A potential client called our web development company, and after nearly an hour on the phone with the developer, he felt confident that we were being up front and honest with him. He was interested in developing a website for a national company. He was already on board with an SEO, but had doubts as to his qualifications.
The question was posed: “What kinds of questions should I ask my SEO consultant to be sure he knows what he’s doing? Below is an excerpt of the result – questions to ask your SEO to be sure they know what they’re doing.
#1 – How will you choose which keywords to optimize on each page? Will you guess or do research? If research, what programs do you use? Will you be able to tell me the number of searches per month those keywords are getting?
This is important! MANY SEO’s optimize a page for words like “pensacola florida pool retail sellers”. This is fraudulent at worst and a bad idea at best because there are zero searches each month for that phrase. So even if your SEO consultant got you a number one placement in the search engines for that phrase – No One Searches For It! (A #1 placement won’t bring traffic to your site.)
#2 What is your inbound and outbound linking strategy? Link exchanges are a thing of the past. “Bad neighborhoods” have eliminated the benefit to link exchanges and link farms. What strategy does your SEO have for building links naturally? Also, avoid “run of site” links. These are links that are placed in the footer or another inconspicuous place on every page of a website. The search engines have gotten “smarter” when it comes to links. If it doesn’t look natural, it won’t help you – and could actually hinder your efforts.
#3 Will you provide me with monthly reports on your progress? All reputable SEO professionals should provide you with monthly reports on keyword placement in the SERPs as well as overall site metrics such as number of visitors, average pages viewed per visit, average time on site, and best sources of traffic. While no one can promise you a number one ranking (after all, the search engines control that, not SEOs) a professional SEO should want to show you the progress he’s making.
While there are many questions you should ask a potential SEO consultant, these are three that will give you a good understanding of their practices. Keep in mind that you should always steer clear of someone that tells you to “hide” keywords on a page (white text on a white background). This is known as blackhat SEO, or spamdexing and while it may give you a temporary boost – search engines are smarter than they used to be. The last thing you want is for your domain to get black listed and not show up at all.
A reputable SEO will follow search engine best practices and should be certified. With a little information and some time, you’ll be able to screen potential SEO’s and get the most value for your money. And yes – SEO is expensive – because it’s time consuming. With something like this, you get what you pay for.