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10 Practical Ways Search Engine Optimization Companies and Clients Can Get Along

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Occasionally, SEO firms and their clients step on each others’ toes or get their wires crossed when it comes to conducting business primarily over the Internet. Below are some insights and suggestions for minimizing collaborative errors between clients and their contracted SEO vendors.

Even the best of intentions can go awry without careful attention to details and expectations. We’ve tested these methods out and they work.

1. Get it in writing.

Define the service scope in detail (i.e. we’ll research keywords and optimize these pages with approved search phrases for this long).

2. Return phone calls.

That goes both ways. If the consultant needs some feedback, don’t wait three days. If the client calls, don’t wait three hours. It doesn’t sound fair, but it makes sense. Consultants need help, but clients deserve more attention (prompt responses).

3. Don’t overwrite changes.

SEO consultants can easily overwrite source code if they’re not careful. Web site owners sometimes overwrite the very optimization steps a consultant put in place. Talk to each other and work out protocols to avoid these problems.

4. Return e-mail messages.

Like phone calls, e-mail messages deserve a quick response. Hitting “reply” is easier than picking up a phone and dialing a bunch of numbers. Clients and consultants shouldn’t let a day go by without a response.

5. Own up to mistakes.

Painful and embarrassing as it is, admit mistakes. They can include failing to return a phone call and poor communication in a written report. If you mess up – whether it’s getting some data columns in the wrong place or placing the SEO consultants META data in the wrong spot, just acknowledge the mistake and move on. We’re human. Things happen.

6. Don’t switch domain names.

If you sign up with an SEO consultant, don’t start with one domain and then get a notion about introducing a new one. It throws the whole program off track.

7. Don’t change your page names.

If you have a page called newproducts.asp, don’t change it to new-products.html after the SEO program begins. The change will just confuse search engine spiders and hinder or delay high rankings.

8. Don’t insert “alt” tags after the SEO program begins.

“Alt” tags with images are for search engine consultants to manage. They’re in the best position to know when “alt” tags might be appropriate. If you add them on your own, you may ruin the delicate balancing act SEO consultants perform with many page factors.

9. Avoid altering page title tags.

If an SEO consultant has a title tag strategy you approve, don’t go back in a week and change it. Some pages can work with a company name in the title tag, others won’t.

10. Keep an open mind.

Clients and consultants both need an open mind as creative ideas and approaches are expressed. A client may suggest something unethical, but the consultant should gently steer them away from the tactic. If a consultant finds a useful way of introducing a links directory on the Web site, give it some thought. Just because your Web site lacks a directory doesn’t mean it can’t support one. How can you have reciprocal links without one?

Michael Murray is vice president of Fathom SEO, a Cleveland, Ohio-based search engine optimization firm. A member of SEMPO, he authored the U.S. Manufacturers Resist Natural Search Engine Optimization and Online Sales Leads study and a white paper, “Is Search Engine Optimization Worth It? SEO and the ROI Debacle.” mmurray@fathomseo.com

10 Practical Ways Search Engine Optimization Companies and Clients Can Get Along
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