Have you finally decided to make your small business website work for you, and get more leads, customers, patients, or contracts? If the answer is yes, good for you. You are going to need to use online marketing also known as SEO, to get your website found on Google and Bing.
SEO is not something you can learn to do yourself on a weekend by watching a few Youtube videos. There are a million videos and articles explaining how to do it, but most of those people don’t know what they are talking about, or the information is old and outdated. Learning to do SEO the right way takes at least a few months and requires a lot of technical knowledge. So, unless you have a lot of free time on your hands and are interested in websites, servers, and writing content, you should maybe hire a company that works in your city.
But how do you decide which company to use? First off limit your search to Canadian companies that know the Canadian market and what works here. Here are some questions you should ask an SEO company before you hire them:
- Can you show me proof that you are getting results for at least one small business in my city? They should be able to go to Google and type in an important keyword for their client and demonstrate that they are on page 1. What is an important keyword? For almost all small businesses your best keywords will be in the form of “city niche”. For example, if their client is a plumber in Calgary, they should rank on the first page of Google for “Calgary Plumber” or if they are a dentist in Winnipeg, they should rank on the first page for “Dentist Winnipeg”
- Can you provide references from at least one client that you are working with? This could mean that they give you the phone number of an existing client that you can call and see how their online marketing is going for them.
- Do you have clients that have been with you for over a year? This is important because it will show that they do SEO for the long term, and they are probably doing things right.
- Do you follow all of Google’s guidelines? This is known as whitehat SEO and simply means that you do not break any of Google’s rules. The term Blackhat SEO refers to people that use spammy and deceptive techniques to get you on the first page of Google, but usually only for a short time until Google discovers what they have done and applies a penalty to your website. Once you have a penalty, it can be very difficult to have it removed.
- What is your cancellation policy? Do I have to sign a contract for a minimum amount of time? Keep in mind that SEO does not happen overnight and your SEO company will need at least 3 months to show you some results, and in some cases 6 months depending on how tough the competition is. If you are a realtor and want to be on the first page of Google for “Calgary real estate” remember that you will be competing with the other 5000 or so realtors that also want to be there.
- How much does it cost? Again as in the point above, it all depends on the competition. Most companies will charge a monthly fee from $200 to more than $1000
- Do you need access to my website? Your SEO company will need to make some changes to your website, so you will need to either provide them with your login and password, or put them in touch with the person that looks after your website so they can request the changes through them. Most of the time the changes will be subtle, unless your website is a complete mess. If they say that they don’t need to make changes at all, that may be a red flag.
Of course we would love to answer all those questions and more. Give us a call and we can explain everything we will do for you and how we will do it.
Call us at 403-922-1451