In our decade-long career as marketers, one thing we came to learn is that Singapore web owners don’t really care about their sites’ aesthetics – they just want customers.
They can shell out a great amount of their hard-earned cash for a well-designed website, but at the end of the day all they want to see is a flowing revenue stream – not a good-looking money pit.
Don’t get me wrong, a good website has to look professional and easy enough to both use and navigate, but without proper marketing, your once-so-excited client will NEVER get to like it that much.
Goes on to show how important an SEO consultant really is. Every web owner needs a steady stream of income to turn their online effort into a money generator, and SEO consultants just happen to be the right people for this.
But in a market filled with all kinds of SEO consultants, including effective and lame ones, how do you go about choosing the right one.
That aside, what expectations are realistic enough to have after hiring one?
White Hat SEO Tactics
You’ve probably heard or come across a blog post trying to justify how SEO is dead. In a sense this could actually be true, and we could perhaps chalk everything up to semantics.
Not long ago, what people referred to as SEO is NOT the same as what is implied by it today. SEO was more of a black hat technique, because search engines weren’t well developed. Their algorithms were a working progress and there were a lot of loop holes to circumvent around some of their policies.
For instance, you could have used content spinners to churn as much content as you wished to have and stuff them with keywords, and the system would still pass it as great content and probably rank you high. Then along came the days of purchasing backlinks. Or the use of bots to generate blog comments jam-packed with links. One post could be re-published again and again and the system still wouldn’t recognise the ploy going on.
Such tactics are probably dead, which kind of makes the old-school kind of SEO dead of course.
Search engines continued updating their algorithms, and making baby steps and subtle improvements to a point we can safely say their system is at near-perfection.
There might be a few black hat techniques that still works, but it’s just a matter of time before Google catches up and slaps you with a penalty.
The best way to tell if a company is privy to the latest SEO trends is to look at its own marketing effort. Do their blogging results reflect what they’re talking about? Or you could just be blatantly honest with them and ask if they abide by the updated Google rules.
A professional SEO consultant should be able to help you acquire quality backlinks or at least be able to guide you through the process.
Start by reading thoroughly on the subject to find out what’s actually meant by quality link building.
Is the company clued in about on-site SEO and how exactly are they putting that into action. Check their site to find out if their on-page SEO is impressive enough. What about their site navigation?
Another way to look at it is to look at the authority sites they’re featured in. For a company that promises to get you a good number of quality backlinks, they should at least be in position to get some for themselves.
Be on the lookout for liars. A company that promises to get you the topmost spot will be outright lying, a dead giveaway that there are more disappointments to follow or the company is involved in some shoddy SEO tactics that are likely to come and bite you in future.
SEO Takes Time
SEO takes time – nothing like overnight success. Any company that promises you results within a month or two should raise suspicion.
SEO requires that you spend the necessary time doing all that’s required of you to become an authority or to even find a slot within the first few pages of search engines.
A qualified SEO firm should create realistic expectations instead of hard-selling themselves to you. It’s also important that they have a good grasp of how your market operates. If you’re competing with giants, then they shouldn’t even try to convince you how you’re going to beat them. You might outrank them in a few keywords, but that’s just that.
How competitive are the keywords you want to rank in?
Highly competitive keywords take time to rank compared to the less competitive ones. Don’t overplay yourself by thinking you can achieve the topmost ranking in some of the highly competitive keywords. You should even count it as luck if you appear within the first few pages.
Goals are NOT Guarantees
Legitimate SEO firms work with goals. They can work with first page placement goals, but that’s NO guarantee those are the results they’ll be getting.
That’s because results are generated by super-complex search engines algorithms. These algorithms are supposed to be fair to all, and considering your competition is also working hard on their side, then don’t expect to beat them in everything. In this competition, you win some, you lose some, unless you’re operating in a less competitive field.
Search engines also make constant updates to these algorithms. What SEO firms do is test their system and make educated guess on how to stand out from the crowd. They’ll then proceed to implement what works, while eliminating what doesn’t.
Google is an independent entity, concerned about their reputation as with any other entity out there. No SEO firm has a direct connection with them.
Firm get certified by Google after going through their paid advertising programme, which is very different from search engine optimisation.
But just because SEO doesn’t work with guarantees, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hold the firm you’re working with accountable. Speaking of which, a reliable firm should be able to walk you through the work they performed.
