So firstly, I’d like to clarify what an SEO does and then cover off some of the things to look out for when engaging an SEO company.
Firstly, an SEO undertakes the following activities:
- Reviews your website and the structure of your site
- Undertakes keyword research and provides advice on the best keywords for your business
- Provides training & recommendations for content
- Provides technical advice on your website. This includes the use of redirects and strategies for your error pages
- Can help you optimize your Google places listing
- Can help you get back links to your website
Make Sure You Have Good Site Structure
Primarily, many SEO firms concentrate on getting back links. But as you can see back-links are only one part of the equation. It’s equally important to have a good site structure before your website is built. In fact, it is best practice to hire an SEO consultant before you redesign your website or redesign an existing one. An SEO consultant can also provide recommendations to improve existing websites.
Do Invest In Keyword Research & Get Keyword Advice
Unfortunately, we often see many SEO firms who sell link building services without actually providing advice on keyword advice. Now this might be because of budget constraints, however budget should not be a consideration here.
Sending links to a website without keyword research is akin to building a house without a floor plan. So if you are looking at hiring an SEO firm, make sure that they provide keyword advise rather than just ask you for the keywords you want to rank for.
We see many unethical practices. Unfortunately, some of these practices will put your site at risk.
Other Things to Avoid Are:
- SEO Companies who guarantee a 1st page ranking. The fact is no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Google have made this implicitly clear in their webmaster tools area.
- Companies who guarantees ranking on obscure non-competitive keywords
- Recommendations to put links to their other clients sites on doorway pages such as a resources page.
- Proposals requesting you allow links to their other clients on your site. Typically, a resources link will be placed in the footer area of your site and contain links to their other clients.
- Keyword rich site wide links in the footer of your site. These types of links seem to have been penalised in the latest penguin update.
- Having another web page set up that replicates content on your existing website on a sub domain that they own. Google want fresh, original and relevant content.
- Companies who own listing directories and then puts a hidden link from your website to their directory and then offers to sell you a listing on their directory
- Excessive reciprocal links and link exchanges
In many of these examples, they are risky strategies that might give you a short term lift but could easily get you in hot water in the long run.
If you do employ any of these tactics make sure you understand what happens when you finish your SEO contract if you are on one. Remember that if you are building a business on someone’s else’s asset, you risk having the link you paid for removed anyway. This means that a lot of the money you spent spent could be wasted.
The best way to get links is to create relevant unique content that gains traction and attracts comments. Remember that getting thousands of poor quality links will do you more harm than good. Remember that before adding a link to someone else’s website, think about whether the link is going to beneficial to your brand as well as your sites visitors.
Below is a snapshot of some of the links I found on a website that sells blinds on their resources page. Notice that a link from a competing firm has been added. Is this really what you want? What happens if some of these services are poor? How is this going to reflect on your brand?