Search engine optimization or SEO is one of the most misunderstood terms in business. Business owners hesitate to take help from SEO due to some commonly accepted myths about the industry. This wrong characterization has led so many savvy business people underestimating the marketing potential of this strong strategy.
SEO is a very effective marketing tool that can bring lots of business to your company. Traditional marketing does its job on offline mediums, so SEO is an untapped area that can return many leads to those who apply it. It brings traffic to your web pages, and relevant traffic means everything for your online business. To understand why your business needs SEO, look at these general goals it achieves:
Keyword rich content:
You must have heard the phrase ‘crawling on site’ associated with SEO. The basic way to fix your site’s SEO is to make sure that your site is crawled. Google and other search engines have a systematic method of browsing every site, which is also known as ‘crawling’ done by search spiders. These searches categorize each aspect of your website and you receive rankings on the basis of relevance.
To make sure you stay relevant in your area of business, you need to set some standards and use certain ‘keywords’ which your industry often uses.
If I want to search for wedding dresses in white color, I will go on Google and type ‘white wedding dresses’. People in this business should know what their ideal customer is looking for and what they will type in search engines to find it and then use these keywords in their content to rank on page 1 when a potential customer performs a search.
The PageRank of your site is a rank given out of 10. It is given to your site based upon your SEO performance. If you want your site pages to perform better, then take help from SEO. Being in the good books of PageRank also shows search engines that you are a credible business on the internet.
When you link between different sites, it transfers ‘link juice’ to the sites and that link juice matters a lot to you if you want to market your business via SEO. A good PageRank will mean more link juice and more link juice inevitably means higher rankings.
While you can’t really control people sending inbound links to your website, you can ensure that most of the good links are coming from trusted sources. Google will approve of these good links and in the meanwhile, you can keep clearing out the spam from your site.
The rate at which these search engines crawl over your site pages depends on your consistency of posting. So, if you want your website pages to be crawled, make sure you are posting regularly. SEO is extremely effective when done on a regular basis. Without consistency, it will show little or no results.
Brands can also enjoy the attention of people over social media and elsewhere by being regular, since it will keep their site in the spotlight.
Types of SEO services:
Many players in the industry offer to fix your SEO, namely:
These are freelancers who have sound knowledge of this trade and can optimize your sites against a certain fee. Their credibility depends on their portfolio and client testimonials. Most of the time they have a freelance work profile which you can scrutinize before hiring.
These companies are small, medium and large with people who specialize in SEO services. They offer various packages for the different services they offer and you can take a plan that best suits your business needs. Most of these agencies will work with clients who can pay a few thousand dollars a month.
If you have a large business with a lot going on daily, you may consider hiring an in-house service team to take care of SEO. Even in this case, you can either search the perfect candidate yourself or hire an SEO consultant to do the job for you.
Whichever services you like to get, keep in mind this checklist before making a decision:
It’s not a quick solution:
If you are about to hire someone to fix your SEO, keep in mind that it is not going to be a quick fix. Whether it’s a raise in organic traffic you want or a problem of penalty by the search engines that needs to be fixed, an entire procedure is to be completed in a small amount of time.
The consultants who understand this fact will not tell you that your problems will be solved in a week or a month. If someone tells you this, you have to steer clear of this path because they may use Black Hat SEO. And if you decide to work with such companies than your business may face Google penalties and suffer as a result.
Advertisements and messages saying that they can fix your SEO in a short period of time are misleading. Black Hat SEO is a hasty and unethical way of improving a site’s SEO and regardless of the effectiveness it achieves in a short period, the performers do get caught by search engines in the long run.
Such practices always leave a trail and can earn a long-term penalty. In worst cases, businesses get shut down when they risk it. That’s why, this is the first thing you have to clear with your SEO service provider.
Achieving first page rankings takes at least a couple of months, with proper planning and consistency. Look for service providers who are clear on their goals and keep you on the same page with your business progress online.
Many savvy SEO specialists under-promise so that the outcome is more pleasing. The client may think that the results will show up in eight months, but will be delighted to see it happen in under 5 or 6 months.
You have to try multiple channels:
Don’t let your SEO service provider put all your eggs in one basket. You can’t expect ROI if all your efforts are channeled on one medium. In search engine optimization, you have to try multiple channels to see better results.
So if your consultant is not advising you to try different channels, you should beware. Nobody can tell you what Google is going to do next and nobody knows the algorithms, so don’t think anyone has a firm picture in their heads.
