What to Look For When Hiring an SEO Consultant Or Company

Openness and education are incredibly important, especially when it comes to SEO, as the profession is open to abuse and misinformation. In order to better inform my site visitors I have prepared this article which will hopefully allow you to gain a basic understanding of what is involved in SEO and what to look for when hiring an SEO consultant or company.

What do you see when you use a Search Engine?

Once a user has submitted a search query to either Google, Yahoo or MSN they will see a list of ordered results that take 2 forms:

Pay Per Click (PPC) Adverts

PPC adverts are how the main 3 search engines make money, an advertiser chooses the search terms that will trigger their adverts and whenever a user clicks on the advert the advertiser pays the search engine. PPC adverts are shown down the right hand side and sometimes above the other results that appear on the page. On Google, Yahoo and MSN these results are labeled as either "Sponsored Links", "Sponsor Results" or "Sponsored Sites" respectively.

Natural (Organic or Algorithmic) Search Results

The Natural (Organic or Algorithmic) Search Results appear next to the adverts, and are served up based on the relevance of each given page to the search query that was entered. It is commonly suggested that these results enjoy around 75% of the clicks for any give term, but in my experience this can vary greatly depending on the search term selected and the competition.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization or (SEO) refers to the process of improving the results of a given web site / page in the Natural (Organic or algorithmic) search results, using both onsite and offsite elements. A good SEO will consider how search engines work in light of what people have historically searched for, the relevancy of the phrase and the strength of the competition for each phrase.

What do Search Engines want?

As established above the main search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN) make their money when users click on the adverts that appear along the natural (organic or algorithmic) search results, when a user clicks on the adverts the search engine in question makes money from the click. The key word here is relevancy; if the results served up by the search engines stop being relevant the users will leave and try to find what they need from an alternative search engine, and the clicks (and therefore the revenue) will start to dry up.

What do your Site Visitors want?

It is quite common for people to implement SEO thinking that ranking for a given phrase is the only focus; This can lead to a poorly designed site that does not work for the site visitor. When implemented properly SEO should lead to the addition of site content that will improve both the standing in the search engine rankings and the experience of the sites visitors.

So what does all this mean?

  • Exception PPC there

Search Engine Basics For Realtors

Search Engine Optimization often looks like a dark art performed by wizards with a keyboard. But the reality is that it's much like anything else, there's a process and given the right amount effort anything is possible.

We're going to cover the basic concept in this article.

What does Google look for?

Keep in mind this is a basic introductory article and that Google owns a lot of patents that describe how the specific algorithm works. So we're focusing on the most important elements. We're going to break this down into two pieces.

1. On-site optimization – Things you do on your website which help Google understand what your site is about.

2. Off-site optimization – Things which are not part of your site such as links from other websites.

Let's get started with On-site Optimization.

There's one general rule I use here. If a normal person can see it, Google will use it to help decide what to rank you for. So that includes the text on your website, pictures on the site and the Title Tag.

Let's talk a little about the title tag. The Title Tag is a small piece of html code inserted just after the head tag. It looks like this Belleville Real Estate.

. You can see what a title tag is saying about a site by looking at the very top of your browser, directly above the File Edit View Menus. This is perhaps the most important element on your site to optimize. Google uses this tag in the search engine results to describe your site and as such puts a lot importance on it when deciding what your site should rank for. So if your site is about Belleville Car Sales the your title tag may read, Belleville Car Sales.

.When Google sees that title tag what do you think it will think your site is about? That's right "Belleville Car Sales". Google does the same with the rest of the site, but the title tag is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle and for most local companies may be the only thing you need to focus on when optimizing your site.

Let's move to Off-site optimization.

Again this is not as complicated as many people think it is. Think of trying to rank high in Google like a popularity contest. The person with the most friends and most important friends win. Ranking highly in Google is the same process. You need to have a lot of website link to you, and the more important those websites are the better it is for you. What that means is that a link from the New York Times is better than your cousin's son's myspace page.

To break that down more, 1 link from the New York Times is worth 1000 links from unknown web sites, you get the idea.

Links from sites which are relevant to yours are better as well. A real estate focused site linking to a Realtor makes …