The Hazards and Rewards of Hiring a SEO Firm

Optimizing your blog or website for search engine results can be an impossible task if you don't know where to begin. Days, weeks, months, and eventually years go by as no new unique visitors view your page because your site isn't search-able, and your melancholy only increases with your feelings of helplessness.

But, for those bloggers or online business entrepreneurs who don't have the time or confidence to research and execute search engine optimization (SEO) measures: there is hope! Many users opt to hire optimizers to increase the visibility of their sites so they themselves don't have to wrangle with that challenge. 

There are, however, a few guidelines you should follow if you are considering hiring a SEO firm, to protect the quality of your site and its reputation, even for experienced bloggers.

When searching for a SEO firm, investigate it's potential thoroughly, and avoid ones that make outrageous claims about guaranteeing a top ranking for your website, or others that offer their services to you unsolicited. As a useful and beneficial as an honest, credible SEO can be to your site, a dishonest or belligerent firm can hurt your website's image, and even remove your site from a search engine's index.

Do everything you can to examine a firm's practices, especially concerning what exactly you are paying them for. Some SEO firms prey on uninformed clients and have various misleading and outright devious ways to fool you into hiring them. Try to uncover:
  • Shadow domains — affiliated websites created by SEO firms that redirect traffic from your website to theirs. Owning the rights to the site, the SEO may choose to sell the shadow domain to another website owner, effectively using your money to help advertise someone else's site.

  • Doorway pages with links to other clients. Practices such as ranking guarantees, address bar keyword sales, and placing links to your page in the advertising rather than the search results section of a page.

Never be satisfied with the information an SEO representative gives you. Delve deeper into the firm and don't commit until you are absolutely certain that it can deliver the results it claims to. Try to obtain the following information from any prospective SEO firm you are considering:
  • A list of clients the firm has worked with in the past, and a few samples of their work.

  • The extent of the firm's experience in your industry and area.

  • Whether the firm provides any additional services outside of SEO, such as strategies or consultations.

  • The level of communication you can expect from the firm while working together.

So far, this has been a primarily cautionary guide to SEOs; there are many benefits, though, to hire a SEO expert that match the risks, if not outweigh them. A good SEO can train website owners how to continue to optimize their site's search results, assist in developing site content and managing development campaigns, offer critiques and expert opinions that can help improve the structure of your site, and much more.

The key is to find a quality SEO firm that is dedicated to improving your site, not to siphoning money from you. Once you find the right firm, your site views could increase immensely, and faster than you can click your mouse.

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