Search engine optimization done well can tremendously boost the success of an online business. It will be the key element to growing authority and brand awareness (in the long-term). However, there is no remedy for a flawed or outdated business strategy.
If you're seeking to update your SEO tactics and techniques, you'll need to find a consultant that keeps up-to-date with the current best practices.
SEO is not a magic wand to salvage a fledgling business, but it can be a wonderful weapon to unleash the full online potential of an already good idea. Here is what you should expect from a competent SEO consultant:
1. Provides Data-Driven Results
Good SEO includes expertise and experience but most importantly it is all about actionable results based on exhaustive, accurate and fresh data.
Whether the challenge to be solved is related to link building legacy problems, on-page content quality or the technical setup hindering a site from growing visibility in Google or whether it is a case of all the factors combined and more, the only way of driving actionable results is to use all data that can be gathered. Any other approach is just guesswork.
Actionable SEO decisions must be driven by accurate, recent data
2. Seeks Alternative Solutions
With SEO there are often several alternative paths that can lead to desired high rankings in search engines. From a search point of view, risky backlinks can be disavowed, removed or altered. Low-quality content pages impacting on-page site signals for search engines can be dropped or no-indexed.
Alternative solutions can touch on choosing which fundamental strategies to follow or which site structure to apply so that site is best understood by users and search engine bots alike.
There are countless examples of alternative paths towards achieving a defined goal with organic search. It’s as equally true for specific SEO issues as it is for general decisions, such as whether to pursue a white hat strategy compliant with search engine guidelines or whether to adhere to a high-risk black hat strategy, accepting the inherent dangers to the website's rankings associated with the latter approach.
Either way, the SEO strategy needs to be clearly outlined within the organization in order to allow for full transparency in the decision taking process.
SEO often is about choosing between alternatives
3. Transparent and Open Communication
An SEO expert must be able to address any search questions or challenge tossed their way. That does not mean they will be able to provide an answer that is to everyone's liking. With an impending SEO audit, the idea is to uncover untapped potentials or – more often – identify currently looming SEO risks and provide remedies.
Change and therefore possibly an intense debate will be likely required in consequence.
Of course, improvement or evolutionary adaptation of an existing site is only possible within certain limitations. Turning a made-for-advertising-revenue directory website into a beacon of online innovation without fundamentally rethinking the business concept is not likely to happen.
Any answers from an SEO expert must be seen in this context. At the same time, the SEO expert should also be expected to ask challenging questions in the process.
More than anything, SEO is about identifying and implementing at times complex solutions, and that requires a process of ongoing back and-forth communication.
Effective SEO requires communication involving all stakeholders
While all the points outlined above can be expected to be part of any SEO initiative, there are limitations to what search engine optimization can achieve.
Overnight ranking miracles are about as realistic and sustainable as most miracles are – not at all. That applies to expectations as much as to promises some less than forthcoming SEO may feel inclined to make.
Specific rankings for a website for desired keywords or queries is just not something a serious SEO can promise to deliver, given that they will never be able to control all relevant aspects of search, such as search engine policies, their algorithms, new and updated competitor sites or the ever-evolving user behavior.
However, even the best-crafted SEO strategy working exactly as anticipated can not be expected to constantly deliver over an extended period of time, for the exact same reasons. In search, everything is in a constant flux and change is the only constant.
That’s why every SEO initiative must be seen as a snapshot in time. They can help to drive business but will have to be periodically revisited and evaluated anew in the same manner as other business aspects, like production, logistics or marketing.
In the case of SEO auditing of a website, once per year is a sufficient time frame to re-evaluate the current situation.