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How will affiliates know if the outsourced companies are using white hat or black hat methods?

You should get good at monitoring your backlink portfolio whether you outsource or not. We are moving into the days of negative seo, and we need to be vigilant. If you see a spike in links, anchor text, or low quality links, then you need to either consult your SEO outsourcing provider or the spam team to report negative SEO.

What reports should these outsourced SEOs provide after? What will they look like?

They should deliver a full report of anything and everything they have done. If its linkbuilding specific URLs. Don’t work with any company that wont do this. If it’s onsight SEO and you let them touch your code, a detailed list of what they have done.

Beyond that your analytics should give you everything you need, and SearchMetrics which can help you note visibility changes.

How do I really validate what it is that they are doing?

Again SearchMetrics and traffic changes. For many reasons simple ranking analysis doesn’t work anymore (mostly due to localization)

Final thoughts on outsourcing SEO?

Be careful. Be smart. Check references, and make sure you setup a system of checks and balances.

About Dave Snyder

Dave Snyder is a world-renowned authority on link marketing, with strengths in both organic and paid search marketing. As a speaker on the topics of search marketing and social media, he has advised some of the world’s largest companies. Dave is also a publisher of SearchEngineJournal and DailySEOTip, where he shares his unique perspective on concepts related to search marketing.

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