Selecting the most appropriate SEO for Your Small Business Needs

SEO could benefit many businesses who are looking to increase their online presence and drive more targeted traffic to their sites. Unfortunately the SEO industry is not really known for its transparency and this can be confusing for businesses that are wondering just what exactly they will be getting in return for investment.

The SEO industry has also attracted a lot of cowboys who utilize “black-hat” techniques that go against the policies of Google and the other search engines. You should make sure that your SEO will be done using ethical “White Hat” techniques.

Businesses that unwittingly utilize an SEO that uses these techniques may see short term results till Google discovers the footprints left behind by these techniques, at which stage they will see a negative effect on their own search engine rankings. The black hat SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION offers quick fixes and is generally long gone by this point!

What’s With the Hats?

The term “Black Hat” originates from the old western movies, the bad guys always wore black hats! The good guys wore white hats, you might hear ethical SEO referred to as “White Hat” SEO. Remember the bad guys always got their just deserts!

What Should your SEO be Doing for Your Business?

It is important to know precisely what your SEO will be doing for you and how they will provide you with measurable outcomes. Be wary of any SEO who else offers a guaranteed ranking, it is difficult to guarantee a ranking with Google or any other search engine!

Any SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION who can guarantee results without even knowing which keywords you want to target is using this as a marketing scheme, how could they guarantee outcomes if you wanted to compete for key phrases like “Apple”, “Google” or “Facebook”?!

Without conducting keyword research it is impossible to tell how likely the achievements of an SEO campaign will be and how long it is likely to take. SEO is an ongoing process of research, testing and analysis. It takes careful planning to identify the best keywords and to then put a solid strategy in place to rank for those keywords.

On-site and Away Site SEO

SEO takes into account elements that are both on-site and off site. On-site SEO entails an evaluation of your website. It involves looking at several factors including the site structure, use of keywords, the sites content, page loading times and the HTML and CSS that the site is built with. Great on-site SEO benefits the end consumer and also helps to avoid any technical “Gotchas” that search engines don’t like, like duplicate content.

A good SEO will begin by analysing your site and making recommendations to improve an optimise the website for both users and search engines. Off site SEO involves developing relevant backlinks from other sites in order to yours.

Each backlink is counted by the search engines as a vote for your site. Websites are given an expert score called Page Rank. Each time a site links to you it shares a little bit of its page rank with you, links from high authority sites share associated with this page rank than lower specialist sites. Incoming links to a site are known as backlinks.

To Follow in order to Nofollow…

Some links carry simply no authority at all, many links have a nofollow attribute that tell the search engines not to count that link as a vote. Webmasters and bloggers might add this attribute themselves if they don’t their link to become counted as a vote for the external site or it could be automatically added by the platform they are using to create their content, this is often the case if a site offers its user to add comments or content and the site owner has little control over what links get created by the sites contributors.

Hyperlinks without the nofollow attribute are called “dofollow” and pass page rank out of your page to the linked page. Within HTML there is no actual dofollow feature, dofollow happens by default in the absence of a nofollow attribute. You should never nofollow internal links as this will cause any kind of page rank that would have been passed to that link to just evaporate!
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Where Do You Get Those Links?

You should inquire your SEO how they will develop backlinks, a good SEO will try to create a varied backlink portfolio for you. This portfolio should include high value hyperlinks that are found in bodies of textual content such as blog posts. These usually take the most page rank but also require the most work as the SEO will need to develop connections with blog owners and sometimes provide the content themselves.

Any good SEO will look for quality over volume, anyone promising a high number of links is probably best avoided. The search engines prefer to see “Natural Links of Love”, a few high quality links will go a great deal further than many low quality links.

Some other linking strategies include using high quality business directories or commenting upon blogs and forums as well as making use of social media and social bookmarking sites.

Hyperlink exchanges are best avoided as these two way links don’t look like organic links. Search engines can see the Internet being a series of connected nodes and easily detect unnatural patterns like this.

Your Business, Your Needs

Your SEO should talk with you about your business needs and goals and also try to understand as much as they can about your target audience. If they don’t do this then they are improbable to pick keywords that will attract and convert the right audience for you company. They should conduct extensive keyword analysis and be able to identify the keywords that will bring in more of the right traffic. Traffic is useless if it doesn’t convert!

Added Value

Your SEO also needs to be able to research your competition and tell you what keywords they are targeting and also how much time it is likely to take to compete for the same keywords. They should become able to come up with alternative strategies if those keywords are far too aggressive for your budget or to bring in visitors while you work towards competing for the major keywords.

SEO takes time, keep in mind that happen overnight. Your SEO must be able to provide you with a monthly report that displays how you are progressing through the search results for your keywords. They should also be able to run PPC campaigns on your behalf and also create content and copy for the site.

Many SEO’s will also be able to promote you via social media plus advise you on other Internet marketing methods such as building mailing lists for email campaigns.

The Bottom Line

The rate for an SEO varies an awful lot. Some agencies will charge upwards of 1000 a month! A small business should be able to look for a decent SEO for around 300 per month, this depends on the level of service needed but 300 should buy you a good campaign targeting 5 keywords.

The first month is usually a bit more expensive as this is the month that the on-site SEO takes place as well as the keyword and competitor research.

Some SEO’s offer an inexpensive service, you get what you pay for and keep in mind that SEO takes a large amount of time as it involves a lot of study, analysis and content creation.

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