In this post, I will cover the most important aspects to consider when outsourcing your website’s SEO. There are many reasons for outsourcing SEO. Some companies find it hard to keep track of all the SEO changes and do not truly understand what works well in order to be at the top of the SERPs. At the same time, understanding which SEO strategies are safe and will not come and bite you in the end is a complicated task because of the complexities of Google’s constantly evolving algorithm. Other businesses simply do not have the time to deal with all these issues.
When you’re out scouting for SEO services, you will find all sorts of offers. Some offer massive scale link building while others offer customized link building strategies to achieve top rankings. The prices can range from a minimal USD 100 per month to a whopping USD 30,000 per month. If you are new in this industry, you might find it hard to decipher what are you getting for your money and which provider will provide the best solutions for your business.
The Good SEO Companies vs. the Ones to Watch Out For
There are companies that are just out to take your money, but there are also going to be honest providers that have your best interest in mind. These are actually the ones who want to work with you in the long term (just like any other industry). Some SEO companies are just interested in getting you in quickly (in order to bring in sales and for the sales person to take his commission) but then the service itself is really bad – and I have personally met companies who have been through this scenario.
Usually they either get lots of low quality back links or the provider does almost nothing at all. Basically, their model is based on getting ongoing clients as much as possible in order to become bigger, but they do not have the backend support to provide high quality SEO. You will notice these companies with their high pitch sales calls and aggressive sales methods. Usually the sales people are not very experienced in SEO and just care about getting the deal quickly in order to gain their commission.
Because it’s very easy to enter the SEO industry, pretty much anyone can start his/her own SEO company, but if you are knowledgeable yourself, you can separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. This is why it’s always good to build a good knowledge of SEO and keep yourself updated. This way, you can become a better decision-maker. You will usually find that the more experienced consultants are more expensive as well, because they are going to catch things that less experienced ones may not recognize. Sure, the newbie could gain lots of knowledge from reading information about SEO, but the experienced one can talk based on real life statistics and data. However, there will be cases where the newbies or the intermediate will be more expensive compared to the experienced ones. But generally speaking, the more experienced consultants charge higher and can take your website to better positions, compared to the less experienced ones.
In the other camp are SEO companies that provide high-quality SEO and support. You will usually notice the difference in certain elements prior to signing up. The provider spends ample time with you in providing reports, research, and other competitive data to come up with a customized solution that works for your specific website. In order to know what work needs to be done, you need the initial research. Some companies just send you a cookie-cutter SEO plan without bothering or caring about your website’s circumstances. All they want is for you to sign up today and pay right away. Every website is different and what has been done in the past affects what should be implemented in the future. Also, without properly understanding how your competitors are setting up their SEO plan, you would not fully understand your enemy and that’s a foolish thing in this business.
Avoid SEO providers whose SEO plan looks something like this:
-1000 directory submissions
-250 social bookmarks
-Search engine submissions to 100 search engines
-Article syndication to 200 article directories
-Submission to 100 high page rank websites (usually a network cluster)
Back Links to Watch Out For
Usually these kinds of back links are just fabricated in order to show lots of work. While these may look impressive in the link report, the problem is that Google does not want you to make these auto submissions or mass submissions for your website. Also, those websites are usually purchased by the SEO provider, making it easy to get those links in the network. This could bite you in the end and then your website would plummet with the Penguin updates (see below). Remember, it’s not the quantity of back links, but the quality of them that is going to make the difference in your results.
If you are up-to-date in the SEO industry, the back links are crucial to attain top rankings for competitive keywords. Some may say that back links are not important anymore and while part of that is true, it’s important to understand the difference between a good link and a bad link. The good links still work and if you run a back link report on many of the top ranked websites, you will see that this is the case.
Another important aspect that can come and bite you in the end is the amount of exact anchor text links pointing to your website. Again, in the past, many companies have focused on putting their money keyword as an anchor text link. The more websites linking to your website containing the exact anchor text links, the higher your rankings would be for those keywords. In today’s industry, this has completely changed. If your SEO provider follows this strategy then you are asking for trouble in the end, because Google will prevent your website from ranking since you hit their spam filters.
Beware of the Network of the SEO Providers
Now there are some providers that buy a big network of websites. So once you become a client, they simply create back links for you and upload those on their entire network. While this sounds like a great idea in order to gain back links quickly, you know very little about this network. In case you are not updated in this industry, there are plenty of networks that have been penalized by Google. Google does not want you to manipulate their rankings by artificially creating websites to link up with a network. If you receive a back link report from this provider by just merely looking at the back links, they may look fine to you. However, you may not know about the networks that are all hooked up together, which Google can easily track, thereby penalizing your website. Google is becoming increasingly smarter about the SEO tricks that have been exercised in this industry. In today’s SEO industry, to gain and sustain top rankings in Google, you need not look only at what works today, but also where the industry is headed.
So how are your agency’s SEO strategies faring with regards to the new updates? If your SEO provider bought a network of websites and your website gets penalized, then your website is in real trouble.
What Do You Want To Gain From Your Campaign?
Another important question is this: What do you want to get out of your SEO campaign? If you are looking for cheap prices, then you will get cheap back links. The links will also be generated the quick way. It’s cheap but you will get what you paid for, making this a risky strategy. However, the way Google is heading, you are never going to gain top rankings for competitive keywords if you pursue this road. As mentioned before, it can be downright dangerous for your website in the long run.
Also, ask your provider to provide some samples of their clients’ rankings in Google.com for competitive keywords as well as possible references that you can contact. In the end, it’s important that you have done your due diligence in selecting an SEO provider.
It comes down to a well-executed plan and a careful link building strategy. Without high quality back links, your website will not grow and build the momentum it needs to rank for competitive keywords. How you build your back links, at what rate, and how many, is the key to safe SEO practice and successful rankings. What Google is looking for particularly nowadays is domain authority, and we have seen many trusted sources that have gained more rankings compared to the less trusted ones. Also, the relevancy of the link is important. To get these back links takes time and a lot of effort, and the work has to be done by someone proficient in the English language. Google does not want articles with broken English to get ranked, which is another reason why you cannot outsource to someone whose English is poor. Just as your back links are important, the on-site factors also play an increasing role in the ranking process. I will cover this topic more in another post. As you can see, hiring an SEO provider is not easy but I hope I have been able to shed some light on things to think about before you hire one.
Johan Hedin has 15 years of experience as an SEO expert. He is currently the Managing Director of Marketing Ignite Co. Ltd. Contact Marketing Ignite today and they would be happy to take a look at your website and your competition in order to come up with a customized SEO plan according to your website’s needs.