Finding The Right Online Marketing Business

By: Mel Joelle

“Search Engine Optimization” is, as you know, a hot phrase right now. Everyone, clients and marketing vendors alike, is hot to get on the SEO bandwagon. This isn’t necessarily a good thing; like any Gold Rush-style climate, there are going to be fly-by-night, unethical or incompetent firms out there who purport to specialize in SEO campaigns. Here are some things you need to consider going into it:

* Think about your needs first. What’s your business model? What’s your product? Where would you like to see this all headed two years from now? Think all this through before you even start the conversation. If a vendor doesn’t know what a client wants, it makes their job a lot more nebulous and difficult. A less-ethical company might even wind up trying to tell YOU what it is you want.

* Use your own social network. Get recommendations from people you trust, who know how this kind of thing works. This could be from friends, colleagues, competitors, bloggers or SEO forums. There are ways to get a good opinion on this.

* Ask for some success stories or testimonials. Not just clients, not just “references” — anybody can give a reference, and people aren’t likely to give a bad reference. Ask to see sites of clients that have had concrete results and have done well with this company’s efforts. Even this can be tricky, though. You might run across a site that’s full of bad SEO practices, which begs the question…did the SEO not know what they were doing, or did the client not initiate their recommendations? So ask to see results from a site that’s doing well with SEO or that is seeing a great conversion rate.

* Don’t just talk to the sales guy. If at all possible, meet up with the entire team, including management. Visit them on site if you can. Make sure you can get a friendly, approachable rapport going with them. If you can’t, things are likely to be a little difficult down the road.

* Don’t put too much stock in “guarantees” or lofty promises. If a company says they can “guarantee” page rank or results, be skeptical. There are plenty of companies that practice black-hat SEO techniques that will get you results in the short run, but may eventually lead to your site being blacklisted for things like links to link farms. This is where it can get dicey, so tread carefully.

* Don’t go with the first one you talk to. Get quotes and proposals from 2 or 3 different companies, just like you would for anything else.

* Go with your gut. Do they sound like they have a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the marketplace? Do they know the latest trends with search engines? What’s their track record like, and how are they on the follow-through? In the end, your gut is going to tell you which way to go on this, just like many, many other business-related decisions.

Search engine optimization is not something to undertake lightly. It will determine the success or failure of your business. Do yourself a favor, contact us or call our experts for a free consultation, so that you can make an informed decision on the right online marketing business for your company.

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