Recently I spoke with a partner in an insurance agency about his needs for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Services. It was a referral, which is how I prefer to do business, because I never want anyone to think I am just trying to sell them something. We had a brief chat and he shared that he was paying $500 every month for SEO and that he wasn’t happy with the results. I asked him what exactly the SEO company was doing for the $500 per month, knowing that for an insurance agency in his city that really wasn’t a reasonable budget to see success.  He said “they do SEO stuff” at which point, I realized we had another victim. A victim of the smoke and mirrors often associated with SEO, where the company doesn’t really tell you what they do for you.

I told him flat out, “if you don’t know what the company is doing for you AND it’s not working, you would be foolish to keep paying.” He asked me what I would charge and I told him I couldn’t tell him until I did an analysis and took a look at everything. The funny part was that he seemed to have a problem paying for something tangible (an analysis which would be followed by a road map) yet he seemed ok to pay someone and not get any results.

Let me take the mystery out of SEO; there are a handful of factors that make up good SEO, but for the most part it’s about good site architecture with good content that has good links to it. The architecture part is fairly straightforward; use static pages with WordPress CMS being a preferred platform.  Good content means that it is unique (not stolen), reads well (not stuffed with keywords), optimized (it has a theme and does target specific keywords), and the pages are of reasonable length. That leave us with the link building aspect which is where you find out who really knows there stuff. Links can come from a variety of sources including web directories, social media sites, blogs, trusted industry websites, press sites, and the list goes on.

Now that you know what is involved, the real question is “what do you need to move your website from where it is to where you want it?” And I assume that it is ranking in the top 3 positions of Google for your keywords. The only way to know what you specifically need is to do some checking, otherwise known as an SEO Analysis.  Some items will be glaringly obvious, but others should involve some analysis to see what types of links the site has, what kind of rankings the sites has, where the site is already listed, and the list goes on.

I met a local web designer who impressed me because he said he would not do any work for a company unless they allowed him to do an SEO analysis. I’d say that’s pretty impressive coming from a web designer; it says they have a holistic understanding of their craft and don’t just see it as “making a pretty digital brochure” which no one is likely to find.