The Many Components of Search Engine Optimization
The phrase search engine optimization describes a whole set of criteria that determine where a Web site ranks when a user types a word into a search engine. Some of these criteria are:
- Content that is rich (but not stuffed) with keywords
- Inbound links
- Clean code
- Soundness of the site architecture (no broken links, invisible keywords, missing tags, multiple redirects to name a few possible problems to be avoided)
Search Engine Optimization: Fierce and Constant Competition
But it is not enough to have a site optimized just once, or once in a while. In order to rank high, content must be constantly refreshed each time a Web crawler comes to inspect. And this new content must be managed for keywords, links, and so on. In short, search engine optimization is an ongoing project, with Web sites competing for position every minute.
Is it Time to Hire a Search Engine Optimization Service?
Reputable search engine optimization services can augment in-house resources or provide complete Web site optimization for companies with limited staff. That said, search engine optimization services must still be managed by their clients, preferably by those who can articulate company objectives and expectations beyond pure page ranking and who can marshal resources for content creation, even if the content creation itself is outsourced to the SEO company or others.
What to Look for in a Search Engine Optimization Service
Knowledgeable search engine optimization services will be able to demonstrate that they have experience in all facets of SEO and be able to provide references. Be sure to speak with these references and to check with the Better Business Bureau and online recommendation services such as Angieslist.com
Beyond these basic points of competence, here are some other things to consider when selecting an SEO service:
- Level of service--as measured by promptness of returned phone calls and emails when first requesting information. Trust the gut.
- Familiarity with the client industry--to understand the competitive landscape and what will be required to gain ranking.
- Specificity of recommendations--the more specific and tailored to client needs the better. Recommendations should leverage existing content and address content opportunities. If there is no mention of content, keep looking for other SEO firms.
- Projections of outcome--beware of any companies that promise a certain page ranking or a certain number of inbound links. Page ranking is impossible to guarantee, and if inbound links come from link farms, it will hurt instead of help ranking.
- Methods of communication--are reports available through a Web portal, emailed weekly or monthly, how will reports be reviewed, and how will strategies be adjusted?
Purchasers of SEO services do not need to know how to optimize their sites themselves, but basic knowledge will go a long way toward a satisfactory relationship with SEO service providers and better page rankings.