Each day we hear more and more horror stories about SEO scams, well-intentioned but misguided Web marketing efforts, or even tech folks who can’t answer simple business questions – you name it.
While most SEO companies have at least adequate technical skills, many don’t seem to provide what business owners really find useful: a voice on the other end of the phone. You would think that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a company willing to explain their process, right? Guess again.
So, what’s a business owner to do when it is time to focus on SEO? In this article, we’ll highlight some of the ways you can steer away from the wrong Web firms and find the right one.
Know what to expect
Knowing what to reasonably expect from an SEO company can make all the difference.
Ask yourself these questions at the beginning of the process:
- Do you want to have input on day-to-day SEO operations?
- Are you okay with waiting a few months for significant results?
- Do you want a dedicated point of contact?
As with housing, ‘let the buyer beware’ is the rule. Most of the time, you may not have enough information about what you’re purchasing. Most SEO firms will leave you feeling disappointed if you don’t do your research beforehand.
Here are the five most common ways that SEO firms disappoint their customers. If you want to get a good return on your marketing dollars, a great head start includes being wary of these common pitfalls:
1) The “Overpromise & Under-deliver” Routine
The majority of SEO companies tend to over-promise to get your company more business. Any promise of immediate results should set off red flags right away. Most SEO providers well promise you the moon just to get you to sign up.
2) The “Hide What We’re NOT Doing” Routine
If an SEO company isn’t taking the time to educate you with key knowledge about their process, one of two things could be the cause. On the one hand, they might not want to give away secrets. But, on the other, it might be because they have no intention of delivering results. Figuring out why they may be hiding information is critical.
3) The “Just Wing It” Routine
If an SEO company is hesitant to give up ANY information about their process or roadmap for your success, start looking elsewhere. This is a huge red flag and you deserve to have all of your questions answered.
4) The “Long Time No Hear” Routine
Some SEO providers will attempt to convince you to sign a contract, but then go dark any time you try to reach them to see what they’ve been up to. You should expect to have a dedicated point of contact, and a direct line to reach them so that you can have your questions answered right away. And of course, avoid getting locked into a long-term contract.
5) The “Excuse Me, Come Again?” Routine
Many people at SEO firms are hired for their technical skills, not their ability to talk to customers or listen to their business needs. The best SEO providers are good at both, and will be able to patiently explain their process in plain English, even if you’re having trouble understanding.
Of course, not every service provider can get it right ALL of the time and SEO providers are certainly not exempt from this rule. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting, why it’s right for your business and what the price really is before you sign on the dotted line.
Just know, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While web marketing can be confusing and scary, it’s easiest to remember that hiring an SEO provider is just like hiring a contractor. The key to picking a good one is finding whose capabilities line up with what you really need. Ask as many questions as you can – you’ll be glad you did.
Try these questions for starters:
- Ask for references in your industry. You’ll be amazed how many “bad apples” this will weed out.
- Ask how to reach them if you have questions. You should have a direct phone number and an email address for contacting your provider.
- Ask what the plan is if your results are not satisfactory. Your SEO provider should work with you to try out new strategies if current ones aren’t working.
Getting to Page One on Google is realistic, if you’re working with the right firm. But finding an SEO provider you can trust and who can get you great results while communicating with you can take some research. Look for a SEO partner who takes the time to understand your needs and educate you and you will get the results you deserve. Now go out there and market harder!
Alain Parcan is the Director of Marketing for Market Hardware, Inc. and contributed this article. Market Hardware helps small businesses compete on the Web and offers special discounts for professional association members. Ask Alain any Website or Internet Marketing question by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 888-381-6925.