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Hiring a Search Engine Optimization Professional

Written By: Sajjad Ahmad

In this article, we will take a look at some points to consider before hiring an SEOP (Search Engine Optimization Professional) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing) company.

SEOP and SEM – the difference

Briefly, a Search Engine Optimization Professional focuses on optimizing your website to attract the attention of search engines and improving your rankings. Their specialty area are “organic” search engine listings – i.e. free. A Search Engine Marketing company also markets a website via search engines, but usually through purchasing paid listings. The terms are somewhat interchangeable and many companies cover both areas.

Good and bad SEOP’s

A good SEOP can achieve great things for your site, a bad one may cause you to be banned from some engines through spamming or other unethical “quick fix” strategies. Some of these unethical strategies include: Hidden text or hidden links. Creation of pages pages with irrelevant words. Creating multiple pages, domains and sub domains with identical content. Doorway pages specifically designed for search engines i.e. the user never sees them.

If you have ever been banned for intentional or unintentional spamming of a search engine, you’ll understand just how hard it is to crawl back to the top. Being banned or penalized from a search engine happens to most webmasters at some stage of their career. If it’s a mistake on the search engine’s part, it will *usually* be rectified the next time their spider crawls your pages. An intentional ban is a completely different story. I have known webmasters that have had to redesign their entire site, change their domain name and hosting service and then have to climb up the rankings from scratch – not a pleasant thought at all… A ban issued by the powers that be at the Googleplex have ended a number of online businesses who have been caught for spamming. It’s just not worth the risk.

The Search Engine Optimization Professional

The title of SEOP is now being brandished by many individuals and companies, all competing for your attention and dollars. Competition is great, but it can also encourage wild claims and other sharp marketing strategies in order to capture your business.

One of the most risky purchase decisions is to hire the first SEOP who guarantees you a top 10 search engine ranking. Believe it or not, getting a top 10 ranking is pretty easy. Securing a top 10 ranking that will actually bring you viable quantities of targeted traffic is quite another. Confused? Here’s an example:

Optimizing a Flombles website

Let’s say you sell Flombles in a competitive market. Your competitors are dominating the search engine rankings so you engage the services of an SEOP who guarantees you a number 1 search engine ranking related to your products. The SEOP optimizes your site and lo and behold, the next month you are ranking in position number 1 for the term “fuzzy flombles”. You sit back and wait for the sales to come in – and there are none. The reason for this is that fuzzy flombles are a dud product, nobody wants them, so nobody searches for them. Your competitors have optimized their pages for frizzy flombles, which are a best seller..

Another example would be a number 1 ranking on the search term “buy frizzy flombles now”. Frizzy flombles may be a best seller, but that term happens to be one that nobody actually uses as a search query. Before hiring a Search Engine Optimization Professional, make sure that you make them aware of your market and previous marketing attempts. Don’t expect them to be an expert on your product range, there’s just too many products and services out there. A good SEOP will ask a lot of questions before you sign the dotted line, so they’ll know the terms they should be focusing on and the marketing challenge that awaits them. So if someone guarantees you a top 10 ranking, be very wary – what kind of top 10 ranking? It’s the quality that counts. Ask questions, get references…

Also be wary of SEOP’s that offer to submit your site to 128,564 search engines and directories – many of these directories will be FFA sites, and that’s not a good thing at all. For more information about FFA sites, view the related article that is available from our search engine marketing resources section. If an SEOP offers to do this as part of their services, it’s a good indicator from the outset to look elsewhere. Good SEOP’s wouldn’t waste their time on this sort of coverage. Another point that SEOP’s are well aware of is that when it comes to search engines such as Google, nothing is guaranteed – that’s what makes Google such a great search engine. Google constantly refine their ranking algorithm, otherwise the only sites to rank at the top will be the ones that can afford the services of an optimization professional. The changing algorithm, while frustrating at times, does provide a more level playing field.

Hiring and SEM’s – other issues for consideration

As mentioned earlier, an SEM company tends to focus on paid listings; especially PPC (pay per click) listings. PPC can bring great rewards, but it can also be a huge hole into which you pour your money – with no results. In order for an SEM company to be of benefit; they *must* have a very good understanding of your target market. For example; it’s well known that people who use certain keywords are more likely to purchase. Using a very basic example, I would rather spend 50c per click on the term “buy frizzy flombles” than 5c per click on “flombles” as the first example is very targeted and the person searching has expressed a desire to purchase.

A good SEM company won’t just focus on the search term, but also on the landing page on your site that the click will take people to.

More articles at:
http://www.hansonspakistan.com/articles_hansons_pakistan.asp

About The Author

Sajjad Ahmad
Webmaster, SEO and technical writer working for Hansons, a web development and internet marketing company.

http://www.hansonspakistan.com

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