One problem many companies have when working with an SEO company is knowing whether or not the results they are getting are worth the money they are spending. Since most companies haven’t tried a dozen different SEO companies it is hard to know what they should expect. For the most part SEO results are entirely subjective to whomever you are speaking with. So what is reasonable to expect from your SEO company?
1. Time and Attention – To start your SEO company should be there for you when you need them. They should answer your emails and phone calls promptly and have answers to the many questions you may have. If they aren’t getting back to you then you should consider finding another SEO.
2. Steady Progress – You should see steady progress throughout your campaign. If you start out not ranking in the top 1000 for any of your keywords, in a few months time you should start to see some of those showing up on the map. And over time you should see things slowly filling in. If you don’t see any results or progress you should be concerned. While it may be unknown by your SEO how long it will take to get your keywords on page 1 Google, if you are seeing them move from 500 to 400 to 200 over time, you can at least see that you’re heading in the right direction and will hopefully achieve your goals. In a years time you should have some of your keywords in the top ten with the rest close behind, but if you are going after a phrase like ‘real estate’ it could take years before you get there if you ever do. The keywords you select for your SEO campaign are hyper critical to it’s success. If you have a new website you shouldn’t be going after ‘real estate’ or ‘SEO’, start small and work your way up.
3. Traffic Increase – In addition to seeing your keywords climb the charts, you should see your traffic slowly increasing from organic search. Make sure you distinguish between traffic from organic search and other sources, most tracking software will easily let you filter this. While it can take some time to get a ton of organic traffic from your SEO campaign, you should see the numbers slowly improving over time. If not there is no point in paying for SEO, as traffic is what SEO is all about.
4. Increase In Sales – This is a no brainer but you should see an increase in sales if you are paying for SEO. If you are getting good rankings and plenty of traffic but no sales, then something is wrong. The first place to look is at the keywords you selected. It is always wise to use PPC to test your site out and find the keywords that sell before investing in SEO. Know what keywords will work for you before you talk to an SEO and the best place to test the waters is Google Adwords. Sign up and test the keywords you are targetting and find the ones that sell.
If your SEO company is getting you higher rankings, increased traffic, and more sales, then the odds are they are doing a good job. In a years time you should be making some kind of profit from your SEO campaign. If you’re are paying thousands of dollars per month but only getting back a fraction of that then you may want to think things over before continuing to pay those often high monthly SEO fees.
Stay Away From Long Term SEO Contracts!
If you are shopping for an SEO company then you probably have come across one that requires you to pay up to 6 months or even a year in advance. So if the monthly fee for their SEO services is $2,000.00, then you would have to pay $24,000.00 in advance. If it were $3,000.00 per month then for a year you’d be paying $36,000.00 up front! If you work for a larger corporation and were selected to find an SEO company this may not seem like a lot of money. But in my opinion there is something inherently wrong with SEO companies requiring long term contracts. Paying by the month or minimally perhaps 3 at a time is the most in my humble opinion any SEO company should ask.
You see SEO is ever changing and there is no guarantee that what an SEO company is implementing today will work months down the road. There is no guarantee on top rankings being achieved and after 6 months into your yearly contract you may have little to no results. Then instead of being out 6 months of often high SEO fees, you’re out a year!
All SEO companies these days should offer service guarantees and offer a full money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. Be careful of agreements that require them to attain a certain level of top rankings as these companies will often as a safeguard choose a number of keywords that no one is searching for. So after 6 months they have met their obligation to achieve 10 page 1 rankings, but the keywords are worthless and may even include your company name. In my opinion the contract should be based on customer satisfaction.
To sum things up be very careful paying any large SEO fees up front. Try and negotiate with your SEO company a month to month contract and have them guarantee your satisfaction or you get your money back. You will have a much easier time trying to get back your money from a month or two of service you weren’t satisfied with then for a year! Stay away from long term contracts as there is no reason for an SEO company to charge this way other than for them to cash in!
SEO Pricing: What Should You Pay?
SEO companies can vary a good bit in both the amount of money they will charge you and their pricing structure. Depending on the SEO company you choose, you may pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars up front to thousands of dollars per month. In the early days it was common to pay a lump fee at the beginning and then an optional maintenance fee. This had a lot to do with SEO originally being nothing more than optimizing the content on your website. An SEO technician would add keywords and rewrite your site to fit the algorithms of the search engines. Then since they used templates and patterns that worked on other sites/clients, they would just sit back and wait for the search engines to index the update. But Google and their looking at links changed all this and now SEO truly needs to be an on going service, or your rankings attained by your SEO company may one day disappear.
So what should you pay your SEO company? Depending on the size of your project and the company you choose, it is common to pay anywhere from a couple thousand to ten thousand per month. This can be a steep fee for even an established company, but the benefits of SEO can more than make up for your investment. Despite the changes Google brought to SEO, you can still find some companies that will charge you one lump fee in the beginning. This fee is often very high and once a company has your entire fee, the risks go up regarding the quality of service you will receive. In my opinion the month to month model is the best and safest when purchasing SEO services.
SEO Content Optimization:
Content is king and having good optimized content added to your website consistently over time will pay off in a big way. But who should you hire to do this work? Your SEO company will of course offer this service, but there are also many talented freelance writers on the web, and many nowadays have a good understanding of SEO. I have found great success using writers who understand SEO to write content for my sites. But whether to choose a full service SEO company or writer depends on a number of things.
If you are hiring a company for the first time to do your SEO and you are unfamiliar with search engine optimization yourself, you are probably best letting your SEO company write and optimize your content. There are many architectural issues that need to be addressed and done right or your content may not get indexed. In most cases a writer isn’t going to help you with these issues and they are best left to your SEO company. But once you have these things in place and have worked with an SEO company for a while, you may consider looking to a freelance writer.
If you have an established website that already ranks high on the search engines, you may consider a freelance writer. Asking them for examples of their work and evidence of their SEO knowledge is always smart. They should write very fluently and include your keywords in such a way that it isn’t obvious the page was optimized. The delicate balance of having a page read well for your visitors and include all your important keywords is a science in itself. Many writers on the web have mastered this art and can get your job done for a fraction of what your big name SEO company may charge you.
There are many SEO companies that specialize in writing content. These companies will charge you of course but in the long run it may reap great rewards for your company. There are some SEO’s that undermine the importance of content and go after the more sexy top ten rankings of highly search keywords. But the truth is most companies on the internet that get a ton of traffic get it from their long tail keywords. These are those longer strings of lesser searched keywords many SEO’s ignore. It it these keywords in great number that a good SEO Copywriter will leverage to bring you often more traffic then those much bigger keywords.