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Jonathan Wickham: 5 Questions That Will Save Your Business from an Online Disaster (Part I)

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If you are the owner of a business, you are certainly bombarded with online marketing propositions. These could be coming through your LinkedIn profile, Gmail, or social networks.

If you’ve taken the time to listen to the sales spiels, the message is usually just about the same: “If you give us four to six months, we will have your website ranking for all the strategic keywords in your vertical.” Often business owners fall for this pitch and perhaps even initially see great progress at first, only to then be disappointed with a massive drop in performance.

If you’ve had this experience, you’re no different from millions of other business owners. The truth is the Internet has turned into the most powerful and important marketing channel of our time.

This demand for increased online visibility has bred a massive industry of subpar marketing companies that sell you on promises, but fail to deliver. Before 2012, there wasn’t much harm that could come from these low quality outfits. The worst they could do was never get your site the visibility it needed to turn a big return. However, after Google released the first Penguin update, that all changed.

We want to give you a few tips on how you can evaluate whether the inbound marketing agency you’re considering is a wise choice. Asking the following questions will give you direct insight as to what you’re purchasing and whether you are getting bang for your buck.

1. Is Incorrect Link Building Damaging Your Brand? 4 Warning Signs
Link building is hands down the tactic that can cause the most damage to your brand in the least amount of time. This is the item 99% of SEO companies build their product around.

This can be really tricky because having a strong linking profile is still extremely important for ranking in Google. Anything that can give a website a boost in the organic results will be exploited by online marketing agencies for the foreseeable future. That means you’re going to need to protect yourself.
Below are the 4 warning signs you’re in with the wrong outfit.

  • Company Not Showing You Exact URLs of Work
  • Only Targeting Narrow Set of Terms
  • Ratio of Exact Match Anchor Text
  • Posting Content to Junk Websites

2. Are you Getting Bad Advice about Your Content? 4 Differentiators to Consider
The copy your brand publishes on its own blog is the single most important thing you can do for an effective online marketing strategy. The thing to remember here is quality is definitely more valuable than quantity.

We’ve seen that consistently adding content to your root domain balances out any link acquisition efforts you may be doing. If you think about it, this principle makes complete sense:

If you have a site that’s been static for 5 years, then all of a sudden it starts getting tons of inbound links, it looks like you engaged with an SEO company. However, if you have a site that starts producing a bunch of awesome content, which is getting shared in the social media networks, it makes sense that there are a bunch of new links.

Below are a few differentiators to watch out for:

Quantity vs. Quality:
If you’re being told that the search engines are looking for websites that publish as much content as possible and that quality of the writing isn’t really that important, you aren’t working with the right people. Reliable and helpful content is a must.

Links vs. Content on Your Own Domain:
If you’re being sold on the idea that it’s not really that important to publish the content on your own domain, if the content is being linked to your site, then you need to watch out.

Copyright Infringement vs. Original Work:
Some companies cut corners by copying content from other websites to publish to your blog. Not only is this typically copyright infringement, which carries with it legal risks, but also copied content is not likely to add value to your site.

Raw Content vs. Organized Design:
Inexperienced marketers may say, “Don’t worry about the design or format of the blog posts. These are really only meant for the search engines.” Industry experts will tell you that planned, thoughtfully organized design will be pleasing to your visitors in both appearance and content, and keep them coming back to your site.

Check back tomorrow for the final three questions to ask!

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