This is one of the questions that I think anyone whose daily life involves websites hears most often.
Please be careful.
Back in the day, I or any number of people here could have typed a paragraph or two with a few "tips" that could be counted on with near-certainty, at least to improve
your search engine position to some degree.
But that was then, this is now, and today those tips are so useless I am not even going to waste anybody's time by recounting them, even as a historical artefact.
In recent years, the field of "search engine optimization" has not only, well, become a field, but one of the fastest growing, complex, and rapidly changing fields in the "internet presence" industry, and while there are honest and legitimate companies and individuals who offer consultancy and services in this area, as a result of all that complexity and rapid growth, it has become very attractive to unscrupulous people.
Every company who pays for a domain, hosting service and website development naturally wants to see a return on that investment. They all want to show up on the first page of that Google search!
And the vast majority of those eager new website owners do not have extensive knowledge of "search engine optimization," and are easy prey for those unscrupulous people who take advantage of the fact that the company has A) just gotten used to paying often significant amounts of money to buy things that they don't really understand, like domain names and server space, etc, and B) is champing at the bit to see some benefit from all that spending.
So what I would recommend, in addition to taking Johanna's advice and googling around to get yourself a little basic orientation and education on the subject in general, is that before you sign anything or even choose a company, is that you talk to other companies like yours - maybe not your direct competitors, but you know what I mean
- other companies of your approximate size who seem to be doing well in terms of their search engine placement, and find out what things they are doing - and who is doing it for them.
Take your time looking around, listen to what the company's customers say, and keep a tight hold on your wallet while you look.
If you belong to any community organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, even small business networking groups, etc, those can be excellent sources of information and even specific recommendations - and warnings!
As long as they are not in direct competition with you, your fellow business owners will be glad to share what they have learned - and how they learned it, and that will include some sadder but wiser folks who unfortunately did fall victim to unethical people, and paid large sums to slick-talkers who did everything from promise things they couldn't and/or didn't deliver, to people who got them tangled up with some practices that are, to say the least, both counter-productive and generally frowned upon, to just plain thieves who simply took their money and disappeared.
So even if your new website has to sit there for a month or two while you read up on search engine optimization and collect recommendations of legitimate companies and individuals you can look into and interview, the money you pay to your hosting company, etc during that time could turn out to be one of the best investments you can make!
In short, finding and choosing an honest search engine optimization company is like finding and choosing an honest automobile mechanic: Search well and wisely, and once you find one, hang on for dear life, treat them like the treasure they are - and don't forget to pay it forward by recommending them to people who ask you how they can have their website show up on the first page of the Google search!
Edited by MoonBloo, 05 May 2008 - 02:58 PM.