Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 Search Engine Optimization

Anyone with half a decent website gets bombarded with phone calls and e-mails everyday from people claiming that they can get you to the top of Google. The notion that someone can make that claim without understanding your business thoroughly, your target clients, and the competition you face to reach those clients is completely baseless. Choosing the right partner for Search Engine Optimization work can be very tricky. Regardless of who you decide to work with, do your homework before making a decision.

Discovery and what you should expect
The first step to creating a successful search engine optimization strategy is to understand the business that wants to be found in the search engines. Through discussions with you or your marketing team, the chosen agency can develop a thorough list of keywords and phrases which describe the products and services offered by your company. From this list, the agency will then expand it to include keywords and phrases which will ensure that your business is found when customers are searching for your competitors. The next logical step is then fine tune the list by reducing the amount of keywords and phrases, by eliminating those that are too competitive for the search engine optimization budget which has been allocated to the project. It is also important to include keywords and phrases which your customers will search for, and not necessarily the ones you might use to describe your own business.

Setting the Budget
Most businesses that are shopping for a search engine optimization partner get easily frustrated when trying to determine the expected cost of the project. This is mostly because you cannot pinpoint an exact cost for an exact result as you normally can with paid online advertising. As explained above, the agency should work closely with you to determine a list of keywords and phrases for which you can achieve measurable results given the budget allocated. In other words, it does not make sense to promise you a top spot in Google for a very competitive keyword if your budget does not allow your company to achieve those results. If you have a set budget in mind, you should be given a realistic expectations level about the results you can expect with that budget. If you have a certain goal in mind in terms of search engine rankings, your agency can tell you what budget will be required to achieve those goals.

A tried and proven Process
There are many facets to search engine optimization and it is too cumbersome to get into all of them here, but the essential elements are to ensure that your website is built in a way that is friendly to the search engines, modifying your website content to attract the consumers that you are interested in attracting, and building links from other websites to yours. Achieving higher organic rankings will have a tremendous impact on your business as a whole, and should be measured accordingly.

If anybody has told you that search engine optimization can take months to show results, they were right. Unfortunately this has allowed many scam artists to make false promises and charge their clients for months without doing anything until the client realizes that there are no results. This is another reason why it is important to choose your search engine optimization partner carefully, and work with an established reputable firm rather than someone who calls you randomly. It is also important to understand that Search Engine Optimization is not something that you purchase… it is an ongoing process. While you usually can expect to see results within 3 to 4 months, it is also common to see companies drop off the search engines because they decided that they were no longer interested in investing into SEO since they had already achieved the high rankings they had hoped for.

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
With the implementation of specialty SEO plug-ins for the websites we build, you will have access to a comprehensive set of reports from Google Analytics. These analytics will give you insight on how your website is performing, and where people are looking when visiting your site.

Ongoing Support
Don’t have the time to update your site? Busy doing the things that company owners have to do to be successful in managing and building a small business? Some agencies will update your site and keep your blog, news and/or press sections full of current and relevant information about your company. Finding the right agency to facilitate your search engine optimization and related interactive needs, will allow you to concentrate on your clients.

Ask for their Unconditional Guarantee
Make sure that your chosen agency can assure you that they only use the most current technology and that you always will be managed on the most cost efficient, most user-friendly, and effective technology platform for your company.