With Google’s Dec. 2013 PageRank export complete, webmasters are scrambling to find out the results and determine what they mean. A number of long-established sites saw their PageRank drop, while many others held steady. A few moved up, particularly new sites that were not previously ranked.
Most of us are not search engine optimization (SEO) experts and can, therefore, use some help making our sites shine. The problem is that finding a reputable provider is a challenge in and of itself — choose the wrong individual or company and your site could fall. Worse, it could incur the wrath of the search engines, especially market dominating Google. Here’s what you should keep in mind when doing your SEO shopping.
Avoid These Companies
Before we look at who you might consider for your SEO needs, you should automatically rule out certain providers. By ruling out those that employ suspect methods or make exaggerated and baseless claims, you can quickly narrow your list. Unfortunately, the Internet is overrun with so-called SEO experts, people that can damage your business and ruin your reputation.
No SEO provider can guarantee rankings, especially PageRank. The PageRank code is virtually impossible to crack and can just as easily crack your business if Google finds out someone has been doing sneaky stuff online. Sure, gaming Alexa is easy to do and chances are your SEO person will lower that score considerably. Still, avoid those promising big results and charging you for it.
Also avoid anyone who promises to submit your site to hundreds of directories, to scores of search engines or says that they will provide other services with no clearcut proof that they work. You should also avoid companies that are located offshore — a Skype conversation once in a while is not the same as picking up the phone and talking with an individual in the United States or Canada.
Choose From These Companies
SEO has changed in recent years with social media now playing a significant role in helping websites achieve success. It isn’t just who links to you and who you link to — your buzz on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere matters too. So, from the start you want someone who takes a wholly contemporary look at SEO, not a person steeped in old SEO methodologies.
Likely, your SEO expert will work with your Google Analytics, to provide verifiable and easy-to-understand proof of what they are doing. They should also speak plainly — big SEO terms can be intimidating, but some are simply confusing or unclear. Ask your potential clients to provide a case study such as a white paper and copies of reports that they issue to their current clients.
Quantifying SEO Results
With much data to review, how do you quantify those results? After all, you’re paying your SEO expert handsomely to cast your website in a positive light. What good is data if you can’t figure out what it does for you?
One of the basic measurements is an increase in web traffic, what you will see through your Google Analytics data. You can also check the search engine results pages (SERPs) to see where your site comes in for your keywords. Finally, if your business has increased and you know that your website had a hand in it because your customers told you that it did, then that’s one more feather in your cap.
Webmaster SEO Considerations
You can help your SEO cause too by understanding what practices can positively or negatively affect your own work. Leaving spammy comments on blogs, scraping content, and repurposing existing content are things you know not to do. Just as easily you should monitor traffic, notify your SEO expert of unusual traffic spikes or dips, and bolster your social media activity. Your SEO expert will guide you in these and other areas, proving that you have an ally that is worth his or her work.
Finally, ask for and check references from SEO companies that you are considering. The better providers will supply these without question. You should also make those calls to find out what their customers have to say about their own experiences with that provider.
Jason Bayless is a professional blogger that gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice. He writes for BestSEOCompanies.com, a nationally recognized comparison website of the best SEO companies in the United States.