SEO isn’t black magic.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) isn’t black magic. If you want long-term success, there aren’t any quick magic tricks that an SEO (Search Engine Optimizer) can do that’ll have you ranking at the top of SERPs immediately. Coming straight from the mouth of Maile Ohye of Google Search, learn how to hire a good SEO and avoid hiring a bad one.
(Note: It’s clear by this video, Maile has been talking to SEO’s who don’t have a team of developers, marketers, and copywriters behind them. This means the SEO will conduct their audits and give suggestions, leaving the businesses to implement them themselves. Fortunately for you, TM is an agency that can do everything. Just give us a call or Contact Us and we’ll get started on your new strategy today!)
An SEO helps your website put its best food forward so it ranks appropriately in a spot where a non-biased customer will expect your website to be seen. Just remember that the success of the SEO will only be as good as your website or business. They’ll look to improve the entire searcher experience, starting from search results, clicking on your website, through to conversions. A good SEO will only recommend best practices for a search-friendly site. A bad SEO can practice shady SEO practices on your website, which will get your website penalized by Google.
Good SEO practices range from basic things like descriptive page titles for blogs to language markup for a global multi-lingual website. They’ll also ensure that your website is delivering a good experience, especially for people coming from search.
In most cases, an SEO will need 4-12 months to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.
When working with an SEO, to ensure that their recommendations are legitimate, ask them to corroborate their statements with documentation from Google. Either ask them for a help center article on the subject, a video, or a Google response in a forum that supports BOTH:
- The SEO’s description of the issue needing to be improved to help with ranking
- The approach they’ve prescribed to accomplish this task
Don’t add more words to the keywords meta tag or buy links.
Google has written and produced many videos which explain why adding more words to the meta tags or buying links won’t work. In fact, Google highly advises against the practice of buying links.
Always remember: In the majority of cases, doing what’s good for SEO is also good for your online customers. That means things like having a mobile-friendly website, good navigation, and building a great brand!
Additionally, if you’re a more established brand with complicated legacy systems, then good, search-friendly best practices likely involve paying off some of your website’s more technical debt. This means updating your website’s infrastructure to create a more agile environment that’ll be able to handle additional feature implementation in the long term.
If you own a small local business you can probably do most of the initial work yourself – just watch the introductory video below to learn how!
Conduct a 2-way interview with your potential SEO.
Make sure that the SEO you’re considering is genuinely interested in you and your business. Here are some things to look for.
A good SEO won’t focus solely on search engine ranking, but will also consider how to help your business. They should ask questions like:
- What makes your business, content, and/or service unique and therefore valuable to customers?
- What does your common customer look like? How do they currently find your website?
- How does your business make money? And how can Search help?
- What other channels are you using? Offline advertising? Social networks?
- Who are your competitors? What do they do well online (and potentially offline)?
If your SEO doesn’t seem to care about your business from a holistic standpoint, look elsewhere. It’s difficult to do good SEO work without knowing the business’s goals, their customers, and your other marketing efforts. SEO should complement your existing work!
Check their references.
If your potential SEO provides references, check them out! Make sure the SEO was able to provide useful guidance, and worked effectively with their developers, UX researchers, designers, and/or marketers. In TM’s case (if you don’t have any of those or are missing some) we have them all under one roof ready to help you!
A good SEO will be someone you can work with, learn from, experiment with, and that genuinely cares about you and your business – not just giving your site the highest rank. Ultimately, those techniques rarely last, if they work at all. Your SEO will also want to educate you and your staff on how search engines work so that SEO becomes part of your general business operations.
Ask for (and you’ll probably have to pay for) a technical and search audit.
If you trust your SEO, give them restricted view (not full or right access) to your Google Search Console and Analytics data. Before they modify your actual website, have them conduct a technical and search audit (those are broken down later in this article) to give you a prioritized list of what they think should be improved for SEO.
The SEO should prioritize improvements with a structure like:
- The issue.
- The suggested improvement.
- An estimate on the overall investment: in this case, “investment” means the time, energy, and money it would take for your developers to implement the improvements and for Google Search as well as searchers and customers to recognize the improvements.
- Estimated positive business impact: the impact might be a ranking improvement that could lead to more visitors or conversions. Or the impact might be a back end change that will clean up your site and help your brand be more agile in the future.
- Plan of how to iterate and improve on the implementation or how to experiment and fail fast should results not meet expectations.
Decide if you want to hire.
Let’s circle back and add a few more details now.
Review your site for issues related to:
- Internal linking
- URL parameters
- Server connectivity
- Response codes
If the SEO mentions that your website has duplicate content problems, they should automatically provide you the URLs that are competing for the same query. Or, they should explain it needs cleaned up for long-term site health and not initial growth.
Why is this important? Lots of duplicate content exists on websites and many times it’s not a pressing problem!
Break down your search queries into categories:
- Example: [gmail]
- Example: [email]
For branded queries, an SEO should make sure that your website is providing a great user experience (UX) for customers who know your brand or website. They should be able to find exactly what they need and convert easily. If improvements are recommended, they should be ones that help the entire searcher experience, from what the searcher sees in search results to when they click on a result and use your website.
For unbranded query’s an SEO can better help you make sense of the online competitive landscape. They can tell you things like: here’s the type of query it would make sense for your business to rank for, what your competition has done, and why that has helped their rankings. For example, your competition might have great reviews, really sharable content, or they run a highly reputable site.
They’ll give recommendations like:
- Update obsolete. Your site may be suffering because some well-ranking content is obsolete, has poor navigation, a useless page title, or isn’t mobile friendly. Improve these pages and see if more website users convert and purchase. Or, see if users micro-convert, meaning they subscribe to your newsletter or share content, after page improvements have been implemented.
- Improve internal linking. Your site may be suffering because some of your best articles are too far from the homepage and your users are having a hard time finding it. Practice better internal linking to this content to feature it prominently.
- Generate buzz. You may have great content, but not enough people know. Create more user interaction and generate buzz, through social media or business relationships. This will help you attract more potential customers and perhaps garner natural links to your site.
- Learn from the competition. Discover what your competitors are doing well and decide if you can model that or surpass them. Can you do a better job of showing your customers you own unique value?
Want to get started? Just give us a call or Contact Us! We’re ready to be your partner.