Choosing a Web Marketing Company – Part Two

Let’s continue with the questions we should ask before hiring a web marketing company:

• Do they use only white hat SEO techniques? Stay away from any company using black hat SEO. As the name suggests, black hat SEO employs a number of dishonest tricks to get your website ranked. Where these techniques may have worked well a year or so ago, Google has now got wise and built their algorithms to beat the black SEO arts! This type of SEO can also get your site banned.

• How do they build links? Backlinks are extremely important to the ranking of your website. If your links are coming from link farms you could face heavy penalties from Google. Make sure your SEO company builds links in a reputable manner.

• Make your own impression of a company. If your gut instinct tells you something isn’t right then it’s a good idea to move on. If a company can’t sell itself properly from the start, give you a good honest price, or tell you their strategy, then you need to choose another company. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid being misled, but when you learn a bit more about SEO and the questions to ask, you can avoid this.

• A high quote does not guarantee you will get high quality. The larger a firm gets, the more it will usually charge, but some of the smaller local SEO companies can give you the same results for much less. A company that works inefficiently might need to charge high prices to make up for their shortfall in getting work completed.

• Cheap can work out more expensive. Remember the saying about paying peanuts? Well this can be true when hiring an SEO company or professional. Professional SEO companies work for realistic prices and will give you an itemized quote that you can understand and consider at your leisure. Any company that pushes you into making a decision should be avoided.

• Choose an SEO company that offers SEO packages. Most SEO companies offer their services as a package these days. This allows companies to budget for their SEO marketing and to avoid being tied into any expensive contracts.

• Ask some tricky questions your SEO company if you can. Don’t worry if you are not an expert on SEO. There are still a number of questions you can ask.

For instance you might want to ask them what search engines they will automatically submit your website to. Scammers will always try to impress you by blinding you with big figures. The answer you are looking for is ‘we don’t do automatic submissions’.

Another question you can ask is whether they can place you in the top 10 websites for keywords you have chosen. This is a bit of a trick question, but a good company will suggest that they find the most relevant and prolific keywords for you.

• Ask if they offer subscription services. SEO needs to be tackled on a daily basis to ensure your ranking does not slide. A good company will ensure they are tackling your SEO on a daily basis and monitoring the results. When choosing an SEO package, make sure you choose one that offers post-optimization services. This maintenance will ensure you always have some SEO assistance and that you are not left alone to maintain your SEO. You might also want to see if the company offers additional services such as Pay per Click or social media marketing. These are all services you might need in the future.

These are some of the most important questions and areas you can investigate when choosing a web marketing company or professional. Any SEO company that can be trusted will only be too happy to answer your questions.

Web Marketing Strategies: Do Your Subheadings Have ‘Header’ Tags To Help Your Web Pages Rank Higher?

Most of you know as part of your web marketing strategies you should be taking advantage of properly using your keyword phrase in your headline. What a lot of people don’t know is that their subheadings should not only contain their keyword phrase but should also be defined by the ‘h2’ tag.

Understanding ‘Header’ tags for better web page optimization. The search engines pay special attention to any ‘header’ which is defined in the source code of a webpage by tags such as these: h1, h2, h3, etc.

The headline of your content would be defined by the ‘h1’ tag, after that you want to use the ‘h2’ tag for any subheadings rather than just making the font type bold. Adding this technique to your web marketing strategies will give you a little extra edge when it comes to ranking higher in the search engines.

If you have a WordPress blog as part of you web marketing strategies here is a quick explanation. Inside the administrative panel of a WordPress blog in the ‘Add New Post’ section the HTML editor will usually only show a single line of icons starting with ‘B’ which will make the highlighted text bold. In order to get the icon for the function that allows you to work with the header tags you’ll have to click on the last icon on the right to get a second row of icons to appear.

When you mouse over this icon you should see the words ‘Kitchen Sink’ pop up in a small grey box, click on that and presto! You can now see and use the other functions of the HTML editor. The icon you are looking for will show as a box with the word ‘Paragraph’ in the bottom row to the left. Clicking on this will give you a drop down menu which will normally show you; ‘Heading 1’ and ‘Heading 2’ etc.

A note of warning when using the ‘h2’ tag in your subheadings as part of your web marketing strategies! You might find it makes your subheadings too big or too small. To address this problem is beyond the scope of this article as it involves understanding source code.

