6 Pieces of Non-Optional Advice For Anyone Preparing to Hire an SEO Firm

based on the article of the same topic form Jerod Morri

Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) is the foundation of nearly every online marketing program, and it has the potential to be truly transformation for your business. If you are launching or re-launching a website, there is no good reason not to do so with SEO fundamentals in mind and in place.

SEO is strange industry with every business owner receiving multiple spam offers everyday to have 10 ten rankings in Google for small dollar amounts.  The SEO firms and consultants we recommend, often quote thousands at start up and $500 – $4,000 per month based on business size and goals.  It’s a tall order to ask a business owner to understand the industry enough to hire the right people and what a realistic budget should be.  My advice is always to look at ROI.  If you spend $10,000/year on SEO and get $100,000 in new business, well that’s money well spent.  SEO might not be to your benefit if you have to spend that same amount and the return is nominal or negative.  The numbers are scary but look at the return!

1. Understand the Basics of SEO

Take some time and educate yourself on the basics.  SEOMOZ is a great resource as well. You can also use a resource like this Google AdWords Keyword Research tool to see how often terms relevant to your website or business get searched.

It will also help you to manage your provider and ensure that you’re getting a good return on your investment.

2. Know Your Providers

Manage and hire any SEO firms or subcontractors as your own employees. They should measure and preform to the high standards you have set for your employees. When interviewing and hiring, check references.

3. Own Your Own Domain Name & All Usernames

Why would you let the firm you have hired for your SEO and online marketing endeavor buy and own your domain? Don’t do it.  Make sure you own your domain name and have all the Registrant login information (not the SEO firm).

4. Get a Backup

Sometimes hacks, data loss by the web host happens.  Ask your developer to store a copy and to share one with you in DropBox or similiar.  With a proper backup of your website files, databases, and anything else that may be necessary for your site to function, you can be back up and running again quickly if a web tragedy occurs. Tragedy being your whole website is lost or takes days to recover.

5. Create a Baseline, Track, and Interpret

How will you be able to judge the success of your SEO and other online marketing efforts if you have no data to analyze before the SEO efforts start? And how will you be able to see how much you improve if you don’t know where you started?  We recommend Google Analytics is a free service that works very well.  Regularly analyzing where you were, where you are, and where you want to go will ensure that your SEO and online marketing plan stays on track towards your goals.

6. Be Committed & Manage Expectations

Anyone who promises you immediate across-the-board results for a new SEO program is a charlatan, a lair, or very inexperienced. It’s that simple.  You may receive (spam) emails everyday promising SEO in a sort amount of time, for an incredibly low price ($100 even).  It’s too good to be true.

Especially for a brand new website, SEO is a strategy to build long-term value for your website and, in turn, your business. While quick results can be seen on low traffic/low competition keywords if a site already has decent strength in Google, trying to compete on the higher traffic/higher competition keywords that can really drive traffic and business requires more patience.

If you are simply looking for a quick 3-month bump in traffic, going the route of Pay-Per-Click or some other type of quick-hit online marketing may be your best bet. If you want to set your website up for sustained success over time, however, nothing beats SEO… so long as you are willing to be patient while the fundamentals are put in place and the groundwork is laid.

SEO, when implemented effectively, is worth it, and it will pay off if you follow the six steps listed above, but make sure you’re committed from the beginning, otherwise it doesn’t make much sense to even start.

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