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Yeah... we do SEO, sort of

Ask any website design and development company if they "do SEO" and they will almost always say yes. If you're hiring a web company to do web work, it pays to ask more specific questions, since "doing SEO" can mean anything from adding a few meta tags, to sprinkling some guessed at keywords in web text. Claiming to "Do SEO" while only offering the above is like a mechanic saying he or she can fix your car when all they can do is inflate tires and check the oil.

To hire a company that truly knows SEO you have to ask more specific questions. Like good mechanics who are certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, good SEO providers are certified by Google or another reputable group, such as SEMPO. You should ask potential vendors what kind of analytics they use to figure out what keywords you should be using and what keywords your competition is using. They should also be able to lay out a plan showing you where you rank based on keyword search terms, how they plan to raise your ranking for the terms that are most likely to increase your traffic and roughly how long it will take for you to get certain keyword search terms to the top of Google.

You should also ask to see examples of their reporting. If you can't understand it-and they can't explain it to you-part ways. SEO tracking and reporting is simple and they should be able to show you the successes and failures in clear, easy to understand reports. You should also beware the agency that says any information regarding the work they do for you is "proprietary." Some companies will actually say that the keywords they are selecting are not available to look at. That's a sign they are trying to trick you or they don't know what they're doing.

By John Decker

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