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Search Engine Optimization Questions

SEO Company Best Practice Guidelines

The lack of any Search Engine Optimization standards and regulations has created a dangerous minefield for those considering retaining an SEO firm. Many amateur and/or unethical SEO providers have not met client expectations and have used unscrupulous business practices, false advertising and fraudulent claims.

We believe that it is important to educate web site owners on how to protect themselves and choose a credible, capable SEO provider.

Listed below are the answers to 12 questions will give you insight into the skill and competency of any SEO firm.

  1. Does the SEO firm optimize affiliate sites, link farms or actual businesses like yours?
    Request a list of clients the firm has worked with and verify it.
  2. Will the SEO company share its optimization techniques with you?
    Ask the SEO firm for an overview of how it achieves results. If the firm won't give you an explanation, chances are the company is trying to hide unethical techniques.
  3. Is pay-per-click (PPC) part of the firm's strategy?
    A good SEM strategy includes PPC as part of the campaign. Optimization results should not rely entirely on PPC. Organic placement initiatives should be complemented by the PPC component. Performance results for organic optimization and PPC should be evaluated separately.
  4. Can the firm guarantee your site will not be penalized and removed from the search engines and directory indexes?
    By using illegal techniques many SEO firms may produce short term results, but in the long run will end up getting a client web site banned or penalized by the major search engines.
  5. Does the firm optimize more than your homepage?
    A good SEO firm will maximize the number of pages optimized on a web site. It's more work for the firm but it will produce the greatest results for you.
  6. Does the SEO firm provide an unrealistic guarantee?
    Any SEO company that guarantees a specific position (like number one or two) on Google or Yahoo) are being dishonest. It is impossible to guarantee specific positions on search engines.
  7. Are automated submission tools used or are all submissions processed manually?
    Automated tools can often lead to penalization and result in your site being excluded from the search engines.
  8. If the plan includes link popularity building, is the firm using a link farm, or is it contacting sites by hand and concentrating on link reputation more than link popularity?
    Soon web sites linked to by link farms may be penalized and banned from the major search engines.
  9. Does the firm's technique involve showing one page to the visitor and a different page to the search engines?
    If the answer is yes, then you are probably dealing with a search engine optimization provider that uses "cloaking" techniques. Many search engines specifically warn against this practice in the organizations' terms of service. Google is particularly harsh on sites that use cloaking, and is known to remove them entirely when it finds them.
  10. Is the SEO provider offering a one to three month project?
    A good "campaign" should not be short term. It will be a long-term strategy, indicating the firm intends to be there for the long haul.
  11. What kind of search engine saturation can the firm achieve?
    While it's easy to focus on one particularly impressive position on one popular engine, it's more important to focus on a broad range of positions. Ask the SEO company to show you a report that demonstrates solid positions for many popular key phrases.
  12. Does the firm have direct relationships with any of the major search engines?
    What about ties to leaders in the search engine industry? Reputable SEO firms will most likely have industry affiliations. Fly-by-night firms have not been around long enough to foster relationships or the company uses unscrupulous practices and this causes peers to steer clear.

With the evolving nature of the SEO industry and the search engines, situations may arise where this list of questions will not be entirely appropriate. In our experience if the answer to one or more of these questions is unacceptable the chances are good that engagement of that SEO firm will end in disappointment or worse.