Atlanta SEO & Internet Marketing Services at their Best!

Although more and more people are becoming comfortable searching for products and services online, the world of SEO and internet marketing are still very much in their infancy. Things are still changing on a daily basis. To compete for those online dollars, you need a company with experience, foresight and the ability to monitor the Web in real time. Only then can you maintain the competitive edge.

Applied Business Solutions is a leader in providing search engine optimization (SEO) services in Atlanta along with web design, site optimization, the effective use of social media and other internet marketing solutions. We also offer reputation management services to ensure that your stalwart reputation is maintained as your business grows and you enter new markets.

We have a talented staff of professionals who work as a team to develop strategies and solutions that will not only help you see immediate results but enjoy ever-increasing sales in the long term.

What is SEO and How does it work?

Even in the online world, the real estate agent’s motto still applies. The three most important things are location, location, location. For you to succeed, potential customers need to be able to find you. The closer to the top of search engine results pages your website appears, the more traffic you’ll generate and the more sales you will make.

All search engines, including the three largest: Google, Yahoo and Bing, use carefully-programmed algorithms to search the web and gather information about each web page they encounter. These complex formulas are used to rank websites based on among other things, the trustworthiness and relevance of the information contained on those sites.

SEO is a dynamic process that requires a strategy that keeps pace with the latest trends and the changes in how others in your industry choose to do business online. We’ll make sure you stay one step ahead of the competition.

Who is Applied Business Solutions?

ABS has been an industry leader since 2001 and our list of clients and sites that we have worked on includes: NBC, MTV, Nickelodeon, Turner Broadcasting, Primedia, JVC North America and grows regularly.

We’ve been able to secure a number one search engine ranking for many of the companies we’ve worked with. It not only takes fully-researched and perfectly-targeted strategy to reach the top of the list on search engines such as Google, it takes experience and great attention to detail. Optimizing elements of your website such as inbound and outbound links, site architecture, and on-page content also contribute to your online visibility.

Creative services such as web design and development are also part of our history of success. Plus, with great foresight, we predicted and prepared for the emergence of social media as a key factor to online success and we were providing critical site analytics reports to our clients before it became a common practice.

Applied Business Solutions has an eye on the future of internet marketing and the future success of your business!

Recent Blog Posts

How to Choose an SEO Company in Atlanta

June 7, 2011 by Joe Woods  
Filed under SEO Blog

As some of you may know, I am now on month 3 of doing freelance SEO full-time.  It’s been a very busy couple of months so far.  I want to thank everyone and my clients for helping me to make this happen.  With that being said, I spent the last several weeks doing all kinds of things that are necessary when getting a new, err…old, something like that, business started again.  Everything from setting up payroll, to getting state and federal tax id’s up to date, re-submitting things here and there, accounting, etc…  I have also been fortunate enough to get some leads on new clients and go out and meet with them in person.  With that said, I want to go over a few things that I’ve found while speaking with these potential clients.

On the sales calls

Sales isn’t new to me, but I’m definitely a little rusty.  I’ve spent the last few years as an in-house SEO where I’ve had to sell SEO internally, rarely have I had to go out into the field and actual meet with someone or attend a sales call.  This is quite different than traditional sales.  What I’ve found doing some of these sales calls and meeting with these potential (hopefully soon to be) clients is that SEO is booming in Atlanta.  There are plenty of companies and freelancers out there offering SEO services.  Many of the people I met with have been using some of the local guys, as well as, some of the better known “internet visibility” companies.  All I could say about some of this is WOW!  It’s no wonder SEO get’s such a bad rep.  I’m not saying these guys or companies are bad, it could just be A LOT better.

Things to Watch Out for:

Example 1:  Bait and Switch

Ok, this is where I was really surprised at some of the services being offered out there.  When I spoke with one potential client, they mentioned that they were using a larger “internet visibility” company and thought that they were doing SEO.  What I found and pointed out to them shocked me!  All of the internet marketing work had been done on a clone of the client’s site on the big company’s site.  All the local business references, backlinks, directories, social media, etc… ALL pointed at this clone site.  If the client quit paying them, they would lose everything.  Analytics was also tracked by the service provider and a report sent to the client each month.  All of the analytics resided on the clone site.  To me, that’s a big red flag.  You should have your own analytics code attached to the site, with your own login, so that you can verify the results.  That is just to scratch the surface.  The biggest of the red flags is that all of these efforts should point at YOUR site, not some cloned site.

This is simply not how real SEO or internet marketing is supposed to work.  You should own all of the work, logins, passwords, analytics, etc…  If you terminate the services agreement, everything should remain.  All links, references, listings, etc…should point to your actual domain name and site.  The only thing that should fall off, is if you are doing any paid search or banner ad campaigns that you aren’t paying directly for.

Example 2:  Oh yeah, I can do SEO too…

I met with a potential client that has been using xyz local web design company.  The way this agreement has worked over the last couple of years is that xyz designed their site and does the SEO work.  The company charged the client a flat fee based on number of keywords targeted.  They are paying several hundred dollar per month for 3-5 keywords.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (if you’re the SEO company), but it is outside the norm.  Traditionally the way the SEO industry works, either at the agency or freelance level is clients are charged an hourly rate with a set minimum number of hours and a max or simply a flat monthly rate.  Certain keyword targets are agreed to and will shuffle in and out as the campaign matures.  There is not a max number of keyword targets.

Now, it has been my experience that most designers do dabble in SEO, but I have rarely met a designer that is also a great SEO, or an SEO that is an awesome programmer or designer.  I’m not saying that they aren’t out there, just that I have met very few.  As the web is maturing as an industry, people are beginning to specialize in their niches.  Rarely do you find a person that does everything well.  This is why we have dedicated people that specialize in web-design, social media, link building, paid search, and as you know, I handle the SEO.

