Search engine optimization (SEO) is extremely important to many websites today if they hope to rank well and get good organic traffic to their website on a consistent basis. With the acceptance of the importance of SEO, the industry for SEO services has really proliferated at an astronomical rate. As with any large industry, there are players which are of top quality and those that are really out just to make a quick buck from unsuspecting customers. If you have a website and are looking to hire an SEO expert to really give you that edge, there are a number of things you should keep in mind.
First and foremost is something that comes even before you hire an SEO firm or start to think about rankings- and that first thing is that content matters. At the end of the day, SEO can only be as effective as the content which is offered on the website and which the SEO drives the traffic to. You should invest in creating a quality site with content that users want to see and that is friendly to search engines. It should also be easy to user for users and optimized for both browsers as well as tablets and phones- responsive design is always a good place to go.
Once you have your quality website built, then you can start to think about how you can really optimize it for the web and in particular, search engines. Thankfully, there is a lot of information out there on how you can start to think about this- Google itself is a good source with many blog posts as well as videos on Youtube. When it comes to what to ask from an SEO company who you are considering for the job, make sure that they are worried about serving your customers a good experience. They will use on-site tactics including meta descriptions and advanced markup language to make the site friendlier for search engines. Those who say that only off-site SEO matters likely are doing something shady or do not know what they are doing.
It will usually take an SEO specialist at least 4 months to start to implement and see the early results of their campaign. If they promise something shorter, this may also be a red flag. SEO is a long-term investment and produces long-term gains, so you should never expect or be sold an overnight success story. That rarely happens in a way that is also not damaging to the long-term prospects of the site (in other words without trying to game the system with short-term measures).
Once you find someone who is reputed (make sure to check reviews and try to talk to others if you know anyone who has used them) and you decide to work with them, there are several things that you can do to make sure that they are doing a good job. You should request that they support any recommendations or advice that they give with a documented and reputable source- preferably Google itself. You should also check to make sure what they see as the key problems or hurdles that they face and how they plan to overcome those. Requesting this information can really help weed out those who do not know what they are doing or try to game the system.
A basic rule is that doing something that is good for your users will, in turn, be good for SEO. This is especially true moving forward as Google continues to update its algorithm to try to reflect this in reality because ultimately that is their goal as well- to provide searchers with the best and highest quality of results.
One of the other things that you may want to consider if you hire an SEO specialist is to find a way to audit their work. There are services which allow you to do this, although it may be an extra cost. It does, however, give you the peace of mind that the SEO firm is doing a good job and it may well be worth it just to know that things are progressing as you may hope. There are a few things that you can also do to make sure that they are doing the right thing. Before you hire them, make sure to interview them and ask questions about the landscape, what strategy they may have in mind, what they think of your competition, and what other sites or successes they have had in the past and how they think those successes might translate to your site as well.
An audit that you can do yourself as a sort of interviewing test may be to give restricted access to analytics and Google console to the prospective firm and to ask them what they think. You can then see the quality of their analysis and reports as a gauge for what you may be getting yourself into. It can be a great window into seeing what the technical capabilities of the service provider are.
A good SEO consultant will give you tips like updating obsolete content and providing you tips to update the content to see how the pages may do. They may also give you tips on improving internal linking- a very important part of SEO today. They will also give you ideas on how to generate buzz for your site to get more initial visitors and to really build up a loyal following.
SEO is tremendously important in today’s web and will increasingly be so as the web becomes more and more important to success in business. There are many, many options out there when it comes to choosing an SEO firm and it can seem like a daunting task, but with the right interviews and questions upfront and proper due diligence, you can find a provider who is of quality. Through interviews, audits, and a two-way discussion you can greatly limit your risk of hiring someone who you are not happy with in the end.