Natural Search Blog

Questions for SEOs

A few weeks ago Stephan invited me to their motley crew and though I start with great enthusiasm, I’ve had many sleepless nights considering how to make a first impression. I’m Paul O’Brien and while I, as do many, write a blog of my own at, I am grateful for the opportunity to share, amongst the tremendous SEO experience that Chris, Stephan, and Brian bring to the table, my natural search perspective and experience from Yahoo! and HP. My background lies in advertising, paid search, comparison shopping, and brand and demand gen advertising; SEO is only a part though it consistently remains the most beneficial. I’m a practical SEO, heavy in analytics and science, dependant on resources and support, and light on the technology; hopefully, I can share with you something of value.

At the risk of not delivering to your expectations, or perhaps merely my own, I thought I’d start simple. I noticed that over a year ago Stephan posted a great series of questions for SEOs, questions about the industry, the practice of SEO, and our future. Missing from NaturalSearchBlog is a discussion of the appropriate questions to ask an SEO when seeking support. Here are my thoughts:

Look for a company that understands your business, marketing, technology, and the internet extensively.  Most importantly, do not shop around based on price. You don’t want a deal as you need expertise while at the same time, SEO isn’t really expensive rocket science (it is alien for most people but not rocket science).

Find a professional that meets your needs, start with these questions, let us know what works for you, and what you look for from an SEO.

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How major companies choose SEOs

While we have our own in-house SEO team (and I immodestly consider myself something of an expert in SEO), I do periodically hire an SEO company for various special consulting projects to augment our internal expertise. We hire for stuff like auditing of our optimization work, advice on special problems, strategic planning, and etc. While I’m expert in this area, it’s incestuous and full of hubris not to get some external input.

So, how do we select SEO firms from out of the pack? The internet is crawling with firms and individuals who perform all sorts of SEO work. On the business side, there’ve been times when various firms have seemed to be virtually beating down the door with proposals to “help” us. And at SES conferences, there’s times when it seems like all our Marketing and Sales people attending are perceived as chum thrown into the roiling waters of sharks. Fortunately they look for those of us in the technology department to vet such proposals.

I thought it might be of interest to note down a handful of general guidelines for many of you other SEO professionals out there who are interested in doing work for Fortune 100 firms such as ours.


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