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What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
SEO is improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site or page from the search engines using natural organic and algorithmic search results (SERPs).

SEO is actually a component of SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Which encompasses many avenues with which to promote a web site or page.
If you have come here looking for SEO help, you have found a blog that can help you. There is much information here to be held and please feel free to comment anytime...Even with a question.

September 10, 2007

How to Interview an SEO for Hire

At some point you may find yourself, small business, or company in need of optimization if you are not able to effectively administrate it in-house. Today I am going to cover some things you might ask, look for, and snoop around for concerning any potential SEO. I highly recommend that you attempt to educate yourself about some basic search engine optimization - optimisation principals and perhaps language. An educated buyer stands a far better change of negotiating a better, and more targeted package for themselves.

85% of your customers are searching for products and services online, so ideally you want to be in the handful of sites they find. SEO is a lengthy and ongoing process, you need to be able to commit to it. I suggest you make a list of ALL your expectations for your site, large and small. Then prioritize that list in to the top 10 things that you most want to see accomplished. Please, be realistic, you will be a very long time and it will require intense work and investment to try to be found for a highly searched broad terms like "sports cars". So chose your battles wisely. Once you have selected a couple of prospective SEOs, they will help you "optimize" this list. There will likely be things you cannot see with your eyes, that are highly necessary for your site. So lets interview some SEOs....You really want this to happen in person, or at least on the phone, kinda hard to read someones intentions in an email.

  1. It is not a bad idea to ask for some example sites that they have done SEO for. Even better to ask for a customer referral or recommendation. Check these out..You might even have another SEO check them out. Lets face it, if you are going to buy a used take it to a mechanic, right?

  2. I spent over 20 years as a restaurant manager, and I have interviewed tons of people. In that time the most effective question I ever asked was "what are your 5 strongest skills?". This question begs the person to talk about themselves, which opens a door to and inner personality you might not see otherwise. To quick to answer, can be the indication of a cocky overconfident personality. To slow, can indicate lack of confidence and unsureness. Ideally in an SEO, I don't think you want either of these. In using this question so much I developed a time frame for evaluating responses...It should take no longer than 5 minutes, no less than 2. If this prospective hire comes back with ALL SEO skills, that's probably a good salesman, but not necessarily a great SEO. Many will try to change the subject too, I usually try one time to get them back on track...Then I consider them to be un-confident. This is just a way to get people to open a door, not a make or break the deal tactic.
  3. Ask them what they think your site needs. Sit back here and let them talk, listen to what they say and how they say it. Are they selling or reporting? I personally don't believe any decent SEO should not have to "sell" you his/her services, they should provide you with the problem, the solution, probable results, time frame, and cost.
  4. Ask them what stats program they use and if you will have access to it. You don't want them to ONLY prepare you reports, you want to be able to access and analyze the metrics yourself.
  5. Ask them how long they have been in business, and when they started working with SEO. If they are in fact a bona fide business, then I recommend checking them out with the Better Business Bureau, even if they are not a member they may be listed and have complaints.
  6. Make your intentions very clear about how you would like your optimization carried out. There are 3 terms in the industry Black Hat SEO, Grey Hat SEO, and White Hat SEO. The Black Hat SEOs will break recommended guidelines and do things to manipulate the search engines and their filters to obtain their results. The White Hat SEOs provide results within the acceptable guidelines. The Grey Hats, will provide a mixture of black and white techniques. I personally don't care which you choose, only that you know what you are getting and the risks involved.
  7. Optimization has some very quick results, but most take 2-6 months to start showing an impact. It is not a bad idea to ask this SEO what they believe the time frame for your project to be. Be very aware and careful should they promise you page 1 results in 24 hours or a week. See guarantees below...
  8. The search engines are constantly changing, or evolving if you will, the algorithms and filters. Does this SEO have a plan for such things...Back up traffic?
  9. Guarantees....An SEO with a guarantee is like a slight of hand trick. I don't care who they are, no one can predict the search engine fluxes and honestly make a guarantee in these matters of position rank. However, if they want to make you a money back guarantee IN WRITING, then you might just let them. Guarantees for quality, completion time, and price, those are great!
  10. This SEO may try to sell you SEM (Search engine marketing), while I agree you need this...I would honestly suggest you get a different company to handle it. My reason is simple, most SEOs know some bit of SEM...And vice versa, why not cut down your checking up time by them checking up on each other?
  11. Is this SEO reachable by phone? When and how long before he/she can return you call. If you wake up one morning and your site is gone from Google, you want them...Right now! Do they possess a proper sense of urgency?
  12. Do not let this SEO talk you in to transferring you Domain registration to him/her...Yes I have seen this. Ideally if your hosting is adequate, they should not be selling you new hosting either. Do you want them to change content without your approval, discuss this before it happens.
  13. How often should an SEO report? My rule of thumb is to report tasks completed and any progress weekly for the first 8 weeks, and then I drop to monthly. Whatever, they do you should feel comfortable with it.
  14. How much should you pay? This is really all over the board. Ranging from 50.00 a month to 5000.00 I have seen. Many will also charge hourly. If the rate is hourly, there is NO good reason they cannot provide you with a estimated amount of hours per week/month. I would not sign with an SEO charging hourly rate that does not send an itemized and timed bill...But, that is for you to decide.
  15. Contracts are very popular with SEOs. In their defense, many times without a contract a customer will become impatient and skip without completing the plan, only to have the next SEO pick it up and produce results in a quicker fashion. The getting started or beginning work is by far the most labor intensive. Whether you sign a contract or not give your new SEO at least 6 months to strut their stuff.
  16. Lastly, evaluate how this SEO spoke with you and how they made you feel. When you asked questions, did they talk down to you. Did they make a grand effort to make the information they were giving you easily digestible? Did they make time for you? Use your common sense and trust your gut...And no matter what "sleep on it".

While I don't consider this to be a "written in stone" manner of interviewing an SEO, I think there is a great deal of beneficial tips here to assist you in your quest. I really cannot stress it enough, use your head....If someone makes you feel uncomfortable before you hire them, how will they make you feel after? If you have any questions, or need help...Just comment and I am glad to help any way I can.

Peace and SEO

Melanie Prough

DIY Your SEO With The SEOCog
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Melanie Prough "Baby" said...

Hi Coggers,
I have to apologize for being late today. I really don't know how many of you are accustomed to getting the posts everyday at the regular time, but I wasn't home to do it. I spent the entire night in the emergency room and wasn't able to post. Sorry..

Karl said...

Your blog is related to seo like many other blogs however I see that your articles are very unique from the rest...

I got tired reading about seo tips and tricks... yours is better!


Melanie Prough "Baby" said...

Hi Karl,
Thanks, I'm glad you have found some use for my pounding on the keys =-). Welcome to the Cog.