There are LOADS of companies you can hire who make grandiose promises about site hits and where you’ll land in Google search results.

Some of those companies use “Black Hat” (ie: negative) techniques which can get you blacklisted by search engines – effectively the opposite of what you’re looking for. So how do you know who is reputable? What’s the best way forward?

Here are some tips:

  • If you get an email from a company you’ve never heard of promising something too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. If it was that easy to have huge success, EVERYONE would be hugely successful. Also, if that company was as good as they say, they probably wouldn’t have to reach out to you out of the blue to drum up business. You’ll want a recommendation from someone you know, or at least a company that has great reviews on which you can follow up.
  • It’s possible to get your site on the front page of Google, or thousands of site visits, but are these relevant metrics? If you’re on the front page of Google for a term that few people search for, that’s not particularly valuable. For example, if you’re a new author, being on the front page for your name might not give you much bang for your buck, but being on the front page for the specific book genre would be excellent. And if you have a massive increase in site traffic, but it’s not turning into sales or repeat traffic because the site visitors were mislead, that’s not helpful. Ask whatever company you work with to explain what they’ll do, and if it’s easy for you to understand that’s a good sign. If they spit out a bunch of gobbledygook and act like it’s over your head, they’re not who you want to work with.
  • What does success actually look like? Ideally, this translates to sales of your product or service, but you need to define what you want to get out of a relationship with a search marketing firm and make sure you’re on the same page as them. Make sure you can measure results with whomever you’ll be hiring with a relevant metric for you.
  • Design your site for PEOPLE not for search engines. Don’t fill your site with content just to attract search engine bots, and don’t listen to any firm that tells you this is a good idea. Not only will this result in a poor user experience, but search engines are smart enough to figure out if you’ve packed your site with keywords rather than actual content for humans.
  • If other sites will link back to your site, make sure they’re quality and relevant. Having links back to your site (especially from popular sites) is a great way to boost your ranking, but be discriminating. It’s not worth it to exchange links with sites that aren’t relevant to your business or where the content is questionable.
  • It’s about communicating, not broadcasting. It’s about relationships with relevant, real people. Whatever path your web marketing will take it’s not something you do once and forget about. It’s also not about the old-school method of broadcasting how awesome your company is and expecting people to come knocking. Any valid modern method will involve cultivating and communicating content that’s relevant, helpful, and starts a conversation. This means you want to be involved — you want to be a part of the conversation with your existing or potential customers — not only so that relationship can turn into business, but also so that there’s not a disconnect between the way your marketing firm is representing your company and the way you want your company represented. In the best case you have complete faith in your marketing firm to handle your outreach relationships, but even then you’ll want to be part of the conversation.