When an SEO Expert Calls

July 19th, 2011
All of us have gotten the phone call or e-mail from a company telling us that our website's search engine ranking can be improved. That is usually stating the obvious. What happens next is the real issue – should you engage that company or person to perform SEO services for your organization?

Evaluate Your Needs.

Just because you would like to see improvement in search engine rankings for some of your key phrases doesn't mean you should pursue that.

One of our clients called me one day and had me do a Google search for one of their primary key phrases. When the search came back the client's site was ranked number 3. I said, "This is great!" "But", the client said, "our biggest competitor is number one and we want to be number one". I responded that every change made to a web page WILL affect that page's ranking either negatively or positively. Sometimes, it is better to live with 'good' than to pursue 'perfect' because the pursuit of perfect could harm instead of improve rankings. Is it worth the risk?

Without engaging an SEO specialist, there are some simple things you can do that will improve rankings for under-performing phrases without affecting those pages that have phrases that are performing well. Here are two: (1) If your site has an integrated blog (not an external blog), blog frequently using the key phrases that you are wanting to improve. (2) You can also create brand new content areas in your site that focus on the under-performing phrases.

$$$$ Doesn't Equal Long-term Success

Most of the SEO specialists who contact you will ask for a large payment in return for getting certain of your primary key phrases to the top of rankings. They may succeed in the short term, but SEO success is a long-term commitment.

I remember a story I heard a few years ago from a man who angrily confronted a Google engineer at an SEO Q & A session I was involved in. A month before the seminar Google had just released a major algorithm update that turned website rankings on their heads. The man said this (I will never forget it) – "Three months ago I spent ten thousand dollars to improve my site's rankings, and in one day, when Google launched its new algorithm my rankings fell several pages and some couldn't even be found".

Was that ten thousand dollars well spent? We would all agree that is was not. Long term success in search engine optimization requires corresponding long term analysis and revision, not just an initial effort. All search engines 'tweak' ranking algorithms frequently and do major updates occasionally. Sometimes, those changes benefit a site owner. But usually when they tweak, you probably need to also.

And don't forget your competition - you know, those guys that want the same top ranking that you want? As long as they are working to achieve top placements you will need to work also.

Instead of a large expenditure for 'guaranteed' results that may be short lived, we think the best approach is incremental. An incremental approach means apply your best effort using best practices and see what happens and follow that with next steps as needed. Sometimes a very small investment yields very good results using this approach. One of our clients websites recently ranked on the top page of Google for nearly all of its primary key phrases. That result came within a week of the launch of its new optimized web site, and among heavy competition. The beauty of that is that the client spent very little on SEO.

The point is, why spend thousands when a much smaller investment MAY achieve the desired results? And even if the small investment doesn't fully achieve the desired results, those efforts almost always improve rankings some. Then, if the first round doesn't get you all the way to the top, do it again - and again if necessary.

More to come next time. Please let us know how we can serve your organization.