As an entrepreneur, you probably operate at lightning-fast speed. You’re trying to cram so many things into one day that you barely have time to breathe, let alone eat. In fact, you’re pretty sure you forgot to wear underwear last Wednesday.
At some point, each entrepreneur comes to the realization that he/she doesn’t have the time or the knowledge to manage every aspect of his operation. One facet that frequently gets outsourced is search engine optimization. It’s a hazy field, one which isn’t clear to many launching a successful business.
But it doesn’t have to be mysterious – you should be a knowledgeable consumer of SEO before you invest, just like you are with any other area of your business.
Successful search engine marketing revolves around keywords and their multiple derivatives. As an expert you know which keywords or phrases are most relevant to your product or service. An SEO provider will research these keywords to determine how frequently they’re used on top search engines, and based on this data they will pinpoint the words that should be capitalized upon. An SEO expert will also check out your rivals’ search engine rankings. (You’re competitive, so admit it – you’ve been watching this for a while!)
As a consumer, there is no need to blindly take the expert’s word for it. Using free online tools is a wise approach to validate their research. For example, one such tool strategically identifies keywords for your business’ marketing campaigns. Taking advantage of these resources to double-check your SEO expert’s work could potentially eradicate future headaches.
Site validation is another critical component to successful search engine optimization. As a foundational sign of professionalism, this process provides a quality check to ensure that scripts aren’t “buggy” or displaying an incorrectly formatted view for your customers (www.validator.w3.org is a great tool for this purpose).
Avoiding Con Men
A true SEO expert will not guarantee a specific Google ranking, and a provider that does make such a claim should be viewed as a huge red flag. The best indicator of whether they have any potential to help your ranking is to check out their own. There are many free online page-ranking tools that allow you to pull any website’s rankings. Look up the company – where does their website rank? Are they #4 or higher? If not, they’ve just given you a great present: the knowledge that they cannot provide any real value.
In addition to the marketing logistics of basic search engine optimization, an SEO expert should provide technical services as well. Can they support your website’s code and structure, or do they focus on content? Optimizing the code and the server where the site is hosted is vital to a successful SEO campaign.
An SEO professional will also provide detailed monthly reports of services and activities. These reports should cover everything from actions taken to the outcomes achieved by each action (supported with data). Since the baseline should have already been established at the beginning of the project, it’s imperative to quantify the work that has been accomplished (a snapshot of Google’s analytics doesn’t cut it).
Beyond these make-or-break aspects, look for providers who are willing to meet with you on-site and are Google certified – both of these elements are strong indicators that the company is on the up-and-up.
Keeping it in the Family
As an entrepreneur, you certainly feel a desire to manage and closely monitor the different parts of your business. So what can you do yourself without solely relying upon an SEO expert?
Website content should be your baby; content is paramount in SEO design. Having the right quality and quantity of content will help your SEO expert execute strategies. You know best what your customers need and want – this is your opportunity to address that.
Share your site across the web. Utilize your company’s social media sites, link to partner sites, or draft email campaigns to get your website mentioned in many different venues. Social bookmark your site as much as you can.
Once control of your SEO has been relinquished, the easiest way to track progress is to compare your site’s ranking to your competitors’. Don’t rest on your laurels and assume the initial research will tide you over. Continue to be a strong consumer of SEO by reading about search engine optimization tactics and attending seminars and webinars on the topic. You may not want to handle the daily responsibility of your SEO, but a good business owner questions everything, so make sure the answers meet expectations.
Having sound and practical knowledge of SEO will help in making an informed decision when hiring an SEO professional. Being confident about something so incredibly vital to your entrepreneurial success will take a weight off your mind – and your schedule.