When it comes to increasing your web traffic, one of the best methods is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO enables you to drive traffic for free to your site through Internet users putting keywords into sites like Google and finding links to your site there. But SEO is extremely complex and hiring someone to help you with SEO means different things to different people.
Knowing as much about SEO as possible before hiring someone who claims to be an SEO expert is invaluable. Most people know they should “invest in SEO,” but they are clueless as to what that actually means. The result is that some SEO service providers will take advantage of that lack of knowledge.
The first thing to realize is that SEO is a confluence of different skill sets, all of which you may not receive from one provider, even though they provide SEO services. In addition, SEO is not a one-shot development effort, but a constant, ongoing process for your business. Thus, you cannot hire someone to “do SEO” for two weeks and think that you are finished.
SEO in large part has to do with having highly relevant, highly interesting content. That is what the search engines are seeking, and if you provide it they will reward you by placing you well in their organic results.
So you need to make sure you are covered across all the basic SEO components, which include:
- URLs—Ensuring that your web addresses (like www.xyz.com) are constructed properly so that the search engines can read them properly. HTML coders generally handle this SEO component.
- Page Titles, etc.—This refers to things like page titles, image titles and meta descriptions. These tags are another way to tell the search engines what is on your page. Page titling, meta tags and image tags can be done within a Content Management System by a non-technical type. If you do not have a Content Management system (which is not a good idea), you will need an HTML coder to put in the terms. However, the page titles and other words need to be highly relevant to the content on the page and then also highly relevant to the keywords you are targeting.
- Content—The most critical part of SEO is having relevant, regular, timely content. The more of this you have, the more the search engines will like your site and the more that others will mention links to your site on their sites or via social media. Content generation and dissemination is a writer/marketer’s job and is of course a completely different skill set than the person ensuring that your URLS are being created properly.
- Keywords—Choosing keywords that match the terms that users type into search engines is critical for your pages to achieve a high ranking. You should research the appropriate keywords and make sure they are embedded in your content, titles, link descriptions, etc.
- Links—The quality of the links that link to your site are considered in search engine rankings. The general rule is to not to have too many (more than 10 to 20) links per page.
- Site Map Submissions—This can be done by anyone but is usually done by a technical person. This ensures that a continuous feed of your site map (what your site is about) is being given to the search engines. That way when they crawl your site they have a “map” for understanding what is there.
To properly “do SEO” you need to have all these bases covered. It can be different people or firms doing the work since it involves many different skill sets. Your web development shop may be able to handle the HTML component but not be able to create compelling content. A good SEO firm should have all of the right skill sets in house. Without knowing everything that comprises SEO, you risk paying a lot of money without receiving the results you seek.