Many businesses these days are interested in how they can use internet marketing opportunities to their best advantage. But since few business owners and operators have the time to devote to keeping up with the rapid advances in this industry, most would rather hire an internet marketing company to do the heavy lifting for them. This usually entails a comprehensive package that includes SEO services, an emphasis on social networking, and other strategies to spread your business’s brand name via online and mobile means. However, not every internet marketing company is built the same, and some of them may not be up to par, or they might use practices that you find unethical. So there are a few things you probably want to look for before you hire a company to increase your online presence.
- Referrals. There are a lot of internet marketing companies out there competing for your business, so narrowing down the options can be a difficult process. But you can turn to your network of colleagues (or even industry forums) for trusted recommendations on marketing firms that may suit your needs. Of course, what works for one company may not work for another, so it could turn out that the referrals you get simply aren’t right for you. But it’s a place to start. And when you use trusted referrals you can at least assume that the service providers are on the up-and-up.
- Proven success. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional references when you’re considering hiring an internet marketer. You want to make sure that the company you hire has a proven track record of success promoting other businesses, and the best way to find out is to talk to their other clients.
- Guarantees. In truth, this is something you don’t want to see. SEO is not an exact science, so anyone who promises to get you to a specific level of traffic or page rank on search engines at breakneck speeds is either selling you a bill of goods or they’re doing something they shouldn’t to get you there. Either way, it could end up being a big waste of your time and money. If they’re outright lying about their ability to get you the results they promise, you’ll eventually have to find a new service provider. And if they’re engaging in unfair practices you’ll get penalized by Google (or other search engines), which could set you back exponentially.
- Scalable options. Every business has different needs when it comes to marketing. Although you are no doubt interested in hitting as many potential markets as possible, you may have to temper this desire based on your budget, or you might be more interested in targeting local consumers or certain demographics. In this case you need a plan that is tailored for your business, not a cookie-cutter approach that some marketers may take. In short, you need to look for a company that offers you options.
- Ethical practices. You’ve probably heard of black hat SEO, by which practitioners use unethical means of securing increased traffic and page rank, usually through spamming, link schemes, and a variety of other tactics that search engines frown on (and will penalize you for). So you’ll want to find a marketer that provides white label SEO practices, ensuring that you get the best results without the fear of audit or reprisal.