Top 10 Things to Look for in an SEO Expert

Whether your business is small or large--or somewhere in between--if you rely on Web traffic for sales or marketing, you need to either master search engine optimization (SEO) or you need to hire an SEO specialist. SEO experts from SEO Moz, High Rankings and Raven Internet Marketing Tools offer these 10 tips to help you find the right SEO professional.

By James A. Martin
Mon, January 23, 2012

CIO — Your company's Website might look great, with plenty of multimedia sizzle. But if the site isn't consistently attracting targeted visitors and converting them into customers, it's not doing its job—which can have a negative impact on revenue.

It may be time to hire a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, whether it's as an employee, an individual consultant, or an SEO consulting firm. A qualified, experienced SEO expert reviews your site; asks about your business goals and target visitors; and identifies strategies to improve your search engine rankings and page views.

The remedies an SEO expert might prescribe include something fairly simple such as rewriting your HTML title tags to fixing structural issues that prevent search engine bots from crawling and indexing your content, and obtaining quality links from relevant, external web sites.

We asked three experts what to look for when hiring SEO specialists. Here are the top 10 qualities to look for in an SEO expert.

1. Years of SEO Experience

"Anyone can set-up an 'SEO agency' overnight and call themselves an SEO expert," says Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings. "But that doesn't mean they know what they're doing. There are hundreds of little things that go into the bigger picture of doing SEO and it takes many years of experiencing what works and what doesn't to truly do a good job."

Whalen adds that every website needs different SEO tactics to succeed. "An SEO expert with many years of experience will be able to look at any website and know exactly what needs to be done for it to gain more search engine traffic, while someone new at SEO will try the same things on every site, which will only have a limited effect, if any," Whalen adds.

2. An Understanding of All Three SEO Levels

Search engine optimization involves three tiers:

  1. Technical (the structure of a site, which can determine how easy or difficult it is for search engines to crawl and index your content)

  2. On-page optimization (the use of such elements as keywords and HTML tags in ways that help increase search engine traffic to your site)

  3. Off-page optimization (such as link building).

"You don't want a one-dimensional SEO," says Taylor Pratt, vice president of product marketing for Raven Internet Marketing Tools. "You need someone who will approach their strategy from all three angles to maximize success."

"If search engines can't access all the content on a website, or some content is buried too deeply in the site, then anything else done on the website will be useless in terms of SEO success," Whalen adds. "This means that all SEO consultants or companies need to understand all the technical limitations and issues that search engines may have, and they need to be able to articulate those to the developers of your website so that the issues can be minimized.

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