The decision to hire an SEO expert is the easy part, especially when your website is not bringing in the level of traffic you want or growing exponentially over time. Stagnation happens to the best of us, but usually occurs when a company is not progressive enough about adapting to changes in search algorithms and evolving trends. Frankly, keeping up with the times is a BIG job! That’s why finding a dedicated SEO consultant can be the biggest asset to your digital marketing team.
Yet, this industry in particular tends to attract a lot of fly-by-night type people who look for ways to deliver quick results, without doing a whole lot of work. Unlike other industries that have certifying bodies or industry standards, there is no such animal for SEO. It is up to “buyer beware” to recognize and avoid “black hat tactics” that hurt search engine placement and brand reputation in the long run. Once you understand what you don’t want, here are a few qualities you should expect from a reputable SEO professional…
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Top 8 Traits to Look for When Hiring an SEO Specialist
“Anyone can set-up an ‘SEO agency’ overnight and call themselves an SEO expert,” SEO Expert Jill Whalen told CIO Magazine. “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.” She explains that people who are new at SEO may try all the same tactics on every site until one of them is marginally successful, whereas the most seasoned SEO experts understand that each individual business requires a different set of SEO tactics to succeed and knows just where to funnel the most resources for maximum effect.
2. The Whole Enchilada
Search engine optimization involve is more than coding a webpage. Fixing technical, structural issues is still important in removing road blocks for search spiders to crawl and index your content. However, the best SEO experts also have a comprehensive understanding of technical SEO, on-page optimization and off-page optimization. As Taylor Pratt, VP of marketing for Raven Tools says, “You don’t want a one-dimensional SEO. You need someone who will approach their strategy from all three angles to maximize success.” In addition to three-dimensional SEO expertise, the best SEO professionals are the ones who have a thorough understanding of digital marketing and branding as a whole and how it relates to the end user. You can have numerous #1 rankings in Google, but if users don’t resonate well with your website and content, those #1 rankings are worthless.
OnTarget.com has a great infographic on SEO and the human experience:
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3. A Proven Track Record
Don’t be afraid to ask for references and case studies to weed out the leaders from the pack. You want to see tangible results and improvements from your interaction with the SEO firm that justify the expense. It’s easy for companies to present themselves in a professional manner and come off as having a good understanding of SEO. Yet, it’s another thing to have a history of happy clients. Testimonials are good, but references who are willing to speak to you and vouch for the SEO expert’s validity are better. Ask for three current clients you may contact for more information.
4. Content Expertise
Modern SEO goes well beyond computer engineering degree work like link building and website tinkering to gain rankings. The phrase “Content is king” still reigns supreme as it helps businesses reach larger goals beyond simply hauling in web users in mass droves. What good are pairs of eyes on your copy if they’re wholly uninterested in what you have to offer and leave your site seconds later, with no meaningful interaction? The best SEO professionals are able to write engaging and SEO-friendly content (or have reliable access to a pack of ravenous writers at their disposal). People are flooding the search engines not for a website, but for an answer — one that the SEO pro must know how to effectively promote and deliver! SEO is as much about marketing, social media, content, and psychology as it is about indexing, linking and pay-per-click ads. The more your SEO consultant understands about the different factors that come into play, the better your site will perform in terms of conversions, not just traffic.
SEO is just one part of the digital marketing pie. The temptation may be to think, “Well, if someone can do everything, then he or she must do nothing particularly well!” However, that is simply not true in this industry. Conversely, you want someone who either has extensive knowledge in digital marketing as a whole — or someone who has assembled a team of professionals in all aspects of digital marketing, including content, social media, and paid advertising. A strategic thinker can look at your company goals for traffic, sales, brand reputation, target market, product development, competitive angling, and growth — and translate it to a series of moves that will get you where you need to be, starting with delivering prospects from the search engines to your websites.
6. Amiable Attitude
The smartest search engine optimizers are not always the best fit. Frankly, some are downright arrogant and insensitive, while others seem harried, scatterbrained and poorly organized. Ultimately, what makes an SEO professional a good fit for your company is a positive attitude and favorable individual communication style. Your initial consultation should leave you with a good feeling and the sense that this person fits in with your corporate culture. SEO professionals will need to communicate their ideas clearly with IT personnel, the C-suite and your internal point-people to lobby for changes that need to be made and build consensus for the strategy moving forward. Good SEO firms keep you updated on the content calendar and all work being done, so you’re never left in the lurch, wondering what’s going on behind the scenes or who this “nut” that you’ve hired truly is.
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There are many personality types in the SEO industry. Ideally, you’ll find someone with the passion and drive to accomplish your company goals. You want someone with a real “can-do” attitude, who thrives on finding solutions to obstacles and roadblocks that may pop up along the way. It’s relatively easy to find old grizzled veterans who have been in the industry for many years. Yet, despite their experience, they may become easily bothered when old tricks don’t work as they used to. Find a partner who is enthusiastic about learning and updating his or her skill set. These are the people who will see company from the present, through the future.
As a client, you want to know that your dollars are well-spent. Fellow SEO Consultant Susan Burton explains that SEO is “part science and part art.” She adds, “A good SEO specialist should have robust tools and processes for benchmarking and measuring performance.” The industry’s best professionals can report back to your top-level executives to show exactly what is or isn’t working to further your search and conversion goals. For the highest quality experience, look for someone who has worked on the business side of the table as well. “The specialist should have the ability to understand your business; your sales process and the way people search for your products and/or services using natural language,” says Susan Burton.
SEO consultants are everywhere, but it may be difficult to find the right SEO consultant for your brand — one that is reputable, experienced, results-driven, and easy to work with. You can find all of these qualities and more, at Mod Girl Marketing. As a boutique marketing firm, you’ll get a high level of personalized service, as we work closely with your internal point person to deliver sound SEO strategies that employ industry best practices for lasting results. We are selective about our clientele and we aren’t a fit for everyone. Our ideal client is a company that is forward-thinking, growing, and is ready to start a long-term, profitable relationship with a firm who values quality, integrity, and customer service.
Be sure to check out Mashable’s top questions to ask an SEO professional. It’s a great article! From there, we look forward to setting up an initial consultation with you to answer all questions you may have and determine if our collaboration will be a perfect match.
Contact us to discuss how we can help your business grow and thrive online.