Most people have never heard of the term SEO, or search engine optimization. Unless they are in business, they probably don’t have a clue as to how SEO affects them every day. In reality, SEO affects everyone who has ever searched for something on the internet. The order of websites that pop up for an internet search aren’t random. In fact, they are decided by complex algorithms uniquely decided by each search engine (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo).
When a user types “best cellphones 2018” into their web browser, also known as a keyword search, they are shown the results that hopefully most apply to that search. The search engines decide the order in which the sites are listed based on relevancy factors, so users only see results related to their search. SEO maximizes the chances of websites to snag one of those top spots by telling the search engine why they deserve to be there. Since most people don’t move past the first page of search results when using Google, Bing or Yahoo, those top spots become critical for a business’ online visibility. Given that there are only ten spots on the first page of any search result, the competition for those limited spots is fierce.
While the specific algorithms are heavily guarded by search engine masterminds, each has issued guidelines as to the best practices a website can perform for top spot consideration in a specific search. Also, there are clues people have uncovered just by playing around with site features that have increased various website ranks either instantaneously or over a few months of time. Periodically, search engines will tweak their algorithms in small or large ways, making it difficult to stay ranked high for very long, unless those top sites are constantly keeping up to date with the latest ranking signal data.
An SEO expert devotes their time and energy not only to optimize a site for the factors that rarely change with SEO, but also to the subtle nuances of SEO that could change weekly. Businesses will hire an SEO expert to keep an eye on their rank, update their site as needed, and track metrics involved with their tactics. The longer their site is ranked on the first page, the more traffic they get and the more conversions they will see. Today, SEO is a necessity for thriving businesses in almost any industry.
What Does an SEO Expert Do?
There are dozens of factors SEO experts look for when helping a company improve their site rank. First, they will determine which search engine to optimize the site for. Most businesses will focus on Google, but some niches require Bing or even Yahoo optimization. All have different ranking structures, so it’s important to optimize according to the primary search engine a business wants to be featured on.
Local search is another signal that businesses may or may not need to take advantage of. National businesses can either focus on national keywords or split their energies on a few larger areas. Local businesses that are not franchises will do best to focus on their specific city and the surrounding areas. Online businesses may focus locally or nationally depending on their markets. An SEO expert can help businesses determine which strategy would be most beneficial, and how to incorporate localities into their keyword optimizations.
Next, an SEO expert will perform both on-site and off-site optimizations. On-site SEO involves optimizing for mobile, making sure the site is user-friendly and loads quickly, using keywords throughout the site, and creating content such as a blog to keep the website regularly updating. Off-site SEO involves creating content with built-in hyperlinks to site pages, which are then published to third-party sites. These links point readers back to your site for more information or to purchase a product, and they also alert the search engines that other sites are linking to your site and that it is relevant.
To master both on-site content and off-site content, the SEO expert will perform keyword research. This determines which keywords real users are searching, which ones a business can realistically rank for, and which ones are already bringing the most conversions, so they can keep capitalizing on those. They may also take a look at which keywords the competitors are ranking for as well, and how realistic it is to overtake them in the search engine ranks. Using our “best cellphones 2018” example, other similar keywords to that may include “best cellphones this year”, “best smartphones 2018”, “most popular phones this year”, etc. If a business were selling cellphones in Austin, Texas, for instance, they could optimize for “places to buy cell phones Austin, Texas”, “where to buy a cellphone Austin”, “buy a phone in Austin”, etc. The keywords will then be used to optimize the on-site pages and off-site content.
Sometimes an SEO expert can help a business up their social media game or analyze their social media strategy. For instance, a business may be paying for features they don’t need or missing out on helpful features altogether. An SEO expert can help businesses navigate this and determine whether their other marketing strategies, such as pay per click advertising, are the most effective investments or not.
To recap, here are the top responsibilities of an SEO expert:
- Perform on-site audit
- Ensures site is optimized for mobile
- Improves user-friendliness of site
- Completes other programming on-site
- Determine local/national search needs
- In-depth keyword analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Create on-site and off-site content
- Build a backlink structure
- Create a rank strategy
- Provide metrics on rank strategy
- Stay up-to-date on latest SEO practices
- Other marketing tasks such as social media and PPC
Why Hire an SEO Expert?
At first, it may seem like any business owner can perform their own SEO without hiring a professional. Although a business owner may have the skills required to complete some of these tasks, the amount of time it takes to execute an effective SEO strategy is a full-time job in itself. Business owners are accustomed to wearing many hats, but the hat of SEO expert may just be the tipping point of experiencing complete burnout. When a business owner realizes the potential SEO gives them, the best way to start optimizing is by hiring an expert in the field.
Often, SEO experts will have experience working with others in the industry, so they know just what to look for, and what to avoid, when optimizing a business’ site. They can also quickly identify any penalties against the site and immediately correct them, so search engines consider the site once again for search results. Both of these experiential proficiencies can save business owners hours of research. Furthermore, an SEO expert can also assist with graphic design of a website, suggest aesthetic changes, and contribute to the overall code of the site. This can save a business owner the cost of hiring a graphic designer or programmer as well. Allowing an expert to handle bringing traffic to the page gives business owners more time to focus on other areas and needs of their business, more productive investment returns, and far fewer frustrations and headaches.
There are certain tools and relationships an SEO expert will bring to the table, which can tremendously aid in a business’ rank strategy. For instance, the SEO expert will have built relationships with publishing sites and can quickly get your off-site content published, which most often immediately influences the results for a site’s rank. They will also have high-end keywork researching tools and metrics tools at their disposal that they can use on your campaign, saving you from purchasing expensive software and memberships.
Lastly, an SEO expert’s wisdom on SEO best-practices and various tools is always an invaluable asset to any marketing campaign. At the end of the day, they help businesses increase their bottom line by bringing more traffic to the site and attracting more conversions than a site could do without SEO. If you aren’t utilizing SEO, you can be guaranteed your competitors are, hoarding the top search results and grabbing all relevant customers for themselves. Luckily, employing an SEO strategy can drastically improve your site’s rank in just a few short months. Ranking for more competitive keywords or employing a more complex strategy may take six months or more. However, not only will your site be in front of more eyes, but it will be in front of relevant eyes—the ones who are looking for sites like yours in the first place. Many businesses view this as absolutely worth the wait time and cost in the end.
To get started with an SEO expert, make sure you find one that has plenty of experience. Specific niches may also want to find an expert who has experience with similar businesses. Write down a list of goals you are hoping to accomplish with your site, and what you would like to improve. Ask them if they are proficient in these areas and if they can help you with them. Lastly, understand what all is included in their packages and what type of tools or metrics are extra.