How Can I Find a Good SEO Consultant Near Me?
To answer the question "How can I find a good SEO Consultant near me?" it is important to first ask, "What is a good SEO consultant?" To answer this, we must first consider,
"What is SEO?"
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a term that was coined officially in 2007, though Bob Heyman and Leland Harden stake claim to it as early as 1995. Whatever the case, from roughly 2007 until about 2016, SEO represented the pinacle of website achievement.
SEO was the means by which a website would achieve Page Rank, a system of rating websites developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It was a system by which websites would be rated and ranked to make it easier for searchers to locate what they wanted. Until 2011, it was the primary system that every website owner used to get better search results.
SEO from 2011 to 2016
From 2011 to 2016, Google developed a series of algorithm changes which eliminated their Page Rank system. By 2016, everything upon which traditional SEO was based was eliminated...or nearly everything.
In reality, what was eliminated were deceptive practices which came to be called Black Hat SEO. Yet, Google had never really accepted the term SEO. Although the changes effectively elmiminated the old SEO school of thought, Google did embrace SEO in principle.
In principle meant creating websites and web pages in a way that Google would be proud to promote them. Google was fine with allowing most of the so-called White Hat SEO techniques because these made for better websites. Since the first changes were made, Google has continually worked to change their search algorithm so that deceptive practices cannot again creep in.
White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat
In comparing Black Hat SEO to White Hat SEO, let us start with White Hat. These two schools of thought still exist. Understanding the difference is key to finding a good SEO consultant near you. A good SEO consultant will understand the difference and be able to explain their SEO services to you. If their explaination falls in the Black Hat category, beware.
So, what is White Hat SEO and how will this affect my search for a good SEO consultant near me?
White Hat SEO techniques focus on the elements of a website that Google says matter. There are three basic elements that Google considers when raking a website. These are:
Credibility is the same for a website as it is for a business.
Does the owner of the business make policies clear and available to their buying public? How easy does the website make it to resolve problems? Does it belong to any organizations which make it more credible? Is site ownership hidden from the public?
These things and more add up to how credible the website is. They determine whether Google can in good faith recommend it to others in their search results pages known as SERPs.
Content on the website is any information conveyed in written, visual, audio, or video form.
Just as a department store would make sure that every item for sale is clearly labeled, Google expects websites to be clear in what it provides and how it is presented. These elements affect how Google ranks the website overall.
Connectivity is how well the website is linked or connected to other websites.
Playing into this is the idea that if websites of higher authority or greater popularity link back to a website, then the website must have merit. But Google also looks at how well the website links to other websites and how it connects pages on the same site. In other words, Google asks "how useful is the website?" In a physical business, we would refer to this as networking.
Within each of these three catagories are numerous items which play to the basic elements for SEO. But this will suffice to give you a good understanding of how to find a good SEO consultant near you.
If you would like to know more about the top items used in SEO today, download our free ebook by completing the form below the post, "150 Point Website Evaluation Workbook".
How Can Black Hat SEO Help Identify a Good SEO Consultant Near Me?
Black Hat SEO involves using deceptive practices to "trick" the search crawlers into pushing a website higher in search rankings. Before Google made sweeping changes from 2011 to 2016, Black Hat SEO techniques were quite effective for an entire website. Google now considers each page on its own merit, but if Black Hat SEO techniques are found on a website, the entire site will suffer.
Today, if a site employs these unsavory tactics, it may enjoy a period of growth, but soon it will be ignored by the search engine. What are some of the tactics which should not be employed? How can you know if the SEO consultant you are considering may be using them?
Google provides an extensive list of acceptable SEO practices. Some of these practices do involve backend coding, but that is usually just cleaning up faulty code, bad links, and closing holes in security. On the page Steps to a Google-friendly site, Google highlights some of the worst practices.
"Don't fill your page with lists of keywords, attempt to "cloak" pages, or put up "crawler only" pages. If your site contains pages, links, or text that you don't intend visitors to see, Google considers those links and pages deceptive and may ignore your site.
"Don't feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimization service. Some companies claim to "guarantee" high ranking for your site in Google's search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site's flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index.
