Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process used to help search engines better understand the content of a website so it can be ranked accordingly and help searchers quickly find exactly what they are looking for.
If you are a business owner or manager looking for professional help in ranking higher in Google, here is some information to guide you through the process of selecting an SEO expert. The bulk of this information was directly from Maile Ohye, a Google employee, see the video below.
SEO Hiring Process Summary
- Conduct a 2-way interview process with your potential SEO. Check that they seem genuinely interested in you and your business.
- Check their references
- Ask for a technical and search audit (Usually a cost involved for the audit).
- Decide if you want to hire this SEO or not.
Step 1: 2-way SEO Interview
Step 2: Check References
Step 3: Request a technical and search audit. This would include a prioritized list of what the SEO would improve with respect to your website.
A good format for the SEO audit would be as follows:
- The issue(s) with the website.
- Suggested improvements
- An estimate on the overall cost in terms of time, money, and other resources (i.e. website technology improvement, new CMS, new content provided by the client).
- Expected results. It's good to make it clear what you as the client are expecting and to compare this with what the SEO expert believes they can deliver.
- Clear plan on how to iterate and improve on the SEO enhancements as well as a method to measure improvements to determine if the work is cost effective for your business.
Review your website for issues related to:
- Internal Linking
- URL Paremeters
- Server Connectivity
- Response Codes
Break down your search queries into categories:
- Branded (i.e. "Google" or "Bing"). Ensuring the overall ease of use for potential customers already searching your brand name. Ensuring the search results are directing those customers to the right page on your website, and that those pages provide the user exactly what they were looking for.
- UnBranded (i.e. "Search"). Comparing your website results to similar sites and competitors. Recommendations on updating obsolete content, poor navigation, user interaction, site structure, and "generate buzz" using social network integration.
Prices for SEO Services
So how much does SEO cost? If you are looking for a skilled SEO or SEM (Search Engine Marketing) expert you can expect to pay a minimum of $100 per hour. This can vary widely based on many different factors including the niche you are competing in, the size of the website, and the results you are expecting.
If you are just starting this process, it might be wise to get a general SEO to do an audit of your website and giving you some initial advice (as discussed above). However, if you ready to move forward with a budget and specific objectives, it would be better to find a search expert in your niche. For example, my expertise is with classified websites and municipal government sites. With over 7 years of experience working on online classified ads I understand how to target larger regional areas, scale the site as the user base grows, and fix navigation to make visitors happy and create more conversions. Working with municipal government websites I understand how to help the town office emphasize the content local searchers are looking for. There are other SEO's that focus on local businesses, highly competitive niches, and ecommerce websites.
If you are overwhelmed do not worry, but please be careful. The SEO industry is young still, there are so many great experts out there but as many or more "snake oil salesmen". I am happy to give you some free advice or refer you to an SEO that specializes in your area, just contact me and give me an idea of what type of site it is and I'll point you in the right direction!