm you’re considering get background information about your company, industry, and corporate objectives? Is it common for them to inquire about the following:
Your business’s short- and long-term objectives, field, and rivals. What phrases are you using successfully now? What are the best PPC (Pay Per Click) keywords currently? Which paid search (AdWords, Overture, MSN/Live) engines are presently productive? How did you make this website? How dynamic is your site?
How does your SEO company find keywords to target?
Which Wordtracker, WebCEO, or Keyword Elite would you recommend? How about using the free Overture or the standard Google keyword tool that Adwords provides? Do they employ more than one of the primary methods? What about unique approaches to keyword analysis? Do they use custom-built tools or tools developed by an outside party?
Customer-to-Account Executive Ratio
The ratio of clients to account managers in the SEO industry is not often advertised. This statistic represents the average number of accounts managed by a single account manager. The fewer customers an account manager has to juggle, the more individualized their service can be. We suggest that an SEO account manager have no more than 30 clients at any time.
Hours of Labor Per Month
How many hours per month your SEO production team works on your company is a crucial metric to track. Before launching an optimization drive, it is good to have an estimate of how much time will be needed each month. Deliveries should correspond closely to customer expectations.
Organizational Makeup and Scale
Is your company’s account manager working on a laptop in his basement while a golden retriever licks his face? Is getting immediate assistance from your SEO business a bureaucratic nightmare where you must fill out difficulty tickets?
It would be best to look for an SEO firm that balances between being too tiny and too large. You’d like to be treated like an individual, but you’d also appreciate knowing that more than one brain is deliberating over your strategic decisions.
Do you have a trustworthy management team at your ethical SEO firm? Is there any management in place there? Are the companies you’re looking at publicly traded or privately held? Is the proprietor of the optimization firm a slumlord or an active part of the SEO community? Suppose you are entrusting this organization with not just your business but also your livelihood. In that case, requesting a copy of the executive team’s curriculum vitae or résumé is not unreasonable. After all, there is no reliable board certification to evaluate the background of an SEO expert.
Status / Significance
Is your SEO firm the subject of many complaints filed with the BBB? See whether any issues haven’t been addressed in the BBB’s reports. Clients have the right to lodge complaints, but the optimization firm’s responsiveness to these concerns is even more crucial.
SEO Performance and Results from the Past
Each SEO firm should document its previous clients’ achievements in great detail. Details about optimization targets and schedules should be included in the reports. It’s essential to compare and contrast former clients across industries when reporting on them. It’s important to know where a client was before the optimization firm began working on its SEO strategy. Is the SEO company’s website ranked poorly? You might want to look elsewhere if your SEO company has a Google PageRank of less than 5.
Citations / Product Expires
References from satisfied clients in B2C and B2B sectors should be available from any SEO firm worth considering. References should date back at least a few years before you even started working for the company, not just the most recent six months. If the SEO work your company does is good, satisfied customers should stick around for years.
Pricing, Fees, and Initial Investment
According to the “Consistent Value Proposition” taught at Yale School of Management, prices should be fair in relation to the quality of service provided. A credit card company’s $49.00 monthly campaign may not be the best option if you’re looking for a comprehensive or advanced SEO strategy. After learning about your organization, your objectives, and the scope of the task, an SEO firm should provide a quote. Frustration, unmet expectations, and eventually failure may result from using a blanketed cost structure. Be wary if your optimization company needs the complete sum for the first six months before they would even “get started.”
The best optimization firms charge reasonable rates for their services, initially and on a recurring monthly basis. If an optimization company spends 30–60 hours per month working on your site, they cannot possibly charge you $49.00 monthly for their services.
Your account manager has avian flu at the most inopportune time. Is your optimization firm prepared to hand off your campaign in its current shape to another competent optimizer? Every SEO firm needs a way for employees to readily share information about their clients’ accounts with one another. You may be assured that your business will continue to thrive even in a disaster involving your account manager.
Checking for Quality
You should expect your SEO provider to supervise your account manager to check that all “i”s are dotted and the “t”s are crossed. Your account manager is ultimately accountable for the success of your campaign, but having a second set of eyes can help tilt the scales in your favor.
Date-Based Promises and Outcomes
Some SEO firms claim they can get you on page one of Google for highly competitive keywords in as little as 48 hours. Your SEO salesperson should not be overly enthusiastic or idealistic, as this is a red flag that the company should not be trusted. Getting your website listed highly in search engines may be a tough, time-consuming battle that requires plenty of hard work and careful strategy.
Staff Quality in Production
Account managers and skilled production technicians should make up most of the production staff. An account manager’s role is crucial to the success of any optimization program. All coding, linking, and content creation for a customer should be within the purview of the account manager. As the scope of an optimization campaign grows, they should be able to delegate increasingly complex tasks to their support team or production division. Henry Ford recognized that increasing specialization within a production department increased productivity.
Situation / Closeness
Are you curiously connected to someone working without air conditioning overseas when you phone your account manager or SEO company? It’s not a good omen. You need to find a search engine placement company whose sales team collaborates closely with its production division. There should be no discrepancy between what was promised and what was provided. Your SEO expert should be able to pick up on your company’s culture, sector, and objectives with minimal delay caused by foreign static.
SEOMatrix, located at [http://www.seomatrix.com/], provides “Ethical Search Engine Optimization,” its CEO is Brian Ortiz. For over five years, he has worked with clients worldwide, focusing on search engine marketing and, more specifically, conversion analysis. SEOMatrix is a search engine optimization firm based in the Constitution State. Sign up for our matrix report for a free review of your website’s optimization or conversion rate.