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Top Tips When Considering Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The search engine optimisation market for the uneducated or inexperienced buyer of SEO services can be a minefield.

Conflicting messages, confusing language and a saturated market, where anybody from web designers to PR agencies 'provide' SEO, combine to make the journey of researching and recruiting SEO expertise a pretty treacherous one.

One thing that certainly doesn't help the buyer of SEO services is the massive disparity in what you can pay for a service that essentially looks the same, along with the myriad of weird and wonderful remuneration models on offer from freelancers, consultants and agencies.

The different SEO models

Fixed fee - You will no doubt be regularly emailed or called from businesses offering fixed fee, or packages such as bronze, silver and gold. They commoditise a service which should be anything but. Quoting for SEO work upfront, based on a fixed fee model, is the equivalent of a builder proposing a fixed price for a home extension without having set foot on the property.

Pay on performance (rankings) - Some SEO providers offer 'guaranteed rankings', 'no placement, no fee' or 'paid only on rankings' which on the face of it seems a great proposition. The question to ask is the validity of rankings being used as the foundation for that model. They mean very little if the rankings are for irrelevant keywords or if your website fails to convert the traffic that those rankings deliver. These models fail to focus on the metrics that matter, such as traffic, conversion rates, sales and repeat business.

Pay on performance (sales) ' These SEO models can be complex, but are only credible if the tools, technologies and processes are in place to accurately attribute sales back to the SEO campaign. In some sectors, search may be one of many marketing channels being utilised, such as in retail. It is essential that tools are implemented to track this kind of complex user-journey, along with properly executed attribution modelling.

Low cost - More often than not in life, you get what you pay for. SEO strategies need to be underpinned by creative and engaging content, whilst being supported by social media and online PR which has been highlighted by Google's Panda and Penguin updates. SEO requires expertise across a multitude of disciplines to be truly effective.

What SEO providers should be doing

A good SEO should work with you to identify potential keyword targets to drive traffic, the level of competitiveness for those terms and the strategy and tactics that will need to be adopted to improve your search engine presence for those terms.

SEO providers should gain an understanding of a client's business, sector, products, services, competitive landscape, internal resource and offline marketing activity before being able to give a realistic quote for their work. The most important and often overlooked factor when quoting for SEO work is the buyer's commercial and financial objectives.

Things to avoid

Avoid any email you receive with the words 'SEO', 'rankings', or 'guarantee' in the subject line. 99% of it will be spam or offering the kind of SEO solution you want to avoid.


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