Perhaps the most important part of working with an SEO company is the amount of transparency and communication they provide their clients. This distinguishing characteristic sets most companies apart.
Since Google’s Penguin update (much like the Panda update) aims to crack-down on websites they consider to be spammy, the unfortunate reality is there are reputable companies that will be penalized because of the work of their SEO firm. This is why transparency in an SEO campaign is crucial.
Take major U.S. retailer J.C. Penney for example. Last year, they were penalized by Google for selling paid links. The company was unaware their SEO firm was practicing black-hat optimization and the website was sent to the last page of rankings for their targeted keywords. An official spokesperson from J.C. Penney revealed that they quickly fired their search marketing company and worked to remove the ill-advised paid links. After 90 days, the ban was lifted and J.C. Penney returned to normal rankings.
This lack of transparency in the J.C. Penney case represents the larger picture that many companies deal with. It is this break in communication that can place other major companies in harm’s way.
Was your site affected by Google’s recent Penguin update? Before contracting with an SEO firm, it is important to do your due diligence. Read WebiMax’s recent white paper discussing Six Things You Must Know About Choosing the Best SEO Firm. Some questions to ask the SEO firm include, how often do we communicate? What are your SEO best practices? Do you use human capital or automated software? Who are some of your other clients?
These questions will paint an accurate image as to the level of quality you should receive. In addition, knowing the status of your campaign will help prevent cases such as the J.C. Penney example where they had no idea what their SEO firm was up to.
At the end of the day, your SEO firm in the extension of your marketing division and a representative of your company. It is integral to know how they practice SEO and what methods they use on your brand. Protecting yourself against the Penguin involves knowing what your SEO firm is doing.