Most webmasters today hardly have enough time to manage their web business and like to outsource most things which can be outsourced effectively. Outsourcing a web design or a service like SEO saves precious time and money when done correctly. The challenge most webmasters face today is finding the correct outsourcing partner. One who is well qualified to carry out the job, has the necessary references of past work experience and is also affordable. This article is an attempt to guide webmasters to correctly outsource SEO services.
The SEO Outsourcing checklist:
1. Does the SEO Company/Professional you are hiring have a pre-formed plan for how they plan to execute your project?
2. Are they professionally qualified and do they have any third party certification which can be verified by you?
3. Do they have a website where you can examine their credentials, prices, testimonials, SEO package details?
4. Do they have contact details on their website like a phone number and physical address (not a P.O box)?
5. What are their hourly rates and how many hours are they committing to your project?
6. Have they clearly specified all applicable charges upfront – for example, link subscription charges, post ranking maintenance charges etc.?
7. And most importantly, do they practise ethical white hat SEO? This is very important unless you want your site to get banned.
These are some of the pertinent questions you should ask when it comes to outsourcing you project. Most professional and reputed SEO’s / SEO firms will fulfill all the above requirements.
In addition to the above, you should ask your provider if your SEO service includes the following:
1. Site Visitor Usability and SE Indexability Analysis:
a. How user friendly is your website?
b. How Search Engine friendly is your website?
c. Does it have a clear navigation menu?
d. Does it have a Sitemap?
e. Is Important information easily accessible to the visitor?
2. Log file Analysis:
a. How much time are your visitors spending on your site?
b. Are they leaving in less than 10 seconds and why?
c. What are the pages they are viewing most?
d. Which keywords are visitors using to find your site?
e. Which Search Engines and other sites are referring the most visitors?
f. What are error pages are your visitors coming across? etc.
3. Keyword Analysis:
a. Are you using the right keywords for your site?
b. What is the search volume of your chosen keywords?
c. What is the KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) of your keywords?
d. How many keywords are you targeting for your entire site and what is your keyword sitemap (which keywords will be used on which page)?
e. Are you using synonyms and other keyword variants?
4. SEO Analysis:
a. Preliminary assessment report and competition analysis which should contain relevant information about who are your competitors, why they are ranking better than you and other details about your site like link popularity, Authority links, Trustrank links etc.
b. On page factors on your site that need to be changed or added, for example – meta tags, robots.txt, link anchor text, alt text etc.
c. Copywriting content for SEO
d. ILQ (incoming link quality) analysis
e. Creating additional content pages and rearranging existing pages if needed
5. Final Analysis and Recommendations Report:
a. To recommend step by step changes and actions needed from above 4 reports
b. Form a clear Action plan for executing recommended changes and a road map and timeline for it.
6. Follow up with Monthly Progress Reports and Ranking change reports:
a. Monthly progress reports should mention the details of the activity the SEO has carried out in the previous month for the client, the number of hours spent, links exchanged, links bought etc.
b. Ranking reports should indicate previous month rankings compared to past months for all keywords and the top pages.
7. Project Completion:
a. Finally, after desired rankings have been achieved, the SEO Company or SEO professional hired should provide a post-SEO recommendation Report for maintaining necessary rankings which should include the details of actions the webmaster needs to take to keep rankings intact, for example – paid link subscriptions that need to be paid monthly, article writing and distribution that needs to be done etc. If you have agreed to sign up for a post-SEO maintenance plan, this would be a good time to sign a fresh contract for a preset period – say 6 months or 1 year.
b. If the project was outsourced through a freelancers site like Elance.com, Guru.com, Scriptlance.com, Getafreelancer.com etc. make sure that you leave a truthful and accurate rating for the SEO company or freelancer you hired. This will help other webmasters evaluate them in the future.
c. All payment related transactions should be sorted out and payments due to the SEO firm, if any, should be made promptly.
Adhering to the above 7 steps and using them at the pre-bidding stage will ensure that you and your SEO company are on the same page, and they can then give you a more accurate quote for your job. This will provide you a complete SEO Solution.
We estimate that carrying out a full SEO job (including reporting) for a website, takes between 50-100 man hours of work for normal small business websites, 100-200 hours of work for a mid sized site and 200-300 hours of work for a large business site (depending on the keywords, quantum of work, type of site, backlinks, current rankings etc). These hours are generally spread over 3 – 6 months as achieving sustainable rankings takes time. If you are unsure about the number of hours that may be needed for your site, it is better to consult with a professional SEO firm beforehand. Most Search Engine Optimization companies will gladly give you a free estimate on the number of hours of work needed for optimizing your site and getting top ten rankings. Once you know that your site, for example, needs between 50-75 hours of SEO work, make sure that you mention this fact in your pre-bid stage as well. This will help avoid any misunderstanding later.
Most amateurs quote ridiculously low prices for SEO jobs on the freelance sites as A) they are not sure of the quantum of work involved, B) they are not qualified to carry it out, C) their definition of SEO is changing a few meta tags and other basic on page SEO factors, and/or D) they may still be in school/college freelancing part time for some extra pocket money. As a result – they muck up their client’s site and also waste their precious time. They can also get your site banned by trying black hat tactics as they do not have a reputation to protect.
The following should raise red flags:
– those who charge less than $20/hour
– promise to complete your job in 15/30 days
– estimate less than 50 hours of work
– have no website/blog
– cannot provide you references of real people (past clients).
– have no qualification/certification
– do not provide their telephone number and address
– cannot show you the top rankings they have achieved
One thing webmasters must remember is “if you pay peanuts, you will only get monkeys”. So, it always pays to hire a professional SEO Company for your important business website.