Tips for Outsourcing SEO Services for a Small Business

    By Mark Warner | Small Business

    Ignore Companies That Guarantee Ranking Results

    Tips for Outsourcing SEO Services for a Small Business image no guarantees 480Tips for Outsourcing SEO Services for a Small Business

    There are almost no guarantees in the world of search engine performance. Even the best SEO tactics and link building techniques cannot completely ensure that you will rank in any certain position for a specific key phrase.

    Companies that guarantee to make you rank #1 for the phrase that you want are unlikely to succeed. The fact that they are guaranteeing something that cannot be guaranteed should automatically disqualify them from your selection process.

    The only way to guarantee that your website will show up on the first page of Google’s search results is to pay Google for advertising through their PPC program. So if you talk with an SEO company who gives you a #1 ranking guarantee, run!

    Hire an SEO Firm BEFORE You Design Your Website

    One of the last parts of the design process involves turning your design into a real functional website. Whenever possible, you should contact an SEO company BEFORE having your website coded.

    Setting your website up for success is an important part of SEO. There are certain page elements that should be customized for each page and some website platforms do not allow this to be done. The result is that the website is at an SEO disadvantage for its lifespan until it is taken offline or rebuilt. There are other structural elements and capabilities that are equally as important.

    A great example of something that is important from the start is the ability to control title tags and H1 tags for each page. Some websites will automatically generate these page elements, often using the name of your website as the title tag for each page. The title tag should be different for each page and use the keywords that you want that page to rank for. If your template doesn’t allow these elements to be customized, your website will be at a huge disadvantage when compared to your competitors.

    Use The Search Results to Find a Local SEO Company

    This might seem like a simple and practical step to take in order to find a good service provider for any task, however when it comes to SEO this is a bit more important. The answer is obvious once pointed out to most business owners.

    If you want to find a company that is actually capable of getting your website to rank well for some competitive phrases, than ideally you would want to select a company whose own website is already doing well for some competitive phrases.

    The SEO industry is very competitive in the search engines and if someone ranks #1 for “’my city’ SEO”, there is a good chance that they know what they are doing. Why choose an SEO firm that can’t get their own website to rank well?

    Don’t just choose any website from the search results. Check out the screen shot below and the discussion that follows in order to see which company I would call first.

    Tips for Outsourcing SEO Services for a Small Business image san fran seoTips for Outsourcing SEO Services for a Small Business

    This screen shot shows the SERPs for the query “San Francisco SEO”.

    First, we see the paid results at the top of the page. There is nothing wrong with paying to be seen on this part of the page. This just can’t be used as an indicator of which company does the best SEO work.

    Below the paid results, we see This is an exact match domain that contains the basic keywords that this company wants to rank well for. Their domain name is one of the big reasons that they are able to rank where they are currently ranking. This doesn’t make them a bad company, it is just important to note that they are not ranking here because of their website’s true merit.

    Next, you can see the companies that I would call first circled in green. Next to the first circled result you can see a photo of someone who I presume is probably the owner of the company. This photo appears because the website is using Google authorship markup which associates the content of the website with that person’s Google Plus account.

    Displaying this information for your website helps to get better click-through rates from the search engines and it is also symbolic of a company that really knows what they are doing. Not everyone in the SEO industry is using rich text snippets, and there are SEOs out there who still don’t even know that this type of code exists.

    Ask What Type of SEO Measures They Will Take For You

    This question can solicit a wide range of broad answers. The question that you really want answered here is whether or not this is a low-quality spam link provider (there are many).

    There are lots of outdated link building methods that many SEO service providers are using (which never worked very well to start). If a company answers this question by stating that they will be using

    • an automated directory listing program
    • blog comment links
    • link exchanges
    • forum signature links

    that company should be ignored. These links are a type of spam and the people that offer these services should not be allowed anywhere near a real online business.

    Ask About SEO Reporting

    It is important to keep track of what your outsourced contractors are doing. This is especially true when working with an SEO company because there can be a sufficient time gap between when work is done and when results are actually noticed by the website.

    A good SEO company should be providing monthly reports regarding your web traffic and keyword rankings at the very least. Depending upon what types of other activities they are doing, they should be providing a monthly work report that keeps you up to date on the amount of work that is being done.

    The most trusted SEO companies will show you the full list of links, articles, press releases, YouTube videos, info graphics and so on so things are 100% transparent.

    Avoid Freelance SEO Consultants

    If you are just looking for a consultation, you will find a wide array of experienced professionals that can help to get you on the right path. Freelancers can be some of the most easily accessible and most well-prepared people to help you in this case.

    Tips for Outsourcing SEO Services for a Small Business image monkeys typingTips for Outsourcing SEO Services for a Small Business

    However, if you are looking for someone to perform optimization tasks for a long period of time, ensure prolonged SEO success, and perhaps head up an SEO team, you should either hire an established firm that has the resources in place to do this, or you should hire an in-house team for SEO.

    For most small and medium-sized businesses, the most logical solution is to hire an SEO firm. Fortune 500 companies and others that are large enough to be publicly traded will often create their own in-house team of SEOs.

    There are a million “social media experts” and “seo gurus” out there who will happily do freelance work. Sometimes you just never know who you are hiring until they have left you hanging high and dry.

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