I’ve written about this before but it’s worthwhile to discuss this once again. Go and pay a visit to the Warrior Forum and there are hundreds of SEO “experts” who will sell you various packages of links for your website. In some cases, these link packages could damage your site’s credibility with Google.
In other cases, they are worthless. In all cases though, if your package is not custom tailored to your site, you are simply wasting time, money and effort because you will never achieve the kind of success that you want. Here’s what you need to know:
It Starts with Picking the Right Keywords
The first thing that you need from a quality SEO consultant is help with picking keywords to target. Sure you could use the Adwords tool to find appropriate keywords. Heck, you could use something like Market Samurai or Brad Callen’s Niche Finder as well, but that’s only part of the story about picking the right keywords.
You see, the other half of this is to sort through the data that you get – no matter which service you use, you’ll get a raw list of keywords which may or may not be appropriate to your website’s needs. You need to know how to sift through those keywords and actually decide on which ones will actually attract customers who have money to buy a product.
A great example of this which I’ve illustrated in the past is the generic keyword as opposed to the specific keyword. For example, you may be selling laptop computers. Now your first instinct may be to try to rank for the term “laptop computer” (or possibly ultrabook or netbook as the case may be). This would however be a mistake.
The people searching for those terms are often just starting out their search for information if they want to make a purchase at all. They want to know more about their options and they are not necessarily ready to buy. Those who search for something more specific, say Lenovo ultrabook are more likely to be the people who are going to make a purchase. Those searching for a specific brand name more likely still.
There are other factors of course, such as the issue of the word “review” in the keyword or “cheap” and the like – all these things make a difference and an expert SEO consultant can help you pick just the right keywords for your needs. The cheap packages by comparison simply ask you for a keyword and then plug it into their automated software which publishes it on your behalf.
The Right Links Matter Too
I own several software programs which are designed to allow me to largely automate the process of grabbing links. I can post links on forums, blog comment sections, social media and web 2.0 properties with ease with all the products I own. However, just because I have this ability doesn’t mean that it makes sense for me to publish 5,000 links on blog comments alone.
An expert SEO consultant will understand that links are not created equal and especially in a world of the Penguin update (not to mention the new disavow tool which some people predict could have a massive effect on the world of SEO),you need someone who can guide you on which links will be appropriate for you.
For example, in some cases, you may be better off getting fewer links but purchasing them on larger numbers of different kinds of websites (wikia, blogs, forums, social media, web 2.0 etc.) so that they are more spread out and actually appear to be worthwhile.
It’s also important to have someone who can tailor your package for your particular website. Too often, these cheap link deals offer you the generic garbage links which say “great website. I learned a lot.” These kinds of links are often deleted as spam and the websites which do publish them tend to be the kind that you really don’t want your links to appear on in a Penguin world.
It also matters where your links get placed. For example, if your link is placed on an inside page which has no value, then you will simply not be able to get much benefit from it even if the primary domain happens to be a PR6.
Finally, an SEO expert will understand what it takes to make your links sticky so that they will not simply disappear into the ether of the Internet but will instead stick around and actually provide you with real value for your money.
Different Businesses Need Different Strategies
While my primary job is still writing, I have recently branched out into website development as well, working with WordPress as the basis for my efforts. Now why am I telling you this? It’s not because I’m trying to advertise my services but instead to illustrate a point: different kinds of businesses need vastly different kinds of websites and vastly different SEO efforts.
A good example of how this works from my end (which will segue nicely into the SEO end of things which Yasir does so well) is that I have in my arsenal a plugin which I offer to my customers called Rich Snippet Testimonials. It’s designed to improve your rankings in the search results and while anyone could benefit from it, it’s most useful to those with local businesses.
Now this is what I mean about different kinds of businesses needing different methods of doing SEO – if you run a local business, your needs are vastly different from those of a national or web only business. For example, if you run a local locksmith company in Los Angeles, you don’t need someone from Boise finding your website. It would be a waste of their time and your money for bandwidth and SEO.
