Whether your business is small or large--or somewhere in between--if you rely on Web traffic for sales or marketing, you need to either master search engine optimization (SEO) or you need to hire an SEO specialist.
Your company's Website might look great but if the site isn't consistently attracting targeted visitors and converting them into customers, it's not doing its job.
The remedies an SEO expert might prescribe include something fairly simple such as rewriting your HTML title tags to fixing structural issues that prevent search engine bots from crawling and indexing your content, and obtaining quality links from relevant, external web sites.
Here are some things to look for in an SEO Expert:
Years of SEO Experience
Anyone can set-up an 'SEO agency' overnight and call themselves an SEO expert, But that doesn't mean they know what they're doing. There are hundreds of little things that go into the bigger picture of doing SEO and it takes many years of experiencing what works and what doesn't to truly do a good job.
An Understanding of All Three SEO Levels
There are 3 things about SEO that the SEO needs to understand
- Technical (the structure of a site, which can determine how easy or difficult it is for search engines to crawl and index your content)
- On-page optimization (the use of such elements as keywords and HTML tags in ways that help increase search engine traffic to your site)
- Off-page optimization (such as link building).
You don't want a one-dimensional SEO, you need someone who will approach the strategy from all three angles to maximize success.
A Proven Track Record of SEO Success
It's easy to talk a good game in SEO there are tons of blog posts and articles that describe various SEO tactics one can use. But it's another thing to have happy clients. Anyone looking to hire an SEO consultant or company should definitely check at least three fairly current references to discuss how the SEO company helped them succeed.
Once you get beyond the technical issues of a website, SEO is a lot like traditional marketing Content needs to be written in a way that outlines the benefit to the user while leading them to a sale. And it all has to be done in a way that also appeals to the people at the other end of a search engine who are looking for what your company has to offer.
An Understanding of the Big Picture
Does the SEO focus on conversions, or are they more concerned with search engine rankings? Ideally, the focus of any SEO strategy should be to accomplish a goal (like increasing conversions), not to achieve a certain rank.
Excellent communication skills
Speaking of communication style, an SEO needs to be able to clearly communicate why a change must be made to your website in terms that everyone understands. There's no way an SEO can do everything themselves. So they need to be able to communicate why a certain change needs to be made in terms that everyone understands. They should be able to talk to the IT team and the C-level team and get their point across.
A passion for execution
SEO experts who love to get things done efficiently usually make for ideal consultant. Great SEOs find ways to work around challenges and roadblocks. Of course, this means that your organization must enable progress and not impede it or you'll break their spirit and desire to impact the company positively.
While knowledge is certainly important, curiosity is essential, too. Finding an SEO who can recite the IP addresses for all of Google's crawlers is great (which, by the way, we can't do as we have never found a good reason to memorize them), but one who's deeply curious and constantly investigating how that crawler works is even better, there are SEOs whose knowledge was fantastic, but at some point in their career, it ceased to grow. We would rather have a fresh mind that's hungry and growing than a grizzled vet whose thirst for new knowledge died in 2006.