Getting on the first page of search results can do wondrous things for your business. Like bring in loads of traffic and money. The catch is, there can be thousands to millions of people trying to compete over the keyword you want to rank for.
Search Engine Optimization is not a quick and easy fix. It requires a lot of research, testing and consistent report analysis to see what keywords and PPC campaigns are performing the best for your business.
You now have one of the most classic dilemmas of all time: figure it out yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.
If you’re a unique, niche based company, you might be able to tackle it on your own. Read a few blog articles on SEO tips. Spend a few hours a week checking your Google Analytics reports and test different keyword options.
Put in more time on your social media accounts to build brand awareness and increase traffic to your site. If you consistently do that on your own for about a year, you will probably see your rankings go up for free. The upside to doing it yourself is that you saved yourself money. The down side is that you have a lot more work to do and your results probably won’t be as successful as hiring a professional to do it.
If you’re in a very competitive market, and you need faster results, you’re better off hiring some outside help.
Whether you decide to hire an SEO freelance expert or company, you now have another problem on your hands. There are a lot of shady SEO “experts” out there. So how do you know if you’re hiring a PROfessional or a CONartist?
Since the pro’s and con’s of hiring an SEO are pretty obvious, I’ll show you which best practices to look for when hiring an SEO pro so that you don’t get conned.
PROfessional-Show Me the Rankings
A really good SEO expert will have no problem showing you how much they’ve helped clients climb the search result ladder. Instead of looking at how many clients they have all together, ask to look at how many clients they have on the first page of search results and their success rates. More clients doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more successful.
They should also be ready to provide continuous analytics reports on the progress of your keywords, campaigns and how much traffic is getting to your website.
CONartist – Sign Your Life Away
If you find a company that wants you to sign a year long contract, you may need to think twice about them. While some cases may take a year to see results, a good SEO consultant should be able to show you signs of improvement in 3-6 months. The shorter the contract, the more confident the expert or agency is.
On the other hand, anyone that promises results faster than 3 months shouldn’t be trusted either. Promising a quick fix means they are probably doing something that will get you flagged by Google.
PROfessional– But Wait, There’s More!
A real pro knows that you don’t just build rankings with paid keywords and campaigns. You need to build traffic and authority to your site.
This is done by writing blogs that are relevant to your industry because blogs create more pages. The more pages you have to optimize, the better your chances are of being found in search results.
These blogs won’t just be short blurbs littered with unnatural usage of keywords that you’re trying to rank for. These articles should be well researched and full of useful content. A great SEO pro knows that Google’s new algorithm looks for quality posts that have low bounce rates and relevant links that help educate your visitors.
CONartist – Black Magic
There are some black hat tricks that use software tools to generate bad back links, which create unrealistic followers and short term traffic.
Your blogs should use real links that can be connected to relevant authoritative sites.
Any automated or spam like links will ruin or completely kill your chances of ranking. Google’s new algorithm is the Liam Neisson of bad backlinks…It will find them. And it will kill them. And it will also kill your chances of getting on the first page of search results.
PROfessional– Know Thy Client
A pro will ask you important questions about the heart of your company. They will dig into your core values, culture, and long and short term goals. A real SEO gets to know your target audience better than you do. If they aren’t asking these kinds of questions, they aren’t taking the right steps to create variations of keywords that your target market would be searching for.
CONartist– Your Website Is Beautiful Just the Way It is
Chances are, if your SEO expert doesn’t ask for access to your website, they aren’t an expert. If anyone says they can get you rankings without making sure your website, and every page and post on it, is fully optimized, they’re a big faker.
Your web site’s speed, tags and microdata need to be reviewed, tested and optimized. Make sure their check list for your website looks something like this:
- Title tag optimization
- Meta Description optimization
- Keyword URL structure optimization
- XML sitemap creation
- XML sitemap syndication to Google & Bing
- Google Analytics + Webmaster Installation
- Keyword Density Optimization
- Inter-Linking Optimization
- Alt Tag optimization
- Canonical URL Optimization
- Blog Category Optimization
- H1 header optimization
There are a lot of people claiming to be SEO pros. Do your research when you start shopping for SEO consultants. Check their track records and don’t trust anyone that claims a quick fix. Building your rankings takes time and research. A real pro will help you build your blogs, social platforms and guide you towards PPC campaigns that can stand up against the competition.
Photo By: Johny_Deff