I have to say that when I read this article I was a little bit annoyed and elated at the same time. I quickly recalled all of the search engine optimization work I did for a search engine optimization client. One of the most difficult keyword phrases I worked on for a search engine optimization client was “gift baskets”. In fact, the work I did over a year ago still has my client ranking above the company referred to in the article, and I did it all without buying one single link. That part makes me “elated”. What annoys me is that the company in this search engine optimization article about being penalized by Google is still buying links. And Google knows that they are buying links.
This whole issue brings up another. Apparently being “penalized in Google” cost Ryan Abood’s company $4 million. From what I can tell, he may have not “done his homework” well enough and found a search engine optimization company that would answer all of the important search engine optimization questions. I have compiled a list of 44 questions that you should consider asking your potential search engine optimization company. These questions are not necessarily in order of importance, and they may not apply to every search engine optimization project. But in any case, here is my list of questions that you should consider asking your potential search engine optimization company.
What type of search engine optimization techniques do you use to achieve search engine rankings?
What type of risk is involved with your method of search engine optimization?
What will happen if our relationship is dissolved?
Can you show me examples of past work?
What was the client’s ROI of their search engine optimization efforts?
Can you give me references? Can I talk to one or more of your current search engine optimization clients?
What type of volume increase in traffic is reasonable to expect from search engine optimization?
How long until I start to see results?
What would you expect from OUR end to aid your work?
What were some of your top search ranking achievements?
What types of internet marketing services do you offer to supplement your SEO (search engine optimization) offerings?
Will my web site point to your web site?
How many number one search engine rankings you have achieved for your clients?
How long have you been providing search engine optimization services?
Are you an individual consultant or are you part of a search engine optimization team?
How long have you and your search engine optimization team been online?
What types of web sites will you not promote?
Do you participate and/or, are you a moderator for any of the SEO – Search Engine Optimization / SEM – Search Engine Marketing Forums? If so, what is your username and can you provide links to your most recent or notable discussions?
Can you describe and/or produce recent successful search engine optimization campaign results?
If so, can I use those clients for references?
Do you have web site design experience?
What is your technical background?
What types of programming environments are you experienced with?
What are your opinions in regards to Best Practices for the SEO – Search Engine Optimization / SEM – Search Engine Marketing industry? How does a company effectively compete online using traditional optimization strategies?
Can you assure us that the search engine optimization strategies and methods that you are utilizing fall under the criteria of Best Practices for the SEO/SEM Industry? Can we assume that this means no penalties for our website?
How many search engine optimization campaigns have you been involved with?
What was your role for those projects?
How many of those search engine optimization projects are still active?
How many of those search engine optimization projects inactive?
If inactive, why?
Do you have experience managing PPC – Pay Per Click, CPC – Cost Per Click, and other bid management campaigns?
What types of programs do you use for PPC bid management?
Are there any guarantees for top search engine positions if we decide not to use a PPC program?
The web sites we are currently linked to have no rank, which means to me that these links are useless.
What linking strategies would you use to increase link popularity for our website?
Is this service part of the proposed price? What types of websites will you target for link exchange?
Our main competitor’s Google PageRank falls between 1 and 3. How would you address improving our PageRank with Google, and other search engines that calculate the number of quality inbound links to our website? Is it possible to rank higher than our competitors?
What changes can we expect you to make to our website to improve our positioning in the search engines?
Will these search engine optimization changes be visible?
Will there be changes in the coding of our website?
What type of reporting (website log analysis) will you provide to us? How often will you provide those reports? Will you provide consultation on how to interpret the reports so that we have a basic understanding of the statistics?
Do you offer ROI analysis? Is this in addition to your contract pricing? Please explain the process of how the ROI will be determined.
Matt Cutts, when he worked for Google, recently had this to say about what you should ask your SEO:
Do you buy links that pass PageRank?
What’s the most aggressive tactic you use?
Anything violate G’s guidelines?
Okay, well, there you go. 44 questions to ask your potential search engine optimization company. If you are employing someone to do your organic search engine optimization, then you might go through this list and see if you can answer all of these questions. If you cannot, then I would ask them. And if they do not answer your questions or cannot answer them, you might reconsider your relationship with them.