#90: Finding a Search Engine Optimisation Expert

Following on from last week's introduction into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), I wanted to provide my advice how to avoid the bad and the ugly of the industry.

Or listen at:

Published: Wed, 23 Jun 2021 16:18:35 GMT


Google Webmaster Guidelines


Hello and welcome back to The Better ROI from Software Development podcast.

In this week's episode, I want to follow on from last week where I talked about Search Engine Optimisation - SEO. In the episode, I said I'd give you some advice on how to find a good SEO expert, and this is that episode.

I will reiterate that I'm not an SEO expert, I don't market myself as such. I don't believe I've got the technical capabilities or indeed experience to be so.

So please treat this very much as an opinion piece, an idea of what I believe is correct when it comes to looking for an SEO expert. If your views differ, or you have a different idea of what to look for, I really look forward to hearing back from you - so please reach out and let me know.

So a brief recap from the last episode; I introduced Search Engine Optimisation, the process of taking search terms, terms that are use to search for in Google for example, and getting your website high up on the list of rankings with the aim of getting visitors to your website - and ultimately converting those visitors probably into customers.

One of the key things I wanted to get across in the last episode was Search Engine Optimisation is not free. There's a lot of investment that needs to go into making sure that it's set up correctly. And then ongoing investment to make sure it's maintained.

And part of that set up and maintenance is having a really good SEO expert working for you to make sure it's done correctly, make sure it's done in such a way that it can be maintained over the longer term and possibly most importantly, making sure that it meets Google's requirements.

One of the other things I talked about in that last episode was Google itself. Yes, there are other search engines, but Google makes up the majority of the market and it still does.

So what Google is trying to do is trying to get the best results for the customer. They're trying to look at what the customer is searching for and trying to give them meaningful correct results.

As such, we should be thinking about this in our strategy. Google even talk about this in their documentation to webmasters, to people that are setting up websites. They provide the following basic principles:.

Basic principles
* Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
* Don't deceive your users.
* Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
* Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

I'll provide a link to that page in the show notes.

When we start looking for our expert, I think it's three things it boils down to for me: Are they a details person? Are they keeping current? And understanding their process.

The key to SEO is being detailed.

You need to spend a lot of time identifying correct search terms, those terms that a customer or prospective customer would type into Google. They need to be spending a lot of time reviewing your website to make sure those search terms are relevant. Make sure you have the appropriate set up within your website to work for those terms. They need to run detailed experiments to make sure changes they expect to improve the rankings on Google actually do as they expect. And they need to monitor that, they need to look at the results. And there will probably be building detailed reports of the back of the.

It's all about detail.

They should be able to demonstrate the level of detail they've gone into in previous engagements. They should be able to talk about the detailed actions taken on previous website they've worked on, including the results achieved. They should be able to talk about concrete examples of the detailed work that they've done, and what's really interesting is the things they learn not to do again, showing that they are learning from that experimental mindset.

I would also expect any SEO expert to come in, whether it be for as a permanent recruitment or as an agency working as a third party, I'd expect them to come to any meeting, any interview, with recommendations.

That's a good sign they know what they're doing from a detailed point of view. And I expect them to come to you with - OK maybe low hanging fruit - but you'd expect them to come to you with at least some level of recommendations in that first engagement.

They also need to keep current.

Now, this for me is desperately important in any technical field. But Google and the other search engines do change the algorithms, so are they keeping track with those changes?

Ask them how they're doing it.

Ask them the last time they adapted their process and their way of working to reflect that change - what they needed to do. Did it work? Did it fail?

They should be you able to provide you with some sort of idea of what they're doing. And all the time you're doing this, I'd certainly look to be checking against the Google guidelines, again I'll provide a link for that, are things to avoid doing.

If at any point your SEO expert is suggesting things that fall onto that list, challenge them. Really, if it's on the list for me, that's a red flag and worries me greatly that they would be potentially giving you dangerous advice. So much so that if you actually followed it, there's a good chance you'll be penalised by Google - if indeed actually not removed from the service until that problem is result.

Definitely, definitely use that as a checklist to make sure that nothing is coming through, that Google would definitely object to and go back to the basic principles that I talked about in earlier in this episode.

Get them to talk about their process.

Get them to talk you through the steps of how they would work with you and your website.

I'd expect one of the first thing they would want to do is review your current SEO terms - The terms the customers are using to access your website. As well as assess how well your website is performing against those.

There are plenty automated tools out there that can produce reports on just what is happening and how well you're performing. So it certainly expect them to be able to provide that very quickly to give you a baseline from which to work from.

So I would expect that to be one of the first steps they would do.

I'd expect them to be able to set out timelines as to how quickly the work they do would start to have an impact. Now expect weeks, not hours or days. These things won't happen overnight.

You really should be expecting it to take a period of time for any improvement to take effect.

Plus, a good SEO expert knows that they don't just work in a bubble. They may be able to provide experimentation ideas, they may be able to put forth hypotheses and ideas, but they know there will probably need to work with a wider team to deliver them.

Thus trying to pretend that they're going to get you to the number one ranking within two days is just not feasible. They should be able to find you good level of expectations as what you can expect three, maybe six months out, in terms of working with them, in terms of what their targets they would want to aim for and what makes sense to you as a business.

Again, this goes back to the detail and also talks about how they feel they should be being able to be assessed, how they would be held to account.

And part of this comes in the monitoring and looking at the reports. And being able to work from the original baseline to see how well they've worked through with your websites to actually improve that ranking.

I'll warn you again, within SEO, there's definitely the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately with SEO, there's a lot of money available, so it does attract a lot of poor practise and things that you need to really defend against.

So when talking to a prospective SEO expert, watch out for the warning flags. Watch out for a lack of detail. Watch out for someone promising to make you number one overnight. Watch out for anyone talking about hacks or poor practises - anything that appears in that Google guidelines, the list of things to avoid, which again, I shall provide a link in the show.

I hope this episode is useful for helping you identify and find that good SEO expert. I hope it sets a scene for the things they need to understand and be able to convey to you when working for you to boost your rankings within the SEO world.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast. I look forward to speaking to you again next week.