Farming Out Your Search Marketing

Although some web site owners have the time and resources to take their search engine marketing efforts in-house, the majority of business web sites feel the need to hire a professional to handle their SEO. Whether your SEO needs involve a pay per click campaign of 5000 search terms or simply the optimization of a 10 page small business web site, finding the right professional to handle your site optimization efforts is essential in order to produce results that will have a positive impact on your bottom line.

With so many individuals and companies claiming to provide search engine marketing services, finding a professional that delivers what they promise can truly be like finding a needle in a haystack. Terms like automated submission, doorway pages, cloaking, keyword rich copywriting and Web Position Gold reports combined with a barrage of emails that claim your site isn't listed on "some search engines" can make it impossible for a web site owner to decide what qualifications they should be looking for, let alone what companies to trust with their web site.

Armed with some basic knowledge of what defines best practice search engine optimization and marketing along with a list of the right places to look for help, even the most novice site owners can confidently find and hire a professional search engine optimization specialist that will deliver what they have promised at a fair price.

Because professional search engine optimization is still an emerging form of marketing, there really isn't a set standard of qualifications that you should look for when hiring a professional. Even within the bounds of generally accepted best practice guidelines, there are professionals with a wide range of experience and abilities and no guarantees of results.

It's not uncommon for a web site owner to find themselves with a bill for several thousand dollars and a site that has been banned by some of the major search engines for using spammy tactics. For this reason, it is important to have a solid understanding of what methods a professional SEO plans to use on your web site as well as the ability to recognize the methods that may cause more harm than good to your site.

So, before you try to make a judgment call on the products and services that are being offered to you by a professional search engine optimization specialist, you'll need to understand some of the basics of search engine optimization and how it works.

Taking a few moments to read through a basic search engine optimization course will provide you with enough working knowledge of what optimization entails to carry on a conversation with an optimization professional and understand the techniques that they are proposing. To do this, you'll need to understand concepts like keyword phrases, link popularity and optimized content.

Even with limited knowledge of what search engine marketing entails, the average web site owner can learn to identify some of the more common SEO myths and promises that can flag companies who are promising more than they can deliver or that are planning to use methods that could cause long-term damage to a company's web site.

As with most other major purchases or contracts, a basic understanding of what SEO entails can provide you with a solid stepping stone to build a great relationship with a professional optimization specialist that can deliver high quality targeted traffic to your site for some time to come.

Check out for part two in this article series: Reviewing Service Offerings and Prices.

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April 21, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > How to Hire a Professional SEM Part 1