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Selecting a Search Engine Optimization Consultant or Company

Aug 6, 2008
So you're launching an Internet marketing campaign, and want to know how to raise your search engine positions, monitor those positions, and adjust your strategies to account for undesirable results in any given month. A Search Engine Optimization Consultant or Company can be an invaluable asset in this project, as they can offer the time, effort, and specialized knowledge needed to make your project a success.

However, as is the case with all the business endeavors, it pays to ask the right questions and search the right criteria, ensuring that you choose the most affordable and effective search engine optimization company to correspond with your needs.

When looking at SEO companies, begin by considering their professional approaches to elevating search engine positions. Stay away from companies that utilize cloaked, doorway, or bridge pages to raise those positions. These techniques violate the professional policies espoused by most search engine policies, and in the worst case scenario, your website will be penalized severely, if not removed entirely from a search engine's index.

A cloaked page is one that is invisible to your websites regular visitors. The cloaked page is coded to detect a search engine spider and direct it to this special page, which is designed to artificially boost your search engine position. Doorway or bridge pages use the same concept, but often reside on a separate different server.

Google, one of the largest and most vital search engines on the Internet, will remove your website from their index if they detect the presence of cloaked pages. Its advisable not to employ any company that uses this technique.

Its also important to get a guarantee of exclusivity, ensuring that the company you hire will not work with your competitors while they are working for you. Obviously, this would seriously compromise the effectiveness of your search engine optimization campaign. After all, some companies will use the success they bring to your website to sell their services to your competitors. So get a legally binding guarantee in writing to prevent this from happening.

One of the most important factors to consider is the company's track record of overall results and success. And don't just take their word for it, as company officials will undoubtedly be slanting their results in order to sell their services to you. To go beyond their simple statement of success, ask them a few pertinent questions and verify their answers.

Ask them with which specific search engines they have achieved the best results; the most vital engines are the most popular engines, and these are the ones with which you want to achieve optimum results. Since the popularity of search engines can shift with the ever-changing landscape of the overall Internet, check out the Nielsen Netratings page at Search Engine Watch. You can access this at http://www.searchenginewatch.com/article.php/2156451.

Next, find out what keywords and phrases that they claim are netting great results. It's easy to get high rankings with unpopular words; for instance, the keyword "cat leashes" will get an elevated popularity ranking because no one else would think of using it. What you are looking for are good results using popular keywords. Check out the software Wordtracker, available at www.wordtracker.com. You can order a free trial, or a subscription ranging from one day to one year. This software rates the popularity of keywords and phrases based on actual search engine use.

Next, check out an entire site that the company claims to have worked for successfully and monitor their results. You want to see a wide range of positions over a number of different search engines, using different keywords or phrases for the entire site. Request a report for any client the company claims to have served well. This report should show good positions on a number of the most popular search engines for a variety of different, popular keywords and phrases.

When you are checking out search engine optimization companies, ensure they have actually done the work they are claiming to have done. Some companies will show you other company's results in order to get you to sign on with them.

If you are in doubt, call the company they are showing your results for, and ask for the name of their search engine optimization company.

It's important to keep in mind that a successful search engine optimization campaign will result in maximum exposure across a wide range of popular search engines using a variety of keywords and phrases. This is the formula for a successful campaign, and you should keep it always in the forefront of your marketing strategy.

Ask the search engine optimization company you are considering for a report that displays rankings across a number of popular search engines for a period of at least six months. Remember, search engine marketing is a process that is continual, and you need a company that not only understands this, but keeps constant watch over your search engine positions. That company must also be able to adjust its strategy in the event that search engine rankings drop.

Since search engine marketing is an ongoing process, your positions must be monitored constantly. If you want your search engine optimization company to do this for you, request a sample of a monthly report. It is essential that this report show rankings for the most popular search engines. Don't be impressed by a report that only shows great results for a limited number of small search engines. These are fairly easy results to acquire. Also confirm that the popular search engine results they show you are indeed the popular search engines currently.

Be sure the sample report the company shows you is in an easily understood format. For example, it could be in the form of a chart that covers a period of at least six months and presents data such as the top 50 positions broken down on a monthly basis or the top five pages each month. Then, ascertain that the company you are considering actually monitors these positions or pages every month, and that the sample report they show you includes findings and recommendations for the specific site. This ensures that the company will actively monitor and make adjustments to their strategy on a continual basis, rather than simply gather statistics regarding your positions. You need a company that is actively participating in your search engine marketing campaign, not just an information gatherer.

Obviously, your finances have to figure into your choice of company, but bear in mind that a search engine optimization company is crucial to the success of your marketing campaign. It is not just a casual accessory. If you cannot afford a company that will do a thorough and reliable job for your website, you might consider waiting until you do have the finances in place.

If you have to find a company and can't wait for your finances to catch up with this need, you may be able to find an affordable company that will supply quality, reliable work, such as a company thats just starting out. Just remember that you incur a risk when using a company without a proven track record - and that risk is your money! Don't take that leap unless the company can supply you with a least a few references.

References are the most reliable indicator of a good company. Don't use a company that won't show your references because of any reason, confidentiality included.

Remember - even doctors will provide references! The firm you choose should provide you with a minimum of two references, one that is from a past work experience, and one that is current.

When you contact these references, be prepared to ask precise, specific questions so that no time is wasted. Ask them what their experience was like with the company, such as their availability to answer questions and deal with problems and their ability to meet deadlines. Ask the reference to rate the overall performance of the company.

Find out if the company requested that the person giving the reference make significant changes to their web pages that affected the visitors coming to their site. You are looking for a search engine optimization company that can balance the needs of both search engines and site visitors without compromising either.

The most essential question to ask is whether the work of the search engine optimization company resulted in higher profits for the reference. Without profits, it doesn't matter whether your positions are at the top of the list or not.
About the Author
Garey Simmons writes about
SEO Consultants
from personal experience. Having spent countless hours
working with an SEO
and how to market his many
business online, Garey has lots of tips to share. For a Free Report 'Business
Owners Fear SEO' go to http://SEOCoach.Net
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