If you’re like most small business owners, you’re probably getting a bit tired of all the phone calls about how a company can improve your search engine results – guaranteed, like magic, and in an instant. Frankly, there’s a bit more to the process than the snake oil peddler will reveal. Selecting an SEO company for your business is an important decision.
Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), website design, and online marketing strategies should not be blindly turned over to a boiler-room telemarketer who appears to be calling on behalf of one of the major search engines. Many of these firms use what are considered Black Hat SEO techniques, which are designed to (or attempt to) trick Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Fortunately, for honest business owners like yourself, the search engines are becoming quite savvy, and their algorithms make it more and more difficult to fool. If you think about it, the smarter Google gets, the more effectively they can send customers to legitimate firms like yours. This is why it is so important for you to do your homework, develop a relationship with someone you trust – someone who will be there for you after you’ve implemented your strategies, and who understands your business and your market.
Small business owners are spending anywhere from a few hundred to well over a few thousand dollars per month for SEO services. This is a significant business decision, so it should be treated with care. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for SEO services:
- Beware of guarantees. Nobody can really guarantee SEO performance. A trusted firm implementing White Hat strategies should provide you with continual improvement in your search engine ranking.
- Be patient. Nothing is instant. Give the strategy time to take effect. Periodically, Google, Bing, and others will change their methodologies – don’t panic. If your eBusiness consultant is legit, they will make the necessary adjustments to bring you back on track.
- Try to negotiate a month-to-month term. Many SEO companies want to tie you into an annual agreement. If an annual contract is required, then negotiate both an exit clause and monthly payments. If they won’t budge, then maybe you need a different firm to assist you with your strategy. Remember, SEO can get expensive, so you have the right to negotiate terms favorable to your business needs.
Do it yourself? If you have the patience and some understanding of the various methodologies that go into search engine optimization, you can improve your search engine ranking without outside help. However, depending on your business, availability and value of your time, and your competition’s online strategy – you may find it make sense to get some outside help. In the meantime, for you “do-it-yourselfer’s” here’s a nice website that will help you prioritize the directories on which you need to list your company. Listing with or claiming your company on the various directories can be a bit tedious, so this site helps you focus on the best ones for your industry first. The site is getlisted.org.
By Ron Woodbury