Outsourcing SEO Services: Nine Tips to Remember

Search engine visibility is essential to the survival and profitability of most online businesses today. Web statistics show that 90% of all online experiences begin with search. Each day, more than a billion queries are entered on Google alone by people who seek information, entertainment, socialization and commercial activities.

It doesn’t take much to deduce that if your site appears in the top searches for a keyword that’s representative of its content, there’s a better chance to receive more visitors that are interested in what it has to offer. For people who know how to make money online, every visitor represents an opportunity to advertise, sell or generate leads. To that end, a lot of companies hire search engine optimization (SEO) companies to help them improve the placement of their webpage listings in portals like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

A good SEO company can help you identify areas of improvement as far as website optimization is concerned. These specialized firms can then put together an optimization strategy which they will execute once you hire them for the job. At the end of their proposed activity timeline, your site should be positioned in the first page of search results for most search engines that are of any consequence.

However, there’s a grim reality to the world’s SEO situation: for every good SEO service provider out there, there are three other SEO snake oil vendors who are waiting to scam you and do your site more harm than good. Ineffective tactics, questionable methodologies and outright rip-offs are just some of the things associated with bad SEO vendors that are littered all over the Web. It’s usually up to you as the consumer to make the best judgment on whether an SEO firm can be trusted with handling the fate of your online business or not.

But how exactly do you know you’re outsourcing your SEO to the right firm? Here are a few tips that’ll eliminate 99% of the frauds out there from your list:

1. Check the Site’s Own Rankings – How comfortable would you be if you’re being serviced by a dentist who has a mouthful of cavities? Unless you have supreme faith in your oral health service provider’s skills in his profession, you’ll probably wonder how much he can help you when it’s obvious he can’t even take care of himself. The same principle applies when you’re trying to choose a SEO company to help build up your rankings. The provider’s website should serve as the first case study that will demonstrate just what they bring to the table.

Check the title tags and meta keywords of the SEP firm’s website to get some ideas about what keywords they are targeting. You can then use simple apps like SEOBook’s rank Checker to see how well the site ranks for its keywords. If the site is in the first page for its main keywords, that’s a good sign. It means they’re doing something right in their own campaigns. If they’re on page 3 and beyond, take their claims with a grain of salt and focus on websites that readily prove their rank building abilities.

2. Google the Site’s Name – SEO has never been an exact science and you don’t need a degree, a license or a certification to declare yourself an expert in this field. Since there are no sanctioning and regulatory organizations, reputation is your best bet in getting a feel of the service provider’s credibility.

A simple Google search can tell you a lot about a prospective SEO company’s track record. Enter a query for the firm’s name and see what kind of results appear. Is there a lot of bad press (complaints, negative reviews, scam alerts) associated with their brand? You’ll want to check out the first 4 pages of the search results to make sure they have a good track record. If you find anything suspicious, read up on the matter and use best judgment to tell f the negative feedback has basis or not.

3. Ask for case studies – When looking for a SEO firm that will directly impact the performance of your online business, you’ll want to work with companies that have proven track records. Look for case studies of past and current clients in their website. If they don’t show any of those there, try contacting them and asking for some examples before getting into serious business talks. Not being shown at least three good case studies is a red flag. If they can’t show you any proof of past success, walk away and take your business elsewhere.

4. Ask for references – If you want a deeper background check with more telling signals, you can request for the contact information of past clients. A good SEO company that has satisfied customers should have no problems in hooking you up with past and current clients who will tell you about the experiences they’ve had with the service provider. Ask for at least three and if possible, call them. Be courteous but at the same time, be straightforward with your questions. Thank them and factor their feedback into your decision later on.

5. Check for Satisfaction Guarantees – While it’s true that it’s almost impossible to guarantee a number 1 placement in search engine rankings for competitive keywords, some firms actually believe in what they do to an extent where they’re willing to guarantee success. Look for firms that have these guarantees and don’t forget to read the fine print if there’s any. Money back guarantees and pay-on-result deals are the gold standard as far as SEO-related guarantees go.

6. Don’t Base Your Choice on Pricing – One of the most inaccurate indicators of SEO service quality is price point. Just because a firm charges you exorbitant rates doesn’t mean they’ll get you to the top of the SERPs effectively. Similarly, just because a company offers you dirt cheap rates doesn’t mean you’ll get great value for money. While price is indeed a significant factor when choosing a partner for the job, track record is your best bet when making this crucial decision. Ask for information about sites that they’ve helped in the past and inquire about what kind of techniques they use. Make sure to stay away from companies that use questionable tactics to give yourself a better shot at long term success.

7. Ask About Reports – Every search marketing company has the responsibility to provide complete and transparent information about the activities that they do inside and outside your website. All the tweaks they make to your webpages and every link they build should be trackable in easy-to-understand spreadsheets that will provide you quick reference. Traffic analytics and ranking reports are standard statistics that will help you monitor the progress of your campaign.