Make good use of the header tags as part of your web marketing strategies. You’ll find it only takes 20 to 30 seconds to do this to further optimize your webpage. That is a very short amount of time when you consider your webpage could be up on the Internet for years.

SEO Web Design

What do you mean by SEO Web Design asked a new client of mine?

I had just been reviewing her site and noticed that the company who had previously designed it and it has to said, had created a visually eye-catching website, had however made some basic errors in their haste to please her.

To start from the beginning she had contacted me after she had come across one of my articles. It’s funny how life works though because, that in itself would not have prompted her to get in touch, but a friend of hers who I had been doing some SEO work for had got in touch with her after about 6 years.

And of course they got to discussing life and work etc; and to cut a long story short her friend recommended that she get in touch with me.

Now her frustration was that she should have had every ingredient for success. Her site was in a relatively niche market, competition wasn’t that high and yet after paying out a sizeable chunk of money on getting her website professionally designed, her site was nowhere to be found on Google.

So what could possibly be going wrong?

A Brief Background

There is an old saying in Internet Marketing that good designers make bad SEO experts. Why? You may well ask.

The truth is that in my experience of the last 10 years in online marketing, most of the designers that I have worked with and come across have sharpened their design skills on HTML, XHTML, Javascript and CSS.

A lot of them have been in the forefront of the web design industry leading the way in site design and architecture but therein lies the root problem of the story.

The online marketing industry moves at a frenetic pace. What was once a ‘de facto’ standard is now old hat and consigned to ‘wheely’ bin of Internet marketing.

Faced with the constant flux of new ideas and innovations, a good designer already inundated with back orders has little choice but to concentrate on pleasing the clients’ esoteric eye.

He/she may have picked up a few SEO tidbits along the way either in meeting rooms or from beleaguered colleagues rushing from one project to the next but very seldom do you come across a good designer who knows and understands the impact of SEO upon web design.

This is not meant to be a criticism nor is meant to decry the genuine efforts of the design community at large but merely to point out that it is quite difficult to serve two very demanding masters at the same time.

There are sadly many who miss the point altogether, tearing their proverbial hair out when faced with their client’s low keyword ranking despair and frustration.

The backdrop to this that millions of ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs join the Internet juggernaut on a daily basis in search of financial freedom. These aspiring businessmen and women are usually at their most vulnerable when first starting out.

Excited and eager to get started, they overlook the basic principles of marketing and are often taken in by smooth-talking salesmen flashing dollar signs in front their imaginative eyes.

“Get a website! You need a website! You must have a website! Put up a few pages and hey presto before you know it you will be the envy of all your friends and neighbours!” seems to be the common thread.

Getting back to my client, she looked at me fairly blankly when I said that SEO web design meant that the design of a website had more to do with following certain guidelines than how good it looked to her.

“But I thought that if a site was well designed that people would like it and buy from it” she exclaimed almost daring me to disagree with her.

Yes, I answered disarmingly and gently proceeded to point out that without visitors having a great looking website wouldn’t be doing her any favours at all.

SEO Web Design – The Basics

Which brings me neatly to the crux of this article i.e. SEO web design. So, let’s take a look at a simple layout in the first instance.

Say you have a header/logo at the top of the page followed by some descriptive text that says “Welcome to my web…., followed by some pictures and the left hand side contains a column with some navigation links in it etc, etc;

Now search engines like Google scan a web page from left to right beginning at the very top. And as in our example above since most websites have a left hand column containing navigation links, Google will automatically view the content of the links column before it gets to the body of your page.

There are simple methods to counter this and force Google to read your main body content first and this why it is very important to get SEO Web Design at the very start of the design phase.

Then there’s another critical factor that determines the ranking of your web pages and that is targeting the wrong keyword. Get that wrong initially and you can almost kiss goodbye to getting decent rankings.

Now how many designers know just these basic facts?

My client had started to see the picture. In her eagerness to get her business going she had gone to the first person that she had come across.

The company had a good portfolio of sites and more importantly for her the cost was roughly near the budget that she was looking for and so without further thought she decided to go for it.

2 years down the road and with just a handful of sales, she was very close to quitting.

Her dreams had given way to despair and far from being the envy of her friends and neighbors, she had even reached the point of not looking at nor caring about her site anymore.

The question is, was she too late to do anything about it?