How To Choose an SEO Agency and Why

When you're scoping out a Web site design project, you expect prices to fluctuate from provider to provider. You expect one company's talents to be greater than another's. You expect to pay for added functionality.

When pricing SEO (define) services, many companies have a hard time getting a handle on what they should pay. Why? It's not easy to understant the numerous tactics and strategies that go into an SEO project.

If you're shopping around for SEO services, compare companies. That's just common sense. You'd be surprised, though, how few companies do it. Comparing companies ensures you're not just getting the best price, but the best value. That's what you do with most big ticket purchases.

Scope Out the SEO Project

When shopping for Web site redesign, you'll likely set up an internal discovery meeting to determine the scope of the site redesign project. This process usually involves countless hours with those responsible for the brand -- designers, the marketing team, and many other "decision makers" within the organization.

Unfortunately, most SEO projects don't receive near the time and attention afforded to Web design projects. In many cases, that's a colossal mistake.

Without the due diligence on your Web site's SEO challenges, it's almost impossible to understand the scope of work necessary to launch a successful SEO campaign. Do you have JavaScript navigation? Does your site content reside within images or frames? Do you lack for content? Will you need to write many pages of copy, add them to the site architecture, and build out pages? Does your site have others linking to yours? Is your internal link structure sufficient?

Once you answer some of these questions, ask yourself if you have the resources -- internally -- to do this work. Or will you need an SEO company to handle these tasks?

What's the Competitive Landscape?

With SEO, the competitive landscape is everything. You have to look at not only who your known competition is (those companies you compete with on a daily basis), but also who your keyword competitors are. In other words, what companies are ranking for the keywords you want your company to rank for?

You also must take into account the degree of competitiveness for the keywords you want to rank for. Are you trying to rank for "home loans" or "Dallas home loans"? Big difference.

For those trying to be found for highly competitive keywords, the timeline to rankings and/or significant traffic increases can be a daunting and time-consuming task. As with any service-oriented company, time is money. So, if the scope of the work determines the highly competitive keywords are the goal, then you can expect to pay more money.

The more competitive the keywords, the more content you may need to write. That means more pages to add to your Web site and more assistance with link generation.

What Are You Spending on PPC?

Funny thing. So many companies spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on PPC (define), because they know they only pay when someone clicks. Well, that's great, but there's no doubt that a well developed SEO campaign can do better, even if you measure it on a PPC basis.

For example, at Vizion Interactive, we have a client that spends less than $10,000 per month on SEO and also spends approximately $100,000 per month on PPC. The traffic they receive from SEO is valued at approximately $2 million per month. If they'd acquired this traffic on a PPC basis, that's what they'd be paying. For the $100,000 they spend on PPC, they get $100,000 worth of traffic.

Do you see what I mean?

So, for all of you companies out there who are considering SEO, I'm here to tell you: find a reputable provider and go for it.

Join us for SES Chicago from December 3-6 and training classes on December 7.

About the author

Mark Jackson, President and CEO of Vizion Interactive, a search engine optimization company. Mark joined the interactive marketing fray in early 2000. His journey began with Lycos/Wired Digital and then AOL/Time Warner. After having witnessed the bubble burst and its lingering effects on stability on the job front (learning that working for a "large company" does not guarantee you a position, no matter your job performance), Mark established an interactive marketing agency and has cultivated it into one of the most respected search engine optimization firms in the United States.

Vizion Interactive was founded on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. Vizion Interactive is a full service interactive marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing/PPC management, SEO friendly Web design/development, social media marketing, and other leading edge interactive marketing services, including being one of the first 50 beta testers of Google TV.

Mark is a board member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM) and a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA) and is a regular speaker at the SES and Pubcon conferences.

Mark received a BA in Journalism/Advertising from The University of Texas at Arlington in 1993 and spent several years in traditional marketing (radio, television, and print) prior to venturing into all things "Web."

Read more of Mark Jackson's columns at ClickZ.