How does a professional SEO consultant help with this? Simple – they personalize your efforts to your particular industry. This means that as a locksmith in LA, you would want someone who can help you target keywords specific to LA. You also want to build up the testimonials listing in your Google Places listing (which is why I mentioned the product above).
In addition to all this, different kinds of businesses, even if they are exclusively web based will need different forms of SEO. A blog which relies on referral traffic for example (i.e. you sell advertising on your website) needs a different kind of effort than a website which sells a robot vacuum cleaner.
The former may need to have a strong presence in industry specific forums where they are answering questions and getting their website mentioned in the comments section. The latter may require more comments on blogs which focus on the needs of busy professionals who are trying not to spend money on hiring a made to do the job they need done at home.
It also goes without saying that your needs will be different depending on the scope of your company. Thus for example, Geico may well want to target a keyword like “car insurance” while the local insurance agency which is licensed to resell products in New York City will be much more likely to want to target local listings. Again, this is something a professional SEO consultant can help with but that the big impersonal services which just sell you a package would be at a loss to offer to you.
Your Website May Need Tweaking As Well
Here’s another place that many, many people make a massive mistake – they assume that they don’t need anyone to evaluate their website and help them to build it up so that it has the right elements to attract additional traffic. This is just a terrible idea and is bound to cause you all manner of headaches down the road. Here’s what you need to know:
The first thing you need to be concerned about is how fast your website loads up. This is actually a consideration for more than just whether or not your customers will have a good experience (and remember that it is entirely possible that your customers may decide to look elsewhere if the website loads too slowly). Another issue is directly related to SEO.
The issue of slow loading websites with SEO is that Google’s search spiders are busy. They have billions of web pages to index and they don’t have the time to sit around waiting for your fancy flash presentation or Java based introduction to load up. Nor will they stick around if you put out massive photos which take forever to load up and which bog the system down. This means that your website will not get indexed properly and you will lose your rankings.
Another important point is that you do need to make sure there are descriptions, keywords and more on your website which are all important in seeing to it that your site gets properly indexed. These things can have a huge effect on you even though Google doesn’t officially count such things in their rankings algorithm anymore. The reason is simple – Google does display your description and some smaller search engines still index keywords as well.
Finally, the general layout of your website needs to be well put together as well. This part is more art form than science, but a professional SEO consultant will be able to tell you whether or not your layout looks good or looks like a reject from the 1990s (and while nobody will be talking about bayonets and horses, you may want something which doesn’t look like an amateur hour job from the early days of the web).
You Don’t Have an Unlimited Budget
Finally, this may sound a bit counterintuitive at first, given the proliferation of cheap SEO link packages that abound on the web, but in all honesty, you’re very likely to save money by using a professional SEO consultant instead of trying to use one of those link packages from Fiverr (or even from an independent SEO website). Here’s what you need to know:
First, let’s get this out of the way: yes, those Fiverr packages are attractive and I have in fact used Fiverr on occasion for some great projects which came out quite nice. However, one thing I would never do is to use those Fiverr packages for providing backlinks to a website. Sure they seem like they’re a great deal but in reality, they tend to be a waste of money because they will either do nothing or worse get you a Penguin penalty.
It’s also possible to go pretty crazy with purchasing SEO packages from various websites, always thinking that this one is going to be the one that will finally get me to number one. Ultimately however, all you’re doing in most cases is wasting money. It would be quicker and less painful to simply take your money and burn it in a fireplace (in many cases though certainly not in all cases).
By comparison, when you work with a professional SEO consultant, you can tell him what your monthly budget is and he can help you to work out a plan for getting your website well ranked and making money for you. It will take some time and it’s not an instantaneous thing where you’ll see the rankings go up immediately, but you will see steady improvement and you won’t break the bank while doing it.
Look, we know there are lots of choices of places where you can get your SEO work done and we know that you can go to Fiverr and buy cheap packages of links. However, ultimately, unless you are yourself an expert on SEO and really know what you need done, you will likely be wasting your time and your money. Do yourself a favor and check on the credentials of anyone you start with for SEO work before you hire them. To quote one of my favorite TV characters, you’ll thank me later.