"Don't use images to display important names, content, or links. Our crawler doesn't recognize text contained in graphics. Use ALT attributes if the main content and keywords on your page can't be formatted in regular HTML.
"Don't create multiple copies of a page under different URLs. Many sites offer text-only or printer-friendly versions of pages that contain the same content as the corresponding graphic-rich pages. If your site has identical content that can be reached via different URLs, there are several ways of indicating the canonical (preferred) version of a page."
These four items show up some of the most common steps that Black Hat SEO firms use.
It can be tricky to know if the SEO consultant you are speaking with uses these techniques or not. One sure sign they are not up-to-date with Google is telling you they can "Guarantee" Top Ranking or "Get you a Page Rank of 1" or something of that nature.
The simple fact is that no one today can Guarantee Top Search Results using SEO. Google continues to protect against the practices that make this possible. A guarantee of results can be made, but it is a slow, steady process and is highly dependent on many factors including:
- Competition in the online market space
- Quality of the content on the website
- Volume of content on the website
- The industry niche of the website
- The external market
So, How Can I Find a Good SEO Consultant Near Me?
The most important thing in finding a good SEO consultant near you is listening to how they represent themselves and their company. If what they say sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
While it is possible to guarantee overall results for a website, as with many things in business, some pages will perform very well, others will not. A good SEO consultant will explain this.
Some Red Flags when Looking for a Good SEO Consultant Near You
We have compiled this short list of red flags to help you quickly determine whether the SEO consultant you are speaking with is providing valuable SEO or the Black Hat version.
If the SEO consultant claims "We will make your Website Rank 1st Place with Google" This is not possible using sound practices because entire websites no longer rank under the current rules. Pages can rank, websites do not. That notion died in 2016 with the end of Page Rank.
If the consultant provides you with a super low cost to rank an entire website high, something is wrong. Everything today is content-driven. In other words, valuable content that readers will find useful is what draws people to the site. And quality, optimized content costs.
Another red flag appears if they tell you they can produce instant or near instant results, perhaps within a week or so. Getting a website to start appearing well in search takes time, generally months. Some pages will perform well, others will not.
Using Google Analytics, a good SEO consulting agency will analyze the data and make small adjustments to poorly performing content to help it better perform. There are no overnight fixes outside of Black Hat SEO, which does more harm than good in the long-term.
If your potential SEO consultant tells you that they can DRIVE people to the site, consider this a red flag. No one is driven to a site, organic search is the process whereby people are DRAWN to a site. It seems a small difference, but these two concepts are worlds apart.
The first concept is derived from the older, traditional outbound marketing model; it is old-school thinking which does not relfect SEO. SEO is part of the modern, inbound marketing approach. It is often called attraction marketing because that is what it does, attracts.
A Good SEO Consultant Knows the Difference Between Outbound and Inbound Marketing
A good SEO consultant will understand the distinction between the two types of marketing today and be able to explain it. If he or she cannot, they are either promoting the kind of SEO that you do not want or are promoting a contradictory style of marketing.
Those who provide the kind of SEO approved by Google, understand SEO well enough to explain it to others. They are proud of their work and can back their statements with facts from Google.
Those who are either unsure of the difference or shy away from telling how they do what they do are not likely to be promoting something helpful. This is because they often know that once the search crawlers figure out what is happening, the site will suffer. Traffic will disappear and fixing the damage will be costly. Google does not play around and has no patience for websites employing Black Hat techniques. Once discovered, and it will be discovered, the website is done for.
Just be sure to question any SEO consultant near you extensively. If they cannot or will not explain what they are doing, avoid them. They are likely providing something you do not want on your website.
We hope this information helps you find a good SEO Consultant near you.
If you live in the Southwest Louisiana area including Lake Charles, Sulphur, Westlake, Vinton, or DeQuincy, get in touch.
C J Oakes is our in-house Marketing Consultant and has been providing Consulting services to site owners for nearly a decade. He will be glad to meet with you to discuss any online marketing questions or concerns you have. If you live outside the local area and would like to consult with Mr. Oakes, he will be happy to arrange a web conference.
You may call Mr. Oakes directly at 337.660.4774 or get in touch using the form below.