How to Grow Your Business With a Proven SEO Consultant
If you are deciding on hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, it pays to understand how he or she can impact your business. Despite the fact that SEO is a well-established digital marketing discipline, many business owners still have misconceptions as to what it entails and what to expect when hiring an SEO expert.
Here is why you need to address this critical growth area and how an SEO consultant can help you do that.
Why SEO matters
Purchasing behavior studies have found that almost 90% of consumers turn to Google, Bing, or another search engine to find information on products, services or businesses prior to making a decision to buy. In other words, you have to be visible.
If your website is not SEO-optimized, it doesn’t matter how great your products or your services are because your potential customers won’t find you. They will find your competitors first.
What does SEO-optimized mean? Data from studies on click rates is compelling: top 3 organic results capture around 60% of the search traffic, while page 1 results combined account for over 90% of the clicks.
To be visible, you need to be on page 1. Brian Clark from Copyblogger summed it up eloquently:
The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of the Google search results.
Another way to get search engine traffic is by using paid ads. The instant gratification of being at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) is what makes this approach so attractive to many, especially when you are just starting out.
While paid advertising can be effective, whether you can make it work and scale depends on your customer acquisition costs and customer life-time value economics and your access to capital. And once you turn the paid faucet off, traffic dries up.
SEO requires effort and time, but with organic listings receiving roughly 90% of traffic vs around 10% for paid, it’s easy to see why it’s a long-term growth investment that you need to make.
Here is what you can expect to achieve by allocating resources to SEO.
Generate leads. Search engine optimization is much more than simply getting traffic to your site. It’s about appealing to the right audience at the right time and turning them into leads and, eventually, customers. And the good news is that organic search traffic is something that can last a very long time.
Increase brand awareness. SEO is not only about ranking for intent-based keywords. If you operate in a highly competitive space or in a new product category, you can still benefit greatly by appearing at the top of SERPs when people search for top-of-the-funnel terms. HelpScout is just one example of a company that built its SEO strategy around brand awareness that enables it to successfully compete in a crowded market.
Improve user experience. SEO is about building high-quality websites that provide your visitors with a good overall experience, which is a key driver of Google’s rankings.
What exactly will an SEO consultant do?
Long gone are the days when you could improve your search engine rankings by buying links or stuffing keywords into blog posts. Today’s SEO demands a fundamental approach that is based on strategy, execution, and measurement.
Effective SEO starts with the audit of your website, which should include 3 core areas:
- Technical audit: site structure, loading speed, errors, mobile-friendliness, etc.
- On-page audit: menus, URLs, content, internal linking structure, meta data, etc.
- Off-page audit: domain authority, traffic sources, links, Google penalties, etc.
One of the most common, yet crucial mistakes that companies make is targeting the wrong keywords which bring unqualified traffic. As part of the initial assessment, the SEO expert will always conduct full keyword research and competitor analysis to answer the following questions:
- What are your ideal customers searching for?
- Which keywords generate traffic?
- How obtainable are those keywords?
The expert will review current content on the site and identify gaps that should be addressed.
The audit and the research will form the basis of an actionable plan to achieve your growth goals, which will include:
- Suggested improvements and changes on technical issues
- Ways to optimize current content and guidance around writing new content that will rank
- Link development strategy, including reconfiguring existing links and naturally acquiring new links
- Social media strategy
Once the groundwork is laid, the consultant will set out to implement recommendations to help Google crawl and understand your website. The consultant should also provide you with an SEO playbook that outlines your optimization strategy and tactics and that you can use for ongoing reference and measurement.
Measure and iterate
As you create content and follow the playbook, the consultant can help you monitor search engine data and draw insights from it. He or she can help you determine what’s working and what’s not and refine recommendations, so you can invest your SEO dollars more effectively.
It may take several months before you will see meaningful results, but if you hire the right SEO expert your patience will be rewarded.
Why an SEO consultant?
Why should you hire a consultant to handle your SEO efforts? The answer is simple: to get better results faster while maintaining flexibility. Here is what you gain.
SEO requires a thorough understanding of how search engines crawl and index your content. Google’s algorithm, for example, has over 200 ranking factors, and it takes an experienced professional to implement SEO that is topical and compelling. Even if you or someone on your team knows a thing or two about SEO, they will be hard-pressed to deliver the same level of expertise as someone for whom it’s raison d’être.
Comprehensive SEO takes way more time than most teams can afford. SEO typically becomes one of someone’s many responsibilities and gets deprioritized. Having a dedicated resource that is laser focused on optimizing your site for visibility helps you develop a more impactful SEO strategy and execute more effectively, while letting your team focus on what they are best at.
The expense of hiring an in-house SEO professional is rarely justified unless you are an established company building out a full-fledged marketing team. While proven SEO consultants typically charge from $2,000 to $4,000 per month for their work, you don’t need them heavily involved on a long-term basis, so it ends up being more cost effective to outsource the work than hire an SEO specialist on your team.
Hiring a consultant is the most flexible option for accessing SEO expertise. A consulting engagement is highly fluid, and if you are not happy with the expert, you can part ways any time.
For many businesses, SEO is the highest ROI marketing effort. But SEO is a long-term growth strategy, not a quick solution.
Few business owners have up-to-date knowledge, technical expertise, and time required to execute SEO effectively. Those prepared to invest resources and hire proven SEO experts will reap the benefits of a visible online presence and high-quality organic traffic for years to come.
Looking for a proven SEO consultant today?
Find SEO consultants with experience of driving growth for companies like yours on Growth Engineers.