Sunday, 15 January 2012

SEO Consultants: Learning to Avoid the Bad Ones

SEO, or search engine optimisation, refers to the process by which a company can improve the visibility of its website in search engines, leading to more visitors and therefore hopefully increased profits. One of the jobs of an internet marketing company is to understand how search engines work so they can use SEO methods, such as identifying certain keywords and editing the content of your site and its html coding accordingly, to improve your search engine ranking.

However, bringing in a consultant will of course cost you money so it’s not a decision you should take lightly or rush into. You want only the best, as shoddy SEO can do more harm than good to your company.

To help you out, here are some hints on how to avoid the many unreliable SEO consultants operating today:

Where is the money going?: Before you sign anything, a reputable marketing company should be able to provide you with a detailed budget of where all the recommended outlay for the development of your SEO strategy should be allocated. Some companies will claim they are ranking you highly in search engines purely by using SEO methods such as keyword placement, which is free, when actually they are using pay-per-click to increase the visibility of your website, which is a different thing entirely. If a consultancy is not prepared to outlay all the costs then stay away from it.

Beware the unsolicited approach: Any consultancy that has to resort to sending out SPAM emails to drum up customers isn’t worth your time. You ignore all those emails from companies trying to sell you diet pills or ‘genuine’ Rolex watches, and you should treat such messages from marketing companies in the same way. After all, if they use this somewhat unprofessional method to get business for their own company what do you think they will propose to do for yours?

Unrealistic promises: Be wary of any internet marketing company making claims that sound too good to be true: they probably are. For example, don’t go for a company which is happy to guarantee you a number one Google rating very quickly. As any good consultancy knows, done right, SEO takes time to take effect so you have to exercise a certain amount of patience.

Are they above board?: Try to check out the background of a consultancy you are thinking of hiring. Have they previously operated under any other names, or do they have multiple aliases? This could be a sign that they have something to hide, or their past dealings haven’t exactly reflected favourably upon them. Do they own ‘shadow’ domains, which can channel users to a site using deceptive redirects, or have they in the past had any domains removed from Google? These are all things you should check out before you even consider hiring them.

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