If you are looking to hire someone to handle your SEO, you have to know what to look for in SEO companies in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, many people have dubbed themselves “SEO consultants” who know less than you do about the process. SEO companies handle more than keyword assignation; there is a multi-tiered approach to SEO and an analysis component that they need to provide in order to benefit your business.
The use of keywords is still important in SEO, but not nearly as important as it was a decade ago. The changes in Google’s search algorithms have removed much of the power of keywords, but they are still important. Good SEO companies will talk about targeting niche keywords while maximizing the relational context of content. Bad SEO companies will want to push you towards a keyword centric optimization of content and pay-per-keyword registration that was the way to go about SEO back in the 80s but is a waste of resources today. One way you can check to see how well the SEO companies know the current role of keywords is to ask how they plan to integrate yours into the Hummingbird update. If they don’t have an answer, or worse, they tell you it doesn’t apply – find another company.
Do they understand how site architecture works with SEO?
If any of the SEO companies you are considering offer you less than a full presentation on how they will maximize the architecture of your site for SEO, it is another reason to cross them off the list. The way the pages in your site inter-relate is exceedingly important in how they are read and ranked by search engines and robots. You want to make sure that the SEO companies you are looking at have a solid knowledge of the backend of SEO functionality.
The Linking Connection
You should also be hearing about off-site optimization in the presentations you are getting from potential SEO companies. Off-site linking is critical to ranking and yet is one of the most mis-handled SEO elements. Google places a lot of weight on judging if the link backs are valid or not in context of your site. Having someone promise to post your link in a million blog comments a day is a good way to get blackballed by many search engines for padding. The key element to off-site optimization is the demonstrated relationships the SEO companies already have in place. They should be able to show you a portfolio of sites that are connected and offer to put you in contact with the owners as verification and reference for their work.