I was speaking with a small business owner a few months back about a Search Engine Optimization firm he wanted to hire. His budget was small, his expectations were high, and he wanted my opinion on the matter. The first question he asked me was “Is it worth it?”, to which I had to ask, “What guarantees did they make?”
Think of an SEO firm as a retail store that sells handmade items. This shop will likely state that their inventory is subject to change, and that they cannot guarantee a particular item to be in stock. This is due to the nature of their product, and the fact that the supplier of a particular product may decide to stop making them. The problem here is that some potential customers might view this as unreliability on the seller’s part, and decide to take their business to a larger chain store which can make a guarantee like that, since their items are mass produced, and there will always be a model by which to make more. So would it be ethical for the smaller shop to make the same guarantee as the chain store in order to prevent customers from shopping elsewhere? No. Such a claim would be misleading, as the small store has no control over the claim they would be making.
However, there are no large chain stores in the Internet marketing world, and search engine results conditions apply to all firms, big or small. Because of this, every SEO service that a firm offers is subject to some change, and no firm can make a guarantee on your rankings, results, etc. This is just the way it is.
So going back to the initial question: “Is it worth it?” Well, that all depends on the firm with which you are dealing. Here are some things to look for in a prospective firm:
- First and foremost, any firm that guarantees specific results or ranking is most likely uninformed, unethical, or about to take your money and run. This is a clear sign that a firm doesn’t know what they are doing, or their guarantee on said promised results are misleading, and they will not help your business at all.
- A guarantee for rankings might be fulfilled, however, the keywords for which your site will rank will likely be irrelevant to your business and of little or no worth. A SEO firm cannot guarantee rankings on specific keywords, especially those applicable to a given niche, which is what SEO is all about in the first place.
- A guarantee for results on specific search engines can be achieved, but don’t expect to show up in 94% of the results in the U.S., as this percentage makes up all search results on Google, Yahoo and MSN. That other 6% makes up the many smaller search engines, which are rarely used, and even showing up for the number one result on any of these engines will amount to nothing in terms of conversions.
- Ask a lot of questions about their plans concerning your SEO campaign. Any firm that makes guarantees but wont let the client in on what they plan to do is likely going to drive non-targeted traffic to the site.
However, there are guarantees that can be made. While firms may not be able to promise a number one spot on Google or a ranking position on a certain number of search engines, there are guarantees that you should expect from an Internet marketing firm.
- The client will always be informed of what strategies are being implemented within an SEO campaign, including what links we are getting for them, and from which sites these links are coming.
- The client knows how much of their budget is being spent on link building and how much is being spent elsewhere.
- The client is given monthly reports containing all links aquired, including all details about those links.
- Generally speaking, a firm can guarantee an increase in ranking. Effective SEO strategies are proven methods, and therefore, certain results should be expected. While a firm cannot guarantee a specific ranking, they should be able to guarantee an increase in ranking.
- A firm must perform an analysis of the client’s website in order to determine the best strategy for the SEO campaign – this generally entails on-site optimization, which may involve additions, or subtractions, from on-site content.
If you’d like to speak with an Internet marketing firm that specializes in SEO and is open to all questions concerning your campaign, don’t hesitate to contact Reciprocal Consulting.