A Guide to Hiring an SEO Provider

If your business has any online components (such as a website), then SEO is crucial to the ongoing success of your business. You may have the most expensive website in your industry, but without web traffic (visitors) to that website, it is essentially useless. It is not just traffic that you need, but targeted traffic. A good quality SEO service can provide relevant, consistent web traffic to your website(s). This guide will allow you, as a non-expert, to distinguish between good and bad SEO providers. There are many of both kinds, this guide should help you to find the good ones.SEO needs to be implemented in a way that is effective in achieving your SEO goals and providing that all important meaningful presence on the World Wide Web.Quality SEO is a crucial investment when it comes to developing successful expansion and growth strategies.Ineffective SEO implementation, renders your SEO efforts wholly ineffective and a waste of your money.6 things you need to know and understand before hiring an SEO provider:1) Hiring an SEO provider should be seen as an investment in your business. You should not view it as a business expense, but rather a business strategy and an effective way of enhancing your business presence within your business sector. Try not to begin your search with the intention of “buying some SEO”. Hiring an SEO provider should be viewed rather as hiring an employee that understands and cares about your business and its online objectives.2) The first page of Google (or any search engine) is everything. Few people ever go to the second page of the search results anymore. Google is so good at being a search engine that people blindly trust Google’s ability to deliver the most relevant results on the first page. Think about how often you click through to the second page. This means that if your business is not on the first page, it’s almost as good as nowhere. The top positions on page one get the most clicks, which decrease as you progress downwards on the page.3) The ‘big’ keywords are not everything. It is better to be on the first page for a few smaller keywords, than try to rank for bigger keywords and not be on the first page at all. For example, an accountancy business in Preston may not rank for the highly competitive keyword ‘accountant’ (unless they have a lot of SEO budget and time to wait for rankings); but the same business could conceivably rank highly for the keyword ‘chartered accountant Preston’. A good SEO provider should research the keywords that your business could realistically rank on page one for and also keywords that have enough search volume to be worthwhile for your business to try ranking for.4) SEO is all about beating your competition. There is no guarantee from the search engines to say you will be on the first page of Google if you do certain things. Put simply, SEO works like this:The search engines have their conventions; websites that conform by giving the search engines what they want, will find themselves achieving better search engine rankings. The only thing standing between you and the top spots in the search rankings is your competition. Not your actual business competitors, but your online competitors. The websites that currently have the top spots in the search engines for your desired keywords are your online competition, and you need to beat them out of those top spots. Some keywords will be easy to rank for, others will be more difficult. It is only your online competition that dictates which will be the case for each individual keyword. A good SEO provider will research the competition for each of your keywords. Then, after the most effective keywords for your business sector have been identified they should be implemented in accordance with point number three above.5) On-page and Off-page SEO.Search engine optimisation is a complex and ever-evolving science, but in order to intelligently interview a prospective SEO provider you need to understand that there are two main types of SEO.On-page SEO relates to the factors on your website that affect your SEO (keywords, usability, page headings, outbound links, internal links, etc.).Off-page SEO are the factors that relate directly to matters outside of your website that affect the SEO of the website, such as back links, citations, social sharing, etc.SEO providers can work on your off-page SEO fairly easily, but if you are not willing to change on-page SEO, according to their recommendations, you cannot blame them for lack of results. A good SEO provider will review your website and report back about your on-page SEO, and how it can be improved. You should have your web designer make the adjustments.(Remember he is the expert in this field)6) An increase in search engine ranking is not necessarily an increase in leads and sales. All your SEO provider can do is get your website, videos, Google Places, articles, blog posts, etc. further up the search engine results. They cannot guarantee an increase in sales or leads, because that factor is determined by your own sales funnel. It is not the SEO provider’s job to make sure that the extra web traffic you receive will convert to more leads or sales. Your website needs to convert those visitors with good marketing, which is an issue for your marketing consultant to deal with.The key differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ SEO providers:Good SEO Providers
Good SEO providers know and understand the points mentioned above. You can judge this by their answers to the questions provided later in my next article.
Good SEO providers want to build a solid foundation and a proper SEO plan for your business, with extensive initial keyword and market (competitor) research. They will often insist upon it, even if the prospective client does not see the need. Sometimes a good SEO provider will refuse to work with a client that does not want the important groundwork to be done, because they know that without it they will not be likely to provide the client with the results that they want. A good SEO provider will want to provide their client with results as their first priority. Often a client will say “but I’ve already done the keyword research myself”. Many potential clients sit down for 5 or 10 minutes to write out all the keywords that they think are relevant to their business, and then think that they have now done all the keyword research that is needed. Real keyword research is a lengthy, investigative process.Good SEO providers use responsible SEO methods, such as paying more attention to on-page SEO, securing quality back links, improving citations, aiding social sharing, ensuring a good user experience, etc.Bad SEO Providers
Bad SEO providers will want to take their clients’ money as their first priority. They will not conduct proper keyword and market research, but will say, for example, “what are your three keywords and your URL that you want to rank for”. If this happens (as it often does) you can be sure they are simply plugging your website into software to get irrelevant back links all over the internet, using spam blog comments, link farms and other means. In many cases this approach is ineffective because the URL, or domain, may not match the client’s desired keywords. This can also damage the reputation and, ironically, the long-term SEO and credibility of the website.
Bad SEO providers use bad quality SEO methods (Sometimes referred to as Black-hat methods), Utilising these methods can have an extremely detrimental effect on how your website is perceived by search engines. This in turn may result in your website being (Sand boxed). Needless to say this is extremely undesirable, as damage such as this is extremely difficult to reverse.Ensure you get the specialist SEO who knows how best to highlight the attributes of your company and can draw attention to your products and your services in a way that really makes your business stand-out on the worldwide web.

