Many small business owners in Australia have heard the term “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimisation“, and decided that it is too difficult to learn themselves. Certainly it is a tricky and and ever evolving subject. Which means the best option is hiring an SEO expert to do it for you.

Just like hiring a contractor to work on your home, you will be looking for the same qualities such as a fair deal with the work done well.

But maybe you have heard some of the horror stories about outsourced SEO. There are many reports of substandard work and damage done to website reputation. It can seem that the SEO industry is rife with reports of scam-merchants and “no results promised but you are still locked into a contract” clauses.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Ignorance is not always bliss and it can be costly, so read these outsourcing tips and be prepared. And you will not be one of these horror stories.

SEO outsourcing: what you need to know

The great temptation in going offshore is quite simply the price. Australian based SEO companies cannot hope to compete with the rates offered by their overseas counterparts.

The downfall of course is lack of accountability. You can’t go visit them or even call them easily and if everything goes wrong there is no recourse. The time difference and difference in work ethics, as well as language barriers can also cause a great deal of frustration.

Given that damage done by poorly executed SEO can take months or years to undo ( or possibly never ) SEO is not a service that should be purchased based on price alone. The future of your website and maybe your business depends upon it.

Now this is not to say all Australian providers are top-quality and reliable. Any more than it is to say all overseas providers are suspect.

It’s just a caution to exercise due diligence.

The better SEO companies will want to dig a little deeper about what you are doing as that can provide them with important information. Many times you can get a feel about someone when you talk to them, and that is why it always good to meet in person or to talk on the phone.

Referrals are always good as well – though the need to protect their customers confidentiality can often be a barrier to this. So look for reviews on Google, LinkedIn and Facebook as an indicator of the quality of service that will be provided.

You have to ensure that the SEO company you hire actually gets your online marketing objectives

This is so important it cannot be understated.

Please be doubly sure that they know what you want from them. And that it is written into the contract as an outcome or objective. SEO is so much more than just “building backlinks” so please do not be fobbed off with guarantees that mean nothing. SEO is part of your overall marketing strategy

SEO Guarantees – Should You Avoid Them?

Talking of guarantees here something that most SEOs don’t like to admit.
There are no guarantees…unless you happen to be Google.
What they can do is use best practices and techniques that are known to be effective.
But it is, at the end of the day, Google’s playing field. They make the rules.
The SEO’s job is to know the rules and how to apply them best to your website.

Example

I recently acquired a customer through a referral from a marketing colleague of mine. They had signed up to a well known SEO company 12 months ago under the guarantee of “we will get you 3 page one rankings or your service is free”.

Upon inspection the 3 page one ranking were indeed obtained  – but they were not for any search phrases that would be even remotely useful to the company. They were all very very low competition phrases with extremely low traffic volumes.
However the SEO company did fulfill their “promise” and that then automatically activated a 12 month contract with the customer. A contract which could not be broken without a large penalty despite the poor results that followed.

Understandably this left a bad impression of SEO on the customer and has made the job for the ethical SEO companies all the harder.

So be wary! Some (not all) SEO companies will guarantee that you will get a certain number page one rankings. This is a very bold claim! It is not impossible but it does depend on the phrases and the competition level of these phrases. So be sure to check this.

Also what some of these SEO providers do is allow you, the customer, to pick 10 or so terms, and then add another 10 terms of their own choosing. Of course their 10 are the ones that rank easily and quickly despite being of little value. And you are now subject to a 12 month contract. Not a particularly ethical business model!

Keeping in mind that SEO is not a fast process a 6 months would be a reasonable time frame to allow for good results in most cases. (Again it depends on the keywords and the niche).

Either way it is strongly suggested that contracts be no longer than 6 months with the review and renew option at the end and that clear objectives and outcomes are agreed upon before starting.

SEO Results: How Long Before You Start To Rank in Google

At the risk of repeating myself – remember SEO takes time. What your SEO specialist is doing is increasing the trust value of your website. And this must be done in a steady manner. Otherwise you risk a Google imposed penalty that isn’t always easy to shake off.

This is often frustrating for both the SEO provider and the customer but it is what it is – ie how Google wants it to be.

Don’t Just Rely On Google Alone

As your budget allows you should also look for other sources of traffic – not just the Google search results alone.

Having established that the SEO process takes time (but is worth the effort!) you should also consider other traffic sources as well.  Especially sources that may respond more quickly. Each requires its own expenditure of course. Some examples would be social media (Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter etc) , adwords and press releases.

Having multiple traffic sources also spreads the risk should Google suddenly take a dislike to your website one day.

Not all SEO providers are experts in these fields. So you may need to have more than one consultant involved. Here it is important that the various consultant’s understand their roles and their relationship with each other. We don’t want egos getting in the way of results!
Or just find a good provider that can do all of the services you require.

In Summary

Hiring the right SEO company is part of your overall marketing plan.
And a very important part. If you are realistic and allow a correct estimation of budget it will be a decision that you will not regret.
Like any partnership you should be looking for someone who is a good fit for your business and who understands your short and long terms goals.

If you want to talk to an ethical SEO comapny in Australia then

Some other useful references – an oldie but a goody from Matt Cutts of Google
( note-  pagerank is no longer an acknowledged factor in SEO)

 

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