Even the best looking website will struggle to generate results if it isn’t attracting targeted visitors. If your company website just isn’t getting the results you want, it may be time to rethink your online marketing focus.
A search engine optimization (SEO) expert can help you refocus your web strategy to attract more visitors, generate more leads, and make more sales. They could be an independent consultant, an in-house employee, or a specialized SEO agency.
An experienced SEO reviews your website like an advertising agency would review your ad campaigns. They look at your goals, your target market, and the strategies that you’re struggling to find success with.
Some of the solutions offered by SEOs are simple – slight tweaks to your website’s design and content in order to better target search engines. Others are a little more complicated – off-site linking, website structure, and target keywords analysis.
Hiring an SEO expert is a big – and potentially very successful – decision, and like any other big decision, it’s better to make a choice when you’re knowledgeable of the top characteristics of a real SEO expert.
These ten characteristics, ranging from industry experience to technical know-how, should be the first things you look for when trying to choose an SEO expert for your company.
1. Serious SEO Experience
SEO is a discipline that’s all about experience. While anyone can learn the theory of search engine optimization, it takes someone with hands-on experience to manage and plan a successful SEO campaign.
Remember that virtually anyone can start a website and call themselves an ‘expert’ in the field of SEO. By looking for signals of experience, you can avoid the newbies and choose someone with legitimate, reliable SEO experience.
Good things to look for include a lengthy professional history – something that can be researched online. Another indicator of a successful SEO is a company website that’s ranked well in search engines, showing that they practice their own tactics.
An experienced SEO will be able to look at your website and immediately diagnose problems based on their own experience. An inexperienced SEO will only use what they’ve read or seen in other resources to assess your website.
2. A Complete Understanding of SEO
SEO is a complicated form of marketing that’s made up of three primary levels. The first is technical SEO, which involves your website’s design and structure, and your accessibility to search engines.
The second is on-page optimization, which includes the use of HTML elements such as header tags, images, and interlinking. It also includes on-page text content, which search engines use to assess your website’s theme and keyword relevance.
Finally, there’s off-site optimization. This includes links from other websites pointed back towards your site – in the eyes of Google and other search engines, links aimed at your website are ‘votes’ of its value for searchers.
Choosing an SEO that specializes in just one of the three elements of SEO is a major mistake that can cause serious setbacks. A one-dimensional SEO can often do more harm than good by over-optimizing your website for just one type of SEO element.
This means that technical skills, content development skills, and off-site networking skills are all equally important for an SEO. SEO experts need to understand what the requirements of a website are, and how they can all be achieved in equal measure.
3. Real Success Stories
A lot of SEO ‘experts’ talk a good game but fail to deliver as advertised. Since it’s easy to call yourself an SEO expert online, it’s important to look for success stories when you’re searching for an SEO consultant for your business.
If you’re hiring an in-house employee or independent SEO consultant, ask about how they’ve helped other companies achieve great rankings. If you’re hiring an agency, ask about how they’ve helped their clients with their marketing goals.
Great SEOs won’t try to hide their history from you using buzzwords and complex sales pitches. Instead, they’ll be happy to share their success stories to prove that they know what they’re doing, and understand how to help their clients.
4. Direct Marketing Skills
Beyond the buzzwords and technology, SEO is another form of marketing. Like any form of marketing, its value is directly related to the amount of leads and sales that it produces for your business.
Great SEOs have a lot in common with the world’s best direct marketers. They know that, in order for an SEO campaign to be truly successful, it needs to drive both sales and traffic, not just traffic that aimlessly browses your website.
To achieve their goals, SEO experts use targeted content that inspires users to take action, rich media that highlights the benefits of your product or service to visitors, and web design that effortlessly guides prospects through your sales process.
5. Diverse Business Knowledge
Since SEO sits between the marketing and sales departments, SEOs need to be able to work with a diverse range of professionals. Today’s SEOs need to understand all aspects of marketing, from branding and customer service to direct sales.
A lot of amateur SEOs make the mistake of focusing solely on subjects directly linked to SEO. Experienced SEO experts understand that SEO is one form of marketing, and that in order to be successful, it needs to work seamlessly with the other forms.
Instead of choosing a hyper-focused SEO expert that can’t see beyond their industry, choose someone with a deep understanding of social media, branding and corporate image, and the power of content in shaping the way your business is perceived.
6. Focus on the Bottom Line
It’s easy to focus on traffic and visitors, only to miss the real goal of increasing leads and sales. Experienced SEO experts understand conversion optimization and how it can change a good SEO campaign into a great one.
When you’re shopping around for a great SEO consultant, ask them about the key performance indicators (KPIs) that they use to assess whether an SEO campaign is achieving its goals.
Real SEO experts should understand your company’s KPIs – whether they’re sales, leads generated online, or merely visitors to your website – and direct their efforts towards achieving them.
7. Team-Focused Attitude
When SEO becomes a core part of your company’s marketing efforts, an SEO expert might end up reporting to your sales manager, your branding department, and your direct marketing team.
Because of this, one of the most important characteristics of a successful SEO expert is the ability to work with a large, diverse, and focused team. Choose someone that’s just as comfortable working with the IT department as the in-house sales team.
8. The Art of Communication
Marketing is all about communication. Just like a good copywriter should be able to understand a customer’s needs and priorities, a good SEO expert needs to be able to clearly communicate your product or service’s value to a customer.
Great communications skills extend beyond sales copy and website design. If you’re working with an SEO expert that wants to completely redesign your website, they’ll need to be able to communicate its value to the rest of your business.
9. A Rock-Solid Work Ethic
SEO experts need to be able to focus on executing your plans without spending too much time stuck in development mode. Ask potential SEO experts about their past history dealing with roadblocks and challenges with their other clients.
Good SEO experts find opportunity in challenging situations and make the most of what they’ve got. Bad SEOs – the ones that will cost you time and money – will see challenges in opportunity and often fail to deliver what they’ve promised.
Choose an SEO expert that’s capable of working with your team – rather than just working around your team – to achieve your company’s goals in the shortest and most efficient way possible.
10. Technical Curiosity
SEO is a combination of marketing savvy and technical know-how, and it’s vital not to forget the technical know-how. Great SEOs might not be expert developers, but they should have some direct knowledge of the technical side of search engines.
Whether they’re reverse engineering Google’s search algorithm through trial and error or simply testing different on-p
age elements to see which has the greatest effect on rankings, technical curiosity is an important element of an SEO expert.
Looking for an SEO expert to help your business?
At SEOpop, we take a results-driven approach to SEO. With over 10 years of web marketing experience, an excellent online reputation, and some of the best technical knowledge in the business, let us design, manage, and direct your SEO marketing.
Click here to contact us and learn more about how our SEO services can help your company, or search for us on Google – just type in ‘Orange County SEO’ and you’ll find our website at the top of the search results.