Succeeding with search engine optimization
Search engines such as Google and Bing can potentially bring thousands of free visitors to your website every week—or even every day. And these are people actively searching for the products and services you offer. No wonder so many people consider search engine optimization (SEO) to be the holy grail of marketing.
But the days when you could optimize your website with a few on-page tweaks are long gone. Today, ranking a website in the search results requires specialist knowledge, skills, and experience.
For most businesses, this means hiring professional SEO help, which could be:
- An individual freelancer
- An agency team
- A new full-time employee
Whichever option you choose, the big question remains the same. How do you find a good SEO expert able to deliver high rankings and meaningful ROI? Here are some tips to help you make the right choice. You should look for:
1. A proven track record of SEO success
2. Expertise in the 3 pillars of SEO
Although there are many different facets to search engine optimization, the most critical elements are:
- Technical SEO: setting up the site structure in an optimal way for indexing and ranking
- On-page optimization: effective use of keywords and HTML tags to give each page the best chance of ranking
- Off-page optimization: enhancing the link profile of the site to build authority in the eyes of the search engines
You don’t want to hire a one-trick pony who’s good at one of these but under par with the others. Expertise is required in all three areas to succeed.
3. Search engine marketing savvy
As search engines have evolved, they’ve become much more sophisticated in evaluating which sites to rank for each search query. Because of this, SEO consultants have grown, too, to stay ahead of the game.
While being grounded in the ‘3 pillars’ is essential, good SEO professionals will have a broad range of additional skills. They must understand keyword research, conversion rate optimization, pay-per-click marketing, social media marketing, and other search-related topics.
4. A full tech stack
It’s hard to imagine doing effective SEO today without access to the right software. Due to the high level of competition, search professionals need to use every tool available to gain an edge.
Many powerful software applications are available to help with the challenging task of improving search rankings. They help with everything from keyword research and content creation to on-site optimization and link building. Any candidate worth considering will have access to the best of these tools.
5. Up-to-date knowledge
SEO today is unrecognizable compared to the early days of the commercial internet. Technology and practices have moved forward at an astonishing pace and continue to do so. There’s no room for anyone whose skills are even a little dated.
Look for professionals who are committed to staying up to date. This typically means following industry blogs and newsletters, subscribing to YouTube SEO channels, and investing in professional training.
6. Proven outreach skills
The hardest part of SEO by far is link-building—yet it’s also the most important. The best technical and on-page optimization are all for naught if web pages don’t have enough backlinks to give them weight.
So the ability to reach out to other websites and build valuable links is critical. This skill alone is potentially the deal maker (or deal breaker). Make sure you choose someone who knows how to do this right.
7. An ethical approach
In the quest for higher rankings, some SEO specialists resort to what you might call shady tactics. They use ‘black hat’ strategies to bend the rules and manipulate the search results in their favor.
You might find the idea of taking a shortcut to success attractive. But although it can work, black hat SEO comes at a price. Search engines are smart at sniffing out the bad guys and sending them to purgatory. This could result in your website receiving lower rankings—or even being banned from the search results altogether.
The only safe option is to choose a partner committed to using ‘white hat’ strategies. So ask for assurances that your website will stay safe and compliant.
8. Transparent reporting
Search engine optimization is an uncertain game, and results can be variable in the short term. But, of course, SEO consultants never want to show clients results that are worse than the month before.
So they may be tempted to rig monthly reports to show their work in the best light. This can involve highlighting areas where they achieved improvements while downplaying those with less impressive results.
You need SEO partners with an honest, transparent approach to reporting. If their strategies are sound, they’ll be confident in achieving outstanding results in the long term.
9. A good culture fit
Marketing is very much a people-driven business, and this is especially true in SEO. Getting results requires an ongoing, productive partnership between you and your consultant.
To succeed, your SEO expert must work productively with content creators, social media managers, and senior marketing personnel. So there must be a good culture match so everyone can work together productively.
10. Excellent communication skills.
Search engine optimization is a strange art in which it may not be apparent what your SEO consultant is doing—and why. So communications must remain strong and positive.
Your SEO expert should clearly communicate what the strategy is, why it’s important, and how it’s being implemented. That way, you can build trust with other marketing team members to get the best results.
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SEO Experts at Your Fingertips
By now, it should be clear that finding a good SEO expert can be a challenging task. Yet it’s vital to get this right if you want to compete in the search results.
So how do you find a really good SEO expert? I recommend you take the shortcut. As a professional marketing broker, I’ve shortlisted the best SEO professionals in the business, from one-person operations to large agencies.
Based on my many years of experience, I can help you select the SEO expert that’s the perfect fit for your business. To find out more, just get in touch today.