SEO & Digital Marketing
WHAT IS SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process which increases a website’s rankings in search engine results and subsequently increases site traffic and revenue.
For example, a website that sells designer clothing would want to appear as the first search result whenever a potential customer searches for the phrase “buy designer clothes” in Google.
Check your SEO's business references
Ask past clients if they felt that this SEO provided useful service, was easy to work with, and produced positive results.
- Ask for a technical and search audit for your site to learn what they think needs to be done, why, and what the expected outcome should be. You'll probably have to pay for this. You will probably have to give them read-only access to your site on Search Console. (At this stage, don't grant them write access.) Your prospective SEO should be able to give you realistic estimates of improvement, and an estimate of the work involved. If they guarantee you that their changes will give you first place in search results, find someone else.
- Decide if you want to hire.
Choosing an SEO
If you're thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you're considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.
Be committed to implementing the recommended changes.
Making the changes recommended by an SEO takes time and effort; if you aren't going to take the time to make these changes, it's not worthwhile hiring a professional.
Interview your potential SEO.
Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:
- Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
- Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?
- What's your experience in my industry?
- What's your experience developing international sites?
- How long have you been in business?
- How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
- See if the SEO is interested in you and your business. If they're not interested, find someone who is. Your SEO should ask questions such as:
- What makes your business or service unique and valuable to customers?
- Who are your customers?
- How does your business make money, and how can search results help?
- What other advertising channels are you using?
- Who are your competitors
- Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that email you out of the blue.Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."
Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
DIGITALLY DISTINGUISHED REVIEWS
Be careful if a company won't clearly explain what they intend to do.
Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.
- You should never have to link to an SEO.Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of "free-for-all" links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don't affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines -- at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.
- Choose wisely.While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. While Google doesn't comment on specific companies, we've encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.
- Be sure to understand where the money goes.While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they "control" other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn't work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you're considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.