Posts Tagged ‘seo specialist’

What to look out for when choosing an SEO Consultant

Deciding to hire an SEO agent / consultant is a big decision that can potentially improve your sites traffic and rankings as well as save you time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation.

Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO agent / consultant can do to your site. I have reviewed some useful hints / tips to keep you in the know about SEO.

Many Search Engine Optimizers, consultants and other agencies provide useful services for website owners, including:

  • An SEO Audit – Review of your site content or structure
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript, flash.
  • Content development (how to rank using your content)
  • Keyword research
  • SEO training
  • Internet / Online Marketing strategies
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies.

Keep in mind that the Google search results page includes organic search results and often paid advertisement (denoted by the heading “Sponsored Links”) as well. Advertising with Google won’t have any effect on your site’s presence in our search results. Google never accepts money to include or rank sites in their search results, and it costs nothing to appear in googles’ organic search results.

A great time to hire an SEO specialist or Agency is when you’re considering a site redesign, planning to launch a new site, want to market a new product / service or increase your bottom line. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site, depending on the market competitiveness.

Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:

       Can you show me examples of your previous work?

       Do you follow the SEO best practices?

       Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?

       What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?

       What’s your experience in my industry?

       What’s your experience in my country/city?

       What’s your experience developing international sites?

       What are your most important SEO techniques?

       How long have you been in business?

       How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

       Where is your company situated? Infrastructure? How many employees?

While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate google’s guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site’s presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from google’s index. Here are some things to consider:

Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.

Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

“Dear Sandy,
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through Googles’ Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap.

Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.

Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.

You should never have to link to an SEO.

Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of “free-for-all” links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines, however if they are willing to implement a link building strategy; make sure that this is done with high traffic websites that have a good PR (page rank).

Be sure to understand where the money goes.

While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they “control” other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn’t work with Google because their advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results as displayed with the ‘sponsored links’, but be sure to ask any SEO you’re considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.

What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?

One common scam is the creation of “shadow” domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client’s behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor’s domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.

Another illicit practice is to place “doorway” pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO’s other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.

What are some other things to look out for?

There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It’s far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:

  • owns shadow domains
  • puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
  • offers to sell keywords in the address bar
  • doesn’t distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear on search results pages
  • guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
  • operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
  • gets traffic from “fake” search engines, spyware, or scumware
  • has had domains removed from Google’s index or is not itself listed in Google

If you feel that you were deceived by an SEO in some way, contact me for a web evaluation or SEO Audit.

SEO vs PPC (The battle is on!)

Both search engine optimization (SEO) & pay per click (PPC) advertising are excellent online marketing strategies without a doubt, but which is the more dominate, more popular and more cost effective?

Interestingly enough, Google recently released some info regarding just this: on average 20% of web browsers clicked on PPC adverts (text adverts on the right hand side and sometimes at the top of Google’s results page) while the other 80% of them clicked on the organic listings (website listings on the left hand side of Google’s results page).

So we can safely say that the more popular of the two is SEO (according to the web browsers / website visitors).

Previous to this, stats showed that 1 in every 20 people used to click on a PPC advert / Google Adwords campaign. If this is so evident, then why do most people spend the largest part of their online marketing budgets on PPC campaigns rather than SEO?

“It could be that SEO is a long continuous and time consuming process of optimizing and making strategic alterations (sometimes even restructuring the entire website), while PPC advertising displays instant (yet short term) results – results that CEO’s want to see immediately”.

In the US, (in 2007) companies spent 89% of online budget towards PPC adverting, and only about 11% on SEO. In 2008, the ad agencies in the US reported that on average companies spent $300 000 on PPC advertising and $90 000 on organic SEO. The companies that spend their budget on SEO still remain to rank (organically) today, while the companies, who spent their budgets on PPC, either don’t rank or rank very poorly. These figures show that PPC is more dominate over SEO in this case, but SEO appears to be more cost effective and provides a greater return on investment (ROI) especially in the long run.

“In my opinion, the reason Pay Per Click gets higher spend is due to the fact that large corporations and companies are more focused on instant gratification and their short-term bottom line”.

The hard truth is that SEO is a far superior long-term strategy. It is probably the most cost effective and powerful online marketing strategy that currently exists. Roughly 88% of all website visitors originate from the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.); this means that when you are ranking well in the organic listings you are targeting approximately 70% – 80% of your online market.

The three primary advantages of SEO over PPC:

  • No direct marketing costs when your ‘ads’ get clicked.
  • Organic rankings are more credible and thus have a higher conversion rate. In fact, between 68% and 72% of web searchers believe organic search results produce the most relevant information.
  • Far higher visibility on search engines and therefore more traffic.
  • You can rank for hundreds / thousands of keywords with a professional SEO strategy
  • Your website will continue to rank as long as it is live

From my experience in online marketing, companies that allocate their budget on SEO, experience far greater returns, and if you are currently spending your online budget on PPC, then contact me for a chat to discuss a personalized SEO strategy. I am willing to help! 🙂

Why we do what we do?

Have you ever noticed how other SEO specialists all follow the same process of optimising a website: They ask you for content + pics and they put together a very nice looking website, they then merely optimise the content you gave them, in the effort to try and rank your website. They obviously use the keywords from the content (that you gave them) and optimise accordingly. Does this ‘hit and run’ approach really work, especially if you (who has no idea how to optimise a website & select appropriate keywords) gave them the content?

This is exactly what I do not do!

I do not follow that approach. I am a guru in what I do because I believe that one needs to understand the market you are in and the type of clients you deal with, as well as knowing what your client requirements are especially, online. A lot of research including your clients’ trends and a comprehensive keyword analysis as well as a competitor analysis needs to be take place before any optimisation. I will first chat to you about your company, your products and services, then conduct my research.

I will tell you exactly what people are searching for in respect to your market. If people are searching for it, then give them what they want (that’s my approach!).  I will also look at googles historical data and analyse how many times a certain keyword or keyword phrases was searched for. I will discuss with you a comprehensive list of keywords, then either you or a seo copywriter will build content around those keywords, then only will my world class optimisation begins.