Four questions to ask before you pay for SEO will make the difference in which firm you choose, what you pay and what you can expect for your money. Search Engine Optimization or SEO can be an unproven commodity and it changes continuously. Ask a website owner to define it and you’ll get a blank look in many cases. More revealing is putting the question to an SEO firm and hearing an answer that only a software engineer could understand.

The good news is that you can hire an SEO firm to optimize your website even if you are not clear on the technicalities. What you are looking for is value measured in cost and results. Here are the four most important questions to ask before you choose a firm:

  • What criteria does a search engine use to determine who gets the #1 spot?
  • What percent of the visitors to my site will need my services?
  • What is the return on investment (ROI)?
  • How is your SEO firm accountable for the results?

What criteria does a search engine use to determine who gets the #1 spot?

Since criteria change, you are looking for the answer each firm gives you which will be a glimpse into the strategy they would use to develop your site’s SEO.

What percent of the visitors to my site will need my services?

Sure, you might get visitors but you need clients. What will this firm do for you besides getting visitors who have no interest in your services? A provocative tweet can get visitors but will it deliver clients? Get specifics.

What is the return on investment?

You’ve heard the price, the number of visitors, the promises of more business and now you need to know what each paying client will ultimately cost you. If this firm delivers the results they promise, what are you investing up front for each genuine lead?

How is your SEO firm accountable for the results?

Anyone can promise you a rose garden. What happens if all you get is weeds? Or nothing at all? Do you get a refund? Do they do more work for you without charging you? What do they do to diagnose the problems and deliver on what was promised? What tools are used to determine success?

You may not know if your site needs SEO unless you dive in. Be prepared to ask the right questions and decide whether the product meets your expectations.

Susan Kayler is an attorney, author, website designer and technology fan-girl. You can reach her by clicking here. For more helpful articles for lawyers and law firms go directly to her Practice Tips blog by clicking here.