SEO Services – 4 Must Ask Questions

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"Beware of SEO services that claim to guarantee rankings"I see ads for SEO services like this all the time in my gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, and while surfing the internet. I honestly can’t imagine what these folks are thinking by running ads that would be interpreted by most people as a guarantee to sky-rocket a website’s rank from the cellar to the first page of search results.

What’s even worse is that I get emails every day offering link exchanges and offers to submit my site to “thousands of forums” for a small fee.  I can’t get over the fact that people are still doing this and it makes me shudder to think of all of the website owners that are unaware of the true nature of search engine optimization and have no idea how to select SEO services.  I know too many examples of businesses who hired the wrong SEO company and ended up with their website dropping off of the face of the search results.

I guess the tactics must still be working because the ads and emails keep on coming.  I can’t say that every SEO agency who uses the word “guarantee” in their tag line is practicing black hat SEO, but it does make me wonder how they approach search engine optimization and I’d have a lot of questions for them, but I’d start with these four.

SEO Services – 4 Must Ask Questions:

  1. You say you’re an expert in Link-Building – can you describe your approach to me?  If the answer includes buying links, article marketing, $20 blog posts, submitting to “thousands of forums,” or reciprocal linking I’d run the other way as fast as I possibly could.  If the answer is:  We rely on you to create excellent content that provides value to your readers and we help you develop a strategy to distribute the content through social media and by building relationships within your industry to acquire quality links I’d continue the conversation.
  2. How fast will my site get to number 1?  If the answer includes any sort of guaranteed time or position, again I would run the other way and fast.  The first reason being, there is no such thing as number 1.  Localization, personalization, socialization, and hundreds of other factors impact which pages are determined as relevant and returned in the search results.  The second reason is that SEO takes time and there isn’t a magic number of days, weeks or months that it takes to see results.  I believe it takes a minimum of 6 months (for most sites) to start seeing any real traction. In fact Google even says,”Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings.”
  3. Are you active in social media? If the answer is no, I wouldn’t necessarily run for the hills, but I would question how they are going to be able to help develop a search engine optimization strategy that coordinates with social media if they aren’t active in the social space.  I actually believe it’s best to partner with a social media strategist and an SEO consultant and I don’t think they are one in the same.
  4. Do you share what you’re doing and why?  If the answer is no, the conversation is over.  SEO isn’t rocket science and there’s absolutely no reason that the tactics should be kept from the owner of the website. Search engine optimization should be a partnership and in my opinion part of the role of an SEO agency or consultant is to educate their clients so that there is no mystery and no uncertainty.  The most successful search engine optimization engagements are open and actively include the business owner – no one knows your business like you do.

It can be tough to evaluate the qualifications of any professional and there are more than a few self proclaimed SEO experts who are still handing out some really bad advice and using black hat tactics because they work until you get caught.

What do you think is the most important question to ask before hiring seo services?