Making the most out of the dollars your business spends online can be tricky. In order reach the largest, most relevant audience, one of the most effective things your company can do is improve SEO.

Understanding SEO

SEO tends to be a mystery to most people. While it’s not essential that businesses understand the precise ins and outs (that’s, of course, why they’re going to hire an expert), it is important that companies have a basic knowledge of SEO in order to be able to intelligently hire someone to make it better.

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. That title offers somewhat of an embedded definition right off the bat; however in today’s world of mobile apps and social media, it’s a bit of a misnomer to restrict SEO simply to search engines. Making the most of SEO today is really is about gaining visibility everywhere.

Factors that are considered in SEO include:

There’s no way to separate Google from SEO. In the last two decades, Google has been the search engine at the heart of search engine optimization. Getting more from Google is part of the purpose of SEO, with businesses having both paid and non-paid opportunities to improve their performance. There are, of course, several other search engines out there, but none that match the reach and depth of our Google Overlord.

Business owners benefit from a general understanding of what SEO means and realizing how dynamic and constantly variable Google’s algorithm is. This helps entrepreneurs focus on the right things in their hunt for better rankings and higher visibility to customers.

Questions to ask every SEO expert

Since SEO is so ethereal, it’s essential that companies are thorough in their vetting process of SEO expertise. Going on someone’s word of their ability is just not going to suffice in this industry, and many so-called “experts” claim to have a deep understanding of SEO, but only really know enough to seem like a guru.

Figuring out not only the right questions to ask, but also having a baseline understanding of the answers that should come from these questions is the best way for companies to move forward with improving their SEO.

Who are your current clients?

An SEO expert should be able to offer a referral list of clients that they’re currently working with. This is an absolutely central part of the process and allows companies to figure out what kind of real-world skills an expert brings to the table

Who are your past clients?

In addition to current clients, it’s good to have an understanding of past clients as well. Ask for not only some past clients, but also for the reasons why they are past clients and are no longer working together.

The answer might be as simple as a difference of opinion in the direction of the business, to as extraordinary as a lack of funds. Or maybe the SEO-provider did such a good job, the client company made enough money to hire their own full-time SEO and digital marketing expert. Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to ask.

What metrics do you use to determine success?

Without a measurable goal, it’s impossible to figure out if you’ve been successful or not. Great SEO experts are able to give their clients very specific goals and targets to look for. Never hire someone who is hesitant to set firm targets.

What specific strategies will you use to improve our company?

There is no room for wishy-washy notions of what’s going to be done in terms of activity on SEO. Solid, quantitative actions are a must when it comes to SEO.

Be sure to ask where they learned about these strategies and how they mold their strategies not just today, but going forward into the future. The internet is always changing, and SEO tactics that worked five years ago are nearly useless today. Specific strategies include link building, keyword research, and content creation.

Where does your own website fall in the rankings?

Keep in mind that the first place an SEO expert should be considering is their own web presence. Check out an expert on your own to determine what they’ve been able to accomplish for themselves.

Where do your client websites rank? For which words?

Clients of an SEO expert should show up favorable when you search for them. Be sure to look out for a wide variety of targeted words for the clients, and then to ask about how they made those rankings happen.

How have you optimized your own website?

Everything starts with what they’re doing for themselves. A competent SEO expert should be able to pinpoint exactly what they’ve done for themselves before they dig into what they can do for a client. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their own web presence.

How do you mix paid and organic SEO?

Getting to the top of search engine rankings is unfortunately not often free. SEO experts should have an in-depth knowledge of how to use both paid and unpaid tactics in order to make the most of a company’s visibility. Expect a mix of the two forms of SEO, and be wary of anyone who makes promises that seem too good to be true in terms of organic SEO.

How do you adhere to best practices?

Google has a very specific set of guidelines that it requires companies to use. There are a dozen forms of SEO trickery that are specifically prohibited by Google, and it’s absolutely essential that any SEO expert knows about these prohibitions and consciously avoid them. Using these tactics could cause, at best, a low ranking and, at worse, a ban from Google altogether.

An example of a prohibited tactic is keyword stuffing, which means stuffing keywords into metadata that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your business. If an “SEO Expert” suggests this tactic, do not hire them.

Hiring a professional SEO company

A significant reason that companies waste money on SEO is that they hire individuals to come on board without even knowing what kinds of benefits they should be looking for–they just know that SEO is important. This is truly one instance where a little bit of knowledge goes a long way and taking on the task of learning about what to look for is well worth it.

If you’re looking for a company to help with your SEO or any element of your digital marketing, they should be able to impress you with their answers. In fact, ask us any of these questions! We dare you!


Pete Peranzo

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