Like all digital marketing channels, in recent years SEO has grown more complex. A truly strategic SEO expert knows how to feed that algorithm a potent combination of content marketing, website development, and partner marketing, and create a world-class SEO program few competitors can beat.
But beware: It can take upward of a year to see truly impressive results. Before you dive in, we’ve gathered additional information to help you and your team understand this discipline as holistically as possible.
If you’re looking for a long-term strategy to drive traffic to your site, acquire new customers, grow your business, and optimize your marketing mix for long-term success, SEO marketing is smart.
While many platforms today require you to pay to play, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the few tools businesses can leverage without investing a lot of dollars – but it requires a rare mix of planning, patience and constant vigilance.
Why vigilance? Well, SEO specialists need to understand how search engines work. They especially need to understand the Google algorithm — a near-total black box that’s always getting smarter (just like Bing’s). Google updates its search algorithm at least annually, which means best practices in the SEO industry are constantly in flux — SEO experts need to be on top of industry trends and tactics.
Before a customer interacts with a brand or business, odds are they've searched online for an answer to a problem or question they had. If your business can solve their problem or answer their question, you want your site popping up in their search results.
Almost all online research happens on Google, so figuring out how to get your web pages found on their search engine is key.
Ideally, you want to be as close to the #1 result for relevant queries as possible. You’ve probably searched for something yourself on Google, and you’ve likely clicked on one of the first three results that popped up — or at least one on the first page. The point is, people rarely look at results further down the page, let alone go past the first page of hits.
Landing on that first page takes strategic, consistent SEO efforts. (And time — it takes an average of three years to reach a #1 rank.) To do it well, you need a holistic approach that takes into account your business offerings, goals, content strategy, and the keywords you want/need to rank for.
The good news is with the right SEO strategy, you can get the most out of your content and make your marketing work for you while you sleep. Imagine, for instance, you are Shopify or BigCommerce and you rank for the term “e-commerce,” which has 94,000 search queries per month. If you can rank 1-3 on Google's search results for that term, you’ll be driving an additional 9,400 sessions to your site a month. That’s a lot of traffic! Then, your team can optimize that page to convert searchers who land there, or re-target them with your solutions.
Of course, ranking for a term like “e-commerce” is hard. Really hard. Ahrefs says that the term “e-commerce” is an 85 out of 100 on the difficulty scale, where 1 is easy and 100 is the most difficult. It would take years for any one company to rank for that term, but once you do, it becomes harder for your competitors to steal it away from you.
This is the moat that SEO builds for your brand. It will start small, but the more optimized your site and content, and the more keywords you rank for, the more traffic you will consistently get and the harder it will be for competitors to earn that same traffic –– at least, without paying for it.
If you’re looking for a long-term growth strategy that is fairly evergreen and want to avoid putting money behind ads, investing in SEO would be wise for your business.
If you think SEO marketing is as simple as plugging in a few keywords into your content and website copy, think again.
Even if you think you know which keywords to target, figuring out how to collaborate with content marketers, earn backlinks, and hire developers for technical SEO work on site speed, schema, alt text, and page optimization for mobile — it all takes a specific SEO skill set.
Here are a few of the top skills MarketerHire vets for before admitting an SEO consultant into our freelance network:
No matter how much SEO experts know, they’ll still need some software to execute.
These tools help SEO professionals collect and present SEO metrics, conduct keyword research, improve on-page SEO, run A/B tests around metadata and metatags, and continue to optimize a site for traffic and conversion.
Here are a few of the most common:
Having a strong SEO marketing strategy will enable you to reap site traffic and lead generation rewards for months — and even years — to come. Particularly if you’re a small business without a lot to spend on paid channels, investing in SEO early will decrease your CAC later.
The issue is, search engine optimization is ever-changing and complex. It’s truly a vertical of marketing that requires an expert.
This puts businesses in a tight spot. If they want to hire someone in-house, they have to spend time and resources trying to find the right person — which is especially difficult if the person doing the hiring doesn’t have much SEO training themselves. Plenty of marketers and freelancers claim to be SEO experts, but SEO changes constantly, and the best strategies are unique to each brand in their specific niche. Far too many businesses have hired SEO experts only to see little to no results. That’s why MarketerHire puts our SEO applicants through a rigorous vetting process.
On the other end, businesses could retain SEO services from a marketing agency. This hiring process can move more quickly, but it still requires getting a lot of flashy proposals and paying huge fees — often for lackluster results.
When you hire a freelance consultant who specializes in SEO marketing directly, you get a flexibly priced, highly-skilled professional focused on your business needs — and avoid the long, costly, and often risky cycle of hiring someone in-house.
And you still set your business up for organic growth.
In a perfect world, you’d hire an SEO expert as soon as you decide to invest in online marketing and content creation. In other words, SEO would be a day-one hire.
Here’s why: While it’s important to leverage paid ads to meet aggressive growth goals and cut through the noise, putting money behind your marketing without leveraging the free channels available to you is bad business. Paid media has a shelf-life, and SEO typically does not. In fact, your SEO marketing becomes stronger over time.
If an SEO marketer wasn’t a day-one hire for your company, though, there are a few common signs you need an SEO expert now. Or yesterday.
The biggest one? You have someone in-house who’s been managing your website and content with no SEO knowledge or guidance.
If that’s the case, bringing in an SEO expert to assess what they’ve been doing, make recommendations, or even rebuild your SEO strategy from the ground up could drive massive results for your business. SEO experts collaborate well with content marketers, thanks to their unique understanding of ranking factors, local SEO, indexing, internal linking, and the importance of page speed.
Simply put, if you’re spending time and money creating content but you’re not optimizing it correctly for SEO, what’s the point?
Alternatively, if you’ve hired an outside agency and you’re not sure about the results or strategy you’re getting for the hefty price tag you’re paying, hiring an SEO marketing consultant as a strategic partner would be a great next step.
They can work hand in hand with you and your team to develop an SEO strategy that’s in line with your business goals, offerings, and content strategy — without the hefty price tag.