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By: Agne Lund | 15 November 2016
Your website may look awesome, packed with prime content and dazzling media. But what if your site is not getting enough visitors to convert into customers? If that is what you experience, then your website is not doing its job. Maybe it is about time to find an SEO expert to boost your site’s visibility and increase its revenue. Those who qualify as experts need to meet the quintessential qualities of today’s SEO.
The experts come in all shapes and sizes, whether it is as an employee, an individual consultant, or an SEO consulting firm. What they all have in common is that an experienced SEO expert will review your website; will ask about your business goals and how your target visitors; and finally will identify strategies to improve your search engine rankings and page views.
Possible remedies an SEO expert might prescribe range from something simple like rewriting your HTML title tags to the more complex structural issues that prevent search engine bots from crawling and indexing your content, and obtaining quality links from relevant, higher ranking domains and external web sites.
Yet there are different options available depending on what is best for you or your business:
Individual SEO consultants are typically freelancers offering their SEO services.
SEO company or agency have standardised SEO processes compiled by a team. They not only work with mid to large size businesses (that have budgets of more than $1k monthly), but often with small businesses, too.
In-house SEOs make sense if you consider your business an enterprise, or are scaling rapidly to be considered one. In that case it is likely reasonable to build an in-house SEO team. You can either implement one yourself, or hire an SEO consultant to help put things into place and devise an initial strategy.
Whatever your company size or budget, the marketing team at Opus has put together 11 qualities you should look for when searching for an SEO strategist. This list compiles the quintessential qualities of a true SEO expert.
With Google placing a strong emphasis on page rankings, as well as domain strength – an explosion of SEO consultants appeared. But that does not necessarily mean that these ‘SEO experts’ know what they are doing. With Google’s hundreds of algorithm ranking factors increasing daily, what worked years ago may be damaging in today’s online world. A top SEO expert will know what has changed and they only know this because of the many years of experiencing what works and what does not.
Plus every website should employ varying SEO tactics, simply put what works for one business may not work for another. An SEO expert with several years of experience will be able to examine any website and know this. Furthermore they will know exactly what needs to be done for it to gain more search engine traffic, whilst someone new at utilising SEO will apply the same methodologies to all websites. This will have a limited impact if any, and worse, could damage the website’s rankings.
Search engine optimisation involves three facets:
Coding. For instance, the website’s structure determines how easy or difficult it is for search engines to crawl and index your content.
On-page optimisation. Correctly using keywords and tags in ways that aid the increase of search engine traffic to your site.
Off-page optimisation. Link building is perhaps the best example, as links are still the core authority signal for search engines.
For a truly successful SEO strategy requires all three elements to be implemented, sure some maybe more prevalent than others. A top SEO expert will know which but should be advising you that it is a combination of the three.
An SEO expert should understand the technical limitations of your company’s website, and be able to articulate to your web developers so that these issues can be minimised. Otherwise if a search engine cannot access all the content on your website, then your other SEO efforts will fail.
You have heard the expression “talk is cheap” or “actions speak louder than words” – well, listen to them. There is so much online content about how to implement SEO tactics and which ones your business should be using.
Newer so called SEO experts will be reading these blog posts and applying them to your business. Not that this is wrong to do, after all this is how SEO experts learn about the changing world of search engine marketing. However before your hire an SEO expert ask to speak to their references. You can then decide whether that expert had a positive impact on a business and whether the client was happy with their contribution.
Technical issues aside, SEO is similar to traditional marketing techniques. The onsite content needs to be written so that the user sees the value of the product or service that you are promoting, and hopefully lead to a sale.
Understanding the psychology about marketing and user intent is just as important as repairing the technical issues surrounding your website. Search engine marketing is where a business’ website is ideally set up to respond to a visitors search for an answer to their query or problem. If your site does not contain the correct content or if it is not easy to find or navigate to then the visitor will bounce off your site quickly, affecting its page relevance.
Does your SEO consultant understand what your goals are? Do they appreciate what you are trying to achieve? Do you want the SEO to focus on conversions? That is converting a visitor to your site to a paying customer. Do you want to raise your webpages within search engine results pages (SERPS)? What about increasing the overall strength of your domain?
SEO should be part of your overall digital marketing strategy. The focus of any strategy should be about accomplishing certain goals and being able to measure them, otherwise you do not have a base to determine success.
