Once your website is built, the hard work begins on marketing your website. Lead generation is an important part of any business marketing strategy.

In traditional businesses, leads can be generated via sales team’s cold calling, trade shows and advertising activity. However in the exciting digital age, it is efforts on Search Engine Optimisation and Google Adwords that can make a huge impact on generating leads for your website and transforming your business performance.

So what exactly is SEO? It’s a form of Search Marketing which stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It entails adjusting the code, content and promotion of a website to aid a higher appearance on search engine results. The higher up you are on a search engine means more people are able to view your website, therefore a higher chance of making sales. But it’s no good simply driving traffic to your website, if your website is not optimised for conversion. A good Search Marketing agency will work with you generating business leads and helping understand how to improve your website so that vital traffic is converting to as many sales as possible.

Research has shown that those on the number 1 spot on Google (below the paid searches), receive 34.35% more traffic than the result directly below it. Furthermore the study showed that even on the bottom of page 1 can result in a boost in traffic up to 143% in comparison with the top result on page 2. The subsequent increase in traffic brings with it financial incentives; which is the reason why so many companies are beginning to seek assistance in their search engine optimisation attempts. However, understanding how to navigate the plethora of agencies available to choose as your SEO partner is not always easy. We’ve compiled some tips to guide you in your quest for your own SEO partner:

Price – The reality is price is always a key consideration. This may usually be your first contemplation when looking for the right SEO partner for your company. Do your research and look at how much a range of SEO professionals charge for the services you require. Also vet an agency by the transparency it offers in its pricing structure. Do you know exactly what you will be getting for your money? Is it explained to you clearly how your SEO strategy will be conducted and by who?

Look for ethical SEO – Try to find ‘White hat’ SEO partners. White hat is the term used to describe a firm that uses only high quality, approved and accepted methods of SEO. Agencies that skirt on the edges of ethical SEO may gain short term wins for your business, but your business will be penalised in the end. The rate at which Google is updating its algorithms is increasing, meaning websites not engaging in quality, ethical SEO practises may find their web rankings dropping on a regular basis. If you’re interested in building a business with longevity and a solid foundation, utilising a reputable SEO partner with a proven track record of long-standing results will stand you in good stead. If you need fast results early on for your new website, look to engage a partner who can conduct a search campaign that offers a combination of Google Adwords (PPC) simultaneously with SEO, so you can be building SEO results in the background while the PPC campaign brings in early results.

Realistic prospects – The idea that an SEO firm promises to get you to Google page 1 in hours or days may be extremely tempting, but you must resist. Good quality, longer lasting results can take weeks, even months to achieve, so go with a company who have more realistic progress projections.

On-going process – SEO is not a quick fix to business problems. It should not be viewed as a marketing tactic you can turn on and off at will. Businesses who achieve good results are those who take a longer term view to SEO. Ideally, it must be steady, maintained, reviewed and tweaked on an on-going basis to retain optimum success. This is another reason why the SEO partners you choose should be well suited to your company; after all you may be sticking with them for a long period of time to sustain your elevated search positioning.

Be wary of ‘Black hat’ SEO companies – If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unbelievable accomplishments are an obvious tell-tale sign to ‘Black hat’ tactics. Opposed to ‘White hat’, these are the firms that guarantee extremely fast results, use deceptive methods of content placement and do not comply with the permitted rules. We’ve taken on frustrated businesses and uncovered a whole world of dark links created through link farming to some very unsavoury websites. Transparency of work is absolutely key.

Don’t believe promises of fast results. These firms will use short-term tactics which may provide fast impressive results at the outset, but the rule bending techniques of these firms damage the credibility of the site, which consequently cause Google to penalise or blacklist the site. This will not do your site or your business any favours and will increase the amount of work you need to do to restore site integrity.

Reports – A sign of a good SEO partner will be through the quality and frequency of reports. Monthly reports that show the progress your site is making against the targeted keywords and transparency of all articles and links created and where they have been submitted is important. Alongside this should be evidence of maintenance of your keywords within Google’s top position once you get there. A SEO agency that is also prepared to talk to you about return on investment and looking at the improved financials adds value to your business. With this data you can be confident your search engine optimisation investment is making a tangible difference.

Reputation – If you’re worried about how to tell if a company is white or black hat, testimonials and reviews can act as simple indications. Although people often use bogus testimonials or create sham reviews, contact their current or former clients directly to see if their statements are well supported.

References

Brick Marketing. (2012). What is SEO or Search Engine Optimization?. Available: http://www.brickmarketing.com/define-search-engine-optimization.htm. Last accessed 28/11/2012.

Chitika Insights. (2010). The Value of Google Result Positioning. Available: http://insights.chitika.com/2010/the-value-of-google-result-positioning/. Last accessed 28/11/2012.