Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important factors in a business’s marketing strategy. So how do you choose an effective professional who will get you the results you need in the ever changing climate of the digital marketing industry?
Unfortunately, there are many people and businesses that claim to be experts in SEO but either don’t have the necessary knowledge to produce the results you’re looking for or employ unprofessional practices that could even get your website banned from Google. I’ve seen too many businesses get burned by poor SEO practices or have bad experiences with their digital marketing agencies. Some of them even give up on SEO altogether, because it doesn’t seem effective or worth the time and money when they’re not getting the promised results. Your online presence is an important part of your marketing strategy, so it’s vital to work with professionals who will deliver results.
If you’re thinking about hiring an SEO expert or a digital marketing agency, here are some tips to help you find the right person or company for your needs.
1. Watch out for companies that promise big results with a small price tag. The truth is that SEO takes a great deal of effort and costs a significant amount of money to do well. And SEO done poorly isn’t worth paying for at all. A good digital marketing agency is worth investing in, and so are good individuals.
Compare the pricing of several digital marketing agencies. If some are charging significantly less than others, they’re not worth your time or money. While SEO isn’t cheap, it’s a necessary part of your marketing strategy, and the return on your investment should make up for the cost. If you try to save money by going with a cheaper option, you won’t get the results you’re looking for, and your money will be lost.
2. Watch out for companies or individuals that promise big results in a short timeframe. SEO takes a while to build. It works cumulatively, so you gain momentum as you go. As you gain more traffic to your site, its popularity will increase, telling Google that it should rank your site higher in search results for the relevant terms. However, there are tricks certain companies will use to expedite this process, and they’re risky because they can cause your site to be penalized or removed from Google’s index. These tricks are known as “black hat” SEO tactics, and I advise you to stay away from them.
However, not all SEO companies or so-called professionals will disclose their tactics. Instead, they’ll try to woo you with promise of amazing results in a short time frame or for a cheap price tag. Those are red flags to watch out for, because if they’re able to do something much quicker or for much less money than other people, usually it’s because they’re taking shortcuts, which can cause bigger problems for you, the website owner, even if you didn’t know what was going on.
You can’t rush SEO. It requires an investment of both money and time, but when you build your website’s momentum the right way, with “white hat” SEO tactics, it will strengthen your online brand and bring in much more business.
3. Watch out for lack of transparency in SEO methods. It’s important to understand how your digital marketing agency or SEO professional intends to achieve the results they promise. You should ask how they achieve their results and what they’ve done for other companies like yours. If they’re not willing to provide this information, move on. You want someone who’s willing to educate you and keep you in the loop. SEO is part of your marketing strategy, so it’s important that you understand how it works.
Make sure that whoever you’re looking at hiring can provide the following:
- A strong content strategy. If you’re hiring someone to create content, they need to have a strategy in place to create content that builds on itself and will boost your website. Content without a strategy is useless, and it can even drag your website’s ranking down rather than building it up.
- A method to track progress. This is vital because if you can’t track your progress, how do you know whether your efforts are working? When you track your results, you can make adjustments as necessary when things don’t work, and continue to use what does work well.
- Link building strategy. You won’t get far in SEO without link building, and a good SEO professional should know this. Link-building can be tricky, so a strong strategy here is key to your website’s success.
- Conversion strategy. Your SEO efforts will be for naught if the traffic you bring to your website doesn’t convert to new business. A conversion strategy is necessary to turn traffic into revenue.
4. Don’t hire just a web developer. Hire an expert with technical SEO knowledge. This is a mistake I’ve seen so many times—a business hires a web developer, who creates a beautiful website but doesn’t have any knowledge of SEO. Then the website doesn’t gain any traffic, because nobody is putting an effort into SEO. Even if a web developer does have knowledge of SEO, they’re no replacement for a technical SEO expert, someone who knows the details of what a website needs to succeed, not just from a marketing standpoint, but from the back end as well. There are many technical aspects to setting up a website that influence SEO, and it’s important to have someone who’s savvy in this area to ensure the website is set up correctly so you can get the most out of it and avoid being penalized for technical details.
5. Don’t hire someone who doesn’t have experience in your field. Ask whomever you’re considering to show you examples of how they’ve worked with other professionals in your field. Marketing strategies depend greatly on what’s most effective for your type of business, and someone who hasn’t worked with your business type before won’t have the experience to adapt their strategy appropriately. Marketing for lawyers, for example, is very different from marketing for a restaurant. You want to make sure you’re focusing your money and efforts on tactics that will create the best results for you.
6. Don’t hire digital marketing firms that don’t have the resources you need. A good digital marketing strategy requires an extensive team. If an agency lacks certain experts, you’ll need to hire them separately. Here is a list of roles that a good agency should have:
- Marketing director
- Digital marketing manager
- Technical SEO expert
- Web developer
- Public relations specialist
- Link-building specialist
- Social media manager
- Advertising strategist
- Graphic designer
- Video editor
- Data analyst
With the amount of work that goes into SEO, you can see why it takes so much time and money to do right. While it may be tempting to cut costs by hiring an agency without all of the necessary resources, they won’t be able to provide you with a return on your investment. SEO is an investment in your business’s future—find other places to cut back on expenses. By following these tips, you should be able to quickly rule out individuals and agencies that aren’t worth your money and find the professionals you need to boost your brand and begin bringing in the revenue you’ve always hoped to see from your SEO.