Seeking a Search Engine Optimization Company? You Better Shop Around
by Michael Pedone

Most online businesses arrive at this point sooner or later 
- the point where they decide it's time to bring in a search 
engine optimization company. 

Maybe you've tried the "do-it-yourself" approach and found it 
just too time consuming and/or ineffective. Or, worse still, you 
paid a search engine optimization service and they let you down. 
Many of's clients come to us only AFTER shelling 
out big bucks to an SEO pretender who has no business being in 
the business. 

So here are the questions you should ask to save you from hiring 
the wrong search engine optimization firm. 

QUESTION 1:  How Do You Propose To Optimize My Site? 

This is a crucial starting point for any screening process. It 
will help you weed out the "wannabes". Your prospective search 
engine optimization company needs to do the following and do it 

 Keyword marketing research: Finding the optimum keyword phrases 
  for your product/services and target market. 
 Web design consultation: Making sure your site has no spider 
  booby traps.
 SEO copywriting: Using your keywords in well-written, 
  persuasive copy. 
 Web page optimization: Making the visible content and HTML 
  code spider friendly. 
 Search engine submission and registration. 
 Link building: Finding and negotiating with appropriate link 
 Monthly maintenance to ensure continued high rankings.  
 Guaranteed search engine optimization results. 

QUESTION 2: What Search Engine Optimization Techniques Won't 
            You Use? 

Almost as important as Question 1, this inquiry can expose the 
search engine spammers and rookies. You should politely hang up 
the phone if they say they use any of these tactics:

 Hidden text or links. 
 Misleading or repeated words (known as keyword stuffing). 
 Cloaked pages.
 Deceptive redirects (keyword-stuffed landing pages that 
  quickly redirect to the real page). 
 Doorway pages. 
 Duplicate sites or pages.
 Monthly submissions to search engines (a waste of time and 
 Mainly Optimizing Meta keyword tags (ditto).

QUESTION 3: Tell Me About Your Guaranteed Search Engine 

Guarantees in the SEO field can be deceiving. Many search engine 
optimization firms appear to offer an air tight guarantee that's 
actually full of holes. Here's a typical example:

"If your web site is not ranked in a top 10 listing within 90 
days of submission of your optimized site, you will receive a 
full refund." 

Sounds good, right? But let's take a closer look. "If your web 
site is not ranked in a top 10 listing..." means the search 
engine optimization service only has to get ONE keyword phrase 
in ONE search engine's top 10 to fulfill their promise and avoid 
refunding your money! 

Let's examine the rest of our sample guarantee. 

"Our Top 10 program guarantees placement of your web site in 
the top search engines: Alta Vista, HotBot, Iwon, AOL Search, 
Ask Jeeves, Teoma, Fast/All The Web, Google, LookSmart, Lycos, 
MSN, Netscape, Open Directory, Overture and Yahoo!" 

Notice how HotBot, Iwon and Lycos are included? It's not hard to 
get top rankings in these engines since very little traffic comes 
from them.

A more effective guarantee, like the one offers 
its clients, would say something like this: 

"We guarantee your rankings will improve in Google, Yahoo!, MSN, 
AOL Search, and Alta Vista. These are the five most important 
search engines and directories. As well, your rankings will go 
up in the other engines and directories." 

"Although we cannot guarantee a specific ranking in any 
particular search engine or directory, we will always strive to 
get and keep your site ranked in the highest possible position. 
Our clients have obtained top 10 rankings in Google, Yahoo!, 
AOL, MSN, Alta Vista and more. For proof, please see our 
testimonial page."

Now THAT guarantee is effective, realistic, and honest. 

QUESTION 4: Can I Speak To Your Clients?

Don't be shy about asking for references. Speaking to someone 
who has actually paid out their hard-earned money to the search 
engine optimization company you are considering is just being a 
good consumer. 

However, before you do so, make sure you know the cost of 
the SEO services in question and be ready to sign up if their 
references check out. There is no sense wasting your time, the 
SEO's time, or their reference's time unless you are ready and 
can afford to take the plunge.

QUESTION 5: Check The Rankings. (This isn't really a question, 
            it's homework for you.) 

Check out the Google rankings of references provided by the 
search engine optimization firm. Just type in their main keyword 
phrase and check the top right header area of the Google search 
results page to find out what their competition is like. You'll 
see something like this:

"Results 1 - 10 of about 345,678" 

If the number is less than 100,000 web pages, ask the SEO company 
to give you another reference or show you more results. It's just 
too easy to get rankings when there's so little competition. 
(Yes, it's really not that hard for respectable SEO companies to 
get good results when up against 100,000 web pages or less.)

Besides, you want an SEO that can help you get ranked with your 
more competitive keyword phrases, not just the unpopular ones!


Now that you've asked the questions and done your homework, it's 
time to assess the results. This will take a bit of time on your 
part because prices and packages do vary from SEO to SEO. 

If you need a tie-breaker, listen to your gut feeling. Often 
just speaking with the SEO representatives will help you 
determine if they know what they're talking about and if you'll 
work well together. 

Michael Pedone is founder of, a professional 
search engine optimization company that specializes in getting 
targeted, eager-to-buy traffic to your site! Want some tips on 
how to improve your web site's optimization? Call 877-785-9977 
or click to request a free search engine optimization analysis. 
You can also email us at: