This is part of my Beyond SEO series where I look at the myths and realities behind search engine optimization, with practical tips about publicizing your site and building your personal brand. Read all of my Beyond SEO articles.
The Google blog asks for user input into what makes a good SEO and reports that they’ve just rewritten their page that warns against rogue SEO artists and gives recommendations about what to look out for. It starts with their definition
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization” or “search engine optimizer.” Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site. Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners.
The blog asks “how would you define SEO? What questions would you ask a prospective SEO?” I’ve been doing a lot more optimization for clients lately. What’s particularly fun is running across the work of the SEO scam artists their competition have brought in. I’ve seen many instances where the other SEO firm has stepped over the bounds of fair practice and been penalized by Google.
Google’s job and our job
I’ve always taken the approach that it’s Google’s job to give people
the most useful and relevant return for their search and our job to
make sure we have useful and relevant material and arrange it in such a
way that Google can access it.
SEO is important but only in the
context of smart web design and a coherent and well thought out
internet marketing strategy. Firms that claim to do SEO
without checking the analytics data and consulting with the client
about their business strategy will not help the site in the long run.
What your SEO expert should be doing
I would agree with most of Google’s recommendations of what to look out against. But what to look for? A quick list would include:
- A SEO consultant that looks at analytics data before making any changes. If the client doesn’t already have Google Analytics running on the site I install it and wait a month before doing anything. I do that because you want:
- Quantifiable results. You should be able to see shifting use patterns if the optimization is working. The internet gives us precise figures and it’s often very easy to demonstrate the value of the work you’ve done. Clients should have full access to the analytics and be trained enough to be able to independently verify the results.
- A consultant that frequently answers questions with “Hmmm…, I don’t know.” No one knows what Google is doing. You try something, then you try something else. Anyone who claims to know everything is scamming you.
- Someone who looks at your entire business model and asks hard questions about your internet strategy. What do you hope to accomplish with your site. Are there specific goals that we can measure?
- Think about your Inbound and Outbound strategies. Google will send people your way if you have useful material so think about what compelling content you can offer the universe. And once people come to the site you have to make it compelling for them to stay a while, subscribe, etc.
- The SEO consultant should make you sweat: anyone who says they can significantly boost your site without you having to lift a finger is fooling you. You will almost always have to add compelling content and it will take you committing staff time to the project (a good development team will look for ways to make this fit into your existing staff routines so that it’s as painless as possible!).
Any others suggestions for what to look for in potential SEO consultants?