How to hire an SEO provider as a small business owner
With many lines of business, organic traffic could very well be the holy grail. Particularly for small businesses, which are commonly limited by smaller budgets, and look for short and medium term ROI.
SEO is far more measurable, and budget-flexible, than mass advertising, and it allows new businesses to interact with their target audience from the get-go, instead of shooting in the dark, with the hopes of encountering its target audience sometime in the future.
Due to the above, many businesses rely on the services of external SEO providers. Such a partnership can be yield superb results, but can also become a useless waste of money, or worse – pose a existential threat to the entire business. It all depends on the quality of services provided.
The following list describes some of the pillars of proper SEO work. Hopefully, reading through this can aid small business owners comprehend if the quality of work provided to them is as they expect it to be.
1. Business involvement.
SEO is all about channeling resources at the right direction. Some of the pivotal tasks are keyword research, and website structure. In order to perform these tasks correctly, the search marketing provider must understand the potential clients’ intents, and the appropriate page to address those. He must also understand which phrases, or phrase clusters (multitude of phrases which are essentially aimed as the same intent), are more significant to the business, and thus, should become his focal points.
Part of the process is rather technical. Pulling up a list of related keywords and their expected search volumes is easy to do. Translating these search volumes into business prospects requires a deeper understanding of the vertical.
A good service provider sets time to learn the business model and the vertical. He would constantly ask the business owner questions relating to this aspect. After a short while, it is expected he would understand how the business operates (while, obviously, not to the same depth as the business owner himself).
Bad marketers skip this stage completely. Instead, they fallaciously apply their one fit all solutions, which are often destined to failure.
2. Sincere projection and goal setting.
Though the outcome of SEO work is tricky to project, it’s ill-advised to drift aimlessly without goals and projections. Seasoned pros should be experienced enough to, at least, guesstimate what could happen in the short, medium, and long term.
These projections , backed up by plans on how to reach them, can help business owners make sober decisions that regard. It can help them understand how to allocate budgets, and eventually the ROI.
It can help them MEASURE the execution These high-level goals could be broken down to smaller milestones, to help both parties get a “feel” of the work, and how it’s coming along, month by month.
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson
The most important word in regards to SEO must be longevity.
While lack of business involvement, and lack of planning, can result in inefficiency, a lack fo attention to a website’s longevity can cause irreversible damage to a business’ online acquisition and reputation, and ultimately, crash it to the ground.
Alarming signs could be seen when results that are piling up too quickly, with too little cost. The “quick and dirty” methodologies are like that. Cheap, and short-lived. SEO is not magic. If the ROI becomes positive too quickly, and/or it climbs to thousands or tens of thousands percents, it’s either a business operating in an exceptionally good industry with relatively small competition, or that the search engine marketing is performed too aggressively, and most likely against Google’s preferences.
It’s easy to understand what Google expects from a website by reading through their Webmaster Guidelines (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en). If the search marketer you hired for assistance provides you with proper reporting, detailing his work, it’s fairly easy to understand where there’s a match between Google’s expectations and the work done in practice.
Most importantly, business owners should rely on their natural instincts. SEO should never come in contradiction to the user’s preferences. For example: focusing on UI and structural issues on the site can serve both users and search engines, while stuffing excessive keywords into texts defies logic on both counts.
To conclude, proper SEO work is performed slowly, transparently, and in coordination to the business owner’s expectations. If a certain provider does not abide these concepts, it’s better to look elsewhere for alternatives.