Sunday, July 10, 2016

Five Questions for Your SEO Company

Is SEO "dirty"? This week Patrick Stox, writing for Search Engine Land, proclaimed "SEO is as dirty as ever."

Recently on this blog we reported on the dirty practices of a Dallas-based man, who had been charged with extorting a firm who had hired him to perform website optimization. Instead, he performed "negative SEO,"--or as the man admitted in his plea, "illegitimate SEO."

We also reported on the case of e-Ventures Worldwide, who filed a lawsuit against Google for de-indexing 213 sites--all "pure spam," according to Google.

So yes, dirty SEO exists.

As the Search Engine Land article reveals, some is intentional, even egregious: "I recently ran into a home page title that was over 800 characters long," Stox writes, "with almost every city in the area!"

Yet, Stox notes, a lot of so-called "dirty" SEO is honest mistakes: websites blocking Google's bots, JavaScript pages with no content, and site redesigns that fail to redirect.

Stox ends his article with a list of "shady" SEO practices, including ridiculous contracts, paid links, and duplicate content.

It's hard to believe these sort of practices still work. Google has done its best to limit deceptive and harmful practices. Yet clearly old dirty tricks can be effective. And for some, the risks of "dirty" SEO justify the short term rewards.

The rewards never last. If your website is engaging in dirty SEO, you will be penalized by Google. As Kissmetrics notes, the Penguin algorithm, introduced in 2012 to eliminate spammy practices, "wiped some sites out of search entirely, pushed poor quality content off the map and forced optimizers to think much more carefully about their content strategy."

Even then, a small business owner could easily be excused for fearing SEO and SEO firms. This fear speaks to our purpose in writing The Organic SEO Blog.

We demystify SEO to make the practice accessible to more people--especially small business owners. Most SEO blogs are full of technical jargon that confuses the average website owner. We've written this blog for those who don't need to know the difference between a canonical tag and and a 301.

You don't need to know the terms,
but you do need to choose the right SEO company.

If you're currently searching for an Internet marketing agency to help promote your website, do not avoid SEO firms, out of hand. To find an ethical firm who practices sound SEO, learn to ask the right questions:

1. Do you have a plan for my website?

A good SEO firm should have a process that yields proven results. When meeting with an SEO firm, ask precisely how this process will work for your website. Like all marketing campaigns, an SEO campaign must proceed from logic--sound facts about your own business and the market.

2. Will you perform a website audit?

The first step to a successful online marketing campaign is a careful analysis of your website’s current performance. Most website owners simply do not understand how search engines view their sites. A good SEO firm will perform an audit before suggesting any serious changes.

3. How will you quantify your results?  

A good SEO company will send you detailed monthly reports about your website's performance. These reports should be thorough and honest.

4. Do you practice "natural" website optimization?

Natural website optimization promotes an "organic" approach to SEO. This means building for users, not search engines.

5. Do you understand the latest algorithm changes?

When the algorithms change, the SEO game changes--sometimes ever so slightly; sometimes dramatically. Keeping pace with the changes is a core part of the job of an SEO company. Your potential SEO company should be able to talk legibly about Google's algorithm in all its iterations--from Penguin to Hummingbird.

Natural Website Optimization with Stepmans PC

It is important to understand the work your SEO firm performs for you. You want to hire a real professional who will not waste your time and money. If you want to speak to a reliable SEO professional, please consider the Organic SEO Blog's sponsor, Stepmans PC.

Just like this blog, the professional SEO specialists at Stepmans PC strive to educate you about what we do and how we do it. After all, you should know exactly what to expect from your SEO professional's work.