On the surface, performance-based search engine optimization services sound like an ideal solution. The SEO firm takes on all the responsibility (be it on-site modificaitons or link building or both) and the business pays only for results.
The problem, based on my experience, is that clients rarely end up pleased with the SEO providers results in the long run and they often pay exorbitant amounts in the process.
The reason performance SEO has not worked (at least to date) is that most businesses don't ask the right questions as it relates to which search terms and phrases that they will ultimately be ranking for on the search results page after the agency performs a round (or two) of optimization.
The truth of the matter can be a harsh reality for cash-strapped businesses looking for some digital marketing support.
More often than not, those agencies providing performance-based SEO focus on optimizing for a company name or an exceedingly long tail (three or four or five) search phrase which doesn't take a genius to figure out is far easier to optimize a website for as opposed to keywords and phrases that have higher volume.
For that reason, heed these few warnings about performance based SEO:
- Before hiring an SEO firm, make sure you at least rank for your own business name. If not, look into some basic title tag optimization.
- Start by conducting your own research using one or more of the freely available keyword tools to understand which search terms have the most volume.
- Negotiate with performance-based SEOs, challenging them to optimize continually for competitive terms (instead of branded ones).
- Explore the true cost associated with the estimated visitor traffic that may result from their optimization efforts.