5 Questions You Should Be Asking Your SEO Provider
This post was written by John Bryan, Director of Staffordshire IT Services who are Tamworth and Lichfield based IT & Online Marketing Experts that alongside their Web and software development have provided Microsoft and OSX IT Installations and Support for 11 Years.
It used to be that “marketing strategy” meant a place in the yellow pages and a newspaper ad, hand delivered flyers and a radio commercial. These days, a business needs a lot more than a colorful corner of the Sunday Journal or a clever jingle to promote its product or service. Small businesses, particularly, must strive to keep up with the times in order to be competitive in a global marketplace. Simply having a website is no longer sufficient; Businesses must have a well designed and fully optimised online presence. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one way that small business can take their website to the next level. When done properly, SEO can not only be a more effective marketing tool, but can also cost less in the long run than more traditional marketing techniques.
Choosing an SEO provider for your small business website can be daunting. As with everything else in our global economy, you will have your pick of literally thousands of companies, from flashy high profile consultants to small local IT firms in your own backyard. How should you choose? Start by asking potential SEO providers these important questions:
1. What, specifically, are you going to do to improve my site’s visibility?
Make sure to get a detailed action plan that outlines every step in the process. A comprehensive SEO strategy should involve indexing, cross-linking, and editing content and meta data to include relevant keywords. A good SEO provider will be able to explain their customised strategy for your site without a lot of jargon and “geek speak”. You should understand and be completely comfortable with the changes being proposed
2. Do you have any previous customers who can vouch for your work?
Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from past clients. Even better, ask to see websites that the company has worked on. You can even do a relevant keyword search and look for that site in the search results. Consultants with nothing to hide and a successful track record will gladly hand over at least three references or examples of their work.
3. How much will your services cost me?
Many articles about SEO insist that when it comes to choosing an SEO provider, money should be no object. While that sounds nice-after all, who wouldn’t like to market their business with no concern for cost?-the fact of the matter is that as a small business, you have a budget. But finding an affordable SEO provider doesn’t have to mean sacrificing quality. In fact, you should be wary of SEO providers that charge too little, as a next-to-nothing cost will likely get you next-to-nothing results. Shop around for a happy medium. Many IT companies in your city or neighborhood offer SEO service at a fraction of the price of larger, remote providers you can find online, whilst providing the best in design and optimisation.
4. Where are you based?
As a small business owner, you know that just because you can outsource a task to another country doesn’t mean that you should. There are many self-proclaimed SEO experts online boasting low prices and years of experience. But optimising a website-your website-is a highly specialised, uniquely tailored endeavor. Whether they’re based in the US or India, international consultants simply cannot do for your site what a local company can do: They speak your language, know your dialect, and share your culture. Furthermore, a remote provider can offer you zero face-time and may be difficult to reach by phone or email. A local company with a tangible presence can come to your office or be reached easily by phone.
5. Do you offer a written contract or service agreement?
Always insist on full documentation when working with an SEO provider. The agreement should include details on what specific techniques will be used to optimise your site and can also include a provision for future modifications, should the need arise. Having a signed contract might seem like a formality, but it is vital as a source of professional accountability. The best SEO providers will include a quality guarantee in your contract, and Staffordshire IT take that guarantee a step further by deferring your obligation to pay until after you’ve seen the results of their work.
It’s important to remember that no SEO company has a deal with Google or any other search engine, and no one can guarantee you a #1 ranking in search results- though they should certainly try. Even the best SEO takes some time to be effective, so consider a provider who is willing to defer payment until you are satisfied with the results. Most importantly, choose an SEO provider that understands you and your business. Make sure you and your SEO consultant speak the same language, both literally and figuratively.
Using Fasthosts Traffic Driver Package (from £2.00pm +VAT) is a great first step to get your SEO started.
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