If you are a small business owner, then you probably already know that you’ve got a pretty full plate. Between managing the day to day operations to growing the business, budgeting, hiring, marketing. You’re busy.
So when you have to figure out how to market your business online, how do you go about it? Do you pay for placement? Focus on social media like Facebook? Or should you hire an SEO specialist, or handle your search engine optimization yourself? What about your local listing?
There really are a lot of options to consider. That is why we feel it is best to thoroughly consider all your options before hiring any SEO firm. Because, like anyone in business, a firm may try to sell you services that aren’t best for your situation because they have quotas they have to fill.
In this article we give you some pointers on how to find the best SEO expert to help you out. We also provide you some questions you can ask to ensure that the person or firm you hire actually does know what they are doing and won’t just throw out a bunch of industry jargon to make themselves sound like they know what they are doing when really they may not.
What’s the most effective form of visitor traffic to your site?
As suggested above, there are many different sources of visitor traffic which you could take advantage of, so which is the most effective? Well, that depends on your business goals, and the time you have. If you need to attract customers NOW then some sort of paid program, like Google AdWords is probably best. But this can also be a very expensive and time-consuming process.
Social media might be a good option as well, but again it depends on the type of customer you are searching for. You could spend time building your audience with catchy and engaging posts, or you could spend some money on some targeted ads. Again, this can end up being expensive and time consuming.
Or, you could go where 90% of internet users go daily – a search engine. More specifically, work on your organic, or free, search engine ranking.
However, if you don’t know where to go or what to do this again can be a very time-consuming process. If you do it right, you can attract many new customers at a fraction of the cost of the paid options. Do it wrong and your site could be hardly seen in search engines, or worse, penalized and removed from the search index.
That’s why we always tell our clients – focus on search first, then look at other options like social media and ads.
If this is you, and you are considering hiring a firm to handle your SEO, here are three reasons why you should:
Reason #1 – Experience – There are many SEO firms with lots of experience. Here at Purpose Driven Promotion, we have almost 20 years of practical proven SEO experience. That’s not 20 years combined among our top employees. That is the owner of the business himself having 20 years of hands on experience, working with many different types of sites and sizes of clients. This type of experience can come in very handy, especially on some of those trickier projects.
Reason #2 – Usability – Chances are whether you built your website yourself, or you hired a design firm to build it, you were more concerned with the esthetic and ensuring it had all the right information on it. Usability was secondary, if even a consideration. A good SEO firm will look beyond how your site looks and focus on how easy it is to use. If someone comes to your site for the first time (because of all the traffic you will get from your new SEO campaign) will they find what they want? Whether it’s to purchase online, or to complete a form, or to call you, usability is the most important aspect of your website.
Reason #3 – Data – Most SEO’s today LOVE data. They love crunching numbers and producing graphs showing you how great they are doing for you. But beyond that, they can interpret the data in ways you may not have thought of. They use this data to help figure out how people are using your site, and more importantly, how your site can be improved to allow even more searchers find and navigate your site. They can also spot potential problems before they become bigger issues and 0should be able to provide solutions to those problems.
Reason #4 – Knowledge – Most SEOs spend at least a couple hours per day reading and researching search engines. This is needed because of how many changes happen daily weekly and monthly. They then take that research and turn it into actionable items. New Google update? Not usually a problem. A good SEO should be able to give you an understanding of what is going on at any given time on any of the major search engines.
As you may see, it is probably worthwhile hiring a good SEO firm or consultant as they truly are the experts. You don’t have to spend hours and hours reading and researching, trying to figure out which advice is correct (and which is not, because believe me there’s lots of incorrect advice being given by “SEO experts”).
Questions to Ask Before You Hire an SEO Specialist
This leads to our next point – just how do you figure out who the real experts are? Here are some questions you can ask them:
- What sort of guarantee do you offer? This is a trick question because any good SEO knows that they can’t guarantee anything. If an SEO firm does give you a guarantee of rankings then you need to find someone else. While we can say with some certainty that we can get you to the top of the page in Google, we can’t guarantee it. That’s because Google and the other engines are fluid. Their algorithms are changing daily. What works today may not work tomorrow.
- What will you do to improve my rankings? Good SEO consultants aren’t scared to share with you exactly what they will do. Some will gloss over the nitty gritty details, but in general they should be able to outline for you what happens to your site, and what their ongoing maintenance fees will cover.
- What deliverables do you provide? Most good SEO consultants or firms will provide you with monthly reporting or provide you with an area online where you can login to see your site’s progress. But more than that, the reporting should be easy to understand. If you don’t understand what it is they are providing then you need to ask questions. But ultimately the reporting should be easy to understand. IE “we improved your rankings on these search phrases. You now rank here, and your visitors did this”. If they use too much jargon like “your KPIs improved” or “the insert-some-algorithm-name-here update has negatively affected your rankings” without providing more details, or an action plan then I’d say it’s time to find a new SEO firm.
- Can you provide me some sample rankings? Any good SEO firm should have rankings they can show you. If they don’t then you don’t want to deal with them.
- Do you have testimonials? Again, if an SEO consultant can’t (or won’t) provide you with at least 1 testimonial from 1 satisfied client, then they probably aren’t as good as they say.
- What sets you apart from your competition? In other words – why should I hire you? A good SEO firm or consultant should be able to tell you, without hesitation, why you should work with them. It’s important to note that price shouldn’t be the only determining factor here. If they say “because we are the cheapest” then you should keep on looking.
As with any other business, you should always talk to more than 1 SEO firm before making your decision. Talk to a few of them. Get them all to answer your questions. They should also be able to give you a quote for what your services will cost, and there should be no surprises. If they can’t talk price with you, or answer the questions mentioned above, then you should probably find someone else to work with.
Finally, we recommend not signing any sort of contract. These are usually written for the SEO firm’s benefit, not your own. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve dealt with who got tricked into signing a year long contract, pay monthly fees with nothing to show for it.
In conclusion, consider your options. While you may think you can do it yourself, you will probably find that it’s a very daunting task that takes a lot of time. Would you be better off focusing on building your business, servicing the clients you currently have and managing all our off-line marketing, or doing your own SEO?