Selecting a Search Engine Optimization Company (Part II)
by Scott Buresh


As previously mentioned, search engine optimization is an 
ongoing process, rather than a one time "quick fix". If you 
intend to use your search engine optimization company to help 
you improve and maintain your positions, you should ask to see 
a sample monthly report. As the quality of reporting can vary 
from firm to firm, consider the following three items in your 

1. Engines 
Reports should always be based on the most popular engines, not 
the engines that the search engine optimization company has had 
success with. Be sure that the sample report includes only 
popular engines based upon current figures (once again, visit for 
a current list). 

2. Overviews 
Your reports shouldn’t be solely comprised of raw data that 
details individual positions (although this should be included). 
It is impossible to tell how your site is performing on search 
engines over time by looking at a slew of individual positions 
on individual engines and comparing them to the previous month. 
The sample report should provide easy-to-understand overviews of 
ranking performance, such as an ongoing chart that covers a long 
period of time and shows trend data such as "top 40 positions by 
month" or "top three page appearances by month". 

3. Recommendations 
You don’t want to pay a search engine optimization company 
merely to report on positions - you want to be sure that they 
are looking over your ranking performance on a monthly basis and 
are actively making the recommendations necessary to maintain 
and improve your positions. Be sure that the sample report 
contains monthly observations and recommendations specific to 
the site. Otherwise, you may be paying somebody to simply 
compile reports, not to promote the ongoing success of the 


Obviously, this is a large consideration for most companies, but 
focusing too much on cost and not enough on results can hinder 
your chances for success. Some things to remember: 

1. Search Engine Optimization is NOT a Commodity Product. 
Unlike selecting a gas or electric company (where the quality 
of the product is largely the same regardless of vendor), your
choice of search engine optimization vendors will have a 
dramatic effect on the overall results. If price is your largest 
consideration and you are unable to find a vendor within your 
price range with whom you are confident, it may be advisable to 
wait until you can afford one that meets your criteria. 

2. Prices Are All Over The Board. 
As with most businesses, the vendors with the best reputations 
and the proven track records command the highest fees. However, 
it is possible to find a competent, lower-priced search engine 
optimization company without a proven track record that will do 
an excellent job (every optimization firm has to start somewhere). 
Just be aware that there may be risks associated with unproven 
vendors, and be sure that you are comfortable taking them. 


If a search engine optimization company you are considering 
is unable to provide you with references, you may want to look 
elsewhere. In almost every business, excellent references are 
a necessity when considering expenditures over a certain dollar 
figure. Why should choosing a search engine optimization company 
be any different? Some optimization firms may cite 
"confidentiality" reasons, but search engine optimization is 
no longer considered the black art that it once was. Every 
legitimate firm should have at least two clients (past or 
present) that you can call upon. Here are some important 
questions to ask when you do: 

1. Did You Enjoy Working With Them? 
This doesn’t bear much explanation, but you should find out how 
available the vendor was for questions, whether they met their 
deadlines, and how the company would classify the overall 

2. How Reasonable Were Their Requests? 
Some companies will ask you to make changes that seriously 
compromise the visitor experience on your site. It is important
to find a search engine optimization company that can find a 
balance between the needs of search engines and site visitors,
not a company that goes for high positions at any cost. 

3. What Overall Effect Has It Had On Your Business? 
This is the most important question, and the most important 
overall factor to consider when selecting a search engine
optimization company. While high search engine positions and 
more site traffic are an admirable goal, the true value of search
engine optimization is found in positive effects on customer 
acquisition costs and bottom line revenues. 


Search engine optimization can drive numerous, targeted prospects 
directly to your website, typically at a fraction of the cost of 
traditional marketing. However, as with most things, your results 
will only be as good as the people you work with. By taking the 
time to carefully evaluate search engine optimization vendors 
before signing a check, you will take much of the guesswork and 
uncertainty out of the process - and greatly increase your 
long-term chances for success. 

Scott Buresh is Co-founder and Principal of Medium Blue Internet
Marketing ( For monthly tips on how 
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