In the modern world of internet marketing and e-commerce, all successful companies strive to have an excellent, user-friendly website that appears high on search engines. This statement applies across the board, regardless of the size of company and equally for small businesses and major multi-national organisations.
Whilst most businesses recognise the marketing importance of their website, many company directors, especially in smaller businesses, are unaware of how the profile of that website can be improved on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. That is why an understanding of the term Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) is so important. The Guardian has a great article on What is SEO which provides a good background to SEO and can be a helpful starting point if you want to find a specialist SEO consultant to help you through this potential minefield and improve the positioning of your website.
First things First:
- Have a realistic expectation of where you want your business to be positioned in relation to possible competitors and others in similar fields.
- Decide on a monthly or annual SEO marketing budget. This might be weighted more towards the “front end” of an SEO strategy, especially if your website requires a significant overhaul, however SEO isn’t an overnight thing and will need completing on an ongoing basis.
- Have an understanding of your target market, including age and geographical distribution.
- Draw up a list of possible keywords that are used by customers to search for your products or services.
- Talk to other businesses, if possible, to find out whether they have used and can recommend an SEO consultancy.
What to look for from your SEO Consultant:
In the SEO world, one size definitely does NOT fit all, so it is important that you have confidence that the SEO consultant you choose has a good understanding of your business, the way you operate and your customer base. It is likely that you will be asked to provide a fair amount of background information before an SEO consultant can come up with a proposal and strategy to meet your requirements. A reputable SEO consultancy will always ensure that they have a thorough understanding of what you do and what you want to achieve, so that what they offer is fit for purpose.
Don’t be Fooled by unrealistic Promises:
Sound SEO takes time and it could be a few months before all the groundwork starts to have a real impact. The type of business is also a significant factor, as your business will climb much higher if it is something of a niche market, whereas the task is far more difficult if you are one of many other companies in the same sector. This is where the on-page SEO (i.e. the content of your website, including use of keywords, general layout and user-friendliness) and any unique selling points you can offer, become even more vital.
If an SEO consultant promises guaranteed results very quickly, then go elsewhere!
Those SEO Terms:
Don’t be afraid of seeking an explanation of some of the many common SEO terms that might be bandied around. As with any profession, SEO consultancy has its own terminology; you don’t need to become an expert in this, but you can expect to be given a fairly simple explanation if you ask. You may hear a reference, for instance, to Google algorithms such as Google Panda or Google Penguin. This is because Google is constantly changing the way it assesses whereabouts a particular website, or page, should be positioned when people search using different keywords.
Any SEO consultant worth their salt will keep up to date with these algorithms, so that their clients retain their high search engine positions with confidence. Some consultancies, such as Indigoextra, offer training for your staff to become familiar with the key points.
There are many ways of attracting more hits on your website, but all of them involve having original, well-written content, whether on your own site, or linked to it, in the form of product descriptions, articles, blogs, directory entries or social media tweets or posts. Don’t accept anything less than this and make sure you have the opportunity to read anything before it is submitted.
Lastly, SEO consultancy is an ongoing, two-way process that evolves according to actual results. Ask for (and the best SEO companies will offer this) a monthly report, with an analysis of where content has been submitted, which keyword searches have been most effective and suggestions for any future modifications. At the same time, if you are about to launch a new product or service, then discuss this with your SEO consultant in good time, so that the ongoing strategy can accommodate it.
About the Author: Martin Woods is the co-founder of Indigoextra and provides an SEO consultancy service to clients in the UK, France and internationally. He is passionate about SEO, having configured a custom algorithm used for keyword research. Martin is also a fan of ultimate Frisbee, a board game designer and home educates his two boys. He lives in Montpellier, South France