Our SEO Adventure, Part 2: Picking Vendors

As I wrote in our last entry, we are a design company in the SF Bay Area, and have finally decided–after putting it off for too long–to dive into really CMSing and SEOing our site with the intention of producing a greater influx of inbound leads.

After deciding on the WP platform, it was time to start what turned out to be a rather involved process; picking our vendors. This turned out to be a challenge on several levels. As we started interviewing vendors we realized that although we are a professional web site design firm, we still had a lot to learn about the intricacies of WP and get a lot more knowledge on the recent developments in the SEO world (we used to offer SEO as a service, but it got so time-intensive that we dropped it to focus on our strengths, strategy, creative, campaigns, that kind of thing).

For those of you following this same CMS and/or SEO path–whatever business you might be in–beware! There are a LOT of folks out there claiming to be experts in the varied intricacies of these fields, and only a select few of them really have the knowledge, drive, and vision that is needed to have expertise in this area (both CMS migration and SEO). Oh, and are taking the time to stay up to date in this rapidly changing field–just take a look at the google webmaster’s blog (if you haven’t already), to see the velocity of change in just the SEO world.

So, after extensive reading, studying, and careful examination of lots of information to develop trusted sources, we put up a posting at one of the specialized groups to which we belong and get the flood of responses we were expecting.

Several rounds of weeding later we come up with the medium list; those people or companies we want to actually speak with. And, amazingly, we find that even in this group there are people who come into our offices or call for a conference and immediate nose dive into the muck.

Because of the business we’re in we know that vendors who come in with an already developed plan and start diving into the details are too tactical for our needs. We need someone to take the time to know us, who we are, what we stand for, and work from there. Obviously, this is especially important in the SEO realm. And, as we wanted, essentially, to do our own SEO, we were really looking for a coach more than a company or contractor to just come in and do it for us.

It also turned out that there were some really high-quality people out there who were clearly honest, of high integrity, and well-informed on the latest details of WP and SEO, both of which are surprisingly complex. Even though WP claims to be easy, it is ¬†only if you want stay with one of the masses of predesigned templates which, as I mentioned in the last post, we can’t do since as a design agency we need to be highly designed and clearly unique.

The final decision came when one of the WP developers made us an offer we couldn’t refuse (he’d develop our site and if, at the end, we don’t like it, we can just walk away from it with only minor costs), and when one of the SEO vendors said that he would love to enter into a coaching relationship with us, and possibly partner ¬†with us on future business.

And with those choices, we’re off and running! I am delving into the details and (sometimes) tedious work of keyword development and my partner is overseeing the look and feel of the WP site.

But the details of those are for the next installment.