Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is an important component of your digital marketing strategy because it helps your company put its best foot forward by improving the entire customer experience from searching, clicking through to your website and ultimately making a purchase or inquiry. The reason SEO is so important is because you’re competing for your placement on the search results page (SERP) with both paid and organic results. The good news is that SEO isn’t magic, and there are plenty of great DIY SEO resources available if you have the luxury of time. SEO is a science that involves patience and persistence to be successful. However, by understanding how SEO works, the key components of SEO and what to look for in hiring an SEO expert, you’ll be able to make the most strategic decision for your marketing goals and budget.
Key Components of SEO
In the link above, Moz offered 10 chapters on SEO for beginners, but in a nutshell, SEO is a combined effort of technical and creative efforts to improve search engine rankings, drive traffic to your site and make your site friendly to search engines. Key areas to consider in your SEO efforts are:
You want to uncover keywords which:
- Have a high search volume
- Have low competition
- Are supported by your content
Optimize each page with:
- Title tags, meta descriptions and keywords that are both relevant and unique to that page
- Name images with relevant keywords to that page
- Links and mentions to other resources and social media pages
User experience is the most important factor for off-page SEO:
- Site speed
- Responsive (mobile friendly)
- User friendly (user experience/UX)
Getting Crawled & Indexed
Search engines crawl sites looking for content and then create an index of this information. When users then search, they can provide the most relevant information based on the search terms. (We love to use Google Webmasters for this.) Make sure your site can be crawled and also provide relevant information:
- Check for crawl errors
- Submit a site map
Search engines love fresh content and your prospects want information. Make this information easily available for both search engines to crawl and your users to read by:
- Using headings in your content and include keywords
- Blogging consistently and frequently
- Aiming for 500-2000 words per page or blog
- Creating content that answers your prospect’s frequently asked questions, and present it as a list
What To Look For In An SEO Consultant
When deciding to partner with an SEO expert, you not only need to make sure the relationship is a good personality fit, you want to make sure he or she has the experience to do the job properly and ethically. Entrepreneur offers 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant
- What is their experience? Ask for references of past and present clients.
- What will they be doing and how long will it take? Make sure this includes an audit and both on-page and off-page work.
- Do they adhere to the search engine’s webmaster guidelines and avoid “spammy” or black-hat tactics?
- Do they promise first page results? If so, this is a huge red flag and you should part ways immediately.
- Are they experienced in local SEO? You want someone who can increase your local traffic when local search queries are made.
- Will they tell you everything they’re doing or will do? SEO requires changes to your site and a reputable SEO consultant will tell you exactly what they plan to do and how they will do it.
- What do they use to measure success and how will they keep you informed? A good SEO consultant will use a third-party software tool as well as be familiar with Google Analytics.
- How communication will occur and how often. You want an SEO expert who matches your communication style and preferences.
- How much do SEO packages cost and what are the payment terms?
- What are the next steps after the SEO package work is complete? Is there follow up work or reporting that will be needed?
When To Hire an SEO Expert
If you’ve read any of our previous posts, you know that the key takeaway in your marketing efforts is leveraging strengths and making the best use of your time. Learning SEO techniques and best practices takes time, implementing the changes on your site adds more time and finally monitoring and understanding the data adds even more time. And don’t forget the time you’ll need to stay current on all the search engine ranking factors. Where is your time best spent? If you could get back 10-20 hours each month by outsourcing some of your marketing duties, what would that mean to you both personally and professionally? We believe it’s critical that business owners and marketers have at least a basic understanding of SEO as they manage their digital efforts and that’s why as SEO consultants, we offer both SEO training and SEO services tailored to your needs, budget and goals.