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Finding the Right SEO Provider for Your Firm

     -     Aug 22nd, 2013   -     Accounting Marketing, Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

Hiring a SEO provider can be a difficult task. You want to hire the most qualified professionals but there are so many companies to choose from it can be difficult to find the right vendor.  Some providers focus efforts on selecting and positioning keywords, others on local listings and the list goes on and on. Which is the right approach for your firm? Should you be satisfied simply with keyword management SEO? To help accounting marketing directors contemplating these questions we have provided 5 important questions to consider in the evaluation process.

5 Important Issues to Consider:

As you consider providers, it’s essential to contemplate the following these important points:

  • SEO Services Offered – There is a world of difference between on-page and off-page SEO. On-page optimization refers to any activity taken on each page of the website to ensure search engines are indexing it according to the terms you desire. The goal of effective on-page optimization is the highest ranking possible on various search engines. Off-page optimization refers to activities conducted outside the website to drive traffic and increase rankings. Some examples include press release distribution, link building, and videos. The goal of effective off-page optimization is to build an authority through inbound links, mentions, etc. For this reason it’s important to find out which of these services (or both) the provider offers. If they only offer one or the other you need to carefully consider whether you should retain them.
  • Industry Experience – Believe it or not with SEO industry experience should play an important role in your selection criteria. Often times prospects will come to us and inquire about our technical skills and understanding of SEO. While it’s important to establish credibility in this area  often forget to ask about industry expertise. How effectively a company can optimize a website is in part dictated by how familiar they are with your industry. As an example, we worked with a CPA firm that had come to us from a generalist SEO company. Upon reviewing their keyword approach we found the firm’s site was optimized for the keywords bank, banking services and finance. The firm in question offered no banking or finance related services. Clearly there was a misunderstanding. To avoid these situations it’s essential to discover a providers experience with and understanding of the business of accounting and CPA firms.
  • Customer Support – This is very important. Each offers a different level of support depending on what services you purchase and what level of involvement you are expected to have in the service delivery. We have found that more often than not accounting marketing directors like to be involved in the process. More importantly they want to understand why we are making the changes we are making. In other words, generally speaking there is a high level of customer involvement which translates into a fair amount of customer support. The extent to which this is an important criterion depends heavily on the level of involvement you will have in the project.
  • Reporting – Find out what SEO reports are provided and with what frequency.  There is a lot of variation in how different SEO companies report results. Some simply provide information that can be found in Google Analytics, while others include more advanced metrics such as keyword ranking reports. It’s important to know what information you can expect because this is one of the primary ways for you to measure progress. When starting a SEO campaign initially success is measured in part by the increase in site traffic. However, there are other metrics one can study as well. . We have found accounting marketing directors are usually interested in comprehensive reporting because they use this data to report progress to management and other stakeholders.
  • Engagement Structure – Uncover how the SEO provider works. Are they simply going to work on one project at a time or is there flexibility to focus on multiple projects simultaneously.. This is important to know because expectations need to be set properly. If the provider will only focus on one task at a time, then you will need to prioritize what areas/activities to focus on. Some providers offer very rigid engagement structures, while others offer a more flexible approach designed to address needs as they arise. Many firms have come to Flashpoint from companies that offer rigid structures and find that it’s often difficult to iaccomplish their objectives. . Whatever you situation may be it’s important to understand how the engagement structure to ensure they offer a working environment that you (and your firm) are comfortable with.

In Perspective

If you follow the points above you will be in a strong position to evaluate potential vendors. As someone who has worked in CPA firms, I under that sometimes selecting a provider is more about the relationships the firm has then other factors. That’s okay! If you are in this situation you can still leverage the information above to identify the providers working style and adjust accordingly.

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