What to look for in a Search Engine Optimization Company

The following is live blogging while listening to the the Best Promo Show radio show.

John Meloche and Jim Turner on a live Talk Radio Show deidicated to Marketing and Making Money on the Internet it’s called The Best Promo Sohw

They’ve giving a series of questions to ask an SEO you plan to hire, be a savvy and armed consumer and know what to look for.

Question to ask SEOs during interview process:

How long have you been in business?If someone tells you they’ve been doing it for 10 years, likely it didn’t exist then. So they may be a fraud

What is your background? Do you have a background in marketing or sales?

Do you have long terms clients? Are they satisfied? Ask them to prove it with case studies and references, and even tried keyword searches

What made your competition get the first seaerch results, what made them get the top search results?

What’s a realistic traffic uptake I can expect? Ask them to provide a breakdown of previous keywords and projected ones in the future.

Finding a good SEO
A good test is to find an SEO that comes up top when you type SEO. Duh!

Getting banned, not good
Tip: Getting banned is horrible for your domain, and you may want to consider shutting it down. Getting into the sandbox is not so bad.

Pricing SEO, what are market prices?
It varies on keywords that you’re aiming for

What really matters?
Organic is what matters, content is king

Great show, great resource

  • http://www.onebyonemedia.com Jim Turner

    Jeremiah,

    Thanks for the link, your participation, questions and for the twitters and of course live blogging! We had a really good time, and hope to have more in depth stuff in the weeks to come. Perhaps we can get you on to talk about the Podtech business model and producing the content you do!

  • http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/ Matt McGee

    Wow, some of those are among the more useless questions you could ever ask.

    SEO is older than 10 years. Eric Ward has been building links since about ’94, I think he’s said. I’ve been doing it since 1999/2000, and there are plenty of great search marketers who predate that.

    Sales/Marketing background? Could be helpful, but is completely unnecessary. Only recently has search marketing had any legitimate, formal training. Early search marketers came from all kinds of different backgrounds and essentially created the industry. (I came from a TV/radio career, for what it’s worth.)

    Hire a company that ranks for “SEO”? Should I only hire a lawyer who ranks in the top 10 for that term? What about my dentist? It’s completely immaterial.

    Ugh. I’m sure the rest of the show was good, Jeremiah, but some of this advice … not so much.

  • http://hawaii-online-advertising.com Hawaii SEO

    Hi Jeremiah,

    In my opinion… Those are not very good questions.

    The industry is only a few years old. Some of the best in the industry came out of nowhere about two years ago.

    Most of the “A-List” SEO’s came from all sorts of backgrounds like Journalism, IT, Graphic Design, Real-estate and even the military.

    Sometimes the SEO projects are long term and sometimes not. Sometimes clients make the SEO sign a confidentiality agreement. Good case studies are rare because people tend to think of that sort of thing as highly confidential. Just getting the names of clients can be tough.

    You will likely need to pay the SEO to answer your question about how the competition got the first search results or what made them get the top search results? (Wouldn’t you like to know?) That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? This is the sometimes the “Deliverable” that you are paying top dollar for. This also goes back to the case studies… If you paid someone to get you there, would you want them telling the world how it was done as a published case study?

    What’s a realistic traffic uptake I can expect? No one can guarantee you traffic or results. Even Google suggests you disregard those kinds of claims from SEO’s.

    (IMO) The keyword “SEO” doesn’t convert very well. Why would you focus on that? I rank very well for that term in my area but most people find my website by following a link and then call me after researching something much more specific.

    So… What should you ask an SEO during the interview prosess?

    Brian Provost at (Scoreboard-Media.com) has a great question…

    “If you can rank a site in lucrative markets, why would you do it for clients instead of for yourself?”

    It’s true… If I were a better SEO… I wouldn’t waste my time trying to rank for the keyword “SEO”… I would be ranking my own websites for words like “Online Poker” “Buy Viagra” “Hotels” “Diamonds” “Sex” “California Real Estate” etc… (Duh!)

    If you’re working with someone who has any availability at all or who is still working with clients… You’re not working with the “A List”.

    I would avoid asking questions about why don’t you rank well for the word keyword “SEO”? & If you’re so good, why are you willing to work with someone like me? (Don’t go there)

    But seriously… In my opinion…. It’s always good to ask about the person’s specialty. There are quite a few SEO Niches. Some people are good at building links, others are good with PR and others focus on copy writing or content management systems or social media and others focus on a particular niche like Real estate or legal or medical issues. The list goes on and on.

    More than likely… You can judge the SEO by the questions he asks YOU.

    Todd Malaicoat at (Stuntdubl.com} has some great questions for prospective SEO clients.

    1. How long have you been in business?
    2. How old is your website?
    3. Have you ever worked with another SEO company?
    4. If you’ve worked with another SEO company, why was the relationship dissolved?
    5. What is your monthly budget? (ask delicately or destroy the deal)
    6. What are your goals and revenue models of the business?
    7. What are your goals with a SEO campaign?
    8. Do you have an in-house designer/ developer/ copywriter?
    9. When do you plan to make a decision on your project?
    10.What is your current internet marketing strategy?

    After you answer these and many other relevant questions, you may need to pay the SEO firm to research your particular situation before they can give you an accurate price quote or other recommendations.

