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Marketing 101: What is an SEO

SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization” or “search engine optimizer.” Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save 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 can do to your site.

Pro’s and Con’s of hiring an SEO for your digital marketing needs.

Not all SEO’s are created equally. There are plenty of companies who claim to be SEO experts but how are you supposed to know which companies actually are? Let’s explore, from Google’s own help guide, how to determine if the person or company you are talking to is actually an expert or if they are going to hurt your efforts online.

A good SEO will help you follow the accepted guidelines and standards laid out by Google so that your site can have the best content and user experience and, ultimately rank well in a Google Search Results Page (SERP). Some of the things a good SEO might do for you include: Reviewing site content and structure, Providing technical advice on new site development, Developing content or even your entire website, Managing and deploying new campaigns, Providing keyword research, Providing SEO training, and Having expertise in specific industries or geographies.

To help you find out whether or not you are working with a good SEO, Google has provided a guide with a series of important questions. It starts with “If you’re thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you’re considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up.” This is why many SEO’s actually offer additional services like Website Design so that they can help clients from the beginning of their project. Google goes on to give the following advice for hiring an SEO, which we have summarized.

 Choosing an SEO

1. Be committed to implementing the recommended changes – SEO takes time and effort and if you aren’t going to take the time it’s not worth hiring a professional.
2. Interview your potential SEO – Ask questions like; do you have examples or reporting of previous success you have had? Are you following all Google guidelines? What are your key performance metrics and how do you share those with your clients? What experience do you have in my industry and/or geography? What technique or method do you use? How long have you been in business and how do you communicate with your clients? Also, make sure that the SEO is interested in you and your business and has their own questions that will help them understand your needs. 
3. Ask for a high level technical audit or evaluation – An SEO should provide you with some type of evaluation or audit to support their recommendation. Because these audits require time and usually additional software to perform, some SEO’s might charge a fee. Typically, your prospective SEO should be able to give you a preliminary audit to prove their competency and not charge you for this service. *If they guarantee that you will get first place in any search result, find someone else*.

Helpful Guidelines

1. Use caution when hiring any agency that can have a positive or negative impact on your online presence. There is a delicate balance when deciding to hire a company and many things should be taken into consideration. Referrals are great, but you should still qualify any company before hiring them. “Too good to be true” pricing and promises are always just that, too good to be true. Work with a company that is in your country and make sure that they actually perform the work and don’t contract it out over seas. 

2. No one, absolutely no one, can guarantee #1 ranking on Google. If a company is promising you that they can get you ranked #1 on Google there are only two explanations; they plan to use paid and not organic placement to substantiate their claim, or they are making false promises to earn your business. Work with a company that focuses on improving your traffic and tracking revenue opportunities and the keyword rankings will come how they are intended to, organically.

3. Be involved in your digital well-being. A good SEO can help you build the online assets and traffic to take your company to a new level, but a bad SEO can damage your reputation and even get you removed from search engine indexes like Google. Your SEO should be providing reports and data and reviewing it with you so you know where your money is going and what impact it is having on your company. SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” advertising medium, but rather a critical operation of your business and you should treat your website and SEO like an integrated part of your company. 

I’ve had several companies tell me they can get me to the top of Google for $500 a month, why pay more?

If you have been told by ANY company that they can guarantee you positions on Google for any set price in any set amount of time that is a huge red flag. Because Google uses so many factors in their ranking calculations, and because they are constantly changing them, the reality is that no SEO provider with integrity would make those promises. You should be looking for a provider that promises reporting as evidence of their work, reasonable terms and pricing, and sets targets based on traffic. 

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