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Do you really know why you are paying your SEO company every month?

By: Jonathan Fink at Momentum Web Solutions Limited

Submitted on Mon, Jul 27th, 2009 7:17 am

In the current economic climate, businesses are evaluating budgets and looking for ways to improve efficiency and save money. Regular monthly payments are examined and justified. Can an alternative be found? Is that payment worth the money being spent?

Many businesses make regular payments to an SEO company, some spending several hundred pounds per month to pay for ongoing SEO activities', despite not knowing what they are actually paying for. Sometimes these businesses are afraid to stop the payments, fearing that once the SEO company stops being involved the site will disappear from search engine results.

If you are spending hundreds, if not thousands of pounds per year on ongoing SEO activities' you have a right to know what exactly those SEO activities are. If you paid an accountant the same amount, you would want to see evidence of their work, search engine optimisation companies are no different.

Does your SEO company give you regular reports on their activities? Have they explained what they have done to your site and why? Are they managing AdWords or other affiliate programs on your behalf? If so, which ones and how effective are they? If you answered 'no', or 'I don't know' to any of those questions, you have a problem.

Regardless of whether you are receiving a report or not, you should be able to see results. Results from SEO efforts can come in many different forms, but the vast majority are visible. Ask yourself the following key questions:

Since beginning the monthly stipend with your SEO company have you:

Noticed an increase in traffic to your site, and changes to user behaviour?

Google analytics should be installed on your site (if you are paying an SEO company a monthly fee and it isn't, then something is seriously wrong!). Simple numbers of people on the site is not enough if more people are finding you, are they coming back? Do they look at more than one page? A good SEO company will take the time to interpret the results and tell you what they mean, but you should also be able to look yourself.

Noticed an increase in enquiries either by contact form, e-mail or telephone?

An increase in traffic has to turn into something beneficial for your business. If traffic has increased but the number of enquiries hasn't, something needs to be improved on your site. A reputable SEO company that is being paid monthly to keep your site working at its hardest for you should detect this pattern, and then work with you to correct it.
Typed a niche keyword phrase that is absolutely critical to your business into Google? (e.g. "full-time live-in tutor" or "landscape gardener Witney") If so, where does your company appear?

At the beginning of the search engine optimisation process, your SEO company should have researched and discussed your critical keyword phrases with you. After months of paid activity, If you type in one of the phrases discussed and you are not present in at least the first two pages of Google organic search results (positions 1 10 for location specific keywords) then you need to ask them to explain what they have been doing.

Noticed an increase in your site's PageRank?

Google PageRank is a factor that influences where you appear in organic search results. Download the Google toolbar and you will be able to see it for yourself. If there has been no improvement since the beginning of your relationship with your SEO company, they need to explain why. If they didn't tell you about PageRank right at the beginning, then consider moving to an SEO company that is more transparent about search engine optimisation benchmarking and techniques.

If you are getting regular reports on work done, seeing the results of the work and are so pleased with the service that you would consider recommending them to a friend, then you have a great SEO company working for you. However, if none of those apply, seriously consider ending the agreement, and spending the money on one batch of really good advice that you can then implement in house. If you don't have a technical resource in your company, outsource in order to implement any technical changes to your site as it is much easier for that kind of work to be monitored.

In an industry as competitive as SEO, you should never be in the dark about what is being done to optimise your site for organic search results. Ideally you should be able to learn what needs to be done on an ongoing basis (it isn't rocket science, just search engine optimisation!) and if you don't want to do it yourself, an SEO company being paid monthly should detail exactly what they are doing for you. If that isn't the case, you need to look for a new SEO consultant.

About the Author

Jonathan Fink
Momentum Web Solutions Limited
Momentum Web Solutions provides online marketing services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the UK. Momentum's services are particularly relevant for organisations in transition, or for whom the results of current online activities do not match business aspirations. The benefits to clients of Momentum's services are intended to be dramatic and compelling, providing sustainable results and clear ROI for investments in web marketing. Momentums services include strategic web marketing, search engine optimisation, web competitor research, online promotion and paid advertising campaigns in search engines

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