These days everyone seems to offer website services. You might get phone calls, website comments, or emails from random companies in different states or countries. They will offer you guaranteed placement on Google… and sometimes they will use the term “Search Engine Marketing” instead of “Search Engine Optimization.” But, how do you measure value in full scale and local SEO services?
How do you know what you are spending your money on, or how you can measure your return on investment? Sorting through the offerings can be difficult if you aren't a SEO expert. Here are five ways to know that current or potential services aren't up to par.
5 Signs of Amateur Local SEO Services
1. They sound too good to be true.
If they are low-balling your estimate while guaranteeing great results, chances are they are either being dishonest, or they are using what we call “Black Hat SEO.” This can not only hurt your SEO value in Google for a very long time - but can also get you blacklisted from Google altogether. Not the kind of list a growing business wants to be on!
Black Hat SEO consists of techniques that get higher search rankings in an unethical manner. These include breaking search engine rules and regulations, creating a poor user experience on the Web site, or unethically presenting content in a different visual or non-visual way to search engine spiders and search engine users.
2. They guarantee fast results.
Let’s get real. Your business did not grow overnight, and neither will your SEO. Depending on how many competitors you have in the area, it may take a year--or longer--to reach your ideal local rankings, especially on a list of key search terms. That is not to say that progress toward this goal will not begin right way.
There are some things you can easily do to get your business listed in search.
- Make sure you are listed in Google Places
- Submit your sitemap to search engines
- Use relevant wording on your website pages
- Have a mobile friendly version of your website.
Reaching that #1 spot for a specific key word cannot be guaranteed without some methods that you may have never considered...that's why you need good local SEO services, and you will need to trust them because some of the methods are counter intuitive.
Your goal is to get in the top three listings for a variety of keywords. If you have 100 customers, they are not all using the exact same terms to search online. It’s just not that simple. And on top of that, there may be some search terms that are easier or more difficult.
3. They charge you less than $750/month and don't work on content.
While this isn’t a magic number, it is true that good SEO is going to cost you between $100-$300/hour. If the SEO service is charging less than this, you might be spending it on a service that really doesn’t know what they are doing or doesn’t have the experience necessary for effective SEO. It's important to distinguish between local SEO services which focus on how you rank in "local search" and optimization which targets broader internet traffic, to understand the pricing. The local SEO services can have a much narrower scope than broad optimization and may be less expensive.
It's also important to recognize that one key element of an effective SEO strategy is the inclusion of fresh or optimized content. Your website needs content for much of the SEO effort to be effective, and an SEO approach that doesn't address your need for fresh and revised website content may not be serving you well. Good SEO will cost more and include a content strategy, since it's content that Google is ranking. Content is a key to increasing visibility.
4. They are not able to show you the progress they are making.
A common story we often hear from our prospective clients: “I am spending $1,000 month… but I don’t really know what they are doing for me.”
“No, I can’t show you my Google Analytics because they don’t have that setup.”
If the money is being spent (number #3), but they are not able to show results, this what we consider to be a “worst case scenario.” In either case, the promise of digital services, including local SEO services is accountability-- because it's digital it can be tracked-- so insist on it.
5. They are optimizing your keywords but not your conversions.
So here is the game changer… maybe your hired SEO firm is getting you hundreds of new website visitors each day, but you still aren’t getting new customers. What is going on here?! I can tell you almost immediately that the problem is not in the SEO. Your website doesn’t have any response methods or is so poor visually that customers don’t stick around to connect. While this isn’t the SEOs problem, you are still wasting your money. And if the SEO firm you hired doesn’t know this is a problem, or doesn’t recommend fixing it, then that is an even bigger problem and you shouldn’t be using them.
You'll recognize great SEO not only by the level of service provided, but the hard questions they ask. They should be asking you about business goals, the specific personas of your customers and how web visitors will become leads and then customers.
Your SEO firm can be a “best friend” and “partner” to your business when you find the right one. Don’t settle for just another service that collects your payment without showing a sincere interest in your business. The good ones are out there! It's important to start with the right thing when you want to increase traffic - that is often not actually an SEO question at all.
Here is a good reference: