Chances are, most of the people who read these blogs do so because they want knowledge. They're hungry to learn and they're hungry to grow.
So when you hear the "experts" talk about all of the bells and whistles of SEO (search engine optimization), you get excited. You pull out your wallets. Because CLEARLY they know what it's going to take to help your website rank.
In the past week, we've talked to no fewer than FIVE companies who are contracting someone to handle their "SEO". Why did we get the phone calls? Because several of these companies can't seem to find their business online in a very simple Google search. Two more of them had concerns over just what they are getting for their money from their "SEO guy".
Let me start with this. The Silent Partner Marketing is NOT an "SEO" company. Which is why you should read very, very carefully - because we have no skin in the game. We're not here to sell you on "SEO services". Our team designs and executes marketing strategies for businesses.
So why am I writing this? Frankly, I'm sick and tired of seeing companies get screwed over because they don't have all of the information they need to make the right decisions. They're paying hundreds - or in many cases thousands - of dollars a month for "SEO"...but these same companies aren't even generating unique and relevant content.
So let's dive into all of this by starting with a general statement that's going to get some people seriously fired up.
SEO Is Dead
When you do a search on Google - doesn't matter what you're searching for - which would you rather find? A website that used every single SEO trick in the book to game their way to the top? Or would you rather find a website that has exactly what you're looking for - backed by authoritative and reliable content?
I know - it's a rhetorical question. Of course you want a relevant site. Guess what? So does Google. Google doesn't make a dime off of "optimized sites". As a matter of fact, Google found that these "optimized sites" worked AGAINST what they were trying to do. They found that users weren't pleased with the search results they were getting when the top appearing sites weren't filled with the most relevant data...but with junk that had been "gamed" to the top.
How do we know this is the case? Without diving into the specifics of the Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird updates - we can demonstrate it with one simple move that Google made in 2013. The web giant stopped providing information about keyword popularity. Huh? That's right - it was a direct attack on "SEO guys" who were using keyword popularity to stuff metatags on the websites with top keywords.
The other big attack? The idea of "link farming".
Prior to Google's big updates, "link farming" was all the rage. Simply put, you'd get a whole bunch of websites to link back to YOUR website. Google would go "oh, wow - look how many sites are referring to these guys - they must be highly relevant". Google's updates acted as a big "ah ha" moment - and crushed websites that were using these strategies. While there's still a role in back-links to grow your SEO - it's only in STRONG, RELEVANT, QUALITY websites linking back appropriately.
With that being said, the fact of the matter is that SEO in and of itself isn't actually dead. But there's a lot of information you need to know to determine whether your "SEO guy" is the real deal or a wolf in sheep's clothing.
SEO YOU CAN'T IGNORE
What's the type of SEO you should actually be doing?
First of all, you need a well-organized, content-rich site. The site has to be highly relevant with data that your customers are looking for. It needs a strong focus on the user experience, helping the potential customer to navigate the site as easily as possible and find exactly what they're looking for.
The site needs authority. Great information specific about products. Properly optimized pictures. Longevity of the domain. No stuffing of keywords. A very well-ordered site map. No duplicate content across the entire site or off-site. Integration of video. There's lots of stuff you CAN be doing and SHOULD be doing.
But here's a little tip. If you're NOT contributing content to a website on a regular basis, your "SEO guy" should be revamping the back end of your site ONCE - not on a monthly retainer. Unless he/she is PRODUCING unique and relevant content, chances are good that more harm than good is being done.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Let's face it. SEO is, in many regards, the snake-oil of the web. It's a big industry. "State of Digital" reports that 863 million websites across the world mention the term "SEO". The site reports that 105 people search for "SEO" links on Google - usually "services" or "companies" every second.
The guys that know what they're doing understand this:
Google had about a dozen major updates last year alone and changed the algorithm on average 65 times a month. They completely overhauled HOW Google searches when they launched Hummingbird. Among what Google NOW looks at is this:
And so on and so forth.
Here's what you need to ask when it comes to hiring the next "SEO guy":
Here are some warnings that you're probably dealing with a scammer.
There are lots of questions you should ask as part of the SEO litmus test. But let's make this nice and simple. Focus on quality content. Have an audit done of your website to see how well your SEO on the back end has been handled. Get into video marketing. The keys to success are in your hands.
Do me a favor. Tell me about your experiences. Ask questions. But most importantly - share this blog or re-post it. Don't do it for me - do it for everyone else out there who needs to hear it.