Now that you’ve got a good understanding of what search engine optimization (SEO) is and how it can help you get more of the right kind of visitors, you might be interested in working with an SEO professional to improve the visibility of your site in search engines.
In this post we will look at some of the different services offered by SEO professionals, review the types of SEO scams you should avoid, and offer some advice on choosing the right SEO professional.
Common Services Offered by SEO Professionals
The core services offered by SEO professionals can be broken down into three key areas:
- On-site optimization
- Content marketing
- Link building and outreach
Some service providers will focus on one of the three, while others may take a more holistic approach to carrying out SEO work on your website.
On-site optimization is usually the first service that an SEO consultant or agency will carry out on your site; it entails examining your site to make sure it is properly set up for search engines like Google.
Onsite optimization can include improving keyword density and page loads times.
This can include details such as the keyword density of your content, page load times or site speed, and ensuring that your site’s content and navigational menus are organized and setup for an efficient user experience.
The more content your website has, the more chances it has to get visitors from search engines.
The more content published on your site (in the form of WordPress posts or pages), the more opportunities it has to rank high in search engines, allowing you to receive more visitors who are searching for information about the services your business provides. An SEO professional who offers content marketing services will work with you to establish which keywords or search terms are relevant to your business. Those keywords will then be used to develop a content creation strategy designed to deliver targeted visitors to your website. Depending on the level of service offered, the SEO professional may create content for you, or simply provide a plan for you to use when creating your own content.
Link Building and Outreach
One of the most effective ways to improve the rank of your website is to acquire backlinks, links from other websites which are pointing to your’s. This is a staple service of any SEO professional or agency.
Google expressly prohibits the manual acquisition of backlinks.
As Google expressly prohibits the manual acquisition of backlinks, this is often the most difficult part of SEO. One of the safest ways to increase the number of backlinks to your site is to publish great content, and bring that content to the attention of other websites who might find it interesting. Hopefully, they will share your content with their audience and link to your site. Less-than-ethical SEO professionals may engage in dubious means to build backlinks to your site. This can include buying links from other websites, using automated tools, or building a network of websites with the sole purpose of linking to your site.
Outreach vs. Manual Link Building
Conversely, SEO firms adhering to search engine guidelines will do outreach and promotion of your content, in order to acquire links from legitimate external sites.
Results from questionable approaches to link building could be lost overnight.
The more questionable approaches to link building might yield quicker results, compared to a content marketing and outreach program. However these quick results could be lost overnight once they come to the attention of the search engines and their increasingly sophisticated algorithms.
Removing harmful unnatural backlinks can take up a lot of resources.
In addition to lost rankings and reduced traffic to your website, removing harmful, unnatural backlinks can take up a lot of resources, and may be necessary to restore the visibility of your website in search engines. It’s important to establish exactly how your SEO professional will go about securing backlinks for your website, while being aware of the risks of manual link building.
Buying SEO Packages
Another option for optimizing your website for search engines is to buy an off-the-shelf SEO package, instead of hiring the services of an SEO professional or agency. These SEO packages tend to offer a number of links to your site from a range of sources, or social signals such as a number of tweets, shares, and likes on the various social media platforms.
Off-the-shelf SEO packages often break the guidelines of the search engines.
These packages often break the guidelines of search engines; you should proceed with caution when investigating these services. While they might work today, tomorrow you could end up suffering the consequences: a steep drop in visitors to your website, and a large clean-up operation on your hands.
SEO Scams to Avoid
Because of the perceived mystery surrounding how search engines rank websites, and the rewards a business reaps when its site does manage to crack the “SEO code,” there are plenty of SEO scammers offering their services and preying on the uninformed.
Avoid anyone promising number one rankings for any keyword of your choice.
Promises of an instant number one ranking for any keyword of your choice are a surefire sign that you are dealing with an SEO scammer. It’s also best to avoid any SEO professionals or agencies that aren’t willing to share with you how they achieve their promised results.
How to Choose an SEO Professional
There are so many professional SEO services available it can be hard to know where to start your search. Here are some tips that can help you find the right SEO professional:
- Seek word-of-mouth recommendations
- Follow up on published testimonials
- Look for a long history of success
- Establish exactly what activities will be carried out on your behalf
- Request a timeline for results and what to expect from SEO
Look for a Long History of Success
SEO agencies or professionals with a long history of success are most likely not chasing short-term gains in ways that carry long-term risks.
Some SEOs operate in the grey area where outlawed activities still work.
Some SEOs operate in the grey area between what has been outlawed but still gets results, and what has been outlawed and is no longer effective. This means that while they might be able to deliver good results today, those results could easily be wiped out as soon as search engines can effectively detect these outlawed practices. An SEO professional who has been around for a while and can still draw on positive client testimonials is likely to be using methods that are above board and sustainable. The same applies to word-of-mouth recommendations. Long-term results that have stood the test of time are a good sign you are dealing with a reputable outfit.
What Work Will They Be Doing?
Any offers of automated link building should be avoided at all costs.
You must figure out the type of links your SEO professional aims to secure for your site. Any offers of automated link building, such as blog commenting or forum profiles, should be avoided at all costs. For content marketing activities, you should also find out what type of content your professional will be creating, how frequently this will be done, and what degree of quality you can expect in this material.
There is no shortage of individuals and agencies offering SEO services. While the mystique surrounding SEO, coupled with its high potential rewards, can lead site owners into unwise expenditures on SEO services, this doesn’t need to be the case for you. By setting realistic expectations, taking the time to understand what can yield results and what won’t, and knowing what types of actions can negatively impact your site, you can find an SEO professional who will improve the rank and visibility of your website in a way that you won’t regret later on. If you have any SEO-related questions, please leave a comment below!