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GMR Press Releases

Date: 23rd October, 2007

A Checklist to help you decide if your third party SEO Company is a “White Hat Company”

We started off as a web design company. Soon I realized that a good design had very little to do with online traffic. That’s when I plunged headlong into SEO. I approached some of the better-known SEO companies and learned a bit about the practice of building businesses through the medium of organic or natural search engine placement. I turned to them whenever my clients needed them and in the process I also learned to ask questions.

That’s when I realized why some SEO companies are better than others. Here’s the checklist.

Company Philosophy

One you decide to go in for SEO, you jump on to the brand-building wagon. Be sure to associate your identity with companies that follow basic SEO rules, implicit or explicit. Companies that promise the moon in a short period are more liable to take shortcuts to success. Prevent your company from being blacklisted, dropped, removed or penalized. Remember, SEO results start picking up only after a period of 4 to 6 weeks.

Company Expertise Level

What kinds of experts does the company hire? There are a lot of softwares out there from basic HTML to PHP, ASP, ASPX, HTML, Cold Fusion, Flash and what not. Can your SEO Company handle all of them with ease? Do they have experience optimizing both static and dynamic websites? Can they optimize using various e-commerce packages and interfaces such as Monster Commerce, Yahoo Stores, OS Commerce, Storefront, Volusion, GoldbarOne?

Company Management

SEO companies have no certification, so it’s best to know more about them. Does it have a solid management structure? Make sure to ask for company details, testimonials or any other thing to make you feel secure. You will be entrusting this company with your future, so make sure.

Company Size and Structure

Neither too large nor too small. You do not want to create a support ticket for your queries, but also acknowledge that more brains are better than one. It’s always better to have more than one view.

Company SEO Rankings

This can be pretty touchy turf, but if the company claims to be an SEO company, it must have some ranks for its company. So ask to see and conduct authentication tests.

After checking company details here’s what you should check further.

PRICING STRUCTURE

SEO costs must be consistent with the services that a company performs. Usually there are 3 levels of SEO service providers. Low rung companies do directory entries and submissions and make no changes to codes. Middle rung do a lot more, like keyword analysis, content analysis, keyword content ratio, metatags checks. They may further offer off site optimization like article writing, blog maintenance, press releases. Top rung SEO firms offer all these with conversion analysis and tracking thrown in. The emphasis here is more on off site optimization that shows what’s working what not. It depends on the of man hours put in.

Here’s a per month estimate:

Bottom Rung Services (no coding involved) $50-$300
Middle Rung Services $300-$850
Top Rung Services $850-$5000

Most firms come up with a front fee, followed by monthly fees commiserate with the services provided.

You may come across companies providing piecemeal optimization. Stay short of them. Optimization is an integrated approach and cannot be done one at a time. It can be done in phases, like tackling basic design & content issues and other on site optimization; then moving on to off site optimization, but it can’t be done in piecemeal.

SEO COMPANY’S QUESTIONS FOR YOU

You may find it strange but the questions that a SEO company asks you about the goals and objectives of your company are important. Does the company ask you about:

  • the goals and objectives of your company
  • your industry
  • your competition
  • your competitor websites
  • what PPC works for them?
  • what keywords do they use?
  • what keywords you think works for you
  • how is your site designed?
  • is your site static or dynamic?

These questions go along way in building a sustaining relationship with your company and to ensure that there is no misinterpreting of objectives & goals

KEYWORD TOOLS

What keyword tools does your SEO company use? This question is critical because all your seo work is centered around these keywords. There are currently 2 popular keyword tools, Overture keyword suggestion & WordTracker. Do they use google suggestion tools? Are there keyword suggestion tools in built? Do they analyse keyword trends?

TRANSPERANT EVALUATION SYSTEM

Genuine SEO companies let you be a part of the evaluation system. Some of the evaluation is technical, but some you can follow.

  1. Conversion Analysis Software: Your SEO firm should be using it to see traffic gains and conversions in real time. You can see who is coming to your site, from what search engines they are coming from, and the exact keyword phrase used within the search query.
  2. Positioning or Visibility Reports: Ask for weekly or fortnightly position or visibility reports. As your SEO program matures take ask for positioning of specific keywords.
  3. Alexa Rating: This you can do yourself. Download the Alexa Toolbar right now from alexa.com. Alexa gives you a summary of the general traffic trend over the last three months for your website when compared to other existing sites.
  4. Google PageRank: You can do this yourself too. You can download the Google Toolbar right now by going to google.toolbar.com. Click on the options tab and check off the “display PageRank” measure. You will be able to see how Google is rating the importance of your site on a scale of 0-10. As an optimization company proceeds with your campaign you can check periodically to see how the number is increasing. The typical website might see a PageRank increase of one to two points over the course of an optimization campaign. Keep in mind that it is easier to increase your PageRank at the lower ends of the spectrum. As you approach higher PageRanks it becomes more difficult for your rating to balloon.

MAN-HOURS PER MONTH

Genuine SEO companies are loaded with clients. So ask for monthly man-hour allotment of the estimated tasks. It is only then that you will get the results that you need. If you opt in for off site optimization, more man-hours are needed.

This document is issued in general public interest by GMRWebTeam. The checklist mentioned above is applicable to all SEO firms that practice genuine SEO methods. GMRWebTeam.com is a white hat SEO firm that specializes in Search Engine Marketing.

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