1. What is the firm's area of expertise?
Do they optimize porn sites, affiliate sites, link farms or actual businesses like you and me? Request a list of clients they have done work for to verify this.
2. Are their optimization techniques a secret?
Search Engine Optimization is not a secret industry though some would like you to believe it is. SEO consists of a lot of research, optimization of pages, increasing of link popularity, knowing when/where/how to get your site indexed, which indexes are important for high rankings. Ask them for an overview of how they achieve their results. It is ok if you do not understand the technical jargon the point is to see if they will tell you. If they do not give you an explanation chances are they are trying to hide the fact that they are using illegal techniques.
3. Is Pay Per Click (PPC) part of their guarantee?
A good Search Engine Optimization strategy does not include PPC where you end up having to pay for the clicks generated to your website.
4. Can the firm guarantee that your site will not be penalized with removal from the search engines or directories index, or a possible Google PageRank penalty?
If not chances are they are playing Russian roulette with their client's websites. By using illegal techniques that may produce immediate surface level results but in the long run will end up getting the site banned or penalized by the major search engines.
5. Do they optimize more than your homepage?
A good search engine optimization strategy will include all of the pages in your website. It is more work for them but will produce the greatest results for you.
6. There is a difference between a visitor, and a targeted visitor. A targeted visitor will result in more sales and leads. Does the firm focus on more sales... do they say: "10,000,000 visitors in 1 month"?
You do not want "junk traffic" coming from porn sites or other non English speaking countries.
7. Do they create special new pages optimized for your key phrases that redirect to another page?
If the answer is yes you are probably dealing with a firm that creates "doorway" or "bridge" pages (although most companies will call them by different names). This technique violates the terms of service of most major search engines. Legitimate Search Engine Optimization providers do not need to create any doorway pages to produce results.
8. Is their guarantee unrealistic?
SEO providers who say they can guarantee a specific position like number 1or 2 in a specific search engine like Google or Yahoo are not being honest. It is
physically impossible to guarantee specific positions in a specific engine.
9. Are automated submission tools used or are all submissions done by hand? Automated tools can often penalize you and results in exclusion from the search engines.
10. Does the plan include the cost of all submissions and directory fees such as Yahoo, Looksmart and other directories and submissions or does it just cover optimization?
11. If the plan includes link popularity building are they using a link farm or contacting sites by hand and concentrating on link reputation more than link popularity?
Soon websites linked to from these link farms will be penalized and banned from the major search engines.
12. Does their technique involve showing a different page to the visitor and a different page to the search engine?
If the answer is yes then you are probably dealing with a search engine
optimization provider who uses "cloaking" techniques. Many search engines specifically warn against this technique in their terms of service. Google is particularly harsh on sites that use cloaking, and is known to remove them entirely when they find them.
13. Does the firm provide an ROI analysis and a goal of more revenues from your website, or are they simply focused only on rank?
14. Does their plan incorporate the following strategies?
- Page optimization
- Title optimization
- Keyword optimization
- Description optimization
- Body optimization
- Link optimization
- Link reputation
- Existing link analysis
- Initial ranking report for your keywords
- Monthly ranking report after optimization
- Guaranteed minimum number of first page listings
- Keyword research
- Competitor analysis
A good guarantee should cover at least 6 months.
16. Which search engines do they work with?
Make certain that the positions the search engine optimization company has achieved are for the most popular search engines, not smaller engines for which they may have a knack.
17. What kind of search engine saturation can they achieve?
While it is easy to focus on one particularly impressive position on one popular engine, it is more important to focus on a broad range of positions achieved for one site. It is entirely possible for a site to have one great ranking and be sorely lacking in positions for all other keyphrases. Ask your potential search engine marketing company to show you a report for an individual client that demonstrates good positions on many popular engines for many popular keyphrases. An effective search engine optimization campaign will achieve maximum exposure across a broad range of keyphrases and engines, not one notable position on one engine.
18. Do they have direct relationships with any of the major search engines and search engine industry leaders?
Reputable search engine optimization firms will most likely have industry
affiliations. Fly by night operations do not because they have not been around long enough or they employ unscrupulous industry practices therefore other reputable firms will not affiliate with them.
19. Can you reach a real person to ask them these questions before you must commit your hard earned dollar?
Never do business with a firm you ca not talk to.
20. Do they eat their own dog food?
Ask them what key phrases they are ranked for and how effective their strategies have been for their own website.