3 Things You Should Know Before Hiring an SEO Firm
SEO is best summarized into three parts. Learning about these three will give you a clearer idea of what to do when looking for a trustworthy search engine optimization company to do the job.
1. On-page and off-page optimization
Having your website improved for higher ranking and bigger revenue is like buying an elegant house with exquisite architectural and interior designs—it won’t be complete unless you invite your special guests in to discover the wonders that it offers.
On-page and off-page optimizations complement each other and should always go together in one marketing plan.
While on-page optimization makes sure that the website is designed and created for optimum use and discovery, both for search engines and internet users, off-page optimization makes sure that targeted visitors are invited in with paths and hints.
On-page optimization has two primary goals:
- To make the whole website relevant using valuable niche information and keywords (hence increasing PageRank and actual SERP or search engine results page ranking);
- To improve navigation by keeping all webpages properly interconnected with one another through the use of anchor texts, tags, navigation trees, and site maps (hence increasing conversion rate and click-through rate while decreasing bounce rate).
A search engine optimization company that relies on on-page optimization attracts visitors while abiding by SEO rules.
However, not all internet users use search engines as their primary avenue. Relying on keywords alone to improve online relevance may not be enough to reach the target you set. This is where off-page optimization helps.
Off-page optimization has two primary goals:
- To leave inbound links in related niche websites, thereby making it easier for people to reach your website;
- To increase exposure of your website with the use of credits, referrals, and publicity.
Off-page optimization keeps the traffic high even when people are not Googling you. Moreover, you are able to take advantage of the visitors of other websites in your niche, perhaps earn their loyalty all for yourself. It will be futile to drop a lot of inbound links in other websites if you cannot offer a professionally designed website in the first place.
The best SEO companies offer both in one package because they know that the best results are achieved when on- and off-page optimizations are made at the same time.
2. White hat, black hat, and grey hat strategies
White hat strategies refer to the ethical techniques used in accordance to conditions set by search engines, web servers, and networks. They aim to organically improve PageRank by increasing online relevance and providing substantial niche information.
On the other hand, black hat strategies refer to the unethical techniques that try to go around given conditions, such as Google algorithms. They aim to increase the click-through rate by tricking search engines into ranking a website higher than they should. They don’t really aim to improve PageRank because search engines can easily pinpoint anomalous activities and techniques.
The best SEO companies only offer white hat strategies, but there are still those that offer black hat strategies.
Unfortunately, there are still website owners who fall victim to these unethical and possibly illegal schemes as they are promised with incredibly fast results in just a short amount of time.
Black hat strategies really deliver excellent and fast results, but they are always short-term and risky. They give you heavy traffic at first but they get you blacklisted eventually, killing your business as a result with no definite chance of recovery. Normally, penalized websites can recover from a low PageRank with the use of white hat strategies although it takes months or years to happen. Those that are blacklisted are considered as good as gone.
Grey hat strategies lie between the first two. These refer to questionable techniques that are not entirely unethical or prohibited. They are likely to be considered a black hat in the future since search engines update their algorithms from time to time. They may also get you penalized from time to time but not blacklisted.
Paid links are considered grey hat since they are unnatural but still located in relevant websites. Three-way linking is also questionable because it is unnatural but still acceptable, especially when links are properly used. Article syndication is also called grey hat sometimes since it is practically duplicating contents. Nevertheless, the websites that publish duplicates are more prone to being penalized than the original publisher.
Never transact with an SEO firm that offers black hat strategies because it is like throwing all your hard works for nothing. Don’t fall for tempting promises because what’s important is the long-term goal.
3. Inbound and outbound marketing
Inbound marketing lets your market find you, while outbound marketing prompts you to find them.
Between the two, inbound is more favorable, more practical, and more effective. SEO marketing is inbound in nature although an SEO firm may offer an outbound marketing service as a compliment. The question is if you really need it.
Outbound marketing is more traditional and doesn’t allow real-time interaction. Traditional advertisements are like that. They shove information on people’s faces without really giving the option not to accept any of it. Because it is essentially a shotgun strategy, more money are spent but less impressive results are gained.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, just focuses on providing value and entertainment under the premise that people follow wherever there is valuable information. Search engines and social media are the most effective platforms for this. It lets people do the talking.