If you are reading this you probably want some insight into how best to choose your seo consultant.
So what things should we consider, whats the most important and what should we avoid?
I will first list some of the things we should be thinking about and then go into a little more detail about some of those bullet points
Things to consider: Search engine optimisation is such a broad service that the average surfer will not be qualified enough to interpret an SEO agencies claims or do the research on them to qualify that agency for your project. To teach a none SEO specialist how to dissect a website would simply take to long and so this is just a simple guide on how you could help stop yourself getting burned by a team of spammers and help keep your website safe
- The preferred strategy they use to improve a rank (they should tell you this when asked)
- Does it break Google guidelines (details here)
- Have they got proof of past success
- Is content on your site the 1st step for them
- Is content a step for them at all
- If content is used is that their only strategy
- Do they build any kind of links to your site
- What type of links
- Rank overnight claims
- Guaranteed rankings
- One fee to complete the job
- Offers of mass links to your site
- Guaranteed first page results
- Automated link building
So with a a bunch of the most important factors to consider listed above I can start to now list and explain in more detail some of the points mentioned
The preferred strategy they use to improve a rank (they should tell you this when asked):
If they are unwilling to describe how they do what they claim it probably means it will break Googles guidelines in some way and so keep that from you to avoid scaring you off. This does not mean this is always the case however as they might simply have some knowledge they do not want to get to competitors but in general can often get alarm bells ringing. If the strategy is content based and does not involve any named links (described here) then they could be the people for you to consider.
Does it break Google guidelines (details here)
You should cross reference this list of guidelines against what they tell you because if any of those guidelines are broken on your website then you are in great danger of having a penalty applied to your website by Google and you can say goodbye to your traffic and will have to clean up the mess they have made to have that penalty removed by Google.
Is content on your site the 1st step for them
This should be the first step for any seo company good or bad because its what we call low hanging fruit, simple changes to text/layout/keywords and content can sometimes be all is needed to get ranked and then no risky work is needed. I say risky work because all offsite seo carries an element of risk because no matter which way you look at it all seo is borderline for Google guidelines but none the less all companies including the big beasts need to do it for traffic and they do so on a daily.
Is content a step for them at all
If it is not then they are simply building back links to your properties which is a very risky thing to do with regards to Google and you have to be very careful and planned to do this safely which you will know is not happening if they are charging you peanuts – it should be at least £250 a month for even the most basic safe seo any less and your asking for trouble as the things involved to do this are time consuming and require assets to be built.
Do they build any kind of links to your site
if they do then you need to look into what they do carefully and have them explain exactly whats going to be done, when, how often and from where because link building is the most risky aspect of SEO just have a read of what Googles Penguin algorithm can do to your site if caught (described here)
What type of links
I cannot go through the many types of links one can acquire on the net there is simply too many but they all have a trust and authority score used by seo tools as metrics to gauge a link or websites quality. You can use tools like Majestic SEO to check these metrics.
Rank overnight claims
Some things can be ranked over night but generally not a website and nothing that will help you a great deal. SEO is a long term project no matter what, on occasions a rank can be achieved and work can stop but at some point it will start to devalue and that will happen before its reflected in the search results and then you will have to play catch up so its generally always a long term constant service. This is why a claim to rank something overnight is false, very risky and most definitely will get a penalty even if it succeeds.
This is a double edged sword because an experienced seo can to some extent guarantee some sort of rank based on past experiences and knowledge but can certainly not guarantee it especially in a given timeframe or to a desired position like number 1 for example, even with an in depth report of your competitors one can only guesstimate the level of work needed to outrank someone else and for all they know they have a good seo working for them that knows how to hide certain things of benefit from peeping toms. In general nothing is guaranteed there are so many factors to consider and an existing competitors age alone can be hard to overcome and pushing to hard early on will catch the attention of Googles algorithms, panda, penguin, hummingbird and rankbrain.
Offers of mass links to your site
We can get you lots of back links to outrank your competitors they will say, this works time and time again. Yes in a way it does but not that way, a website with 2 powerful links from reputable trusted sources can outrank a website with 20,000 links from dodgy sources this is a fact. This will also most definitely get you a penalty and contacting 20,000 webmasters to have your link removed from there site will be a ridiculous task and you will not get in touch with 95% of them which will require all sorts of interaction and reconsideration requests with Google to resume business as normal. This often ends up with the client starting from scratch on a new domain. You should not be building any links to your site unless you are sure its good.
Automated link building
This is something done by seo tools used by virtual assistants for companies who outsource their seo work or even use the tools themselves. Googles algorithm is clever enough to know which computer posted a link, what time it was done, which server was used, which IP address was used, which other sites are on that server, where else that IP has appeared, where else have those links been posted and all of this easily accessible data creates an obvious footprint which makes your site stand out like a red balloon to Google. Risks can be minimised by using proxies to rotate IPs and servers, scheduling to avoid time frame issues and other complicated scripts but this will never be invisible to Google. Basically a cheap link service should only get you a few links because its not profitable to do more properly unless using automated spamming tools to find low quality orphaned websites to post on.
Ok so I hope your head is not to fried by all of this but this is about as simple as a helpful article can be with regards to finding a suitable seo but it does layout in understandable terms what is important and what is not.