I recently came accross this Google Business 14 minute video on YouTube. It addresses the issues many businesses face when deciding upon an SEO Company. So I wanted to share it with everyone.
Google SEO: What, Why and How to Hire the Right SEO Company
Here is the video transcript which originally aired on YouTube here. I suggest you head over to YouTube and subscribe to this playlist.
Whitney Lemon: Welcome to Friday 15. Give us 15 minutes of your time and we’ll provide practical information that you can implement immediately to grow your business online. My name is Whitney Lemon and I’m from Google’s Get Your Business Online team and I will be your host today.
I'm so excited that Stacia Holdron [phonetics] is joining us again. Stacia is an internet marketer with 17 years experience. Today, we'll be helping to answer the following questions: What is search engine optimization? Is an SEO company right for your business? And what are the right questions to ask before making the decision to hire an SEO company? Let's get started. So, once businesses get online they're often contacted by companies offering to help with their website rankings on search engines. Many businesses wonder whether or not a Search Engine Optimization or SEO company can actually help their business and aren't sure how to decide of a company as a good fit for their business. Today, we'll cover some tips to help you make an informed decision about SEO services. First of all, what exactly does a Search Engine Optimization company do, Stacia? Stacia Holdron: Hey, Whitney. Thanks a lot for having me here. Whitney Lemon: Hi. Stacia Holdron: To answer your question an SEO company or consultant works to help search engines find, index, and rank the pages of your website in the organic results. And SEO focuses on particular words and phrases that are important to the business. So, let's take a look at a screenshot. We'll pull that up and you'll see here the search results for Get Your Business Online, if we pull it up. On Google the organic results appear in the center of the search results page and there will be separate columns for the ads, which appear above and below the organic results as well as in the right hand column. Whitney Lemon: Great. Can you give me an example of how a company would benefit from SEO services? Stacia Holdron: Sure. Let's make up an example company. Let's pretend that we started a dog walking business here in Nashville, Tennessee, and so what we would do is we might decide to hire an SEO to help the website appear in the results when people search for the phrase dog walker Nashville. Now, if you're lucky, I mean, in some cases your website may already appear on that relevant search and that's great. But if your website if brand new or if you have lots of online competition on important words and phrases, you might need help from an SEO. Whitney Lemon: Right. So, what does an SEO actually do for you? Stacia Holdron: Well, the goal is to make sure that your website is visible to the search engines and when the search engines considerÃ¢â‚¬â€and they also wanna make sure that your website is considered an authoritative and useful match for that searcher's query. So, some of the things an SEO may do to help your website include things like review or your website content or structure and keyword research and technical advice about website development and then they can work on content planning and create it for you and publish it on your website. Whitney Lemon: So, is this something a business could actually do themselves? Why do businesses need to hire an SEO? Stacia Holdron: Well, you could absolutely do this yourself including the technical changes if you're comfortable with web design and development. SEOs don't have any kind of special relationship with Google, so there's no advantage in that regard, but an SEO can bring resources to the table that you may not have. For example, they may have access to programmers who can make those site structure changes and graphic designers who can help you make content to design those pages. They have copyrighters and they have the experience developing the SEO strategies that can help your website get listed higher in the search results. At the end of the day, SEO is very time consuming and it requires that you stay up to date with changes and the technology. So, if your time is better spent running other aspects of your business, it might in the long run be more cost effective for you to hire an expert to help you with it. Whitney Lemon: Great. That makes sense. If a business decides an SEO company is the way to go, any tips for actually choosing that SEO company? Stacia Holdron: Yeah, I can't recommend a specific company, but there are many of them out there, including companies that claim to provide SEO services without any true expertise. This is unfortunate because mistakes, even though it's made without any malicious intent, can result in your website being penalized or even removed from search engines index. So, if your business relies on visitors to your website. It is absolutely mission protocol for you to do your due diligence before hiring somebody. So, here, if you are shopping for an SEO, let me give you some preliminary questions that you can ask to help you make that decision. First of all, ask the candidate if they can show you examples of yourÃ¢â‚¬â€their previous work and do they have any success stories that they can share. And ask if they have references that you can actually speak to. You want to find out what kind of results you can expect to see and what that timeframe is and how you're going to measure that success. You want to find out how that company will report on their performance and how often. You also want to make sure that the SEO techniques that they use comply with the search engines guidelines and terms of services. It may also be useful to find out how long that company has been in business. And also here's another one that I forgot to mention, you want to find out who exactly you'll be working with. So is it the person you're speaking to who you're really impressed with or is it somebody else that they just hire that they're training up. That's a really important one to ask. Find out how you'll communicate with whoever you're working with and make sure that if they make any changes to your site, that they share all of that including details. If a company during this process won't answer a question or seems evasive in their answer, trust your gut and move on to a different candidate because