If you own a company with a website, you may have heard the term “search engine optimization” (SEO). Maybe you have even considered hiring an SEO company to help drive traffic to your website.
What is “SEO”? Why should I care?
The term, “search engine optimization” or “SEO” refers to a company or organization’s efforts to be features more predominantly in search engine search results. There are a few reasons this is important for you and your company. In the first place, more than 93% of all internet experiences are started with a visit to a search engine. In the second place, the vast majority of internet users never scroll past the first page of a search. Only one quarter of all people who use the internet look past that pivotal first page. If you are not there, you may have exactly what a person is looking for, maybe even at a better price but they will never find you.
Why should I hire an SEO company?
SEO marketing companies and SEO consultants will work with you to make sure your website gets as much exposure through search engine searches as possible. They do this three ways:
- They create effective content. Content creation is not just an exercise in throwing stuff up on your website to make it look updated. You need quality content that both has the right keywords embedded throughout but that also provides some value. If it was just about keywords, all you would need is an updated list every day
- They build effective links. What is this? Basically, you get other sites to link back to you. They cannot be every kind of website or from any business. You need companies that offer complementary goods and services. The local cat collective will not help you grow your business unless you sell cat related goods and services, for instance.
- Run analysis and tweak as needed. Your website is never going to be “done.” You will always be adding to it, changing it, etc. Google, who owns between 70 and 80% of the search engine market, changes it algorithm all of the time, so you have to change just to keep up. This is a very fluid situation and so must be your SEO branding strategy.
Questions you should ask any SEO company:
- Can I talk to current and former clients? The best way to get to know what it is like to work with a company is to talk to people who are doing that now or have in the past. A good SEO company will have other businesses who will vouch for their work. It is often hard to give specifics about how much traffic good SEO can generate but you can get a sense of how hard the SEO works and how effective they are at getting results.
- What are your “white hat” policies? In SEO, there are “white” and “black” hat SEO services. Those with the white hats are, as the name implies, the good guys. They strictly adhere to all of Google’s rules and regulations. The black hat companies do not. If you think this is not a big deal, BMW was once banned from Google completely for a while in 2006 when they used black hat strategies to get more web traffic. The morale of that story is follow Google’s rules for your SEO strategy.
- How are you with local SEO? By adding your city, state and location to some areas of your website such as the title tags and meta descriptions, you can get people looking for goods and services in your area to find you and come to your location (if that is what you are looking for). Ask the SEO company about their experience with local SEO.
- Be wary of over the top claims. If an SEO company says they can guarantee you the top spot on a Google or Yahoo or Bing search, you should really go elsewhere. They probably also have a bridge in Brooklyn that they are looking to sell.
Good SEO is not rocket science but is important to your business and your bottom line. Hiring the right SEO company is a great step in the right direction.