When to Hire a Professional SEO Firm?
In efforts to increase sales and profitability, more and more companies are turning to online marketing initiatives ? specifically, search engine optimization. Search Engine Optimization or (SEO) is the art and science of blending technical and marketing skills together into a finely tuned website that is both search engine-friendly, ranks well for specific keywords and phrases, and is tailored to your audience from a buyer and seller perspective.
According to a recent U.S. study, only 20% of all businesses outsource search engine optimization programs to professional SEO firms. The remaining 80% either do not conduct search engine optimization at all or they believe they have the resources and skills to do it in-house. Of this 80%, it is probable that 90% of these companies can't be found on the web ? they don't exist. In order to generate any amount of significant web visibility, your website must typically rank within the top-30 results.
So, the question comes down to what is in your company's best interests?
Conduct your SEO program in-house or out-source it. To answer this question, let's first take a look at the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to implement and maintain a successful search engine optimization program.
SEO knowledge and skills required
1) Basic understanding of how search engines and directories work.
This may seem overly obvious, but you would be amazed how many people do not understand how they actually work. This knowledge provides the foundation for your SEO program.
2) Website design
Although SEO is not completely a technical marketing process, it does require a fair amount of technical knowledge of what constitutes search engine-friendly web design. Certain web design elements can either help your search engine rankings or hurt them. You simply have to know which is which.
3) SEO experience
This is the most important and most difficult knowledge to obtain. If you have never implemented a SEO program, then you are in for a big surprise. Search engine optimization programs require a lot of research and are extremely time consuming. Most importantly, they require actual SEO experience. This means knowing what SEO strategies and tactics work and which ones don't.
In-house vs. out-sourced SEO programs
If your company is considering conducting your search engine optimization program in-house, here are some questions to consider.
Typically your IT department handles multiple daily tasks from trouble-shooting your company's LAN or WAN to fixing the sales department's laptops? Out of a busy IT person's day, what priority and focus do you think he or she will commit to for your SEO program? And even if your IT department has some skills in web design or development, these skills make up only a small percentage of the knowledge required for a successful search engine optimization program.
Typically, your marketing department juggles many marketing projects at once and faces strict completion deadlines. From handling new print collateral campaigns to getting ready for new product or service launches, marketing personnel's time is spread very thin. In addition, how knowledgeable is your marketing department in the technical aspects of web design and search engine optimization? Do they have the time to become well-versed? Do they have sufficient internal resources? Often the answer to both questions is no, they do not.
Other individual(s) within your company
Ok, so the responsibility falls onto someone outside of your Marketing or IT department. Who will that be and why are they responsible for your SEO program? Providing these individuals with a new "project of the month," will typically result in another check mark off of their monthly to-do list and frustration by top management of why their website is not producing any sales results.
From a business standpoint, it makes sense to try to leverage internal resources to maximize your company's productivity and profitability ? whenever possible. However, there must be a line drawn in the sand between knowing what your organization's capabilities are and what they are not.
As you can see, there is more to search engine optimization than meets the eye. In order to implement and maintain a SEO program, you must acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources. This can be done by hiring a professional search engine optimization firm. Professional SEO firms have dedicated resources and experience to support your company's web marketing initiatives. By leveraging their experience and know-how, your company can quickly and more efficiently implement a successful search engine optimization program.
About The Author
Corey Wenger is owner of Key Position Web Marketing and is a professional Search Engine Optimizer and Consultant who has over three years of experience in helping companies increase sales and profitability through strategic web marketing programs. For more information, please visit www.key-position.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEO For Ecommerce
Ranking well under the free listings in the major search engines basically mean one thing ? Lots of free, recurring, and targeted traffic. Major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN can be very powerful weapons in your internet marketing, if you know how to optimize your website to rank highly for your keywords. This article will focus on how you can optimize your website to rank on the top positions in search engines.
