You have made up your mind to have your site professionally optimized for search engines (SEO).
You are energetic, upbeat and can't wait for the visitors (and cash) to roll in.
However, before hiring the first optimization company you come across, consider that SEO is like
any other profession in that there are a lot of mediocre offers in the market. Going with the right
company can make your online performance go through the roof. Picking the wrong people to
optimize your site, however, is a waste of cash at best and will get you de-listed from search
engines at worst.
SEO can actually hurt my website?
Some individuals and companies engage in what is called "Black-Hat" SEO. This is a set of constantly
changing techniques that outright fool search engines into giving your page a high importance. The
result of having such techniques applied to your site is a fast rise in ranking, and a fast drop or a total
de-listing from search engines as they realize that you've been fooling them. Such performance is ideal
for sites looking to make a quick, temporary, profit but is disastrous for companies that are in business
for the long run.
How to spot the mediocre optimizers
As you read through SEO companies' materials and negotiate with them, there are certain signs to
watch for. Avoid companies that:
1. Provide Guarantees
The nature of website optimization is an interplay between the content of your website and search engines'
perception of the site. If Google thinks that your site is important, it will rank highly when users search for
your targeted terms. Professional optimizers know that guarantees are impossible – because the way Google,
or other search engines, determine your site's "importance" is not only a trade secret, but also changes about
twice a year. Your site's rank does not only depend on your SEO's techniques, it also depends on search
engines' behavior. And that is something that no SEO can control or guarantee.
2. Foreign Operated
There are many very inexpensive optimization services offered by companies located abroad. Having your
entire SEO done abroad is a bad idea though. Copywriters who grew up abroad, and who's second language
is English, often write content that has spelling or grammar mistakes – these kinds of mistakes indicate low
content quality to site visitors. Another issue is the presence of nuances of language and idioms: a foreign
copywriter may use British English instead of American English, and will miss out on cultural idioms such as
"break a leg". Always choose an SEO company that operates in the same locale as your target market .
3. Grandiose Statements
Search Engine Optimization takes time and hard work. It will even involve work on your part. There are no
free lunches, and if your optimizer proposes to do something that will gain you success "overnight", it is
unrealistic. Be aware of anything that sounds too easy. Truly good optimizers will even explain the difficulty
and length of the process to you – and will sometimes decline projects that they deem unrealistic.
Search Engine Optimization is a great way to improve the amount of visitors to your site, and thus the
amount of leads and sales your company makes. However, it is important to keep an objective outlook
and not get the impression that SEO is quick and easy. Choose your SEO partner wisely, because SEO
is a long term relationship with solid results.
And, of course, avoid the SEO Underperformers!