MagnifySearch Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, has recently become the most talked about aspect of internet marketing. Because of this, many companies have started to offer these services.

Some of these companies are taking advantage of small business owners who are not as internet savvy as they could be and are using this ignorance to extract cash from the company coffers without any real implementation of a viable SEO strategy.

When being approached by an SEO firm, here are some things to be on the lookout for:

1. Guaranteeing your placement on the first page of Google, or any other search engine. Why? Because search engine algorithms change regularly, and even if they could get you listed on the first page, how long would that last? A day? A week? A Month? You CAN get on the first page of a search engine, a good SEO company can help you achieve this, but they cannot guaranty it.

2. Providing you with a special “Tracking Phone Number”. Why? Because they own that number, not you. If your business gets listed in the search engines and other locations with this phone number, and then you end your relationship with the company, all of the calls will go to whoever they give that number to next, not you. You will have to resubmit your business phone number to EVERY place on the internet and this could take months.

3. Offering you a special “boutique domain name” like Why? Just like with the phone number mentioned above, you will not own this domain name, they will. So again, what happens to this domain name when you end your relationship with them? Traffic will go to whomever they give it to next.

4. Content written for you by a company with little or no experience can do more harm then good. Why? Because good content writing takes time, and time is money. Many of these companies farm out their content writing to countries where English is not the native language. Any good SEO company will talk to you extensively about your business and work with you to create high quality text for your website.

5. Entering into a long term contract. Why? Many times unscrupulous SEO firms will try to have you enter a long term contract, perhaps 6 months or even a year. They then provide you with the phone number and domain names mentioned above and many will even pay for advertising to get traffic to your site without telling you that they are paying for traffic. Once your contract ends, the ads will stop and you will not have a website, your phone number will stop working and your traffic will disappear.

6. Never let anyone that cold called you handle your advertising. Why? Because some companies will actually mark up the cost of the ads. If you want to advertise on a network such as Google AdWords, talk to a company recommended by someone you trust.

7. Finally, if you have someone create a website for you and you already have an existing site, you could be harming your existing website’s ranking. Why? Because the search engines will perceive this as an attempt to “game” the system. You should be optimizing your existing website to its fullest using a trusted SEO firm, not creating a new website that will actually compete with and possibly harm your existing website.

Net101 has been developing SEO strategies that work since before the term SEO was ever coined. Our systems are proven to be affective. Contact Marc Harris today for more information, he has over 19 years of online marketing experience and can provide you with dozens of references.