SEO experts: what do they do, and should you hire one?
Highly proficient SEO experts can be difficult to come by, as there are lots of SEO cowboys out there. If you have a business, love reading, love writing, love consuming news online, and love finding information – then you love SEO.
Wait – hang on. What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is nothing to be afraid of, or sceptical about. SEO is how pages online rank so that you can find them easily. In theory, the best, most relevant content gets pushed to the top of your search browser, and less relevant or badly designed or written pages get pushed down. SEO literally makes or breaks websites, and anyone who loves to consume information online, or who wants to find customers or readers online, has to be across best practice (“white hat”) SEO.
When you launch a business, blog or website online, one of your main purposes is to get people to consume your content, then perhaps your products and services. This equates to traffic. Traffic turns into an audience, and your audience has the potential to become your clients, readers or fans.
Anyone who has anything to do with the running of any commercial (or other) website knows that traffic doesn’t just “come”. Although things do “go viral” on occasion, this is not something any marketer or writer can rely on – traffic usually has to be earned organically – or “bought” via marketing campaigns; for example AdWords or Facebook advertising. Sure, you can get people to click through to your content – but will they stay? Will they buy?
Getting that traffic is not easy. Traffic also ebbs and flows, and Google algorithm updates can affect how you rank, and how many people see your content in SERPs or Search Engine Results Pages.
What is an SEO expert?
Some businesses require services from an SEO expert. SEO experts can do a few things for your website.
- They can help you identify and clean up bad or spammy links
- They can look at pages that are not performing
- They can look at pages that are performing, and suggest strategies to create new content based on user queries
- They can advise on UX (although this is a subset, and not specifically SEO)
- They can assist with linkbuilding
They can also look at some of your site’s metrics and suggest improvements, for example:
- Domain Authority (read my post on domain authority here)
- Page Rank
- Page Authority
- Rich snippets and schema markups (read my post on what are rich snippets?)
- Pages with redirect errors
- Pages with broken links
- Pages with content that needs improvement
- Pages that need to be merged
- Pages that need to be expanded
…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
So, what are some of the things you should expect when you hire a good SEO firm? Here are a few essential things to ask them to look at.
Research via Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an awesome program and it can be difficult to navigate for a newbie. SEO experts should be able to examine your site’s traffic history and look at metrics such as:
- Where your traffic is coming from (country)
- Where your traffic is coming from (source/medium e.g. mobile device vs. desktop)
- Your bounce rate
- Your site speed
- Top performing pages
- Links that are clicked
…and so much more
SEO experts have experience that helps them learn about your market, your customers’ behavior, their interests, among so many other things, including appropriate content for them.
Review your content and improve
Yes, you need to review your content – and not just the “words on the page”. There is so much more to your content ranking for SEO than just excellent writing. For example:
- H1s and H2s need to be optimised
- Content needs to be clear, concise and readable
- Images need to have Alt tags
- Meta descriptions need to be filled out, and engaging (read my post on meta descriptions)
- Schema mark-up need to be implemented
- Keywords need to be used appropriately
…and other metrics not listed here.
Remember content is the ultimate sign that you are an authority in that area. Shoddy SEO implementation could be disastrous because you could alienate your audience and spend a lot of money and time for nothing.
Linkbuild for you – ethically
Linkbuilding can be seen as some people as controversial, but it is still an essential part of ranking for the web. Back in my college days, I majored in PR (public relations). SEO is like PR for the new era. Basically, you are looking for opportunities for your content to be amplified – this happens organically (like any good news story) but “reaching out” for opportunities is also essential. Read my post on linkbuilding here.
All websites are awarded a DA (domain authority) based on how many other sites link to them. If you have a great website, with authoritative content (such as The New York Times or Psychology Today) over time, you will find that other websites link to your content.
When lots of other websites link to a piece of content, this shows Google bots that your content is valuable. This demonstrates that a page, is an “authority” on a question, or a keyword, or a set of keywords. Over time, the more sites that link to your content, your domain authority goes up. However, I have given a very simplified example of how DA works, and there is much more to it than that. Head to Moz Blog for all your best info on SEO. Here’s a great article to get you started on what is domain authority and why does it matter.
Linkbuilding is essential because it brings extra traffic from related websites, and additional traffic means an increased number of conversions.
SEO can be a challenge, so call in the SEO experts if you need help
Remember that SEO is a long process, it does not happen overnight. Reaching out to bloggers, especially those that own high authority domains, can be challenging, and time consuming. If you don’t have time for the hustle, then reach out to the right SEO experts.
Be sure that you contact the best in the business. Read their online profile, some of the reviews in their website, and ask your friends for recommendations. As I mentioned, there are a lot of SEO cowboys out there, so take your time finding a great fit. Remember, they should also be able to demonstrate their metrics improvements to you – so ask for hard, digital proof of any agency’s work.