SEO, not again!, you may groan. The webmaster world is inundated by articles and "how to's" with regard to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you are a rookie webmaster, chances are, like me, you may have embarked on a merry-go-round on the SEO circuit, depending on which article and opinion you were first exposed to.
Google Is Not Only A Search Engine!
When you now organize a street interview and ask people "What is Google", I assume more than 90 percent of the people answer that Google is a search engine. Indeed, Google is a search engine and it is probably its core business, but Google is much more!
Utilizing Popular Directories as Free Link Sources
If you're a webmaster, you've probably spent almost as much time going after link exchanges as actually building your website. Gaining in-bound links, especially from websites with a higher PageRank than your own, can increase your own PageRank on Google, and help your site attain a better overall ranking in Google search results. Proposing link exchanges with other sites that have similar content to your own is a good idea, but the process can be terribly time consuming. So what else can you do?
Advanced Uses for the Google Algorithm
Keywords: The First Step To Recognition
Open Wordtracker [ http://www.wordtracker.com/ ] and you'll see following proclamation by Brent Winters, President, FirstPlace Software, Inc., the makers of award-winning web promotion software, WebPosition Gold [ http://www.webposition.com/ ]:
Is This A ?DMOZ Killer? In The Making?
Is building a Human-Edited Fully "Democratic" Search Directory Possible?
Expert Help From Google Answers
Web users turn to search engines for answers to their questions. This is usually done through various levels of searching the engine's database. Sometimes though, no matter how hard they try, searchers can't find the information they need. Maybe they're not familiar with how to narrow and focus searches, or they may not have enough background in the subject they're researching to recognize the answer they need. Google Answers offers a solution.
Google Patent Application - User Data As Part of Ranking Process
In this third article, we continue to dig into the patent application of Google regarding the method used to rank sites in search results. Interestingly, Google asserts in the application that it "might" consider user data as a factor in organizing search results.
SEO Made Easy!
Search engine optimization remains a minefield of old advice, outdated ideas and outright dangerous techniques that can get you banned. Here's the main points to great search engine optimization.
How To Improve Your Search Engine Ranking
With search engines like Google currently indexing over 8 billion pages, it is becoming more and more difficult to get a top search engine ranking. Type in a popular search phrase such as "Internet Marketing" into Yahoo or Google and you will be returned over 8 million results!
Non-Reciprocal Link Building For Higher Search Engine Positioning
Non-Reciprocal Link Building For Higher Search Engine PositioningBy Dave Davies, Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning, Inc.
SEO Deadly Sins - Mistakes That Hurt Web Page Ranking
The following are a list of mistakes can ensure that your site maintains a low ranking with the search engines. Avoid at all costs.
Google is Quickly Changing...
Google is quickly changing...
Commonly SEO terms and Jargon used by Search Engine Gurus
What does all this SEO jargon mean.
Search Engines - The Dominant Factor
Let's face facts - Search engines are starting to rule and dominate the way people advertise their products and services.
One Way Link Building Secures Long Term Ranking Results
One-way link building is a great way to improve your link popularity and ranking in the search engines. One-way links are more difficult to obtain than traditional reciprocal links, but pay off in securing solid long-term search engine ranking results.
