Ever hire a consultant and realize: I’m not getting much out of this! It happens in the SEO (search engine optimization) world, too.
When a business owner in the legal industry asked me to check up on his website and his SEO consultant’s work, it was clear to me that that not much SEO (if any at all) was being conducted. Several keywords were spilled on the home page and there were virtually no other techniques being completed. To add insult to injury, I was informed that their SEO consultant also performs work for their competitors, who they can never seem to outrank.
This happens far too often in the SEO industry. The cloak that sometimes surrounds the process of many SEO techniques puts CEOs and business owners at a disadvantage. For CEOs who are busy running their company, I can only imagine the confusion when it comes to understanding what SEO is and what it can really do for your company. How do you know what to look for or what questions to ask when it comes to a search marketing strategy for your company? How do you know you aren’t being taken advantage of?
Here are five basics to understand before you invest in or hire someone to perform SEO for your website.
1. On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO is a way of categorizing all the different aspects of SEO that take page on your actual web page. This is often considered an aspect that you can control and manipulate very quickly. This could include Title Tags, Meta Tags, Meta Descriptions, Headers, Keyword focus, and on-page copywriting. Optimizing your web pages for conversions is also crucial to the success of your SEO efforts.
2. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO in contrast is a mystery to many CEOs and where most of the secrets and lack of actual production takes place. These are a lot of things that go on “behind the scenes” including link building strategies and technical aspects of SEO that CEOs don’t like to get involved in. Gaining quality external referrals (links) to your website with a variety of targeted and non-targeted anchor text keywords will help your page and domain authority rise, giving your website preference for your targeted keywords.
3. Keyword Strategy
Do you know what keywords best represent your company? Do you know what keywords you want to compete for? You need to have a good understanding of what keywords are relevant, drive traffic and ultimately convert into sales. Have you invested the time or had someone else perform analysis on what keywords you want to optimize and compete for? There are plenty of free tools available such as the Google Keyword Tool that can help you identify keyword and long-tail keyword strategy. What you think may be the ideal keywords without any research could actually be holding you back from getting the traffic and conversions you need.
4. Social Media Influence
Social media is another mystery to many CEOs struggling to understand the value and ROI of this marketing strategy. Another reason to invest in social is that social media and content sharing is also becoming a much larger contributor to SEO. SEOMoz CEO Rand Fishkin, a leader in the SEO Industry, has a great blog post on this very subject and expands on these influences here. If you aren’t investing in or building a social media following and providing quality content to your following, you are missing an opportunity. You have to provide value to your following. Here’s something that will make CEOs happy to hear: despite a common incorrect assumption, its ROI and value can be measured! Social media success should not be defined by how many followers you have.
5. What to look for when hiring an SEO
Hiring a SEO consultant can be intimidating and costly, especially if you don’t quite know what you are looking for. There are companies and software programs that promise to have you ranking #1 in search for your keywords in a matter of days. If you come across these pitches, one word of advice: RUN! More often than not, these strategies employ tactics that may produce short term gains, but in the long term will harm your website rankings and online reputation. Proper SEO strategy is a long term strategy that takes proper implementation from your entire online marketing team. Good SEO consultants come with a history of sound experience and technical, writing, relationship building and creative skills; they always thirst to learn more about the ongoing evolution of SEO. Analytical skills are an absolute must and make sure to always ask for references and examples of work. In many ways, SEO is as much of a hobby as it is a career.
CEOs don’t need to be intimidated by the idea of investing in a sound SEO strategy. You can protect yourself and your company by understanding the very basics of SEO and what to look for.
Vistage will be conducting a Q&A session with Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOMoz. Submit your questions on SEO and get answers from a SEO industry leader! We’ll leave the submission period open until Friday, September 9, 2011.
Featured Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danardvincente/