Search engine optimization or SEO is all the buzz right now when it comes to marketing your business. Because of that, scammers and unscrupulous internet marketing providers are popping up all around town praying on small business owners who are not educated or are unfamiliar with how it all works. So how can you protect yourself and select the right local digital marketing provider?

First, if you’re looking to hire a search engine marketer to help with your websites positioning in Google, don’t you think they should be able to do well for their own web site? If they can’t, how do you expect them to do the same for you?

Don’t take their word for it, if it’s an SEO provider in Castle Rock, do a quick Google search for Castle Rock SEO, or SEO Castle Rock and see if they come up on the first page. If they don’t, then chances are they won’t be able to get you on the first page for your keywords either. If you’re in Denver, do the same thing: Search Denver SEO.

Second, ask for references and check on them. One trick unscrupulous Internet marketing providers do to convenience you that they know what they’re doing is show you a clients web site who ranks well for a keyword that’s not competitive one bit, however to the unsuspecting business owner, it looks great.

For an example, if you’re a criminal defense attorney in Castle Rock, a competitive search might be Castle Rock Criminal Defense, where a’not-so-good SEO provider might show you rankings for something like the law firm’s name or something even more long-tail or specific like ‘astle Rock Criminal Defense Attorney Downtown.

Third, ask them about their strategy to get your web site more visible in in search engines. If they are reluctant to give you specific details on their plans, it’s likely a scam. If they state that it’s something like a proprietary strategy, it’s also likely a scam.

Next, links matter. Links from one web site to another are treated as votes or endorsements from one web site to another and are signals to Google on how your web site should rank. Ask your SEO provider to tell you about their linking strategy. If they rely on a blog network to build links, forums, comments etc. then you should run away quickly as they’ll likely do more harm then good.

How much does a search engine optimization campaign cost?

In the world of SEO you really do get what you pay for. The more experienced guys with proven results are typically cost much more whereas the spammers and the fly by night companies who will likely get you penalized by adapting techniques that violate Google Webmaster Guidelines are fairly cheap but will cost you much more in repairs later on.

SEO pricing really depends on your industry. If you’re a grout cleaner in Castle Rock then your investment is likely to be very little, like $150 to $400/mo while if you’re a Castle Rock Bankruptcy Attorney, an industry that has much more competition and many more high dollar campaigns in place, you can expect to pay $600/mo+ for a legitimate campaign.

What should SEO include?

Again, this really goes back to you pay for what you get. A cheaper campaign might get you some really spammy links that will likely get you penalized while a professional SEO campaign will include a more strategic link development campaign, some PR, some social media support, Google Plus Local for Business listing optimization, on-page optimization (which includes updating your code, site speed, meta enhancements etc.) and more.