Openness and Transparency
Good SEO is done in a clear and transparent manner. The firm you choose has to walk with you every step of the way, taking your opinion and suggestion with the seriousness it deserves, and educating you on some of the things you may NOT be in position to understand.
That calls for the highest degree of openness and transparency. This is very important considering SEO doesn’t work with guarantees. Meaning you have to rely on the information of what the firm is doing behind the scenes.
Open lines of communication means your inquiries will always be met with timely feedback. Which is important because you certainly want to know how your money is being used.
One thing about SEO, despite lacking guarantees, is that everything can be measured. Meaning a reputable SEO firm will always have something to report back with. Website are ranked based on their valuable content, conversions, social media interaction and valuable link building.
As a client concerned about results, it’s the responsibility of the firm you’ve hired to update you on the progress made with regards to every single one of the ranking elements.
SEO companies do this on a whim. You’re NOT allowed to pressure them into educating you on some of the things they’re doing, considering you might NOT be in a position to even understand some of them.
But that’s NOT to say the company shouldn’t even try. Plus there’s no harm in learning a few vital tools that will make it easy for you to understand some of the processes implemented by the firm.
Google analytics should be your friend in this. That’s because everything that happens to your website with regards to marketing can be measured with the tool. You can even use it to track finer details of the kind of changes your website is experiencing.
Google analytics works on creating valuable data on the kind of audience visiting your site, and their geographical location, as well. Through the tool, you can also come with great content ideas or even make necessary adjustments to your marketing strategies for better results.
By understanding the role of Google analytics and how to use it, you can easily keep track of what your SEO consultant is doing instead of following them in total darkness.
A reliable SEO will link you with a point of contact or service manager. This is the person to contact or expect to hear from should anything arise.
Your assigned point of contact is expected to be up to date with the latest development in your industry. They’re the people to supervise and make sure your project is handled to the best possible standards.
They’ll research about your competition and figure out an even superior strategy to beat them. To achieve this, they have to work with you to come up with a definitive marketing strategy that puts your business in an even more favourable position for SEO.
Point of contact also works to ensure your channel of communication remains open at all times. They’re also expected to help you understand the value of SEO and some of the challenges digital marketing firms undergo during service delivery.
Content marketing is an essential segment of SEO. There’s no way the two can be separated.
SEO is all about creating demanding, while content marketing is all about fulfilling that demand. SEO can only exist when you’re able to create substance through content marketing.
Your website’s landing page, blogs, about us, and product descriptions are all encapsulated in content. And its role is NOT only limited to ranking you higher, but to communicate your message to your targeted audience, as well.
Content marketing also helps with brand awareness. It does this by introducing valuable link juice to your website, and it’s among the things the SEO Company you’re hiring is expected to keep working on.
It’s therefore realistic enough to expect quality content on your site, all working towards establishing a strong brand awareness for your business.
Regular check-ins are just as important as the face to face meetings in good SEO.
The check-ins can come in form of a detailed report on keyword rankings, website traffic, link building opportunities and conversion rates. Carried out on a weekly or monthly basis, the reports produced should provide a detailed insight into all activities pertaining to your SEO assignment.
During this time, your point of contact is supposed to walk you through the changes and make necessary adjustments where possible. The regular check-ins also come as a good opportunity to ask questions on matters you need more clarification on.
Face to Face Meetings
This should come after signing up with an SEO firm. You want the company to schedule an introductory meeting so you can discuss about your project in great detail before kick-off. While a conference call can still work for this, a face to face meeting is more preferable as it gives you time to develop a better understanding of some of the things being discussed.
The meeting can be organised at the beginning of your project or on a regular basis. Organised to brief you on what the firm has been doing or what it intends to do, you’re still allowed to air your viewpoints on possible improvements.
Your point of contact may be highly skilled. But that’s no excuse to brush off all your suggestions. If anything, the SEO team assigned to you should be working with you throughout the process. You’re free to come up with suggestions, and the team assigned to handle your project will pick out what works and what doesn’t. They’ll then improve on it and offer even more suggestions with the aim of making your project a success.
It’s a Wrap
These are some of the realistic expectation you can have towards any SEO firm you’re planning to trust with your marketing needs. You can test the company to find out if they know their stuff, and if they’re competent enough to deliver on their promise.
Do you still help with online marketing even after reading this? Well, go ahead and call MediaOne today for free consultation on how they can help get your brand in font of potential customers for more business.