With the huge rise of the Internet and web based businesses, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has become the buzzword for a generation. Everywhere you look somebody is claiming to be an SEO specialist or an SEO company that can get your website on to page one of Google’s search results for your keyword, so you can make millions and retire. The term is thrown around so much that it even loses its core meaning, but it is actually a very simple process.
SEO is the optimisation of onsite-content (domain name, content, Meta tags & coding, headlines, linking structure etc), and offsite content (backlinks and promotion) based around your company’s target searches, with the objective of getting your site high in the rankings for your searches (“keywords”).
For example if you are selling Apple Pies, you might consider a domain name like “apple-pies.com”, Meta tags with apple pies and other relevant searches in them, content and headlines themed around apple pies and relevant searches realting to the subject. You’d then want to get links (other sites linking to yours) that relate to your subject matter or link an audience who would be interested in your subject matter. There is a fine line between optimisation and spamming, and there are “blackhat” techniques that must be avoided, but this is SEO in a nutshell. Anything else is just Internet scamming hype and should be avoided, at least if it has been labelled SEO.
So if you want a website optimised or made with SEO in mind, and you don’t have the understanding or time to do it yourself, you can seek out an SEO company to do the work for you. The following top tips should help you find a reputable SEO company that isn’t out to fleece you or outright scam you.
First Position Guaranteed?
Are they guaranteeing the world? A lot of underhanded SEO companies get customers by guaranteeing them amazing results. If an SEO company claims they can get you to the top spot on Google for any search term then stay away. It is impossible to guarantee such a thing. SEO is an ongoing process with thousands of other sites all gunning for the same position. Although you may be able to get the top spot, it comes with time, patience and a lot of effort. You can’t just pay $50 to somebody claiming to be an SEO expert. Also remember that they might be able to get you to the top with a term like “the best place to buy used cars in Penrith”, but that doesn’t mean it’s related to your business, or that anybody actually searches for that term.
Explaining the Methods
Do they outline their methods? A reputable SEO company will outline and discuss the methods they use to get your site ranked. Some will even show case studies and work they’ve done for past clients. However a bad SEO company is more likely to claim they have a “secret formula” or a “backdoor method.” These types of companies are either lying, or they have “blackhat” methods that will get your website banned from the search engines in the long run.
Keyword Research – Good SEO companies offer keyword research. You may have the idea that your apple pie selling website should rank for the term apple pie, and although this will be used as the core word, short keyword phrases like this are very competitive. An SEO firm can do research to determine the most effective keywords for driving targeted traffic. For example not everyone searching for apple pies wants to buy one. They may want to make one, or read about its nutrition. A good SEO company will create a list of terms that work best for you, such as “buy apple pies in Australia.” This is likely to be less competitive, easier to rank for and more targeted towards your audience, allowing your website to attract more conversions.
If you want the best deal, the company should also have packages that include content. In other words they create or write pages for you that are optimised for your keywords. You can’t rank for a keyword without content about the keyword on your website. This will usually come in the form of articles or landing pages. Larger campaigns may take the form of digital PR, where news content is created with the aim of securing interest.
Submitting to lots of Search Engines and directories?
Make sure they do professional and white-hat SEO; as mentioned above SEO is now a buzz word that companies use for all sorts of reasons. If a so called SEO company is offering to submit your site to 500 search engines, then they are not an SEO company. Submitting to search engines and lots of directories is an obsolete method and does nothing to get you ranked. Stay away from these deals.
Building Quality Links
As mentioned a big part of SEO is having other sites linking to your website with your keyword. It is not always that simple though. You need sites that rank well themselves, have good content and are related to your subject matter. Bad SEO firms might get you links on spam sites, irrelevant sites or using an automated process. These methods can either carry no worth at all, or get your site penalised by search engines for spamming. A good SEO firm will explain where your links are coming from a show you how to check them yourself.
The best SEO companies are those that work alongside you for the foreseeable future, so that you can meet your goals. SEO is an ongoing time consuming process. Any company that charges a onetime fee and claims to be finished in a week is not worth a penny.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many other things to look out for, but if you follow this guide you should be able to pick out the bad SEO company from the quality SEO company.