This article was originally published Jan 21, 2011 as a guest post on PullNotPush.com.
It seems like everyone these days wants their website to rank number one on Google, and with good reason. Websites that come up at the top of Google for competitive keyword phrases can provide massive benefits to a company’s bottom line. That is why choosing the right SEO firm or SEO consultant is so important. So, before starting your search you should ask yourself the following:
If you are a local plumber in a small town you’ll probably only pursue one to five phrases. However, if you are a Fortune 1000 company with hundreds or even thousands of products your keyword selection can be huge. For most small companies with a very limited number of keyword phrases choosing to hire a SEO firm may not be in your best interest. You’ll probably be able to find a local freelancer who will do a good job for you.
Like the plumber I described above, your business may be specific to a certain town, city or region. If this is the case you’ll want to pursue geotargeted search phrases. Google has recently changed their Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) to include their “Places” listings mixed with the organic ones. I recommend you claim your business on Google Places before hiring a SEO firm or consultant. After you’ve set up your account wait at least four weeks. You may find your company at the top of Google just by claiming your business on Google Places.
If your website is already on the first page of Google you may not need to bring in a high priced SEO firm to inch you up a few more spots. You may be able to bring in a consultant to adjust a couple of your on-page factors and send a few press releases across the wire to move you up. Ultimately though, this will depend on the websites that are beating you.
It doesn’t take a SEO firm or consultant to get a general idea of what the level of competition on Google is for your keyword phrases. All you have to do is download SEOQuake. This is my favorite free SEO tool. Once you’ve loaded it into Firefox, Chrome or IE do a Google search for one of your keyword phrases. Below each result you’ll see a bar that contains bits of SEO information. You’ll want to pay attention to the following: Google Page Rank, number of pages indexed by Google, number of Yahoo links pointing to the page, and the number of Yahoo links pointing to the domain.
Look at your numbers compared to the others. If you see a huge disparity between your numbers and the websites ahead of yours there’s a good chance you’ll need to bring in an SEO firm because your competitors have a much bigger head start on you.
The above questions assume you have an idea of what keyword phrases you should come up for on Google. Many businesses will need to do a Keyword Workshop before they can answer the above. Most SEO firms and consultants provide this as a service. If you want to do a little keyword research on your own I recommend the Google Keyword Tool to get you started. If you don’t feel comfortable with the keyword research than you’ll want to at least bring in a SEO consultant to help you choose your keyword phrases.
Photo Credit: Horia Varlan