Keep your SEO Provider Honest – and Sleep Soundly at Night - IE3: Business Tools for HVAC & Plumbing Contractors  

Keep your SEO Provider Honest – and Sleep Soundly at Night

We understand that Search Engine Optimization is always changing and can be hard to fully comprehend. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for some Web Marketing companies to trap you into partnering with them. It’s important to make sure you find a company that is willing to give you a personal campaign manager who will check in with you monthly, but never guarantee anything. First, I’ll briefly explain what SEO is and then we’ll dive into a few questions you should bring up on your next phone call with your SEO Company.

SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the effort of improving the way your Website is ranking on Search Engines for specific keyword searches. SEO is an integral part of any service-based business’s marketing strategy (if they have a Website of course) – because what good is a Website when it’s sitting on page 4 of Google and can never be found? Unfortunately, nowadays, when a search is done – most users don’t even bother looking past Page One. Search engines rank Websites by their relevancy for a given search, which mean they read the HTML on a Website and figure out whether that Website would be a relevant result for a specific search. If they think it is – it gets pushed closer to the top of a results page.

Now here are a few subjects you should discuss with your current provider, or consider discussing with any potential SEO company:
Content: One of the easiest things for search engines to look for is duplicate content. Once they see duplicate content, search engines consider your Website less-relevant because this is considered a “black hat” tactic. What is a black hat tactic? When someone is editing a Website to improve SEO, they should be editing it as if a human was reading their edits. On the other hand, when someone attempts to update a Website using a black hat tactic, they aren’t focusing on a real person viewing that Website; they are in essence trying to manipulate search engines. With the amount of resources search engines have invested in delivering credible results, they can easily recognize when someone is trying to use these strategies. One of the first questions you should ask your SEO provider is where they will be getting content from. Do they have a writer in-house? Consider asking to see an example of a Website they have optimized already.

SEO tactics: There are many different strategies for SEO, but not all of them are considered “right” in search engines’ eyes. The Internet is always changing and so is the way Google, Yahoo, Bing and other engines formulate their ranking systems. One of the best topics to discuss with an SEO company is their tactics – you deserve to have a good sense of what work they’ll be completing for you. After all, you’re paying for those services, aren’t you?

Promises & Guarantees: This seems to be the first red flag that most local businesses come across when searching for the perfect SEO Company. SEO companies that promise you Page One results by a certain date are simply not being truthful. No company can guarantee rankings because they can’t control Google, or any of the other Search Engines for that matter. That’s why SEO isn’t cheap. It takes a real person, sitting at a computer with full access to your Website, who is consistently making changes to your site to help you become more relevant for the top searches in your area/industry.

Blogs: SEO isn’t all about blogs. Several years ago, blogging was a popular tactic that typically returned great results for companies. If a company tells you that all they will do is write blog posts for you, then they aren’t doing everything they can to help your Website. To be clear, blog posting is a great SEO tactic, and an even better marketing strategy (it’s a great way to show your expertise), but it won’t be enough to get you great rankings.
Last but certainly not least….

Communication: No matter what type of company you partner with, communication is key to a successful working relationship. When you’re choosing an SEO company to build a relationship with, make sure that there is an easy and reliable way to communicate with them. You should have an email address and direct extension for your campaign manager. When you’re discussing SEO and your rankings on Google, make sure you are able to tell them which services and cities are most important to your business. It’s possible that you’re already on Page One for a few of them, especially in your hometown. Your SEO company should not be prioritizing keywords for which you already rank well. Make sure you give them a list of the most important cities and service keywords that you want to target – that way you can check in on your results periodically.

As a bonus, here are the top three questions to ask your SEO Manager:

  1. Who will be my primary contact and how can I reach him/her directly?
  2. What are the keywords/cities that you will be targeting?
  3. Is there a contract?
Brian Kraff

Brian Kraff

Brian is a co-founder of Market Hardware. He is a member of the ‘club’ of Internet media executives who are tapped into the daily changes of how the internet affects all small businesses. Brian is a frequent speaker at Industry and Association tradeshow conferences. He was an integral part of the group of marketing experts who pioneered the pay-per-click model in 1996, the pay-per-lead model in 1997, and has been at the forefront of getting customers from the Web ever since. Prior to founding Market Hardware, Brian was the founder and CEO of eStudentLoan, the world's largest comparison marketplace for student loans. His role as a Founder and Chairman of 13 Colonies Software (now part of Interwoven/Autonomy) was a highlight of his experience in the Enterprise Web Content Management space. Brian has a B.A. from Cornell University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Brian Kraff

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