The widely used term “SEO” refers to search engine optimization (or optimizer).
When you make the choice to hire someone to optimize your website for search engines, it is a huge step and has the power to save you time and improve your website.
If you happen to choose an SEO that is not that great, it has the potential to damage your own reputation as well as your website.
Take the time to inform yourself about the good and bad that can come from using an SEO that is not reputable.
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What Does an SEO Do?
SEOs and consultants or agencies similar to this are capable of offering services for websites like:
- Developing content
- Reviewing content or structure
- Advising on hosting, error pages or redirects
- Researching keywords
- Training for SEO
- Coaching on catering to specific markets or regions
It should be noted that Google's search results pages will include not only organic results but also paid advertisements that are indicated with a “Sponsored” or “Ads” caption. When you advertise with Google, it will not impact on the site's presence within the search results. Google does not take part in offering a service that ranks websites in their search results, and it costs nothing to a website owner to appear in Google's organic search results.
Prior to starting your search for an SEO, you should work to become familiar with how the search engines work and you may then regard yourself as an educated consumer. Google offers Webmaster Guidelines as well as an introduction on crawling and indexing.
When you are in the early stages of your website design is when you should be thinking about seeking the help of an SEO. Ideally, one would be hired when you establish that you will be doing a redesign of the website or are launching a new website. When you do this, you will be able to work hand in hand with your SEO to ensure that the website will be optimized and designed coherently right from the start. SEOs may also help to improve upon an existing website as well.
What to Ask Your Potential SEO
- How long have you been working in SEO?
- What is your experience in the industry?
- What are the expected results for the SEO and what is the time frame?
- How do you know when a job has been successful?
- Will you show me some of your examples and previous work as well as success stories?
- What type of guidelines do you follow, if any?
- Do you have any experience in my geographical area?
- Do you have any experience in SEO with international websites?
- What should my expectations be regarding communication?
- Will you share all changes made to the site and provide insight as to why these changes were made?
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There is no question that SEOs provide their clients with important services, but the unethical SEOs have made a negative impact on the industry thanks to their extremely aggressive marketing tactics and actions used to manipulate search engine results in a way that is unfair. These actions violate Google's guidelines and can lead to a destructive adjustment to the website's presence in Google's search results, or the site could even simply be removed from the index altogether.
What to Think About
One common improper practice is for the SEO to place “doorway” pages that are filled up with keywords somewhere among the client's normal website. The SEO will say that this action makes the web pages more relevant to a larger number of search queries. Technically, this is false information because single pages are not commonly relevant for a wide range of target keywords.
What's awful about this maneuver is that these doorway pages that have been created will hold links that are hidden and will direct to the SEO's other clients. This practice as a whole will take away from the popularity of a website and funnel it to the SEO and their clients. There is no telling what these clients do or what kind of content they are responsible for a lot of times it is illegal or simply unsavory.
Another tactic that is frowned upon is implementing “shadow” domains. These will bring users to a website through a series of misleading redirects. These false domains are usually owned by the SEO, and the SEO will assert that they are working on a client's behalf. There is potential for this relationship to go south, and the SEO then has the power to edit this domain to redirect to another website, even a competitor's website. If this were to happen, the client has ultimately paid for a website that they have no control over, it is all owned by the SEO.
Look Out for These Red Flags
- There are no SEOs that can guarantee you a #1 ranking on Google.
- Trash emails that come from web consultants or SEO firms out of nowhere.
- Say goodbye to any company that will not clearly explain what it is exactly that they intend to do with your website.
- You should never be obligated to link to the SEO.
- Your SEO should be totally transparent about what you are paying for.
- Carefully consider any firm that you are considering hiring for SEO.
- If they have had previous domains removed from Google.
- If they are linking to other clients via doorway pages.
- If they are owners of shadow domains.
- When they promise outstanding ranking but do not offer information on your target keywords or unique phrases.
Related Article: SEO for Beginners: What is SEO?
While not all SEOs are taking part in malevolent activities, there are those firms out there and it is vital to have the education that enables you to spot the con artist so that you are not wasting your time or money on them. A well-established SEO will take pride in their work and will be more than happy to show you their successful portfolio.