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A lack of search engine optimization (SEO) leaves many small business websites buried under an avalanche of online content, invisible to potential customers.

Simply offering quality products or services isn’t enough to make it in today’s competitive market. Without a solid SEO strategy, your business will face major growth hurdles, missing out on potential customers and letting competitors take the lead.

The good news is, there’s a way to change this. The right SEO expert can help your website stand out from the competition and attract potential customers.

In this article, I share five crucial tips for navigating the world of SEO professionals and finding the one who can truly make a difference for your business.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant

SEO is as important as ever

When your potential customers search for the products or services you offer online, you want to be at the top of search results. This is where SEO comes in handy.

Using the right SEO techniques improves your search engine rankings and drives more visitors to your website. More importantly, it provides the best user experience, helping convert these visitors into customers.

A strong SEO strategy builds credibility and trust in your brand. When your website ranks high on search engine result pages (SERPs), it’s seen as more authoritative and reliable.

However, ranking on your own is often difficult, and most entrepreneurs need help from SEO experts. Keep in mind that the market is flooded with SEO agencies promising sky-high results, but not all deliver. Some use outdated techniques or black-hat tactics that can do more harm than good.

Let’s see how you can avoid that:

How to choose the right SEO expert for your business

Here are the five SEO tips for small businesses that can help you find the right SEO expert:

1. Niche relevance

When choosing an SEO expert, you should pick someone with specific experience in your niche. The reason behind this is simple — every industry has unique challenges, audience behaviors and SEO mistakes to avoid.

For example, if you’re running a SaaS company, you’ll be up against different keywords, content strategies and competition than the tech or software world.

An SEO expert with a track record in the SaaS industry will understand your niche’s nuances, from the technical jargon to the customer journey of a software buyer. They’ll know what has worked in the past for similar companies and will be able to tailor their SEO strategy accordingly.

In comparison, ecommerce SEO involves optimizing product pages, managing reviews and understanding how to navigate the complexities of various shopping platforms. An expert with ecommerce experience will understand these specifics and develop a strategy to ensure your products rank well on Google and attract the right customers.

The same goes for every other niche out there.

2. Proven track records

A history of delivering solid results across multiple projects is a strong indicator of a skilled SEO expert. Remember, a single success story might be a stroke of luck, but consistent achievements across various campaigns suggest a deep understanding of SEO principles.

In addition to checking their track record, however, you also need to ensure these results are tangible. Some SEO professionals might boast about doubling a website’s traffic in a few months, but these numbers can be misleading without context.

For example, doubling a website’s traffic from 200 to 400 visitors is significantly different than going from 20,000 to 40,000. The latter demonstrates the ability to operate and deliver larger-scale results, which is crucial for businesses aiming for substantial growth.

Related: 7 Compelling Reasons Why You Need to Hire An SEO Expert for Your Business

3. Clear scope and deliverables

A common issue when hiring SEO experts is presenting a vague work scope. Statements like “We’ll improve your technical SEO” or “We’ll focus on your on-page SEO” might sound promising, but they lack specificity.

As a business owner, even if you’re unfamiliar with all the technicalities of SEO, you should expect a clear work scope and a detailed timeline from your SEO expert. This can include all the tasks they’ll undertake, how they contribute to your overall SEO strategy and when you can expect them to be completed.

It’s also crucial to understand exactly what SEO services you’re getting. For example, here are some questions you could ask:

  • Is keyword research part of the package, and how extensive will it be?

  • How many blog posts or articles are included, and what topics will they cover?

  • How many guest posts from reputable sites can you expect, and over what timeframe?

4. Reasonable output

SEO agencies sometimes prioritize the management aspect of their services, such as strategy planning and client communication, instead of actual deliverables like content and backlinks.

Remember that content creation and link-building are the biggest needle-movers in the SEO game. So, receiving one blog post a week and a couple of backlinks a month just isn’t enough to significantly impact your website’s search engine rankings.

For SEO efforts to be truly effective, you should expect at least a dozen or more high-quality, SEO content pieces each month. In addition, aim to request five to ten quality backlinks per month.

5. Regular reporting

It’s important to know upfront what the agency’s reporting structure looks like and how they plan to keep you informed about the developments and results of your SEO strategy. It needs to be clear, understandable and actionable, allowing you to see the return on your investment.

Effective reporting should start with baseline metrics like website impressions. An increase in impressions indicates that more potential customers are seeing your website.

Another critical metric is the increase in clicks to key pages on your website, as it indicates that content is relevant enough to encourage further engagement.

Lastly, any reporting should cover ranking for your target keywords. Improving keyword rankings is a strong indicator of successful SEO, which means your website is becoming more authoritative.

Related: Don’t Believe an SEO Expert Who Tells You Any of These 7 Lies

Partnering with the right SEO expert is vital for improving your website’s visibility and supporting business growth. Remember to seek someone with niche relevance, a proven track record, clear deliverables, reasonable output and regular reporting.

Following these five tips ensures a personalized approach, transparent communication and tangible results, setting you up for guaranteed success.

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