What Small Business Owners Should Know About Search Engine Optimizers

Do you know what SEO means? If you’re a small business owner you should. It stands for Search Engine Optimization and while it sounds like some kind of aeronautical term it’s basically the method by which your company is found when someone does a search on the web.

A website with good SEO attracts the little search spiders that are released every time someone plugs in a search term into a search box (usually in Google) that pertains to just what you do. It’s what’s known as organic search results vs the results you might get with a paid ad. A site with no, or poor SEO will either be ignored, show up on page fifteen, or worse, get tagged as spam and sent to an internet time-out.

Be found on the web.
Be found on the web.

There are companies that promise to help you with your SEO and in the infinite imagination of acronym creators they are called, wait for it, Search Engine Optimizers or, yep, SEOs.

A good SEO (Optimizer) will help you arrange, construct, and continually update your site in ways that will help you be found when a potential or existing customer wants to find you.  They may also offer technical advice on website development including content, hosting, JavaScript and other stuff mere mortals can’t understand. If they’re really worth hiring they will teach you about what they’re doing and why. They’ll know your market, geography and local competition and will educate themselves on what you do as well.

Bad (or Black Hat) SEOs lurk out there waiting for unsuspecting website owners, promising to influence your ranking in search engines sometimes overnight and without even meeting you face to face. And just like that cute girl in the chat room who’s really a dude, they can be misrepresenting themselves in a big way. They  may even use your site to generate income for another client and you may never know until you find your website is banned or you cease to show up in search results.

So protect yourself (and your business) when you look for help with your online presence. The old adage really is true, if it sounds too good to be true you can lose 20 pounds in a week just by eating purple food.  And when seeking help with your website ask the following questions:

  • Can you show me examples of work you’ve done for other clients and how you improved their rankings?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?
  • What’s your experience in my industry?
  • What’s your experience in my country/city?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

If they’re cagey or won’t let you speak with any other “clients”, refuse to tell you what they’re going to do for you and how, or just plain treat you like “you wouldn’t understand” you can do better.

Also be wary of these promises from them:

  • An SEO that says they can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Because they can’t.
  • Do not let an SEO have FTP (file transfer protocol) access to your site unless you know exactly what their intentions are.  This basically means granting them access to your site to do whatever they want.
  • A service that promises results in 48 hours! That’s only a good turnaround if you’re dropping off dry cleaning. A good SEO will take the time to understand what you do, your industry and your goals and this takes more than 48 hours!

Just like starting your own business you need to educate yourself, be wary of glib guarantees, promises of influence or just plain creepy salespeople. Snake oil salesmen are stil around but now they’re virtual.

SEO can be a complicated thing and the best way to approach it is not alone. DataComm Plus can partner with you for the best possible solutions from terrific content to website development to social media to keep your results the best they can be. We don’t promise anything we can’t deliver but we will help you understand what we’re doing and how you can do it too. 

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