What is an SEO Consultant, why should you hire one and what can you expect from them – all your questions answered.
An SEO Consultant is an expert in Search Engine Optimisation – essentially someone who has significant digital marketing expertise. They should also have significant business expertise. The ultimate goal of an SEO Consultant is to drive more traffic to your website through a variety of search engine optimisation techniques techniques.
How does an SEO Consultant differ from a Digital Marketing Agency?
Some digital marketing agencies will have many experts or even teams across, technical SEO, SEO content writing and outreach services. Your point of contact with an SEO or Digital Marketing Agency will most likely be an account manager who will not have the same skills as an SEO Consultant. Although that’s not to say they don’t have a good understanding of SEO principles.
An agency approach to SEO is usually through a workflow process following a standard practice that may miss key opportunities for your business growth strategy. Quite often this will miss key steps that a consultant would focus more time on and may give you suboptimal results. You will get results but you could get better results through a more bespoke SEO approach with a consultant. Mileage always varies with an agency however and some are much better than others – quite often you just get what you pay for!
Auditing your Google Assets
The first thing an SEO Consultant will do with your website is audit your Google Assets. When I say assets I mean, checking that your Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google My Business are set up correctly. If this isn’t done then a lot of the work that follows will be meaningless. We see lots of issues with all three of these Google Services that are holding business owners back from growing traffic to their websites. All of these tools are incredibly valuable, either from a reporting and visibility perspective or from a website traffic growth perspective. Google My Business is especially important when it comes to optimising a website for Local Search.
SEO Technical Website Audit
The next important consideration is a full deep dive into your website technical attributes. Your Google Analytics and Google Search Console will be hooked up to a tool such as Screaming Frog and full audit carried out. This will identify any issues and highlight opportunities for technical improvements before any on page content is optimised. This is not by any means an exhaustive list but this will identify key issues such as;
- Missing page titles
- Missing meta descriptions
- Slow pages
- 404 page errors
- Number of 301 redirects
- Issues with mixed content
- Titles or meta descriptions that are too long or too short
- Other technical problems with the website
- Missing image alt descriptions
Setting Realistic Goals for Growing Your Organic Search Traffic
Once the website audit is completed any developer issues can be passed over to be resolved and then other issues can be added to the SEO work plan. You should be made aware at this point that this step may identify issues that realistically can take many months to work through and address as part of an ongoing search engine optimisation process.
Being realistic about what happens next is critically important. Good SEO takes time to implement if done properly with a view to building long terms growth plans for your website. You should always see your website as an asset and time spend making that asset better is an investment not a cost.
Prioritising your goals at this point is really important. Does your business sell online? Do you use your website to generate sales leads? Setting priorities around which products or services generate the most margin or are the most readily available to you are considerations. Whilst there are sometimes quick wins in SEO, quite often the process is about incremental gains. These gains build up over time but patience is required. This is why working on your goals and expectations at the outset is so important.
Competitor Research is critical to both understanding the opportunity size and identifying keyword opportunities. Most of the businesses we work with have no idea how bit the search market is for their products. They also have no idea about where this search traffic is going in terms of their website versus their competitors. Sometimes, businesses aren’t even aware of some of their competitors online. The competitor research phase is therefore critically important to understanding the landscape. This is where a consultant can use his business knowledge to help put your SEO strategy together to deliver the best results without having to rely on a one size fits all approach that may be employed by an agency.
Keyword Strategy and Content Strategy
Once the Competitor Research has identified the opportunity size, the SEO consultant will build a bespoke keyword and content strategy for your website. This will be the foundation of all the optimisation work that is carried out on the website. Keywords are used to seed related keywords which in turn form the foundation of your content strategy. As previously discussed, these strategies will be prioritised based on your goals and implemented accordingly.
At this point the consultant will work with a client determine how to create the best possible content. Let’s face it, the best writer in the world doesn’t know a product as well as the business owner. Conversely, the best business owner in the world probably can’t write as well as the best writers. Collaboration is the key here. A good freelance SEO consultant will be able to work with a client on providing the right level of input to help structure the writing of great content. The consultant can research the best content ideas and provide the client or business with a framework to which they can add the detail. The outcome is then the best and most valuable content. Google, or indeed any search engine, puts a lot of weight on authority so writing valuable informative content is key here. All of these factors play into a winning SEO Implementation that will grow traffic to your website.
Ongoing SEO – The Moving Target
Being flexible and reactive allows the SEO Consultant to outperform an agency that is working to a fixed workflow. SEO is always evolving and changing. Results aren’t always as expected so it’s really important to review and iterate for the best results. It’s this process that delivers the best long term results. Sometimes, the smallest of changes can have dramatic results. This takes a diligent and detailed approach. There should never be any guesswork involved in SEO. Every decision should be based on research. Research – Implement – Review – Iterate.
SEO – Reporting
SEO Reporting is often overlooked because it can be overwhelming. A good report should highlight only the key factors and not overload a client. This is another area where a bespoke approach is always best. One clients reporting needs may be completely different from another. Reports should give the client confidence that progress is being made and that the SEO strategy is delivering results. Organic search is always the optimal long term strategy for growing traffic to a website. Being able to track and measure progress whilst having a good handle on the performance of your online assets gives you confidence. This is why reporting is so critical to clients needs.
Lost in Translation?
When dealing with a freelance SEO specialist rather than an agency you will be dealing directly with the expert, not an account manager. If you are dealing with an SEO Account Manager, they will have to understand your requirements and then try and explain and work these into a number of different teams. Ultimately this will not give you optimal results as you are not dealing with an expert with whom you can discuss your specific needs.
What Makes the Best SEO Consultant?
Nobody knows everything but what makes for the Best SEO Consultant? Attention to detail and a willingness to dig that little bit deeper when others have lost interest. Research is everything in SEO, anyone can implement a content strategy. Find a consultant that likes detail and research and the rest is easy.