Reciprocal Linking Scams, What to Look for and How to Avoid Them
Reciprocal linking scams have increased immensely during the past year. Initially we thought that this problem only related to gambling and casino related websites but an audit of our commercial link partners suggests that it is a serious problem within the broader online community.Over the past eighteen months, we noticed that our page rank was slowly declining despite the fact that we were continually adding new link partners to our link directory. We had slipped from a five down to a two before we finally identified the exact cause of the problem.Out of the first 100 links on our anchor site, only seven were still being reciprocated. We recrawled the sites where no link was found with a second spider and got exactly the same result. Then we started manually checking the sites where no link back was found and started discovering patterns of deliberate link fraud. The scams in order of popularity amongst the scammers ?1. The link on the home page to the link directory remained but clicking on it or specific directory links produced a template style page with a few casino banners or simply a page with no directory content ? This scam was most popular with the owners of multiple domains with the .co.za and .co.uk suffixes2. The link on the home page to the link directory remained but clicking on gambling or casino related links returned a list of links to sites owned solely by the same person or company. The worst offenders in this group preferred domain extensions of .biz, .us and .md3. The link directory index page remained but the link directory had been severely pruned and most remaining links were to the site owners other sites or to casinos. This one is common across all suffixes.4. Links not clickable ? links to the directory and various pages within the directory remained intact. At the time of their link exchange campaign, their links were clickable but at some stage after that the code that makes the link clickable was removed and the site name was placed in bold text so at a glance it appeared to be a legitimate clickable link. This scam is most favored by sites that place a miniature screen shot of the index page of your site beside your back link.5. A variation of the previous scam. When you run your mouse pointer over the page, the 'links' change color but no URL displays in the search bar at the bottom of your browser window. Right click has been disabled on the page so that most people looking at the page cannot see the code. If you use Dreamweaver MX or later, highlight the part of the page you want to look at and then using Control C copy it to the clip board and then use Control V to paste it into the design side of a basic Dreamweaver page. When you click on code you can see what they were attempting to stop you seeing. It may work in the later versions of similar authoring programs. Worst offenders are a poker room and a media company operating out of India.6. One way link exchanges ? usually you are contacted by a search engine optimization company or the SEO person for a large group of websites offering you multiple one way link exchanges with half of their sites if you will link back to the other half of their sites. After a few weeks or months the links to your sites are deleted. The worst offender in this group is a prominent search engine optimization company located in India.7. Your link starts out on a page with fair page rank usually attached to a domain with high page rank. But after a few weeks is moved to a boon docks page with no page rank that will never be indexed. ? common amongst higher PR sites.8. The link directory is on another domain with no page rank. When you click on the link to the directory on the home page, always watch the bar in the bottom of your browser window and see that the link you clicked is in fact on the domain with which you are exchanging links ? watch especially for domain names that are very similar e.g. one letter different in the spelling or a .net instead of a .com and link pages that are hosted on the domain of a link management company. Also watch for redirects. If suspicious go back and click the link again. Often the redirected URL flashes up for only an instant or it just takes an inordinate time for the page to load compared to other pages on the site. If in doubt search for a site map - very popular with some owners of multiple bingo sites. 9. Sub domains of domains with no page rank. Sub domains are supposed to always rank lower than the parent domain. (Of late I have found a few sub domains with up to PR3 attached to a domain with no page rank) If the parent domain has a page rank of zero then link pages attached to that sub domain will almost always be zero so why trade a good link for a dud link?10. We have never fallen for any in this group but many novice webmasters do so regularly. Beware of high PR sites offering you a link exchange on one of their inconsequential internal pages with the same PR as your index page in return for you placing a graphic link to their index page on your index page. This is a deliberate attempt to steal your hard earned traffic. A variation of this one is they have a number of new sites listed on their index page each month and visitors are encouraged to vote for the site they consider to be the best and you are asked to ask your visitors to vote for your site at the high ranked domain. The purpose is still the same as in the first example in this group.11. We no longer trade links with sites using Linksmanager unless the link to our site is to be on a hard coded page. You can search in their search box for their link to your site and if they are still linking to you, your URL and site description will be returned but no information to show which page your link is on. Google usually indexes only a few pages in each category of dynamically generated link directories. If your link has not been added to an indexed page, it is unlikely to ever end up on one. When we had a large number of indexed back links, no link manager links were ever returned in a back link querry. 