For many companies, an ideal world involving Search Engine Optimization would be simple, quick and a one-time task to check off a list. An organization would create a website, optimize its content for target keywords and promote the site. Soon, the website would acquire a strong number of inbound links and start ranking for those target keywords. End of story.
Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. In reality, SEO isn’t just about adding keywords and linking. SEO is increasingly social and sits at the intersection of multiple business functions outside of marketing including public relations, customer service, recuitment and branding.
Ongoing SEO consulting is an important part of any internet marketing mix. Truly good consultants save companies significant expenses and contribute to increased leads and sales by providing unique expertise and insight into the technical, creative and increasingly social sides of internet marketing.
Back in 2007, Lee pinpointed 5 Advantages of Ongoing SEO Consulting. As we near the start of 2010, I think it’s the perfect time to revisit those points to see if they hold just as much weight today as they did 3 years ago:
1. Ongoing search marketing consulting is important because a large percentage of organizations fail to implement the recommendations provided to them by their SEO consultants.
There are many reasons companies do not implement the advice they’re paying for. In difficult economic times, some companies aren’t able to justify the expense of making major changes to their content management systems or devote significant resources to content creation. Many web development or copy writing staff are overbooked and SEO implementation requests never make it to the “done” checklist. The best optimization recommendations in the world can be given, but if they aren’t implemented properly or at all, then they’re useless.
An experienced search marketing consultant can lend a hand in implementing recommendations at once, in phases over time or provide quality control oversight of client side implementation on an ongoing basis. Ongoing SEO helps companies avoid costly mistakes in situation such as when SEO work is overwritten or implemented in a way that actually hurts search engine spider interaction rather than facilitate it.
For one B2B e-commerce site that TopRank has worked with for several years, SEO oversight over time has been instrumental at achieving compounded search traffic. Because the company’s web site encompasses a vast number of product pages – and because product focuses change over time – ongoing attention to keyword glossaries, on page optimization, anchor text and link sources has been vital.
In order to maintain search momentum and integrity to target keywords and audiences, the SEO team revisits optimized content to ensure keywords are still relevant and that pages retain their ability to pull search traffic. Since 2007, top 10 search engine rankings for this site have increased by more than 150%. While the value of “rankings” can be argued with Google’s new personalized search for everyone, ongoing measurements using consistent means can provide a relative measure over time. The end result has been a significant increase in relevant search traffic over time, despite changes in keywords and target audiences.
2. Search marketing consultants can help organizations proactively build links over time.
Link building continues to be one of the most common victims of a neglected search marketing program. Yet ongoing link building is still one of the most critical factors in determining page relevancy, crawling and rankings.
From content marketing on social networks to optimized press releases to link bait, search marketing consultants can help organizations acquire links that drive traffic directly and influence better search visibility, which also drives traffic. SEO Consultants can even assist in more passive link building efforts such as directory submissions, bookmarking, widgets and operationalizing the link opportunities that exist with other types of online content such as job listings, events and public relations efforts.
For one retail SEO client, TopRank has provided ongoing search marketing consulting – ongoing link building, in particular – that has resulted in over 80% of all web site traffic coming from natural search. On any given month, the site receives anywhere from a handful to several hundreds of new inbound links from relevant sources. Since an ongoing effort to acquire links was started, the website and blog have increased unique visitors by 214%.
3. Ongoing search marketing consulting is necessary because the search engine industry changes often.
This point may be more relevant today than ever before. The major search engines are constantly fine-tuning and the search engine landscape continues to change. Bing didn’t exist 3 years ago and who could have imagined that Yahoo and Microsoft would actually be working together let alone Google achieving 70% market share?
As an example, in just a little more than a year, Google has completely revamped the way it crawls and indexes Adobe Flash files. Before summer 2008, it was virtually impossible for a Flash-based website to gain search engine rankings. Today, many of the rules for optimizing on-page text can apply to text in Flash files.
More importantly are the impact of personalized search for everyone, the influence of social media and real-time search. The implications for SEO with these recent developments are profound and consultants that are on top of such changes provide invaluable advice to their clients, saving time, money and increasing competitive advantage.
Keeping up with the changes can put a strain on companies’ IT and marketing departments. In a win-win scenario for the client, search marketing consultants stay on top of these constant changes and consult on the implications for individual client online marketing efforts. Not only will the client’s site continue to reap the benefits of SEO, but as Lee noted in his post, he or she can “look like a rock star to their management team.”
4. Companies have thinly spread employees; ongoing search marketing consulting acts as “more hands on deck”.
Now, more than ever before, employees are wearing multiple hats within their organizations. A company’s web development staff, copywriters or other marketing personnel might be tasked with SEO in addition to all of their other responsibilities. Compounding the issue, the person responsible for ongoing SEO might not even have previous experience in search marketing.
Having a search marketing consultant on board gives the people tasked with SEO with useful resource so they can focus more attention on core responsibilities.
For example, TopRank acts as a partner with a B2B distributor of industrial products for all of their online marketing activities, including content optimization, blogging and PPC management. With a capable internet marketing team as a resource, the client is able to focus its in-house employees on making sales. As a result of their top 10 rankings on important keyword phrases increasing by 125% since the beginning of the year, search traffic has also improved significantly. More qualified traffic = more qualified prospects for this B2B company.
5. Many companies don’t actively or effectively use analytics on their own.
From measuring SEO performance to mining new keyword opportunities, Analytics are as important as ever. This is especially true as organizations are increasingly demanding proof that their marketing budgets are being put to good use. Marketers must definitively prove marketing ROI and tie efforts back to corporate goals. Concerns about effectively measuring web site ROI have given way to questions about measuring social media ROI.
Qualified SEO consultants have the necessary experience in monitoring keyword traffic, referral trends, time spent on sites, visitor interaction, social media conversations and other vital metrics to enable companies to make smarter decisions about what’s working and what’s not. The increasingly social and real-time nature of search brings new opportunities for on-demand SEO tactics that would be lost without proper analytics oversight.
Web analytics are certainly more present in most company online marketing programs with the introduction and acceptance of Google Analytics, but even there, constant innovation on the part of Google creates competitive advantages for those companies that stay current. SEO consultants providing ongoing web and social media analytics insight can reveal long term trends, cyclicality and the effect of the many changes mentioned above to an organization’s ability to attract new business and manage it’s reputation online.
Organizations that invest in ongoing search marketing consulting are putting themselves a giant step ahead of the competition by allowing the company to focus on its core skills and relying on the SEO agency either completely, strategically or to fill in where needed. Do what you do best and outsource the rest.
Companies that hire and manage in-house SEO teams continue to leverage the expertise and strategic advice of competent SEO agencies to provide insight that proves highly valuable in staying competitive, reducing online marketing costs and increasing bottom line sales.
What are your thoughts on the value provided from ongoing SEO consulting? Do you think SEO can be handled in-house all the time, some of the time or never? If you’re a company considering SEO, what are some of your major concerns with outsourcing on an ongoing basis?