Outsourcing is something that a lot of companies do, whether to get expertise they don’t have in-house or to gain extra resources for projects where they simply don’t have the capacity.

I’m sure a lot of outsourcing arrangements are successful and provide a real benefit to the company, but when you’re outsourcing something like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), it becomes a minefield to say the least.

Companies that offer SEO services are multiplying in their millions, but how many of these are just capitalising on people’s obsession with number one rankings on Google and how many actually know what they’re doing?

I receive phone calls and emails every week from SEO companies offering to optimise our website and get us the number one position for our key search terms. Most of these fail to understand what our key search terms are or even what we do as a company. (I’d like to think this is because they’re based in Peru or Singapore rather than because our website doesn’t make this obvious).

There’s also those companies that will charge you £xxx to submit your site to search engines every month. What?! My site is already in the search engines – that’s how you found it! Why would I spend £xxx for you to submit it again and again? If you see a company offering this kind of service, stay well clear!

I’ve even heard of companies who phone up saying they are calling from Google! That’s like getting a phone call from the Queen!

SEO has become a massive business, mainly because it’s seen as complicated and something you can only learn through years of attending some secret Google school. SEO companies therefore charge a premium for their services – more that what you’ll pay for web development in a lot of cases. Personally I don’t think the price tag for SEO services is justified – it’s really not that complicated, it’s just time consuming. It’s not something you can do in a week; you need to be continually optimising your site to get the benefits.

If you’re looking to outsource your SEO, steer clear of the following companies:

  • Those that guarantee a position in Google – that’s just not possible unless you are Google.
  • Those that won’t tell you what techniques they use – chances are they’re not ethical and although you may initially see some positive results, they could get you banned.
  • Those that insist you hand over money to have ‘in the bank’ which they will then use to optimise your site as they see fit. It can be difficult to know how they have spent your money and whether you’re getting what you’ve paid for. Give them a thorough brief and get them to quote on the job, giving a breakdown of everything they will be doing.
  • Those that claim to have a special relationship with Google.
  • Those that offer SEO packages that include unnecessary services such as submitting your site to search engines – search engines will find you via other websites that link to you.

It pays to get recommendations from others you know that have had success using a particular company. It also pays to have someone in-house who knows the basics. You’ll need this knowledge to ensure that the work being carried out on your behalf is being done above board and to your specification.

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