Posted by John Lombaerde on February 02, 2015 - 3:13pm
What is considered good SEO practice, and what are tactics or techniques that should be avoided?
You might think that the practice of search engine optimization has taken a beating recently, with all of the Google updates and changes that have taken place.
In fact, it is really bad SEO that has taken a beating.  I would also call it easy SEO.  Good SEO is actually more important now than it has ever been. In the past, before Google's Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates, you might have been able to get by with mediocre SEO.  Today, however, there is really no such thing as easy SEO.  You really have to earn your rankings, and there is no more "fake it until you make it".
A mediocre SEO company might ask you the following questions during their initial interview.
1)  What keywords do you want to rank for?
2) What links do you currently have, and which ones would you like us to build?
3) Is your site mobile-friendly?
4) How fast is your website?
5) How soon would you like to see results?
With the answers to the preceding questions, the SEO company will produce a quote, (anywhere from $ 200 - $1000 per month), and probably give you 30 day terms.  They might suggest an initial 90-day promotion period, with ongoing monthly updates.
These questions do relate to some valuable SEO tactics, but they are in no way a comprehensive SEO strategy. 
If you are ever given this kind of treatment by an SEO company, politely say "no thank you", and send them packing.  Although some of the questions asked may lead to tactics or techniques are part of good SEO, this type of company does not have a clue what good SEO is all about.  You should avoid them at all costs, and not waste your money with them.
These are the 5 questions that anyone practicing good SEO should be asking.  (Based in part on Rand Fishkin's recent white board Friday discussion).
1) What is your company's special sauce?  Side note:  I recently heard of an intriguing interview question, "What is your superpower", in other words, what is it that you do best, or better than most people. What is your special skill or ability that sets you apart from 95% of the population?   As concerns your company, what is it that you specialize in, that your prospects need to know?  What benefit is it that you can give your customers, that prospects would be very happy to know? What is the "special sauce" that your company can offer it's customers?
2)  What unique value does your company offer?  What differentiates you from your competitors?  If a prospect went to one of your competitors, what would they be missing out on, by not purchasing your product or service?
3) Who is currently amplifying your unique message to the marketplace, and how are they doing it?
4) What are the specifics of the process that turns search visitors, or advertising prospects into customers.  In other words, what are the specific steps that comprise your sales funnel?  Do you have a method to recapture old customers?  Do you have a follow up process to help current customers to purchase more of your product or service on a regular basis?
5) How can the expertise, (special sauce) your company has be explained so that anyone can understand it?  How can it be shown off to it's best advantage through search and advertising methods?
If you find a company that offers you this kind of analysis, and is willing to ask these kind of tough questions, and also help you find these answers, you should probably hire them and hang onto them.  They just might help your company to expand your business in a dramatic way.  Probably not even one in ten SEO or SEM companies will respond to you in this way.
If you are an entrepreneur or small business, you will be miles ahead of your competition if you ask yourself these hard questions, and make sure that you have good answers to all of them.  Even if it takes you some time to find all the answers, you will be well on your way to success by searching hard until you find them.
If you have a crystal clear image of what salesmen used to call your USP, or Unique  Selling Proposition, can you explain it in a one or two line elevator pitch?  In other words, if someone asks you that proverbial question "What do you do"?  Can you answer in one or two sentences that will stick in their mind for the rest of the day?
For example, "I help entrepreneurs and small businesses explode their business on the Internet". Or maybe you might say, "I help businesses grow and expand using the latest social neural network technology on the Internet". That should definitely provoke a question about what is a social neural network, don't you think?
'That phrase should be on your business card, and should help them to give you a call or visit your website to find out more information from you.
Regardless of the size of your business I hope this helps you in someway to make your 2015 plans to succeed in your business.  Best of luck in all your endeavors. 
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