Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thinking About Hiring an SEO Firm?

Search optimization continues to get more challenging and difficult, especially as far as Google is concerned. Gone are the days when all you needed to do was to stuff enough keywords on a page to make the SERP tide turn in your favor, so web surfers would find their way to your site.

Today, the SEO landscape is more of a mine field, and if you happen to step on one of the new SEO mines—whether by design or by accident—you risk quite a bit. And while the consequences can be devastating, SEOs remain busy, thanks to the ignorance and naiveté of webmasters everywhere.

Website optimization is something that most site owners can do themselves, but there is a learning curve involved and that, in some—if not most—cases, is the deciding factor for hiring an "expert." I placed the word expert in quotes since, in my opinion, true experts don't use such terminology to describe themselves. When was the last time you saw a listing for an expert surgeon or an ad for an expert architect, for example?

The other moniker SEO "experts" like to throw around is "guru." I assume we all need a mentor, sage, or spiritual leader to help us navigate the perilous SEO waters.

Titles are free, and anyone can claim to be an expert search engine optimizer. Makes me feel bad for the true pros out there who really understand optimization, since usually all SEOs are grouped together.

I am sure I've made clear my dislike of self-appointed SEO "gurus" and "experts," and I make no apologies for that. I have no respect for charlatans who prey on desperate business owners that can hardly afford services that, in the end, do more harm than good.

SEO in 2014 and beyond does not only involve on-site optimization, but also includes a technical component that most Snake E-Oil peddlers are usually unaware of and, consequently, incapable of addressing. The "nuts and bolts" of how a website operates are a language that these people do not speak, let alone understand.

So, if you are a small business owner who believes is in need for SEO services, make a plan to educate yourself first, and only then start researching companies or individuals to hire. Also, plan to have a generous budget for this purpose, as true professionals don't come cheap and SEO is not a weekend project.

Personally I would discourage small business owners from hiring an SEO firm without first having a competent adviser do a general analysis of their website, as in most cases, the "death" of an e-commerce site is caused by dozens—oftentimes hundreds—of tiny errors, rather than just a single big issue.