In the case of example 2, I was once again proven correct.  While the site design and functionality is good, there are quite a few holes in the SEO and I’m talking about basic SEO 101 issues.  What I found was duplicate pages, canonical issues, inconsistent linking practices, content in javascript pop-ups, thin or no content, etc…  It didn’t surprise me that they weren’t ranking very well.

Example 3:  SEO for Rent

This example is actually from an existing client of mine that was approached by another Atlanta SEO company trying to earn their business.  I’ve worked with this particular client on and off for a few years now and have a great relationship with them.  After speaking with the other company, he was very intrigued by the fact that they could drive great results, had an extensive client list, and were very cheap.  This one made me very nervous.  I was thinking, how can they be that cheap?  I would have to work for below minimum wage to meet that price!  Then I got the full rundown on how they are able to do this.

The way this works is, in the agreement, this particular company owns the rights to all work that has been done to the site.  They own all content, code changes, backlinks, etc…  If you cancel the agreement, they remove everything.  So basically, you own nothing and must pay this company forever more.  Now, I don’t know about you, but a lot of my clients like using me for SEO simply because they DO own everything and the traffic remains even after the campaign is over.  Many of them are using 3rd party services like Angie’s List, Service Magic, and Kudzu to advertise their businesses and want to rely  on these services less.  After all, these services are playing the same SEO game targeting your keywords to get that traffic anyways, why not throw your hat in the ring too.  That is why they go the SEO route to get more of that free traffic.  When they want more traffic or even better rankings, then they hire me to do more work for them.

Some Questions that you should ask of a potential SEO or SEO Company:

1. Will I own all of the work?

Make sure that in the agreement that you have complete control over all the work done.  Once you end the campaign, you should own all of the content, links, logins, analytics accounts, etc…  Think of the SEO, like the carpenter that you hire to remodel your kitchen.  Once they are done, you shouldn’t have to keep paying them to keep the new kitchen.

2. How long is this agreement for?

Most SEO campaigns can run 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year.  I like to propose shorter 3 or 6 month agreements with most clients; especially if it’s a smaller site.  Most of the work is done in the first couple of months anyways with on-going link building, tracking and tweaks taking place in later months.  With that in mind, most of the contracts have a tiered pricing structure based on number of hours to be worked.  So month 1 in more expensive and month 6 is cheaper.  For larger clients and sites, 6 month or 1 year agreements make more sense as there is more work to be done.  Most of these agreements have flat monthly rates.

3. How much is this going to cost?

My wife gives me a hard time about what I charge, mainly because of the kind of money that my clients make off my work.  I have some clients making north of $3mm+ per month and smaller clients making $10k+ per month.  Again, I charge an hourly rate for most and a fixed rate for some.  I would love to do a percentage, but that’s not the norm.  SEO prices can vary based on the skill and experience of the SEO.  I’ve seen some entry level guys charge around $50 per hour and the higher end guys charging $300+ per hour.  If I had to put an average hourly rate on SEO services in Atlanta, I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of $100-150 per hour.  To put that in perspective, most car mechanics charge $100 per hour and they aren’t going to make you money, just fix your car.  Your SEO will fix your website and make you money.  Once the initial work is done, it will continue to make you money.  On-going maintenance is all that’s required to retain the top rankings.

The typical SEO campaign in Atlanta for a smaller site will run somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 to $1,500 per month depending on your site structure, competitiveness of your industry, and level of reporting that you would like.  Larger sites and clients will run $3,000 to $10,000+ per month more or less depending on the site and time requested.  If you’re a smaller site and the company quoting you says $99, $249, or the like, then I would say you need to wonder if they are legit or not.  SEO takes a lot of time and experience to do correctly.

4. I want to be number 1, can you guarantee me a number 1 spot?

If the company you are speaking to says that they can guarantee any position, especially a number 1 spot, then run away quickly.  No one can guarantee a number 1 position.  That would be like a coach saying that they can guarantee their team a national championship.  It just can’t be promised.  The search engines hold all the keys here and they don’t share them with anyone.  Be wary of anyone claiming that they know someone at Google that told them what the algorithm is, that’s simply not true.  This would be like someone claiming to know the formula for Coca Cola, it’s a very closely guarded secret that only a few people know.

5. How long is it going to take before I see results?

The simple answer here is that SEO is not immediate.  In some cases, if you have an established site and business (i.e. a site that’s a few years old), then it could take as little as a 3-4 weeks.  If your site is brand new or less than a year old, it could take much longer to see results due to the Google sandbox.  Sometimes the sandbox effect can last up to a year if your site was just launched.  These are very truthful answers that any professional SEO should give you.

6. What tactics are you going to take?  How are you going to do the SEO?

What you are looking for here are answers along the lines of: keyword research, baseline analytics and rankings, repair on-site issues, optimize on-page elements, create new pages and content, reporting, reporting, reporting, tweak the site some more, and then link building/social media.

Why in that order and does it really matter?  Well, yes and no.  The campaign should always start with keyword research and baseline reporting.  You want to know where you started from to know how far you’ve come.  Reporting is essential and makes the SEO accountable.  It’s the bread and butter of any good SEO as it sets to tone and direction of the campaign.  Keyword research is crucial!  I spent quite a bit of time researching the right keywords to target, this is the campaign and is the stick by which you are measured.  After the initial keyword research and reporting are complete, I like to do the on-site SEO and see where we land.  I save the link building for last as this is very time consuming and costly.  It should be used to help improve your top under performing keywords.

I hope this was informative for anyone looking to hire an SEO.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment, fill out our email form or follow me on twitter @JoeWoodsSEO.