This blog is NOT going to teach you how to become an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert. I want to walk you through all the questions small company owners typically ask when hiring Fannit to help with their SEO to generate leads and earn more revenue.
VIDEO: Preview: How to Hire an SEO Expert
Some Deeper Reading On SEO:
- What is SEO
- What does SEO Stand For
- The Top Local Search Ranking Factors
- Easy Guide to Getting Local SEO to Work for Your Small Businesses
- The On-page SEO Checklist
- Keyword Research Mastery: The Beginners Guide
- The Ultimate Google Algorithmic Penalty Recovery Guide
- Questions you SHOULD Ask Before Hiring an SEO Expert
- The 5 Step Beginner Guide to SEO Writing That Ranks
What is an SEO Expert?
Before you learn how to hire an SEO expert, you need to know what an SEO is and how they can help your business generate leads, especially if you are in a competitive field. You have probably heard the term SEO thrown around a lot, especially if you have been looking for someone to help with digital marketing.
The person you hire is called ‘an SEO’ and they have comprehensive, authoritative knowledge of how to optimize your website as well as your industry, so that search engines find your content over other competitor sites or place your website in the SERPS (search engine results pages) higher on the first page.
What should you expect from an SEO expert?
The work an SEO expert performs is broken down into two main categories:
1. On-site optimization
This is work done on the actual pages of your website. This work may include some of the following.
- Title tags
- Page titles
- H1 titles
- H2 titles
- H3 titles
- Image titles
- Image alt text
- Inter-site links
- Pillar, cluster strategy
- Structured schema site map
This work needs to be done on each and every page of your site using a specialized tool, or tools to be more precise. It helps structure the information on your site so when search engine crawlers (software) visit your site they can quickly and easily categorize the content.
For example, if this software examines your home page and your title tags that identify your site as ‘Red Flowers for Sale’ it will begin to read your site within that context. It will run a full analysis of your site and index the different pages.
You can see the title tags of any page by hovering over the tab in the browser window of that page. Google’s crawlers read from left to right. So, the following site is categorized as ‘Residential Garage Door Repair’.
Remember, search engines want their clients (every internet user) to have the best experience learning about EXACTLY what they are searching for – that is success in Google’s and other platforms’ eyes.
2. Off-site improvements
In order to build authority (in the eyes of search engines) for your website. you will need:
- Citations (a form of local backlink)
- Geographical listings (Google My Business)
- Anchor text
Small companies should expect an SEO to know the personas of their ideal customers and translate that into the keywords people search for on the internet. They are your guide for what information and knowledge resources you should be putting on your site and best practices to help position it well on search engines, so take your time to run a thorough analysis of this information.
Sidenote: IF your website should happen to be under penalty from the biggest search engine in the world, read The Ultimate Google Algorithmic Penalty Recovery Guide.
How does an SEO help your business generate leads and revenue?
Simply put, SEO experts bring people who are using the internet to search for information, products, and specific capabilities to the content on your website. They do this more effectively than your competitors – outranking other information on the internet.
They do this by organizing the content on your website so Google and Bing can easily read your site, know what it is, and determine that it would be good knowledge to present to people searching for this information.
Content on your website typically is displayed on the following types of pages.
- Home page – this is the page Google uses to categorize your site.
- Service / Product pages
- Landing pages
- Blog / article pages
- Other pages
Remember, Google and Bing are software. The better this software can recognize what the information on your site contains, the more effectively they can rank your content for searches related to your site. Top websites rank for 1000s of keywords and phrases.
There are several factors, so we use the acronym TRAP (Technical, Relevancy, Authority, Popularity) to help us remember the signals our SEO work is sending search engines. Take a look at these SEO Basics to learn more about TRAP Analysis.
If your site ranks in the top 5 positions in search results for the PROPER keywords, your IDEAL customer should be visiting your site. Once the proper visitors are learning about your site it will be up to the website to convert them into prospective customers.
Converting website visitors into customers has a lot to do with several factors simply categorized as conversion rate optimization. A topic for another blog.
What type of businesses need an SEO expert helping them and why?
In short, any small organization that wants to be found by people searching the internet for their product, service or information is the right type of business to require the skills from an expert SEO.
If we examine this a bit further, the question should really be ‘what type of information should my company be publishing on the internet to attract potential customers or consumers of our information?’
To answer this, you will need to consider the purpose of the information you are publishing. We typically think of the following four stages of the buyer’s journey when producing content.
Someone who has expertise in improving search engine results positions on the internet should NOT blindly rank content or attract any type of traffic. They should learn about who you are wanting to attract to your site and why. For instance, these can be transformed into leads that can be converted into customers via email campaigns.
If you would like to include SEO in your business plan, you should take a peek at our free guide to building a customized digital marketing plan.
Free Guide to Building a Marketing Plan
Does my website have the proper SEO foundation for ranking well?
Are the people you want to find your site national, regional, local or hyper-local? By answering this question, many companies have started taking the first steps to develop a strategy.