    I hope this helps.

    Aloha,
    Dave.

  • http://www.globalseozone.com/ srikanth

    Very good stuff in your website. we also having the same related website about SEO.Global Seo Zone Assistants is an administrative services provider that aims to minimize. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks for Internet marketers looking to increase their Web Site traffic.
    SEO Works

  • http://www.ebsqart.com Amie Gillingham

    @Matt McGee: while I agree with most of your points, I think your lawyer/dentist analogy is off the mark. These professionals would only rank high if they had good SEO, and I believe that’s the point Jim & John were making with that comment. If your potential SEO company can’t optomize their own stuff so that you find them near the top of the search engine heap, chances are they aren’t terribly good.

  • http://www.marketersstudio.com David Berkowitz

    The SEO ranking test isn’t that helpful. Most high-ranking sites are resources, not companies. The companies are from all over the world, limiting the usefulness for any particular searcher. And different SEO companies are better equipped to handle different types of clients, whether by business size (some are better for small business, some are better for enterprise) and vertical.

    Want a better test? Ask for examples of how clients rank, ideally in their own vertical. If you’re in electronics and they tell you a client ranks first for ‘home business photo quality printer,’ I’d be suspicious. If they tell you the client ranks first for ‘digital camera,’ then I’d be impressed.

  • http://www.marketersstudio.com David Berkowitz

    PS: Don’t you love the irony? SEO companies need to bid on ‘SEO’ to get noticed. I love this business.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Wow, all great comments, I think Jim and John are going to do need to a follow-up show.

  • http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/ Matt McGee

    @Amie – I respect your point, but I think you missed mine. Actually, I think I may not have stated it clearly enough.

    The idea that the best SEOs will all rank for “SEO” implies that the Top 10 listings on any commercial term = the 10 “best” at that job. What I’m saying is, the top 10 for “seattle dentists” aren’t necessarily the 10 best dentists in Seattle. The top 10 for “san diego real estate” aren’t necessarily the 10 best real estate agents in San Diego.

    There’s actually some history behind the SERPs for “SEO”, and one particular company that used to rank #1 and did so via black hat methods. I’ll spare you the details, but again, it gets to the point I was trying to make, which is that the 10 Google shows you aren’t necessarily the 10 best. :-)

    When I’m at the conferences or when I’m chatting with my peers, no one ever talks about trying to rank for “SEO.” It must not be important. It’s not to me…..

  • http://markharrison.wordpress.com Mark Harrison

    In many other spheres of business, it is normal for payment to be calculated on the basis of results, not effort.

    “How do you charge?” is, for me, key.

    Answers, from worst to best, would be:

    - A day rate
    - A fixed price for a review
    - A sliding scale based on the increase of visitors you get
    - A sliding scale based on the increase of visitors you get through natural search listings
    - A sliding scale based on the increase in visitors through natural search listings actually completing transactions with you

    Mark

  • http://usf-emarketing.blogspot.com/ Bill Scully

    I have to agree with Matt on the SEO search test concept. Also if that were the only money term, everyone would be spending their nights trying to out do one another, not a good use of effort or time.

  • http://www.onebyonemedia.com Jim Turner

    Wow I love the discussion here, and I wish I would have had more time to devote to the show. I think a follow up show is in order and I’ll see when we can plan that and let everyone know. Some of the questions we asked were basic and some were meant to spur this type of conversation. I see some respected names here that are top in their class for SEO and it appears that they too have differing opinions. There are some great additions to the list of questions, and I too think that those would be good questions. We must devote an entire hour next time and get into the meet and potatoes of SEO. Any volunteers to be a guest and lend us your expertise?

  • http://www.thebestpromoshow.com/ John Meloche

    I am excited that this has sparked such an interest and debate about the SEO market.

    The one thing I know as sure as death and tax’s is that everyone has their own opinion on many different subjects including the side of the bed they wake up on in the morning.

    I will be delighted to offer my replies to the feedback we have received about the show Monday @ 8PM Eastern Standard Time. http://www.thebestpromoshow.com/

    Our goal is to help beginners and intermediate users with information to help them build on their bottom line.

    If it be SEO, SEM, Web Design, Technology, Promotions, Marketing, Advertising and much more. Each show will offer useful information to everyone.

    For some, they enjoy 100% of it. For some, they only enjoy 80%. But for all, they will find something useful.

    =============
    Matt McGee says:
    “Ugh. I’m sure the rest of the show was good, Jeremiah, but some of this advice … not so much.”
    =============

    Maybe next time check out the show. You might be able to offer a more objective response having heard the show.

    Thanks to everyone for your feedback!

    John M. Meloche
    TheBestPromoShow.com

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  • http://www.globalseozone.com/ srikanth

    Very good stuff in your website. we also having the same related website about SEO.Global Seo Zone Assistants is an administrative services provider that aims to minimize. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks for Internet marketers looking to increase their Web Site traffic.
    SEO Works

  • http://akerpub.com Article Marketing

    I agree with the last question, content is alway the king, you should not spend much money on SEO.

  • http://www.sexogratis.org sexo

    I have to agree with Matt on the SEO search test concept. Also if that were the only money term, everyone would be spending their nights trying to out do one another, not a good use of effort or time.