8. Inquire About Customer Support – The success of every SEO campaign relies heavily on how good the communication is between the client and the service provider. Good SEO companies often have multiple, easily accessible customer support channels that you can use when you need to reach out to them for instructions or updates. Phone support is always king, but live chat, a ticketing system and dynamic email support are great too. If the SEO firm you’re looking at seems to be shady and hard to talk to when you need something fixed, take your business elsewhere. These guys don’t deserve your money.

9. Check For Trust Signals on the Site Itself – Little things can tell you some significant things about a website and the company it represents. Is there a phone number? How about a business address? If you don’t find either, you can assume that the site’s owners don’t want to be found easily in case you have complaints about their services. Examine the avenues that the site provides for you to contact them. If it’s a simple email address or a contact form, it will be tough for you to go after these guys if things turn out to be a mess. Credible SEO agencies are willing to face and serve clients anytime even when things don’t go so good.

Following these tips should help you steer clear of most of the bad guys out on the Web. Spend your money, time and efforts wisely when trying to market online. With every good decision you make, a positive impact on your bottom line happens. Good luck!

Just for Fun Fridays: Ask Google


Ever wanted to know latest tech (most probably iPhones and anything Apple) gadgets available? Ask Google.

Ever wanted to get new shoes for your wifey on your anniversary? Ask Google.

Ever wanted to know the secret to losing weight in no less than 90 days? Ask Google.

Ever wanted to learn the secret to a successful business venture? Ask Google.

Can’t find the droids you’re looking for? Ask Google.

Folks, these days, everyone’s been asking Google. Whether it’s about a biology report for class or how to act during a date, Google’s been there to help out. Thing is, it’s not Google who gives you the answers. It only points you to the answer. Like a curator in a library or a hot saleslady in the mall, Google only points you to the answers.

The one who provides the answers (with painstaking research and tons of experience) are the Netizens. Bloggers, forum-members, and the like are the folks who provide answers. And Google’s been a helping hand to get their answers known.

So what does this mean to you?

Simple. Provide the answers, help solve problems, increase happiness levels and, through Google and social media, you’ll get to your bottom line faster than a custom-built racing pod.

Marketing Insight Wednesday: 61% of Internet Users Research Products Online

online product research
Back in the day, travelers ask random people where the nearest marketplace is to get goods. As centuries passed, people eventually find new ways of getting their business known and finding the right business to suit their needs – from wooden signages to newspaper ads.

These days, however, more and more people are going online to get what they need – from hi-tech gadgets to food products.
It’s no wonder this generation’s known as the Google generation – lots and lots of people find their stuff from Google and other online places.

Essential WordPress Plugins

WordPress has plugins that allows its users to do virtually anything you want your WordPress blog or site to do. Think of a plugin as some sort of device or extension in a browser that works as soon as you get it installed and activated; the same can be said for a WordPress plugin. The best thing about it is that there’s literally a community out there who conceptualize, create and manage plugins that have different features – that said, you don’t run out of any plugin that you might need.

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Make It Happen Mondays: Courage

Courage
Have you ever tried something that you’re totally afraid of doing?

Take, for example, bungee jumping or treetop free falling. A lot of people are afraid of heights and are scared stiff of trying these things out. Whenever they step into that ledge whether tied to a rope or wielding a parachute on their back, they always go for it. Because they WANT to do it.

In the end, they usually end up okay, either with a big smile on their face or tears on their eyes. Either way, you know they’re happy about what they’ve accomplished.

This is mainly because they had the courage to do what they’ve always wanted to do – whether it’s to conquer their fear of heights or prove their friends wrong.

Now, take some time and think of the things that scares you stiff (the good ones). What would you feel if you had the courage to do it?

Just for Fun Fridays: Having a Blog Content Plan

Blog Content Plan

Whenever you’re using a blog to market your business, it’s always recommended to have a content plan so you can update your audience as consistently as possible. While it’s true that ideas for a blog post can come from anywhere, a content plan gives you a direction with the content you want to present to your audience.

Have a nice weekend, everybody.

[Video] Getting Leads and Customers from Google and other Search Engines

Ever used the Yellow Pages?

If you’re part of the Google generation, you’ve probably heard of it, much less opened up its pages. In any case, Yellow Pages help people find out establishments’ contact details. So, say, if you’re looking for the nearest pizza delivery and don’t have an Internet connection, chances are you’ve opened one of these tomes up and searched from there.

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How Your Employees Can Help You Build Your Online Presence

emerson learning expo 2012Companies should really be thankful for their employees – not only because they literally run the show whenever they need to, but they can also make your online presence stellar as it should be. That’s right. The average employee can do wonders for a business’ social media – from complain about shady tax cut offs to declaring to the world how fun it is to work in the office.

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Make It Happen Mondays: Do More of What Makes You Happy

do more of what makes you happy

 

If you’re aware of the Secret, you’ll know that THE secret is simply to “feel good”. There’s been a lot of brouhaha made about what can really make you happy and feel good – ranging from buying all the stuff you can to just looking internally and being content. While all these can be true, depending on who’s reading, the fact of the matter is that if you want to feel good and that feeling when you’ve achieved your goals, then just go out there and do it.

You can take life as a fairy tale or as an epic, either way, if it’s what makes you happy, Make It Happen!

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