Before choosing an SEO company, consider the following so you don’t waste your money and your time.

1. SEO Strategy

seo digital marketingPlease, don’t ask for an SEO proposal from SEO Company until you have set your strategy, or be ready to invest in a strategy to be developed for you. Too often, SEO companies will respond with a full proposal, including lots of articles to be created, sites to be built and links to be implemented without a clear strategy and a lot of assumptions. Know who your market is and what people you want to come to your website.

Some website markets are straight forward, but others are more complex and would benefit from asking a couple of marketing firms to get involved at the SEO research stage – ask them about the strengths and weaknesses of your site, the call to action, what they think of your competitors, and what strategic approach they would take with your site. Cant afford a marketing company? Ask your friends and clients. Most people are happy to share their opinions and you may get some really good feedback. Do not act on one persons advise. Consider it, but only act if your feel its right, or if you hear it over and over.

Nothing is for free and you get what you pay for with SE) – To get the best educated advice, expect to pay a seasoned SEO marketing firm for their consultation. A small percentage of your online budget spent on a good strategy could save you huge dollars in the long term. Even better, pay two marketing companies for strategy recommendations and then choose the best one for your business or a combination of the two! Remember you have to listen to this feedback and follow it to gain anything from it.

2. How to choose an SEO company or consultant
You need to work with someone who can communicate about SEO in plain English, someone who can take complicated ideas and techniques and turn them into something you can understand, then help you make an informed decision – especially as there are often many possible solutions to choose from. If the SEO company is trying to ‘wow’ you with complex terms and make you feel stupid, run away fast. It really isn’t that complicated.

Someone with experience in your vertical – such as real estate, retail, construction, religion, schools, communities, nonprofits, etc. An SEO company with experience across multiple types of business, as well as experience that is directly relevant to you, will have better problem solving skills and more exposure to technologies and solutions that will enhance your SEO. Experience in your sector will mean the SEO company will be very helpful in defining your strategy, understanding terminology, and knowing what your competitors are doing. Most importantly, they’ll know what your potential clients are thinking and looking for.

3. SEO Result Expectations 

seo questions answeredWhat are realistic expectations from your investment in SEO? Too often, we see SEO marketers defining their keyword set or crazy goals for their clients without any basis in how SEO really works. If you are a law firm, for example, and you want to rank highly for terms such as “lawyer”, or “attorney.” Then you have to take into account that these are extremely popular and competitive terms. It might not be achievable, and even if it is, it’s probably a very hard and expensive road to get there. Besides that, you’re in San Francisco or maybe Boston, but do you really want a DUI client from the UK? Be specific when listing your goals and expectations. “San Francisco DUI Lawyer” for example.

Be open to advice when setting the goals for your website (which should be a part of the keyword research period of your SEO project). If you have a PPC campaign running first, you can use the keyword data from that campaign to gain an understanding of what is important for your website.

4. Using the Right Language
Optimizing begins with keyword research that helps you understand the language your customers are using to find your products and services. Don’t skimp on the research!

Be open to changing and adding language and wording on your website. Search engines read words, not pictures or graphics, so be open to the idea of changing your website to the language people use and are searching for and adding some extra text. Optimization is about including those search terms in the right areas of your pages (such as navigation, links, headings, meta tags and content).

5. SEO Result Measurement

good seo companySearch rankings are not the only measure of success! For many years, SEO firms have measured everything on rankings. They kind of had to. Traditionally, their attitude was- we get you the rankings and bring you the traffic, what you and your web design team do with that traffic, is your problem.

More on Measurement- We recommend using analytics similar to a PPC (Pay Per Click) search campaign for a more comprehensive measure of success.

An accurate snapshot of where your website is before starting SEO is very important, so insist on this. If your San Francisco SEO company does not do this, you may want to rethink about using them. It’s best to analyze these stats over a period of two to six months to allow for any changes in SEO rankings to come into effect. SEO may take a few months for a new domain and or website, rather than days like PPC. But the results organic SEO results tend to get more usable traffic. See our Pros and Cons about PPC.

6. Moving Variables
There are so many moving variables in SEO that it would be impossible to find one person or company who knows everything! Anyone who claims they know it all should be immediately disregarded! A good SEO company is busy with work, but yet has to dedicate themselves to research and education regularly as the search engine change their algorithms, and the technology is ever changing. A good SEO company will find a balance. Their value is in their experience in SEO testing, implementation and results.

7. One Agency or Two? Does 1 + 1 really = 3?
Some internet marketing agencies have two separate teams working on SEO and PPC. Some marketers choose two completely different agencies to handle their SEO and PPC campaigns. However, the two are related and the results from one can be useful to the other. For instance, the keyword data from your PPC campaign can help with your SEO keyword research. When PPC and SEO listings are seen together on a search engine, some believe they improve the click-through and conversion rates for both campaigns and strong organic SEO will give you better positions in PPC.

8. I.T. people are NOT web designers and SEO experts
I.T. people keep hardware operational, software up to date and solve connection problems. They work with phone systems. They keep the office systems operational and connected. They are not trained in marketing or internet website design. This is very important to know this.

9. Web Developers are not SEO Experts
Some web developers and designers say they are experts in SEO. There is no doubting that some of them do a reasonable job at SEO, but they are not truly specialists in the area of SEO. Here’s why…their focus is on marketing to people. SEO experts are marketing to Google and other search engines.

10. SEO experts are not web designers
In the same way, I wouldn’t recommend that an SEO specialist designs your website. They are specialized skills are meant to talk to Google, Yahoo and bing; not people.. As much as we hate to admit it, this is very true. That’s why KO Websites spun off a separate division called the SEO PROs. Designers and SEO people just don’t think the same or market to the same audience. The objectives are different, even though for you they are the same. SEO people design for Google and web designers design for people.

Have a SEO question? Call the SEO PRO’s today at 510-276-9902. We’d be happy to chat about SEO anytime.

SEO Services for the San Francisco Bay Area and world since 2001.