Years ago, SEO was able to be done by one person simply and easily. You could tell Google what PR to give you with a PR meta tag and PR actually mattered. Technical skills could be kept at a minimum and many people didn’t think about Google being the biggest engine to worry about. Now there are a ton of types of SEOs and SEO companies out there which is why I wanted to break out the major types of SEO companies, employees and help you figure out which type you may need and how to choose what you are looking for.
Enterprise SEO – Enterprise SEO is where you are taking a large site or an ecommerce site and trying to optimize the entire thing. You build keyword hierarchies to build the relevance with internal linking structures, bread crumbs, etc… You write tons of unique content for every page and also use hundreds of modifiers. Enterprise SEOs break their profit levels into even buckets of revenue and constantly work at improving the buckets while measuring them across the pages and categories of the site. They work on upwards of 2,000 keywords easily (most are long tail) and require a lot of time. Because of the amount of hands on work that goes into Enterprise SEO, many are in house and firms that do this outsourced are very expensive. The Enterprise SEO also writes articles, builds links, etc…
Keyword SEO – Keyword SEO is simple in theory. You pick 10 to 20 keywords and the SEO will try to optimize you for them. They normally take a few pages of your website and assign 1 to 3 keywords to each page, depending on relevancy, will work slightly on your internal linking structure, and will be building a lot of backlinks to these pages. They usually have fixed costs and the costs range across the board. They do little technical SEO for you but will make recommendations and they may want to change the page copy, meta tags (including title) and will only be focused on the health and life of your homepage and the pages they are trying to optimize for. Some of them will modify your site map and other enterprise level SEO pieces of your site. These are the most common SEOs.
Technical SEO – Technical SEOs work on the code of your site. They develop, watch and execute your htaccess strategy, what to block, not block, how to get a better crawl through your site, make sure your redirects are correct including main url and capitalization, watch your servers, direct the bots and engines the right way and also work on the code to decrease load times, etc… They aren’t as well known but should be an integral part of any SEO plan, especially if your site isn’t ranking and you cannot explain why. Technical SEOs vary in price range and some charge on an hourly rate instead of flat fee.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) SEO – ORM is something slightly newer in the SEO world. A long time ago it was when people had bad PR or negative reviews and those reviews showed up in the search engine ranking positions or SERPs. They would hire an SEO firm to get rid of the ranking. With the addition of Google Autofill/autocomplete, ORM SEO became even more important because more and more people were tempted to type in your domain or trademark + reviews, scam or other terms that could bring up negative reviews of your site or company. ORM is a tricky type of SEO that is similar to Google Bowling (knocking everything out of the top ten rankings like knocking down the ten pins on a bowling alley for a strike) and can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 per month depending on what your goal is, who is ranking with you and how many positions you need to clear. It usually involves a lot of social media marketing and I always recommend using Knowem as a starting point. (You should use Knowem anyways even if you aren’t running an ORM campaign.)
Link Development SEO – Link development is a lot more than paying a bunch of sites to link to you, buying blog roll spaces and using a spam bot. You should not longer trust or rely on people or companies that use blog commenting and article sites as good methods and if you are just being listed in random directories, run the other way. A solid link developer will give you a link plan full of ideas, thoughts and targets. Link developers and link building SEOs are some of the more expensive because there is a ton of creative writing involved, outreach to hundreds of sites each week and a lot of editing and negotiating. Expect to pay at least $3,000 to $20,000 per month depending on what you are looking for. If you are paying more than $5,000 per month, make sure you watch how they are developing and building links and make sure you are getting natural looking in content non paid links.
Local Search SEO – Local Search SEO used to be super easy. Now with all of the reviews, maps, locations, social media factors and everything else, just creating the listings is a full time job. Local Search SEO focuses on helping to drive local leads into your store or on the phone. Some of them are still inexpensive at $1,000 per month but most will cost between $3,000 and $5,000 per month. Anything more than that isn’t worth it. You also need to make sure you are always clearing your cache and cookies when looking for the progress on these types of searches.
There are a ton of “SEO” firms out there now and many of them claim to be SEOs without knowing what the actual focus, strengths or types of SEO they are best at. Depending on what your needs are from being crawled and indexed or ranking for specific keywords or just getting your site to start to show up better across the board, think about the types of SEO companies above and then think about the right questions to ask them. It is important that every SEO knows what their strengths and weaknesses are and that they are able to guide you to legit companies and SEOs that can help with the parts they cannot do.