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Before we jump into various questions about evaluating SEO companies, we should first define Search Engine Optimization. Our team made a white board video explaining the three primary components of search engine optimization. You can watch it below:
Though it seems intuitive that website designers should have working knowledge of the latest SEO tactics, this is not always the case. Many design companies focus specifically on front-end website design, meaning the overall look and feel of the website and user experience. Other designers are "back end" developers who create custom systems and applications. They focus on the code going on behind the scenes.
Search Engine Optimizers typically have a blend of skills, but primarily focus on implementing the more technical SEO elements on a web page, as well as focus on a content strategy that improves the user's search results and viewing experience.
The short answer is no. Google not only looks for indicators that your site should be ranked well, as we mentioned in the video above, but it also looks for improper SEO tactics as well. Of course, whenever a site is full of technical errors or is missing essential SEO elements, the site will not be ranked as well. But if Google detects "black hat" techniques that take advantage or manipulate Google's search algorithm, a penalty can actually be placed on your website. Thus, it is very important to make sure any SEO method abides by Google's search quality guidelines and spam rules.
Absolutely not! If an SEO company claims that they can get you to the top of the Google, be very cautious. If you hear the words, "we can get you ranked number 1"...well you might want to run. The reason being is that no person or company can guarantee specific rank. Google's algorithm is not publicly known, and it also changes very frequently. What a SEO firm can do is implement the latest tactics and generate a content creation plan.
Whether or not you need ongoing SEO services vastly depends on your specific business. Generally we advise small businesses to stay away from an ongoing SEO contract initially. Usually a lot of SEO work is done upfront, then there is a lag time while Google indexes your site and decides how to rank your changes. Once you can see the tangible results from the SEO firm's results, it would be best to evaluate its overall impact on your business. On the other hand, you may need to contract with a SEO company on an ongoing basis if you are striving for national goals, or focus tremendously on e-commerce. Again, this depends on your specific SEO goals, ability to generate and maintain content for your website in-house, and what the competition looks like for your company
We definitely understand it is difficult to know what makes a quality SEO company at face value. I encourage you to always ask your SEO service provider to give exact details on what they will be implementing initially and on an ongoing basis for your company. If they aren't willing to provide this list, it's probably not worth engaging in business with them. Also, you'll want to ask for detailed reports and updates on improvements for your targeted keywords and phrases – either locally or nationally.
If you have any other questions about evaluating SEO companies, feel free to let us know in the comments below or reach out to us directly. We are happy to answer SEO questions and point you in the right direction.