You should be prepared to hear that your consultant is going to divide the budget between multiple channels like paid traffic, organic rankings, social media and affiliate services. This way, if you get a sudden drop on one channel, you can halt it and continue working on another.
It is going to be suicidal to spend the entire budget on one channel only. Work with someone who not only knows how to divide traffic, but can also handle emergency situations like sudden traffic boosts or drops.
It’s more than links:
It would be silly to hear that SEO is all about links and nothing else. Link-building is not everything, folks. You shouldn’t be ready to accept that your SEO service is going to do some heavy-duty link building while avoiding page speed, on-page optimization and site load times.
Not to mention content marketing, user experience and reviews. Google and other search engines are all about giving a good user experience to their customers, and if your service provider doesn’t know it, they don’t really know SEO.
What’s the use of spiking traffic when your website isn’t loading faster or some elements lag on your site? A good SEO consultant would like to look at the big picture and pay attention to all details.
Inbound links are only one part of this big picture. It’s true that links are the number one search engine ranking factor, but that still doesn’t mean you fix the links only and ignore other elements.
Pay attention to your ROI:
Is your SEO consultant telling you about your ROI in the future? If not, then run as fast as you can! You are going to invest a huge portion of your budget into this long procedure, and you need to hear someone assuring the ROI.
A good consultant will pay attention to relevant keywords which not only rank high, but also warrant a return on your hefty investment. Good SEO consultants never paint a false picture in front of their clients.
The good thing about SEO and marketing is that it is extremely easy to measure them. You can see which channel was effective, where maximum conversions came from and what triggered a spike in traffic.
You can see whether the traffic was from organic sources or paid ones. Qualified SEO consultants know what steps will lead to what results by simply measuring them by knowledge and experience.
Far too many SEO services are bent upon ranking high and ignore the return on investment based on ranking efforts. You are paying them in lieu of marketing and good marketing always brings in more business.
The ROI you get from your SEO efforts will help you maintain the payroll and build your business, something only rankings can’t do.
Is your product good enough?
Before you take your business in front of an SEO consultant, have you analyzed your business functionality? Do you have an order of work and a solid framework? It is an important question because you don’t want all these relevant traffic sources to bring in people who get disappointed the minute they land on your site.
Is your customer service team prepared to handle all these queries? How about the shipping department? These are the areas you need to work on.
Marketing is something which is done when you know you are ready to offer good products at a day’s notice. Therefore, don’t think that your SEO service is magically going to revolutionize these aspects of business.
It can’t happen if you don’t improve the product. A horrible product or poor salespeople can ruin all the SEO effort and bring a bad name to your business. Keep in mind that the internet does not forget.
SEO agencies can help you come into the limelight, but they can’t give you business consulting. So, make sure your business is sharp and your product is glossy when the new customers pour in. Don’t be disappointed when a good SEO service rejects you based on your business model. It only gives you another chance to emerge stronger.
Do you have the budget?
Do you know how much SEO services cost? If not, look at this tutorial of figuring out SEO costs. If you want to make SEO efforts, you should be prepared to spend some money. Don’t look for the cheapest option, because it might lead you to the dark side (of Black Hat SEO).
Every SEO consultant is definitely not the same, those with a good reputation will be even harder to hire. It’s your call to choose who you want to hand over your business to. You may also hear from novice professionals, preferably individuals who want you to give them a chance. Everything depends on the end goal.
When you look at Google’s paid search results, they are lined with consultants boasting a fee as low as $99 and you might really want to fall for that. Unfortunately, SEO which is provided for a couple of hundred bucks a month is not going to be good SEO at all. As mentioned before, this kind of deal is not going to be entirely effective or beneficial.
SEO packages that claim to be one-size-fits-all are mostly going to bring fake or spammy links to your website and the next thing you know, Google might wipe your existence off the internet for good. It sounds harsh, because that’s exactly how cheap SEO ruins businesses without a hint of shame. If you believe in all these warnings, spend some money and you won’t regret it later.
Is there anything you would like to add to this checklist? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
Moosa Hemani stands out for many reasons, but one is simply for his exceptional desire to contribute to the SEO community through his writing and participation in social media. You would be hard pressed to find a highly-visible SEO site that he has not contributed to in way. He is also a truly nice guy, which always impresses me. There’s no ego, but there is confidence. I’d be honoured to have the chance to work with Moosa.