Hi Jill,

I found your approachable and common-sense style very educational and immediately signed up for your newsletter! I do have a couple of questions:

How does Company A, that is new to search engine marketing, assess Company B to hire them to manage their SEO programs? I'm seeing that there are companies making claims to put our company on the first page of Google -- but there are black hat and white hat companies, companies that make the SEO program so obvious that the site gets de-listed. It seems just as complicated to pick a company as it is to actually optimize. I've been in Internet marketing for 10 years but our clients have come late to search marketing programs, so we don't have as much expertise in this arena as I'd like. It's hard to assess and/or manage a search project since we don't really know what the right way to optimize is. (Gulp!)

And, one more question -- one of my clients is a photographer; the site, by its nature, is a gallery of photographs. How does one optimize a site in a case like this?

Thanks for your insights,


Jill's Response

Hi Taryn,

You would choose an SEO company the same way you would assess any company you were going to purchase a service from. Check out people who've used them before and get referrals and that sort of thing. Find out how long they've been in business, and see if they'll tell you exactly how it is they do their work.

What's their methodology? Do you understand it or is it all geek to you?

You can't expect them to give you the exact specifics of what needs to be done on your site (until you've signed a contract and made a deposit), but if they say the way they optimize is proprietary, then run like the wind!

At the very least, any professional SEO company should be doing extensive keyword research, making site architecture recommendations, making copy recommendations, and creating Title tags. If a company seems to mention *only* Meta tags and submitting your site to search engines, but not the things that I previously mentioned, then you'd be throwing away your money if you use them. Even if you're paying them only a small amount of money, neither Meta tags nor submitting to search engines will move your pages in the search listings. Those alone aren't worth even a penny.

Regarding optimizing the photographer's site -- he/she has no interest in explaining what it is he/she does? Why show only pictures on the site? It's great to show the work that this photographer has done, but they still need to sell their services to their prospects. Simply showing photos and nothing else really doesn't seem like a very smart idea to me. :-)


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February 9, 2006

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Choosing an SEO Company