If you are looking to hire an SEO consultant I would suggest you make sure they have a full understanding of both offsite and onsite search engine optimization.
Onsite SEO Consultant
The first thing you want to do is make sure that you have an SEO consultant that actually understands search engine optimization and how it ties in with content and user experience. Many people out there offering SEO services are nothing more than link builders.
Prior to any link building campaign you should always have your pages and/or domains audited to make sure they are optimized onsite so that they will respond properly to a backlink building campaign. For very low competition keywords you can get away with sub par onsite optimization but you should still strive at getting your onsite SEO right because then you won’t have to build nearly as many backlinks to your website. Sometimes a perfectly optimized article or post only needs a couple of backlinks to shoot up to the top of the search engines. If you are an SEO consultant that primarily builds links make sure you are doing an audit on your client websites to give them suggestions on what they can improve. They will appreciate the input and if they are truly serious about their online rankings they really should implement these subtle or major changes that a good seo consultant will suggest.
Onsite SEO Checklist
The following is not meant to be a complete list, but rather just a simple checklist when optimizing your own posts or pages. Many of these factors are considered to give a lot of weight in search engine rankings and if your rankings have been stuck in spite of link building you need to check these simple factors.
Keyword in title – if you want to rank you have got to place your keyword in the title and as close to the beginning of the title as you can.
Make sure to use headers like H1, H2, H3 to break up the text and make the articles easier to read and follow. Place your keywords in these headers. I suggest using a long tail of your keyword in order to pick up additional search traffic.
Optimized URL’s with the keyword. Don’t use the old school permalink structure, and try to trim down the URL to your primary ranking keyword.
For example, if I wanted to rank for SEO ConsultantI would make sure my permalink structure showed Google what the post was about.
Non SEO optimized URL structure
Optimized SEO Structure
Keyword 1st sentence – A strong opening statement about what your article is about will usually have the keyword in the first sentence. It doesn’t have to be, but consider if Google finds a keyword in the title and then the first sentence the algorithm already has a good idea on what your page is about.
Keyword last sentence – Just as a strong opening statement contains the keyword a good closing statement will also typically contain the keyword.
Keyword Density – this has been a highly debated figure by seo consultants, but to be on the safe side I would stick within the 2%-5% zone, and always try to use long tails of your keyword that fit rather than repeating the same short tail keyword over and over. The extra benefit is the long tail search engine traffic you can pick up.
Alt Tag in pictures – Google doesn’t have eyes (yet), but it can determine what a picture is about if you place the proper alt tag within the photo. This tag has SEO value so make sure to use it.
Valuable Content – Do you want to know how to easily outrank your competition by creating better content?
Create longer content. The world wide web has been around for over a decade so there are probably millions of indexed pages on your keywords. To quickly outpace your competition create some real value, create 1,000+ word articles. Take a look at the page 1 rankings for your keywords and look to see what your competition has. If the #1 ranked site has a 700 word article I would make sure to pump out 800-900 words at the very least – AND, make it better than the #1. There are other metrics for valuable content that Google uses like bounce rate, time spend on page, other pages browsed. If you create a good website your metrics will show Google that you have created useful information that was related to that search.
Is your website crawlable? If you haven’t setup a good menu structure on your homepage it may be impossible for Google to find your content. Have you ever noticed how a new blog post can rank high for a week or two and then disappears? When that new post leaves the home page it is no longer getting the homepage link juice so make sure there is a way to get to that article within just a couple clicks from the homepage. A poorly setup site is actually one of the major woes of onsite search engine optimization. Honestly, I could go on and on about things to look for within onsite optimization but then we wouldn’t get to the other stuff.
Offsite SEO Consultant
Offsite SEO is where most consultants that I have come across have the most knowledge while they greatly lack onsite seo skills. It’s not completely their fault though as the importance of backlinks came to the forefront as the primary way to get a website ranked high, and even now it’s probably 75% of the equation. But the problem is you can’t win the race with more backlinks on a poorly optimized site. I hear a lot of complaints from people how the link building or seo services they purchased from someone netted them absolutely zero results.
This is because onsite SEO needs to be done first, making it extremely important, but most companies will not hesitate even a minute from taking your money to build you thousands of links. Don’t buy any link building services until you know your onsite seo is perfect!! As an SEO consultant that truly focuses on the end game, RESULTS, I look at the onsite factors first and the competition. This is the best way to formulate a strategy prior to moving forward. When the onsite SEO is perfect, you won’t need to build nearly as many backlinks to get the rankings you want.
Additionally, you won’t get stuck at the bottom of page 1 which is the worst place you can be – page 1 is exciting, but page 1 rankings without traffic is not cool, and that is what you will see at the bottom of page 1. I’ll be back in a couple days to post an article that goes much deeper into the offsite seo and link building side.
About: Rick Porter is an SEO consultant and affiliate marketer