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SEO is one of the first things a company thinks of when they want to rank higher.

When choosing an SEO watch out for unskilled providers who tell you what you want to hear but are not up to the task. And beware of unscrupulous SEO providers who offer you “top rankings” in a short amount of time. It just doesn’t work that way.

SEO is a technical and creative strategy that takes time and skill. An SEO should talk knowledgeably, listen to your needs and help you set realistic expectations.

Ask these questions before hiring an SEO company.

How do you Decide which Keywords to Target for a Business?

Keywords are the search terms people use to find information in Google. An experienced SEO will invest a lot of time and effort to research a client’s location, current trends, and targeted audience. They should also analyze the keyword results of your competitors.

Ask the SEO about their keyword strategy. Do they have a good understanding of the best keyword research methods? Can they explain to you the proper use of the targeted keywords?

Will They Help You with other Aspects of Your Website such as Site Design, Navigation and Content?

It’s crucial to look into every aspect of a website. Web design doesn’t play much of a role in SEO. Ugly websites can rank well.

But it’s important to have a logical and prioritized site architecture. Navigation does affect SEO. So does the coding, content, page speed and usability.

Simple tweaks to a site can have an impact on your rankings. Ask the SEO which parts of the website they plan to optimize for the search engines.

Will they Analyze Your Competitor’s Websites?

The insights gained for competitor analysis are vital. This can aid in the discovery of new keywords and help determine the industry standard.

But it is important to not just copy what your competitors are doing. You have to “out SEO” them. And that takes more than just copying their strategy.

What On-page SEO Tactics are They Going to Use?

“On-page” SEO is the bread and butter of getting ranked. The answer to this question will give you a good idea of the competence of the company. If the SEO doesn’t know the ins and outs of SEO, they will likely fumble around for an answer.

Basic adjustments to title tags and metadata can have a huge impact. A competent SEO should be able to explain the on-page factors that influence rankings.

Do You Have a Good Link Building Strategy?

After the Google Penguin update (a major update to the Google algorithm), getting links to your website from other sites (known as backlinks) became increasingly important.

But of course, backlinks aren’t always easy to get.

Watch out for “black hat” link building techniques. SEO’s that give you 100’s of links each month are likely using link farms and this WILL negatively affect your rankings.

Backlinking needs to be authentic. One good backlink can be more effective than 100’s of poor ones.

Backlinking should not be you SEO’s “go to” answer when it comes to improving your site’s rankings. But it is an effective strategy when applied correctly.

Will You Get an SEO Report?

Whether you are getting a one-time SEO update or regular monthly optimization, your SEO should report to you all the work they have done. And in the case of monthly updates, these reports should include tracking of keyword rankings, site audits, backlink reports and more.

How Much Will it Cost?

This is the question everyone wants to know. It is important to understand that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. Your budget will determine the amount of work that gets done and the amount of time it takes.

The SEO may tell you that you need a 3-6 month contract to do SEO (or even longer depending on how competitive your market). And this is totally legit. “One-off” SEO can have some immediate impact, but the results will slowly fade over time if the site is not kept up.

Don’t get me wrong, if you can only afford a basic update. Do it! Then do more when you can. But long term strategies work best.
Having said that, you can expect to pay $300 – $1,000 for a month of SEO work. This depends on the amount of work needed on your site.

So ask you SEO how much it cost and what you’re going to get for that amount. And don’t be afraid to tell them your budget. This will help them determine what work to prioritize and how in-depth they can research your needs.

Other Things to Consider

SEO is a vast field. Your rankings are affected by literally hundreds of things. So, just briefly, here are three other areas of SEO that may need to be addressed.

  • Local Business Listings
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Online reviews
  • Content Marketing
  • Depending on your business, these factors may be more important than other aspects of SEO.

Quick Check List

Things to consider before choosing an SEO company

  • Check any references they are providing
  • Read reviews about them on Google and other third-party websites.
  • Ask about the amount of experience they have.
  • A good SEO should learn about your industry. Do they ask questions about your business, your services and your customers?

Things to avoid when choosing an SEO company

  • Don’t choose a company that guarantees number one rankings on Google. This is a hoax. No one can guarantee this.
  • If their link building strategy involves getting links from irrelevant sites then they are not doing you any favors. One good link is better than 100 irrelevant ones.
  • Watch out for companies that employ tactics such as using hidden links to increase keyword density. Google considers it a spam.
  • Avoid any SEO that guarantees instant results. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. There are no shortcuts to the research and analysis that goes into providing quality and effective SEO.

Conclusion

I personally love SEO. I like learning about people’s business and helping them increase their customers. I believe a good SEO is a member of your team. They should not only be helping you rank higher, but they should be looking for opportunities to help you market your business, improve your online presence and increase your brand awareness.

The information an SEO gets about keywords, website visits, and your competitors is invaluable. Their insights can make a huge impact on the growth of your business. Learn more about SEO for Alaska businesses.