Not all rankings are treated equally. For example, if you have a furniture store with multiple locations in the Pacific Northwest and your goal is to get people into your store, you will care more about local positions than national results.
Take a look at a recent article on local search ranking factors to see how well your website is set up to rank locally.
What is the role of an SEO on your marketing and sales team?
An experienced, modern digital marketing team has several positions to fill all the roles it takes to perform well. Here is a simplified list of the roles we have started to play and held long-term for our different clients:
- Marketing / Sales Manager
- Digital Marketing Coordinator
- Email Marketing Manager
- Sales Copywriter
- Content Writer
- Development Operations (Dev Ops) Manager
- Digital Designer
- Website Developer
- Company Development Manager(s) / Sales Rep
Within this team, the SEO is responsible for the following:
- Understand IDEAL buyers
- Understand IDEAL buyer personas
- Finding the right tools to improve your online performance
- Identify proper site structure and URL slugs to maximize search exposure
- Understand and monitor online competition and hot topics
- Define buying “money” keywords
- Provide guidance to the content writers and sales copywriters
- Bring in quality traffic
- Acquiring link redirects from reputable sources
- Use analytics to track how rankings drive phone calls and form entries (leads)
- Work with Dev Ops to improve visitor-to-lead conversion
- Report on keyword-related performance
- Stay informed on search engine updates and SEO new techniques
Does inbound marketing include SEO?
Inbound marketing is a philosophy that operates under a core tenet that people search the internet to educate themselves before they purchase commercial or consumer products.
This means you and your team will be publishing a lot of blogs, among other content marketing.
When search engines see you are publishing fresh content that is optimized well it will give you credit by sending traffic your way. For some quick-hitting tips for writing blogs, take a look at How to Write a Blog Post: Easy Guide + Free Download.
Here are some quick factors to consider:
- Learn about search inventory for the keywords you are trying to rank your blogs for
- Make certain your blog titles contain keywords relevant to searches
- Don’t just write for search engines – remember, humans read your blogs (if they’re written well)
So, YES, you need to have a deep understanding of optimizing content for search when adhering to inbound marketing. The risk, if you don’t, you’ll be publishing an article or other content that people never see.
What other marketing skills does my organization need besides SEO?
Like all great answers, the types of skills you may need “depends” on what type of company you are operating, the team you already have, and your promoting and sales goals.
Below are some skills your organization may want to consider.
- Business to Business (B2B) – your sales cycles over 15 days
- Done for you lead generation using LinkedIn
- Content marketing
- Inbound marketing
- Traffic categorization
- Conversion rate optimization
- Remarketing (PPC)
- Business to Consumer (B2C) – your sales cycles under 15 days
- Digital Marketing
- Backlink outreach
- Google My Business Management
- Social Media Marketing
What questions should I ask an SEO Expert before hiring them?
Here are 8 questions you can ask an SEO consultant or marketing agency to evaluate how well they know their stuff.
- How do you generate leads for my local organization with SEO?
- How much time will it take to improve my keyword rankings?
- Can you explain your SEO process?
- How do you use backlinks as part of your strategy?
- How will we measure success with your SEO work? Do you use analytics to measure what you achieve?
- What type of reporting will you provide me and how often?
- What SEO techniques would you recommend we NOT follow for ranking our site? HINT: You can check Google Webmaster’s Guidelines to see if they mention any of them.
- Do we own all the work you do for our business if we stop SEO services?
SEO Checklist Download
Why did our rankings drop after we launched a new website?
This is a business owner’s worst nightmare. You pay a ton of money for a nice, shiny new website and within 30 days your organic keyword rankings have dropped significantly and no one can tell you why.
How long does it take to get higher positions from an SEO expert?
First, no SEO is REALLY able to predict the timelines for which Google ranks your site. The Google algorithm is what controls when your site ranks higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages)
- Changes you’ve made on your site
- Backlinks you are obtaining from other sites
- What your competition is doing on their sites
What should I pay to hire an SEO expert?
Some consultants charge per keyword, others will have a retainer service agreement based on the competition level of what you’re trying to rank for. SEO budgets can be anywhere from $1,000 a month all the way up to $20,000 (or higher) at the enterprise level.
It comes down to how aggressive your goals are, and how competitive your industry is. It’s not uncommon for companies to be paying an SEO expert $3,000 a month to function as a full-time expert on their team, so don’t be surprised to hear that more and more competitors have started doing the same.
Final Thoughts on How to Hire an Expert for Optimizing Your Website for Search
1994 – that’s the year The Today Show aired and the question, “What is the internet?” was asked.
Since then consumers have been typing in searches and getting results back – Google is the World’s largest AI.
Every year search engine algorithms get more sophisticated. If you do not have an expert on your marketing team who understands how organic search works, the chances of your site continuing to be found by people looking for what you offer is slim – Get an SEO Audit to see how your site is doing.
Once you finish this step, it will be easy to focus and start creating a stronger online presence.