Assuming you’ve decided to start a Search Engine Optimization program, you should understand what it is, why you need it, and how to choose the right company: 

The What

First, let’s understand what we’re signing up for: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is simply getting found and ranked highly in the search engines- those being Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. That’s basically it- How to be found when someone is searching for your service or product.

The How

There is a lot of technique and marketing know-how that is applied (or not, depending on your SEO company). Any decent SEO Specialist should be able to get you ranking. If not, they either don’t know how to do it or just aren’t doing the work.

I urge companies to find an SEO company who specializes in their type of service. If it doesn’t exist, hire a company who can at least learn how to get the result. The result being a sale, phone call, lead, or whatever your site is designed to do. If no results- get them to fix it so it works or hire someone else. In my company we push for the result. As a business owner, when I invest a dollar- I want two or more back. Don’t pay for zero return. I wouldn’t.

Just because SEO is technical, does not negate that it is still marketing. Ask enough questions of your provider until you feel comfortable that they actually know marketing and are not just techies- this business takes looking, thought and execution- just like any other form of marketing.

Say you are a nationwide company selling a super-specialized product like Residential Basement Dehumidifiers. You hire an SEO company who does a general-blanket SEO program, and it doesn’t work. The state of Florida practically has no basements. In the more mountainous regions, basements are rarer as the ground is rock. In the Midwest there are TONS of basements, cellars and crawlspaces. Does your SEO know this? A pure techie is not going to do that research. An actual specialist will focus the marketing where the return will be the highest, and get way higher return since they’re not wasting time on areas where there is no business. Find an SEO specialist in your industry and if it doesn’t exist, find an SEO professional who knows actual marketing.

The Why

SEO is like being in the phonebook in the 80’s or 90’s. That is where you advertised. If you weren’t in it, no one knew you existed. If you didn’t place an ad, a potential new customer would call your competitor with the huge full page ad. Google, Yahoo and Bing are the new phonebooks. When your customers can’t find you, they’re finding your competitors. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean you are being found. SEO is the modern day full page ad.

I have heard some companies say that it doesn’t work, and so ignore SEO. This is false. If it doesn’t work, you hired the wrong company. Reread, “The How,” above. Opting out of SEO today is like saying you don’t want to advertise in one place everyone looks for their services and products- like the old phonebooks.

A word to the wise: you will find many SEO companies out there have the same sales pitch, say the same things, promise to get you to Page 1 of Google, blah, blah, blah. It sounds great, but it doesn’t matter if you’re on Page 1 if you’re not getting phone calls, sales or leads. Know the result you want, then shop for providers. Ask questions until you’re confident they know marketing, and either specialize in your industry or are competent and can get the result anyway.

Dan York
The SEO Surgeons