this decision is just too important to do otherwise. Whitney Lemon: Absolutely. That was a great list. Thank you and thanks for providing that visual for our reference as well. And what about red flags? Are there any red flags to keep in mind? Stacia Holdron: Yeah. First of all, a good SEO company doesn't typically have to make cold calls to drum up business. So, if you receive an unsolicited email or physical mailing or a phone call from an SEO company, be wary. Now, this is not an automatic veto but it is something to be cautious of. Another red flag is a guarantee. Not even the most experienced SEO can guarantee ranking because that decision isn't up to them. It's ultimately up to the search engine algorithm. So, an SEO should be upfront about that and set clear expectations for the client. Now, another important note, just to reiterate this, no SEO company has a special arrangement with Google. There's no such thing as a priority submission that can get your ranked faster or higher. Whitney Lemon: Wow, great. How much does an SEO cost? Stacia Holdron: I knew you're gonna ask this one. Okay, so like everything, this is a tough one to answer because it depends. Whitney Lemon: Right. Stacia Holdron: There are several payment structures and these include by the hour and in this industry you can expect to pay 100 to 150 dollars on average per hour. Sometime SEOs will charge by the project, which is again usually several thousands of dollars and often by monthly retainer which is also usually several thousand dollars a month. Whitney Lemon: All right, some really, really great information so far. Can you recommendÃ¢â‚¬â€excuse meÃ¢â‚¬â€any resources for people if they want to find more information about hiring someone for Search Engine Optimization. Stacia Holdron: Sure, one great place to start is Google's Webmaster Help Center and you can get to it at http://support.google.com/webmasters. There's also an article in that Help Center that has even more details about hiring an SEO, so once you get there, do a search for SEO and you'll find that article. If you're looking for industry news and information, there are a ton of great websites out there including Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal, so you're gonna find lots of resources about it online. Whitney Lemon: Great. Thank you so much, Stacia. We've had some questions from businesses before they hang out. Here is one from Mike in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "My company has been interviewing SEOs and one company talked about advertizing on Google as a way to improve organic results. Is this true?" Stacia Holdron: Hey, Mike, thanks for joining us. I grew up in Cambridge, so it's nice to talk to somebody from the old neighborhood. To answer your question, no, it is not true. Paying for advertizing has no direct affect on your ranking in Google's organic result. However, it can be a good option to sort of kick start traffic to your website, particularly, if it's just launched and Google's algorithm has not yet indexed and ranked your pages. Many businesses implement both SEO campaigns and paid advertizing campaigns, which we sometimes call Search Engine Marketing Campaigns or SEM, because they target different areas of that search results page. Whitney Lemon: Right. All right here is another question from Maggie in Los Angeles. "My husband owns a sound effects business here in L.A. [Inaudible 10:08] helping him with SEO for his website and suggested adding lots of keywords at the bottom of each page. Will this help?" Stacia Holdron: Hey, Maggie, thanks for your question. Actually, that's a bad idea. My rule of thumb for SEO is "Don't be sneaky". So Google publishes these quality guidelines and the guidelines lay out the dos and the don'ts and one of the most important is to make sure that your webpages are built for humans and not for search engines. So, stuffing lots of keywords on each webpage could actually hurt your ranking on Google, especially if you get sneaky like taking white text and trying to hide it on white background. So, if you don't follow these guidelines, not only will it not help your site, but you could actually be penalized and even removed from the index all together. Now, there's some other no-nos to avoid, including putting automatically generated content on your site or engaging in a link scheme which is like an exchange of links just for the sake of linking to each other. You can get in trouble for showing different content to humans than the search engines. This is called cloaking. You can get in trouble for sneaky redirects or putting hidden text or links on your site. You can get in trouble by puttingÃ¢â‚¬â€or copying lots of content from other websites and publishing it on yours or loading your pages with irrelevant keywords. The bottom line for all of these is that when you are in doubt, check the guidelines. You can find the general webmaster guidelines if you go to Google and search for Google Webmaster Guidelines. Whitney Lemon: Great. A lot to keep in mind. Thank you so much, Stacia, again. Stacia Holdron: Thank you very much, Whitney. It's a pleasure being here. Whitney Lemon: All right, and thank you for joining us today. We hope you learned some information that will help you make a more informed decision about working with an SEO company. Your next step is to visit the Google Webmaster Help Center. Read more about hiring an SEO company and review the webmaster guidelines to help you make an informed decision. I will provide links to both our articles in the comment section of Google Plus. Google will also have a tip sheet available soon at www.gybo.com/friday15. I know we didn't get to all of your questions, but we will beÃ¢â‚¬â€excuse meÃ¢â‚¬â€we will be addressing more topics in upcoming Friday 15s. Next time we will actually be chatting about Webmaster Tools, so stay tuned for more opportunities to get your questions answered and joined us to Friday, March 8th for more in depth look at SEO using Webmaster Tools. By the way, if you don't have a website yet, you can get one for free at www.gyby.com and it is free for one year. Thanks again for joining us today. The next Friday 15 airs on Friday, March 8th at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. If you can't make it to a live session or to view a recording of today's session, visit the Friday 15 archive at www.gybo.com/friday15. Again, that's www.gybo.com/friday15. On behalf of the entire Get Your Business Online Team, I wish you great success growing your business.