How to hire an organic SEO consultant



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When it comes to a company’s success, its ability to get its name out there and support its online presence is key. And in this realm, there are three little letters that have become more important than the rest of the entire alphabet. Say it with me now: SEO.

Legend has it that if you whisper these letters into the ear of any marketer, their hair will immediately stand on end, equally excited and overwhelmed at the endless possibilities of organic traffic growth, link building and search engine ranking.

This guy gets it:

As the look on his face will tell ya, though, many internal marketing consultants have trouble achieving their goals on their own. I mean, think of all the different projects and campaigns they work to spearhead, and SEO best practices are a monster all their own.

In these situations, it’s best to look to the experts. Hiring an organic SEO consultant to support and further your brand’s search engine optimization initiatives represents a considerable advantage, helping your company improve its rankings and provide your audience with high-quality content.

But – a word to the wise – not all consultants are what they’re cracked up to be, and it’s important to find a partner that can truly work to enable your brand’s SEO mission.

What does an SEO consultant actually do?

Okay, first things first, let’s define what an organic SEO consultant actually does, because I know there’s at least a few of you out there going: “Woah, woah, wait a minute. I already have a team of full-time employees handling my marketing. What in the flip do I need an SEO consultant for??”

Well, let me tell you. While your internal or third-party marketing staff surely has things handled from a brand image perspective, chances are good that they already have a lot on their plates. In this way, piling on extra responsibilities like analyzing website traffic, search and keyword patterns and establishing positive link building is just, well, a bit too much. And unless they’re really, really on top of their stuff, tasking the marketing team with all that it takes to support successful SEO can end up looking a little like this:

Bringing an organic SEO consultant on-board, whether as a full-time internal employee or through an expert third party means you have an individual that’s dedicated to supporting and furthering your marketing efforts through key activities like:

  • Keyword research and analysis: Before you can optimize the pages across your website and create high-quality blog and other content, you have to understand the words and phrases your audience is using to find your product/service. An organic SEO consultant can perform this analysis for you, in addition to helping you prioritize the verticals and long-tail keywords that will make the most difference for your overall SEO.
  • Mapping: We can’t be more clear about this – the days of simply identifying keywords and then splashing them all over the place are long gone. Now, brands have to be strategic about the places and ways they put their keywords to work, and the best way to do this is through mapping. An expert SEO consultant will support keyword research and analysis with expert mapping to show where and how often keywords should be used to support overall optimization and your company’s current SEO campaigns.
  • SEO from a technical standpoint: Keywords are important, sure, but overall website function and performance plays a huge role in SEO as well. A truly expert SEO specialist can help you identify and address technical issues in your website that might be hurting your SEO without you even realizing. Elements like crawl errors, page redirects, inaccurate website maps, duplicate content and substandard URL structure can all impact SEO.

Marks of a good organic SEO specialist

As our own Director of Content Marketing and SEO expert extraordinaire Sonny Sharp pointed out, some SEO agencies have a bad habit of promising the moon yet lack the ability to deliver anything even close to that. For instance, if a consultant makes bold guarantees for first-page rankings, tries to pass the buck when things go wrong or is weirdly mysterious about their methods and strategy, consider these GIANT red flags.

There are, however, a few things that can signal you’ve found an effective SEO consultant. You should look to include these in your considerations during the selection and hiring process:

  1. Experience backed by intimate knowledge of search algorithm updates
    Okay, y’all, this is a big one. Highly skilled SEO consultants should have a good foundation of experience, especially related to the comings and goings of current search algorithms and overall SEO trends.We all know that Google’s current algorithm is basically king when it comes to SEO. But, did you know that good ol’ Google changes its algorithms as many as 600 times a year? While many of these changes are minor, they do have an impact on optimization efforts, keyword usage and search rankings.In this way, the best SEO consultants have an in-depth knowledge of current and past algorithm factors and combine this with their own experiences to determine what will work best for clients according to their goals and SEO strategy. After all, an approach that worked successfully for one company won’t necessarily work as well for another business, even if they’re both in the same industry. An expert SEO specialist will take all of these factors – and many, many more – into account to create a unique methodology for each brand.
  2. A keen understanding and ownership of marketing goals
    A good SEO consultant will work alongside your existing marketing team and will not only look to get a sense of the goals you’re working toward but will take ownership of their responsibilities in getting you there. In this way, your SEO consultant isn’t working on an island – he or she is an integral part of your team and takes action according to the specific goals, objectives and overall SEO vision of your brand.This includes having a deep understanding of the types of traffic that work for your business, the paths visitors are taking through your website and the ways in which these can be optimized through link building, on- and off-page SEO practices.
  3. Ability to get past the buzzwords and explain their methods
    Will there be things that the expert SEO specialist discusses that, say, your CEO may not understand? Sure! However, a good SEO consultant will have the ability to break things down and avoid confusing jargon so that stakeholders can understand the approach the brand is taking. As we noted earlier, an SEO consultant who’s vague or clandestine about their methods isn’t someone you want to partner with. After all, there’s no crystal ball involved in successful SEO, and it’s not a guessing game.

None of this, now.

Your consultant should be able to clearly explain the analysis they undertake, how this fits into their SEO recommendations and the ways these can be incorporated into your overall marketing strategy. What’s more, they’ll back this up with analytics and other KPIs to show the results of these efforts and where and how the brand can continually improve.

A good SEO consultant will help you support your campaigns and marketing efforts with analytically proven best practices and will be able to show you how your digital marketing is paying off through high-quality content and improved search rankings. Your consultant will work with and support your other marketing stakeholders and further overall SEO strategy and success. And if the prospect of working with a certain consultant doesn’t spark a little excitement in your marketing team, it’s time to find the SEO specialist who can help light a fire under your marketing and SEO campaign initiatives.

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