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What every business needs to know about search engine optimization.

11 Dec 2012 | Posted Under SEO

If you go back to the year 2000, all that the search engines looked at in order to deermine how sites ranked was contained on-site. Face it, back in 2000 there were no such things as blogs, social networks and streaming video. Heck, it could take a minute or more to get graphics to load properly if you were using a dial-up account. So all the search engine spiders had to look at was your website. Well, we’ve come a long way baby. Today, only 25% of what the search engines look at is contained on-site. The majority of SEO criteria consist of such things as backlinks, blog posts, social posts, and videos. Not only do the spiders look to see whether these items are present, they also determine the relevance and the quality of posts. This along with frequency, whether or not the posts have been commented on and if they have been reposted to social sites, all factor in. What this means is that it isn’t enough to sport the logos for Twitter, Facebook and Google+ on your site, you also need to feed them on a regular basis.

What SEO Means Today

Here are the facts you need to contend with. There are more than 320 million websites online today, with another 130,000 new sites entering the fray daily. And every one of them wants to be on page one. In order to have any kind of chance to win with the odds stacked against you, website owners need to consider the following:

• Content is king. The days of “Set it and forget it” are over. If you want to get into the game, you need to blog on at least a weekly basis and you need to post to the social networks on at least a daily basis.
• The Internet has become a multimedia broadcast network. If the only thing your website has to offer is prose, you aren’t going to be taken seriously by either the Google bots or your intended audience. You need to add podcasts and/or videos to your site on at least a monthly basis. (Weekly is even better.)
• Your blogs need to be more than extended tweets. If you don’t provide the readers with valuable articles to engage them, why should they read your blog at all, much less tweet or repost it?
• You also must ally yourself with other bloggers and social media publishers if you hope to generate any kind of audience online. The last thing you want to wind up doing is spending time and money building a billboard in the desert.

In short, if you want to get off the bench and into the game, you need to make online content creation a priority. This means either feeding the system yourself, or hiring either an individual or an agency to do the work for you. Just bear in mind that outsourcing a job that requires weekly blogging, daily social posts, monthly backlink building and video/podcast production is not going to come cheap. Anyone telling you they can get you on Google page 1 for $99.95 per month is just going to take your hundred bucks a month for as long as you would care to pay it. A minimum of $1,000.00 per month is a more realistic figure, unless you are willing to do at least some of the work yourself.

Top 10 Questions to ask any SEO firm

Even spending a grand a month doesn’t mean that you are going to jump onto page 1 overnight… if ever. If you are considering hiring the task out, here are ten questions you need to ask.

1. Where is your company located and how long have you been doing SEO? (Ask for their phone number and business address.)
2. What are your fees and what will I get for the money?
3. Does this fee include copywriting of blogs and social posts? What else? (backlinks, videos)
4. Can you provide me with references for current clients? (Do you have any video testimonials?)
5. What kind of performance guarantees do you offer and can I get them in writing?
6. How long is the contract and how long will it take to get my site on page one?
7. What happens if you fail to deliver results?
8. How do you determine the best keywords for my business?
9. What kind of reports will I receive and how often will I receive them?
10. Whom do I call if I have any questions or needs during the time you are in my employ?

If any company that offers to optimize your site can’t tell you precisely what it is that you will be getting for your money and they can’t provide you with the phone numbers and address for at least 5 satisfied current clients, then they do not deserve your consideration. Also be wary of offshore firms since it is nearly impossible to get any kind of refund should they fail to deliver the goods. Also beware of long term contracts of one year or more. Many automatically renew and they put the onus on you to continue paying without any appreciable quid pro quo in terms of results with the SEO provider.

The bottom line is that if you are serious about maximizing your online results then you only have three possible options. Number one; you are willing to take the time to get the job done right on your own. This will take a huge amount of time and effort on your part. Number two; You are willing to do part of the work yourself and outsource the rest. Or three, outsource all the task in its entirety to a reputable firm that has all the tools necessary to complete the job on a timely basis. All three will allow you to reap the rewards that come with having organic page one search engine visibility. If you’re outsourcing, just remember this. You are hiring a technician, not a magician and results won’t be instantaneous.  It could take three or four months before you start seeing page 1 results.

So the next time you get a call or an email from someone purportedly associated with Google, hit them with the first few questions in the list above and see how often you get a legitimate response. I’ll bet that 99 times out of 100 they will admit that they don’t work for Google and/or they will simply hang up. Either way you are now armed with the necessary knowledge to find a legitimate firm that can help you get the job done right.

Carl Weiss has helped companies improve their online results since 1995. He is president of W Squared Media Group, a digital marketing agency that provides a full array of digital marketing service including web design, SEO, blog writing, copyediting, social media posts, video production and touch marketing. You can hear him weekly on the radio show he co-hosts, “Working the Web to Win” every Tuesday at
4pm Eastern.

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