12. Be wary of link exchange requests from webmasters using anonymous e-mail addresses because when they delete your back link they also delete the anonymous e-mail address.13. Beware of webmasters with PR 5 or above sites offering you a link exchange with a high PR site and an inspection of their link directory suggests that your link will end up on a non indexed page i.e. a useless link that is unlikely to ever improve. If the link exchange was with a PR 2 or 3 site there is at least reasonable potential for the PR of the page to increase if the link directory has been fairly constructed.Reduce exposure to link scams To reduce your exposure to such scams it is essential to carefully vet all potential link partners in the first instance. Enter link back partner details in a database. As an absolute minimum, enter their URL, the location of the link back on their site, the page rank of the page on which your link is located, the date of the link exchange and a real e-mail address for the contact person.Use a good link checking program monthly and contact offenders as soon as you find your link is missing from their site. This is now essential to keep link partners honest. This problem is a direct consequence of the current page rank system and fierce competition for top rankings. It is easier to retain existing link partners than to continually find new ones. Points to look for when Assessing Potential Link Partners Before trading links, look carefully at the other site ?1. If there is no link to the link directory on the index page ?Reject. You will get no traffic from that site.2. Look at the structure of their link directory and count the number of clicks from their index page to where their link to you is likely to be located and then deduct that number from the PR of the site's index page. If that page is PR3 and there are three clicks to get to the page on which your link will be located, that page will have a PR0. That link will be worthless unless the site gets a minimum of a PR4.3. If you have not already done so, download Google's tool bar. If the page rank bar is grayed out, when you are looking at a site, never trade links with that site. The grey bar is said to indicate that the site is banned by Google. I do not know if that is true but I have only ever seen two sites produce grey bars. 4. A growing number of sites with dynamically generated link directories have no page rank on any link pages even though the directories are often constructed in such a way that you would expect the page to rank to be 2 points below the home page. I do not know how most are achieving this. The visible way is to have multiple folders and index pages leading to the links pages and the number of clicks from the home page destroys any potential page rank for the link page. A rare method is to add a no index command for the link directory in their robots.txt file. Just remember links to such sites are one way links from your site to their site. You give them a good link and they give you a worthless link. A link on a page with a PR0 is a non indexed link and carries no value regardless of the page rank of the index page of the site to which it is attached. When you do a back link check on your domain in Google, you will notice that very few links to your domain that are on Google indexed pages with a PR of less than four are returned in your list of back links. This is why I and others consider that Google now discounts the value of such links. For indexed pages, count the number of links on the page. The first factor in determining the value of the link is the page rank of the page on which it is located. The second factor is the number of links on the page. The value of the link to you is roughly the page PR divided by the number of links. Of course no one outside of a chosen few at Google knows the actual formula but that is a rough approximation and the reason most webmasters will not trade links with sites with more than 40 links to a page unless the page has a very high PR. A link on the bottom of a good content page is always better value than a link on a directory page as more people are likely to click on it. When on the receiving end of a link exchange request, do not hesitate to ask for your link to be placed on a specific page and do not hesitate to reject link requests from sites that do not adhere to basic acceptable linking practices.When considering link requests from new sites, look at any other sites that belong to or have been built by the webmaster proposing the link exchange. Most importantly, look to see if existing link pages have been indexed and the structure of the directory. This will be a good indicator of what to expect for the new site.When you create your own link directory, consider a hand edited directory with the links at the same level as the rest of the pages on your site. That way your link pages will be only one point below your index page and you will attract more link requests because of that. Many high PR sites will not trade links with you unless you can place their link back on a minimum of a PR4 page. That way you can start shooting for the top once your index page makes a 5 as opposed to a 7 with the way many link directories are set up.When you are shooting for the top, it helps you get those high pr links you need to make it to the top.
How Search Engines Work
Before anyone can start optimizing a web site, you must understand how search engines work.
Search Engine Optimization Techniques
Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a website by achieving a high ranking in the search results of a search engine (i.e. Yahoo, Google, etc.). The higher a website ranks in a search, the better the chance that a website will be visited. Most Internet users will not click through multiple pages of search results, so a high ranking in a search is necessary to direct more traffic to your website.
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