Qualifying Your SEO/SEM Provider |
The biggest challenge you will face in achieving positive results via Internet marketing will be finding a capable, competent, ethical, experienced search engine company. In your interview process, if the sales person seems more interested in pitching you on their product rather than learning about your needs, beware. If you feel pressured into "closing the deal" by time-sensitive "now or never" discounts, or if you don't get straight answers to your questions, walk away. Sometimes the right answer to a question is "it depends," but such an answer should be followed by a reasonable, understandable explanation. Your prospective search engine optimization and marketing provider should be more interested in providing you with an education than in taking your money.
What to Expect if it's Done Right
Again, based on the ethical issue that no one can guarantee placement, your best indicator will be checking out references from different potential providers to get a reasonable assurance that a particular SEO company has delivered for customers in the past. A proven track record is a good indicator that you have found a reputable, reliable company. Why is this so important? Because you will have to trust them to look out for your company's best interests in an ever-changing, no-guarantee environment, so you want to have some peace of mind that you aren't overpaying for their service, and they will not be using your business as a guinea pig to experiment. By talking with their references, you can also assess whether a client's prominent search engine placement is short-lived or consistent. Short-term and intermittent placement on search engine results may be (but not necessarily) an indicator of black hat SEO techniques, rather than white hat best-practices that yield more consistent results. Realize that there is little to no correlation between what one customer paid for their SEO/SEM work versus what another customer might have paid. The amount of money it costs to do the job is typically tied to the amount of time involved, and it will vary widely based on industry, market, and each client's goals.
All things considered, when you find a SEO / SEM provider you are comfortable with, trust, and can afford, you can expect your costs to be a fraction of what you pay for traditional SEO advertisement, while yielding better results. This allows you to cut your advertising costs while increasing revenues. As more revenues flow in, meaning better cash flow, you can pare back your traditional advertising (meaning, reduce but not discontinue), and redirect the additional funds to additional internet methods for compounding effects.
Budget permitting, you can even use the Internet to measure ROI on your traditional marketing methods. For example, by securing multiple domain names (which are inexpensive), you can target your marketing efforts by individual source (such as billboards, magazines ads, etc.) and measure the traffic from each source. There are many ways to creatively and cost-effectively use search engine and Internet methods to measure, monitor, adjust and control the SEO marketing success of your business.
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