There are a lot of companies offering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) services. How do you know which one is going to be the best fit for your company and budget?
It helps to have an understanding of how search engines index and rank websites. Knowing how the search engines work and how competitive your important keyphrases are can help you judge how much assistance you will need to improve your website visibility. Google didn’t used to be as transparent as they are now about how the search results work. These days, you can get guides directly from Google on how to improve your website’s visibility.
Consider your budget, both the money you have available to spend on internet marketing and your time…. sometimes it’s better for you to invest some time in learning what needs to be done and doing it yourself. Google has a whole SEO guidebook filled with helpful information, that I highly recommend. However, if the whole idea of DIY SEO/SEM makes you break out in a sweat, it’s time to bring in some experts.
Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:
- Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
- Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
- What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what time-frame? How do you measure your success?
- What are your most important SEO techniques?
- How long have you been in business?
- How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is search engine advertising vs. search engine optimization. SEM agencies set up ad campaigns that show up on search results and/or related websites based on your company’s keywords and location. The primary overlap between SEO and SEM are the keywords you would like your site to be more visible for.
I primarily use Google AdWords for SEM and they have recently instituted an audit procedure for advertising agencies to be sure that the agency is being transparent about the keywords being advertised, the average costs per click and other statistical information about the campaigns. The questions to ask an SEM company are similar to those you would ask SEO firm. Make sure that they are willing to be transparent with you and share any analysis data that you ask for on a regular basis. Checking the analytics is the best way to know if your campaigns are working or not. If you’re interested in giving AdWords a try, let me know (I have coupons for new advertisers.)
As with most things, it helps to get a referral from someone you know and trust, ask around to get recommendations.