Search Engine Optimization Questions & Answers

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Jill Whalen, published of High Rankings Advisor recently asked several questions about SEO firms. I guess now is a great opportunity to answer the questions and let everyone know where PaperStreet stands.

Does the SEO firm set realistic expectations about what they can and can’t do, or do they simply promise the moon?” 
Realistic expectations equal happy clients. So of course, we set realistic expectations. SEO is really an all or nothing business (i.e. you are ranked high or not). We work with clients to define their goal, their budget, and timeline in the initial meetings.

Does the SEO firm have a proven record of success and not just for “long-tail” keywords?
As you can imagine, obtaining a top ranking for the single term “Lawyer” is much harder than obtaining a top ranking for “Florida Lawyer”, than “Florida Estate Planning Lawyer”. At PaperStreet, potential clients can ask us for a few ranking reports for our current clients. Results are easily proven and verifiable.

Does the SEO firm provide recommendations for making your site better than it currently is, or are they attempting to do things to it that will actually make it worse for your users?
If you are lucky enough to get the users to your web site, you have roughly three seconds to impress them or they will retreat back to other search results. Good internet marketing has to be a combination of optimization and design. Since we are a web design company, we are not going to do anything that makes the web site look bad. In fact, we often suggest changes to design, navigation and usablity for our clients.

Does the SEO firm tell you what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, or do they just want you to blindly trust them?” 
We have a five step process to optimizing web sites. Our steps include:

1.” ” ”  Researching effective keyword phrases.
2.” ” ”  Selecting appropriate keyword phrases.
3.” ” ”  Coding the web site.
4.” ” ”  Creating link and content campaigns.
5.” ” ”  Analyzing log files and data to improve.

Everything is explained up-front and at any time the client can ask “Why in the heck did you do this?”” 
Does the SEO firm use *only* automated methods to achieve their goals?
Our process is pretty-much all manual. We of course use automated research tools and hopefully a good web design that will speed up the process of coding. However researching, selecting keyword phrases, coding, building popularity, and analyzing take a considerable amount of manual time.

Wrap-Up. Although not asked, this is our view point on the timeline of results.
In general, results will vary based on the existing relevancy and popularity of the site you are optimizing. For existing domains with good overall popularity, but lack good coding or content, results can be dramatic in as little as one month as soon as on-page optimization is done. For sites that are lacking popularity, but have good content, then it may take a few months of link building to raise the ranking results via off-site optimization techniques. For new clients with brand new domains, you should expect to see results for your keyword phrases in six months to a year for Google and half that time for MSN, Yahoo, and other search engines. Quite simply, Google (and other search engines) use ranking systems that evaluates a number of factors. New sites are in essence penalized as they do not have the link popularity needed to compete with older, more trusted sites that have existing links to them.

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