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About "Packaged" SEO Services

May 19, 2008
"Why can't I just buy a $99 per month package and be number one?"

Every week our team runs into a discussion regarding SEO packages offered by other SEO firms. The conversation usually begins with "Why can SEO Company A offer us a SEO package that promises to deliver results for $99 per month while other firms only offer custom solutions that are higher in price?" It is a fair question to ask. One that is not easily explained without first educating our prospects a bit on what SEO really is, or maybe better stated, what it has become.

Once upon a time SEO solely meant, to most providers, developing site-appropriate meta data, keywords and submitting to directories. When the bar was lower for most firms competitively, then it was possible for an automated program or an unassociated third party to simply follow a routine and achieve some results. Also, some years ago, there wasn't the appreciation of how powerful the Internet had become as a marketing tool. Firms did not yet realize that the search engines had become so entrenched into the daily lives of individuals.

With those points in mind we now fast forward to 2008. Today, developing a website or operating a website meant to market your services or product without taking organic search and other traffic generation marketing efforts into consideration is, for lack of a better term, marketing suicide. Yes, there are still sites strictly built to support a professional's business card. If your networking is all local and you do not feel the need to drive extra attention to your business then perhaps a $5 hosting account and a free web template could be exactly what you need. No argument. For any firm though that is embroiled in a competitive marketplace or wants to bring in more recognition this solution, without a lot of web-savvy support, just won't fly.

What should I look for in a SEO service?

Let's start with the obvious. See how your potential SEO service provider does for their own firm. Do a search on, "Search Engine Marketing firm City" or use your state if you prefer. See if they come up on page one. I absolutely throw out the argument that their SEO service is so busy taking care of customers they cannot do justice to their own site through their own effort. Really? We use our own site as a "test tube" for SEO on a regular basis. Only by continuing to quest for advancement can you achieve superiority.

Next, want to see their site (or your site) as the search engines do? There are many tools available for these tests, just Google 'seo tools'. Or, you can download the Google toolbar to your desktop and check things out. There are way too many other "tools and toys" to mention. The fact is, you have ways to investigate.

Other steps are pretty common sense. Ask for references. Don't just read testimonials. Review their client's sites. Do their clients face the same level of competition your firm faces? There is a big difference in the way you would market a national sales automation firm vs. a local plumbing supply firm. Both need SEO, but differently. Interview the SEO firm. Ask tough questions. Ask about their process. See if their past experience matches your needs. Will they require any information from you or is this an automated program? Remember, your competition is product, service, region and keyword specific. How can they exclude you from that process and achieve results?

Finally, weigh your investment. Is this a closed-end package that ties you up for a year or more or are their services month to month? Do they seem eager to sign you up without ever knowing your circumstances? Like any good relationship, you have to feel comfortable that your energy will be well spent as well as your cash.

Make the selection of SEO support more than just a price proposition. Consider the decision based upon the desire to be on page one!
About the Author
Steve Thomas is President of The Net Impact, a Web Marketing Firm and writes regularly on SEO and marketing related topics. He can be contacted at stthomas@thenetimpact.com.
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