Each day, millions of people turn to internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find what they’re looking for. At this very moment, there’s a good chance that many of your ideal prospects are using search engines to find the exact products or services you provide. The question is — are they finding you? That’s where search engine optimization comes into play.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the act of improving a website for better visibility among major search engines. From a business standpoint, the goal of SEO is to help your ideal prospects find your website, products and services.
A Good Approach to SEO
A competent SEO firm should take a “holistic” approach to search engine optimization. Instead of relying on any one tactic, they should incorporate a number of proven strategies to give you longer-lasting results. They should also provide a managed service that focuses on steady, long-term improvements in your search engine visibility.
Which Tactics are the Right Ones?
Unfortunately, there is no specific rule as to exactly which strategies work. The world of SEO is in a constant state of flux and what will work for your company might not work for another company.
What Will My SEO Firm Do to Improve My Results?
To start, you should expect your firm to have an extended conference call with you and your team. Perhaps you will meet with them at their office to go over your company, products, services and SEO goals. This gives you a great opportunity to see their office and work environment. If you are not comfortable in their office or, even worse, if they refuse to allow you to come to their building, you should immediately consider going elsewhere! There are SEO firms out there who are in it for the buck and not for your wellfare. Avoid these firms at all costs!
Once you have established the relationship and had your initial interview, you can expect the firm to implement specific SEO actions which may include:
- Initial website evaluation (structure, content, navigation, etc.)
- Keyword research to determine the exact phrases your prospects are searching
- Content development where needed, with a focus on proper keyword usage
- Link-building campaigns to increase your search engine visibility
- Submitting your website to directories such as Yahoo and Best of the Web
- Online article distribution to generate back-links from relevant websites to yours
- Online press release distribution (with back-links to your website)
- Constant pursuit of targeted online exposure
- Regular reports to show how your visibility is improving
Some SEO firms will recommend that you redesign your website. If this is the case, do not panic. Ask them if they can implement some other SEO tactics while the site is being redesigned. This will give you the benefit of immediate optimization results while waiting on the new site, rather than waiting for everything several months down the line. Also be sure to see if the firm offers web design services and have it added to your package. This allows the entire optimization process to be handled by one company rather than being spread to another company that might not have SEO experience. You don’t want to spend the money on a new website that you may have to redo in a few months.
Your first reaction may be “This company is just trying to make another buck by selling me a new website.” Don’t jump to that conclusion. A good SEO firm SHOULD tell you if you need a new website if it is indeed a necessity. The majority of websites are not built to meet good SEO strategies. It is extremely probable that your website was not originally built to optimize your online presence. However, if the SEO company’s web design department is below par, then by all means, look for another design company that will work with the SEO firm to give you an outstanding website!
Don’t forget that you should try to redesign your webite every 1 to 2 years, so this is a great opportunity to have a fresh look and to update your content.
How Long Will This Take?
To install strong optimization features for your online presence, you should expect at least a six month process. This means that your SEO firm will monitor your website, update keywords, submit your site to relevant directories, write and release pertinent articles and make adjustments where they need to be made along with other tasks that they feel will help your results. It is this long process that will give you the best success. Some of the tactics will show you immediate results, but don’t be surprised if four months down the road, your SEO firm is still hard at work for your benefit.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Wikipedia.org defines Black Hat SEO as “methods to try to improve rankings that are disapproved of by the search engines and/or involve deception.” This is a practice that has helped unethical companies make a quick buck while detroying the online reputation of some honest businessmen who didn’t realize they were being swindled. Black hat SEO will most likely result in your website being banned from major search engines, especially Google! You do not want this to happen. It takes between 3 months to 1 year to get your site listed on Google once it has been banned. Make sure that your SEO firm does not do the following:
- Create a redirect file that will send a user to a different page
- Hide text on a page
- Hide text in the source code
- Create thousands of nonsense pages that do not have original content
- Stuffing your content with keywords
- Creation of web pages that contain content that isn’t relevant to your business
- Links in your content to web pages that have no affiliation with your business
Trust me… if Google makes your website invisible, your online business will plummet. It’s just not worth it.
Get Started Today!
The key to search engine success is to start an SEO program early and sustain it over time. It takes time to “climb the charts,” so it’s best to get a head start on the competition. If you would like to talk to a company who has experience with SEO tactics and implementation, contact Intra-Focus, Inc. and ask about a custom SEO program for your company’s website!