Changing Paradigm of Software Development – Proprietary to Open Source Model

Open Source Software (OSS) has gained considerable importance in the software industry with extensive development and is now being widely accepted as a new model of business. The open source model is far more acceptable today due to the decreased degree of defects and errors as compared to proprietary software.Technical VariationsOpen source software, as the name suggests, allows accessibility to source code of a software program in order to make modifications to the software. Issues surrounding accessibility involves drafting licensing of the software in a manner which allows access to the source code. Whereas, in proprietary software the source code is not shared, viewed and modified. All modifications are done by the software developer as per the licensing agreement. Users of the proprietary software are required to purchase any upgrades of the existing software from the author of the software, as users are prohibited from copying, distributing, and modifying the software.Although deviations have altered the arrangement between a vendor and customer of proprietary software, users are allowed to view and modify the source code without distributing it others. An example would be Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative (SSI) which allows the user to adapt its proprietary software as per their requirement by allowing them to make modifications in the source code.Usability A major point of difference between open source and proprietary software is the element of usability. OSS not reviewed by professional testers does not cater to a greater audience. Users generally discuss issues associated with an OSS in forums, online communities having fine documentation, news groups, and even live chats to review and modify the code base as against the proprietary software.Enhanced Targeting of CustomersUsers of open source software act both as the innovator and user.The software is targeted on the users and proprietary software, whose users and developers, are different so user requirements and expectation from the software might not be gauged correctly. Open source software allows for greater customization.Cost FactorOSS versions are released regularly and come free of cost. Proprietary software versions are released from time to time and needs to be bought. Highly priced compulsory virus protection, up-gradation expenses, support expense, and vendor-lockin involves high technology cost to a business opting for proprietary model.InteroperabilityOpen source software is better in sticking to open standards in relation to other businesses, computers, users, and is not restricted to the proprietary data formats.InnovationOSS enables high levels of innovation by a large number of skilled people who can make modifications in source code for improved performance as per user demands and requirements. Proprietary software involves huge costs on research and development by a restricted number of developers writing the code. The team size might change with fresh applicants who may or may not have the capability to completely understand and write the particular code with the same level of efficiency.SecurityDue to the organizational nature, proprietary software is developed by a team of developers with a common goal in a restricted environment. The source code is accessible only to the team members who can modify the source code as per the requirements. This lowers the chances of error and bug penetration in the source code considerably. The level of security for the software against viruses is quite high in a proprietary model. With the OSS model, software is developed in a controlled situation, in a non-continuous structure, without a single objective and without communication between software developers. Lack of validation increases the possibility of virus.However, there is a flip side. In open source software, a lot of people can access and view the code source, thereby making the possibility of bug detection quite certain.Quoting Linus Torvalds, founder of LINUX, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. OSS allows a lot more people to view and test the code thereby making flaw detection and fixing quite viable. Bugs detected in open source are fixed quicker. Developers of proprietary software on the other hand, might take weeks or even months to track a flaw and patch it up.Changing LandscapeMore companies are adopting the OSS model which has led to drastic reduction in technology costs, making OSS a feasible option for many small and medium sized enterprises, who can have Live CD’s and USB’s for LINUX software distribution.Many large companies such as IBM and HP are considering open source software and the trends are going to spread at a faster rate for other companies too.There has been a shift from the proprietary software model to open source software model, giving some serious competition to proprietary software makers. As for the open source software, just having enhanced view would not prove to be sufficient, even open source requires better tools for gauging defects effectively by users.

Small Business Ideas – How Can You Make Your Small Business Enhance Your Life Instead of Running You

Most small business owners find themselves working more hours for less money than they thought they would when they started their business. What they had hoped for was to have more free time and to be able to sign their own paychecks. The key of course was to have larger paychecks.It doesn’t always work out that way because the average small business startup starts without a plan. Not only do most owners start without proper funding, they often start without proper thinking. Most owners think that because they are good at the technical part of the job they’re doing now, they can easily run their own business. That is often faulty thinking.They get excited about being their own boss and calling the shots and completely overlook the important part of planning. A small business plan should certainly include market research and financing, but should also include how you want the business to interact with your life. Do you want the business to run your life? How many hours do you want to work?What do you do if you find that your business is running your life? Is it too late to change it or should you just close it down or sell it? The answer lies in some tough honesty about where you are today. It means doing an honest assessment of your business first. Is it a business that is or can make money? Is it a business with a future? What are the strengths and weaknesses or the business?Next you want to look at your life. What kind of life do you want to have? How do you want to live? Do you want to travel, have more free time for the family or do you see yourself being committed to your business? What does your family want? I’ve seen many business owners lose their family because of their business. How do you want your business to interact with your life.Once you have looked at those areas, you need to decide what it would take to get your business to the point it needs to be so that you can have your business and a life too. This will mean building systems so that you get the same results all the time. It means having systems that take the guess work out of the business so that your employees can produce the results you want. It means getting the business to the point that it doesn’t require your constant supervision.If you’re thinking of starting a small business, do your homework first. It will save you a lot of heartache in the long run. If you already have a small business that isn’t enhancing your life, you may want to get some advice.