March 24, 2017
Here’s how to hire the best SEO expert for your business.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood concepts in digital marketing. To get started, let’s look at a definition. According to Google, search engine optimization is “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”
This definition makes it sound like a simple process, and sadly, there are a number of freelancers that take advantage of business owners by promising quick results. They can get away with this became many business owners don’t understand the difference between proper and detrimental SEO practices.
When shopping for an SEO expert to help your business, it is important to know the difference between “white hat” and “black hat” practices. White hat SEO strategies are designed to produce long-term results, while black hat strategies are meant to generate fast results, but could put a black mark on your website that causes search engines to downgrade them in the future, resulting in the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Any vendor who proposes to “do” your SEO and produce immediate, lasting results is either not competent or not honest. Educate yourself on SEO practices so you can spot a fraud from a mile away.
White Hat: Quality Content
Quality content is one the most effective SEO strategies, but knowing what constitutes quality content is not always intuitive. The easiest way to ensure quality content is to consider, “Is this helpful to my viewers?” If the answer is no, chances are good that the website doesn’t need that particular piece of content.
A good way to start creating content for a website is to think of the top 10 questions asked by customers. Your goal should be to answer those questions in the site’s content. This can be done on your site’s “About” pages, in blog posts, and in image descriptions.
Black Hat: Keyword Stuffing
The practice of keyword stuffing is not only ineffective, but also unethical. It happens when a website is loaded with keywords meant to attract search engine attention, but that don’t really serve to convey information to readers. Keyword stuffing leads to weak content as keywords are inserted into copy, blog posts and even meta tags where they do not make sense.
Keyword stuffing has gotten so out of control that meta tags are no longer given any real weight in search ranking algorithms. Overhauling meta descriptions should never be the number one strategy when attempting to increase a site’s SEO.
White Hat: Guest Blogging
Do you have skills or expert insights that would benefit others in your industry? Offer to share your expertise in the form of a guest blog for third-party websites. Both parties involved benefit from guest blogs. The host site receives a quality piece of content for its readers, while the writer gets backlinks to his or her own website.
Black Hat: Blog Spam
Blog spamming is the act of posting links in the comments section of outside blog posts to increase the number of backlinks to a website. The most unsavory culprits use an automated platform to deliver the comments. Since a vendor will never come right out and say they use such a tactic, you need to keep your ears open for indications that it is part of their SEO arsenal.
White Hat: Link Baiting
Link baiting is far less sinister than it sounds. In fact, it’s a good thing. Simply put, it is the art of creating strong content that encourages others to share it on their own website or social media pages. These links are earned and appear on sites and pages that are relevant to your target audience, so the traffic they generate is of high quality.
Black Hat: Paid Links
Links can be purchased on third-party sites to increase traffic to your website. But these paid links rarely appear on relevant or reputable websites. They can increase traffic to your website, but the traffic will not be of high quality, so your bounce rate will also increase.
Any effort you put into SEO should create a positive, long-term effect on your website. If a consultant promises you quick and lasting results with a one-time review, they either don’t know their stuff, or they’re trying to put one over one you. Either way, they should be avoided. SEO is not a one-time “set-it-and-forget-it” deal. It is a process that must be adjusted continuously boost traffic to your site.
If you’re ready to jump in and do what it takes to generate quality traffic to your website, contact us. Our team will be happy to work with you to build an SEO strategy to accomplish your goals.