You're planning to put up a website and you're thinking of using it to offer information, products or services. There are billions of websites out there, some thousands or hundreds of them possibly similar to your own. How will you get noticed? You're thinking you might need a search engine optimization (SEO) expert. Now the next question is: How will you know if he or she is any good?
- Arm yourself with some basic information. If you're only vaguely familiar with the concept of SEO, you really won't have any basis for evaluating someone who presents himself as an expert. Some will try to gain your interest with promises and guarantees. Others may try to impress you with jargon and technical language. Without knowing at least the basics of SEO, what's it about, how does it help a website's visibility, the concepts, practices and tools involved, you'll have a hard time cutting through the self-advertising that professionals and consultants naturally employ when facing a prospective client. There are a lot of resources on the Internet that you can take advantage of to do a little self-study.
SEO covers a wide range of best practices, from keywords in your page titles to the way you structure content on your website and so much more. By at least having a rudimentary understanding of these practices you can ask more relevant questions of the expert you're planning to hire and figure out if he really knows his stuff. SEO practices have also changed over the years mainly because of the improvements that search engines have implemented on the way they search and rank websites. What used to work in the 1999 may be seen as illegal or 'black hat' in 2009. So there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about SEO floating around. Knowing how to distinguish SEO fact from fiction will help you judge if your consultant is giving you valid advice. One example of a myth is instant number 1 page ranking. In reality it will take around 5 months of good SEO work to at least get a good or fairly acceptable page rank. A supposed expert who promises you a number 1 page rank in a week is just pulling your leg.
- Do a background check. References are a standard requirement in most hiring processes. Ask the search engine optimizer you're thinking of getting to give you a list of websites he's worked on. Check the page ranks of these previous clients to see if your expert did his job well. You should also try to contact these previous clients and get some feedback on him. An SEO expert who's not afraid to give his former clients' contact information for purposes of reference may be someone worth hiring.
Being able to tell if a search engine optimizer's skills are good enough will depend ultimately on how well your website will do. Did it gain more views? Did it gain more profit from keyword clicks? Did it generally become more visible and popular? If the answers to these questions are yes, and these positive developments were the direct result of your SEO expert's work, then he did a good job and is worth his fee.