So you have decided to hire a search engine optimization company as a part of your overall marketing strategy. The firm that you choose will have a tremendous impact on the success of your campaign, but you knew that already. However, what are your evaluation criteria? For too many companies, the answer is plain, simple, and singular: rankings.

However, any search engine optimization company worth its salt can achieve high rankings of some sort. The true question is whether those search engine rankings are for targeted phrases that are in line with your overall marketing strategy. In order for your search engine optimization campaign to be truly successful, a search engine optimization company must understand your business, products and services enough that it can accurately promote them on the Internet.

Unique Differentiators

Every company has them. Every search engine optimization company should be interested in knowing what they are. These vital components of your marketing strategy can be a huge determinant in the keyphrases that are targeted in your optimization campaign.

For example, do you provide customized solutions in an otherwise highly-commoditized industry? Modifiers like "specialty" and "customized" added to your keyphrases will help you to obtain the types of visitors most likely to be looking for exactly what you offer. This is only one example - a typical marketing plan will detail several points that effectively differentiate the company from its competition, and a good search engine optimization firm will take the time to understand what these are. By knowing and understanding these points of differentiation, an optimization company will be able to get the most out of your campaign.

High-Profit Segments

Most companies have certain products or services that are more profitable than others that they offer. Some companies may also have some new products or services that they are aggressively targeting. Without the knowledge of these facts, your search engine optimization company is likely to target all areas of your business equally. Clearly, this would not serve your company well if your marketing strategy was calling for phase-outs of certain product or service lines, a focus on higher margin business, or aggressive promotion of new offerings. Allocation of targeted keyphrases must be in line with your marketing strategy in order for you to get the most out of the campaign, and a quality search engine optimization company will pursue the data that it needs to make a proper allocation.

Defining Prospects

Are your prospects already educated about your industry, or are they looking for solutions to a particular problem? Are they a mix of both? Your search engine optimization company should be asking you about the makeup of your client base. Targeting highly technical and specific keyphrases (such as "email deliverability testing platforms") could attract highly-educated prospects, while targeting solution-based keyphrases (such as "marketing through email") will target someone who is looking for a solution while not necessarily understanding exactly how it is provided. Does your marketing strategy have a preference as to which sort of prospect you seek? Is it a mixture of both? If so, what is the percentage breakdown? Your search engine optimization company should be asking you these questions in order to bring you the most qualified prospects.

Change over Time

Unless you are in one of those rare industries that hasn't changed much for 50 years, your marketing strategy will likely shift to accommodate new challenges and new opportunities. As an extension of your marketing team, a good search engine optimization company will want to keep abreast of these changes and adjust your campaign according to what is current today. All too often, a company will change its products or services, adjust its prospect profile, or decide to focus on other areas of business without letting the search engine optimization company know that its marketing strategy has changed. A quality search firm will be proactive in finding out if any of these changes have occurred and will address them at the same time that you are, assuring that your search engine optimization campaign is in full alignment with your current marketing goals.

These represent only a few examples of how a good search engine optimization firm will want to fully understand your marketing strategy throughout the lifetime of your search engine optimization campaign. While it is true that no single company ever understands your business as well as your company does, it's also true that a search engine optimization company with a stellar track record will understand search engine optimization better than your company will. The marriage of knowledge between the two entities can be the single largest determinant in the level of success (or failure) of your campaign. If you suspect that your search engine optimization company is taking a cookie-cutter approach to your campaign and is not taking the time to fully understand your marketing strategy, it may be advisable to look elsewhere.


October 16, 2007





Scott Buresh is the CEO of Medium Blue, which was recently named the number one search engine optimization company in the world by PromotionWorld. Scott has contributed content to many publications including Building Your Business with Google For Dummies (Wiley, 2004), MarketingProfs, ZDNet, WebProNews, DarwinMag, SiteProNews, ISEDB, and Search Engine Guide. Medium Blue serves local and national clients, including Boston Scientific, DS Waters, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Visit MediumBlue.com to request a custom SEO guarantee based on your goals and your data.






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