Usually an SEO expert will require to use certain tools to enable them to achieve success with your website. There are several tools that display domain rankings, where to list your website in directories and which keywords rank better than others to determine what content you write.
SEMrush is great to monitor how your competitors are doing, Ahrefs is fantastic for checking backlinks, if you are are pursuing a content driven strategy then Moz could be the tool for you, looking to add better quality but low competition keywords? Then Long Tail Pro is awesome.
An SEO expert will know about all of these and will insist on using one of them. What they all have in common is that they cost money – ask your SEO expert will the cost of using them be included in your contract cost or will you have to make an additional purchase.
You do not get any results without a solid SEO strategy written down. What this means is that all good SEO specialists have a proper process, whether they freelance or work for an agency. What they should be advising you is that after they compile a on-site technical audit to identify solutions for fast growth, they will know which keywords they will target.
Remember to ask about building backlinks and how they do get them. With backlinks playing an important part of search engine algorithms, all SEO experts will look to ‘build’ links to your website in order to attempt to improve rankings. In fact, links are still the core authority signal in SEO.
Yet not all backlinks are created equal, a good solid backlink from a higher domain is better than hundreds of low-quality ones. Low-quality backlinks are mostly used for spam link building and you can buy hundreds for as little as $5 on Fiverr. A single good link will cost a minimum of $20, and that is a best case scenario, and be prepared to pay upwards in the region of $100 each from an agency. However, these days we recommend against buying any backlink whatsoever, especially as in most cases it is not worth neither the risk nor the money.
Not just exclusively with SEO experts but will all employees really. A new employee or contractor interacts with several areas of a business including senior management, IT professionals, marketing gurus, customer service personnel and salespeople.
Their ability to work well with members of these teams is essential, that they can communicate within your company’s style of getting things done. Their organisation style, personality and integrity should be explored before hiring and you can do this by discussing with their references
SEO should be part of an online marketing strategy and not considered a separate marketing entity. It should be well integrated into your over inbound marketing efforts. Due to this, several SEO experts and agencies have rebranded themselves as digital marketing or inbound marketing specialists.
While they are similar, here’s a quick definition of each:
Inbound marketing focuses on creating various types of content that is highly shareable, hence attracts a lot of links and improves search traffic.
Digital marketing essentially covers all parts of online marketing, including inbound marketing. They will typically have experience in social media marketing, CPC, email marketing, SEO and other channels that they can specialise in.
When searching for an SEO expert, don’t automatically rule out agencies that primarily brand themselves as marketing consultancies. They will have SEO specialists within their company who can not only execute SEO but other highly valuable services.
Regarding communication style, an SEO expert must be able to clearly communicate why a change to your website is needed, and in a manner that is non-confrontational and that everyone understands. They cannot do everything themselves, especially when working for mid to large size businesses. Hence, they should be competent in getting their point across whether senior management or a web developer.
After all, the condition of the present website is due to decisions that have been made already. Simply saying all is wrong is going to irk those who have worked on this process already and possibly lead to a toxic working atmosphere within your teams.
A top SEO expert will know how to work with various types of people and understand how to get tasks done efficiently and effectively. They do after all, want to ensure that your business moves forward from its current state.
Whilst knowledge is important, curiosity is quintessential as well. Search engine optimisation is an evolving process and even when an SEO specialist is collaborating with you they should be raising newer trends with you, that may differ to what they originally advised to do. The algorithms of the search engines can literally change the game overnight.
For example “I read and learnt yesterday that this website crawler now works this way, so we should discuss amending our strategy”. Great SEO experts find alternatives to work around challenges and roadblocks. Having a passion to learn new techniques and a curiosity to apply them demonstrates a clear understanding of your business and that the SEO expert has your business interests at heart.
Remember that SEO is a long-term investment. It most likely will take several months before results (or lack of results) will occur. One of the biggest reasons why substandard SEO experts continue to remain in business is because they are not found out for many months.
Whether you are beginning building your business or you are thinking of a website redesign it is vital to find a suitable expert who will understand your business goals. Should SEO still confuse, or just consume too much time, then why not contact the team at Opus and tell us what you need? The team’s SEO and digital marketing experts would be happy to partner with you.
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