The SEO industry revolutionizes itself every year. Google has a veritable zoo of algorithms, from local search’s Pigeon to content’s Panda and Hummingbird. In 2018, mobile-first updates were set to define the future, but that changed when 2019 guided us towards a voice search update. To complicate the issue further, Amazon and YouTube are increasingly being classified as search engines in their own right. Add each social network algorithm, and you have a field that you must qualify for anew every day. Yesterday’s SEO specialist is today’s SEO wannabe, so the most critical trait of a digital marketer is a willingness to learn. There are several other essential characteristics to look for, too.
The Ethical Marketer
When Seth Godin released his game-changing book, Permission Marketing, much of SEO was a black hat enterprise governed by anyone who could manipulate Google artificially. 2011’s marketer used keyword stuffing and registry spam to win rank. The content didn’t have to be readable to be searchable in those days, but as Panda evolved, ethics began to win out. To gain that prized first position on search pages, you had to use honest, hard work. Godin led the way, teaching marketers how to win the hearts of advertising-averse clientele by providing content that had authentic value. As the years progressed, Google’s algorithms only became better at identifying good content and great website structure. With that progress, ethical marketing became increasingly important, and this is a trend that’s unlikely to change.
A gifted SEO specialist will have won and lost rank on an algorithm, and they’ll be able to give reasons for both. Business ethics are essential, but your approach to rank must be equally principled, even in areas where SEO caters towards machines. A great digital marketer will have an intimate understanding of why appealing to people is the best way to appeal to algorithms, and they’ll stay away from cheap tricks that win short term rank at the expense of long term reputation. Ethics are a key performance indicator, especially where Google is involved.
The Content-Focused SEO Specialist
Content drives the internet, so it drives rank, too. Your SEO specialist might not create your content, but they must be able to identify superb writing. Assigning a video or blog post that pops entails more than mere hiring and editing, though. Team management skills are the magnet that draws the highest gifts out of content providers. Creativity is a volatile thing. It takes a mentorship-minded marketer to keep creative teams motivated and willing to experiment. Ideally, each person in your group will be given the freedom to do their independent learning, too. In a field as mobile as SEO, stasis can spell disaster. Miss an update, and you risk losing your hard-won search position and a substantial number of reputation points.
The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, so your specialist’s history is like a map towards your future. A few key characteristics will tell you volumes:
- A good portfolio tells you how well an SEO specialist holds onto their clients. Look for long-term client relationships and sustained results, even if they’ve never represented a Fortune 500 company.
- A specialist who guarantees first place in search results is probably dishonest. A quality SEO specialist will use measurable results to adjust your campaign until it hits gold. This way, your rank will increase gradually over time, then evolve with new trends and updates.
- Someone who works with clients actively over the long term understands that businesses grow, so their campaigns should grow with them.
- No SEO campaign is created alike. The best strategies fit your goals precisely, whether they’re to brand your product more tightly, gain new traffic, or win rank. An SEO specialist worth their salt takes on your dreams. They don’t force you to take on theirs.
- The right specialist will earn you lasting rankings. While good campaigns are evolving ones, black hat SEO practitioners buy spam links and listings, so the moment you terminate your contract, your rank will sink, and you’ll have no results to speak of. If your candidate tells you your rank will be lost at your contract’s close, their methods are suspect and may cost you your reputation.
SEO’s Knock-On Effects
Your SEO campaign earns you more than rank. It contributes to your understanding of your industry and its clients while informing you of your rivals. An SEO campaign that appeals to Google Hummingbird and RankBrain must necessarily also appeal to your potential buyers because these algorithms were designed to reflect human responses. For content to rank, it must be powerfully branded, and that means your SEO specialist performs the task of an entire marketing department. The work and hours you put into consulting on your digital strategy will help you to define your business’ purpose, goals, and values. It lets you refine your corporate culture and sculpt your brand more powerfully, then guides you through your buyers’ reactions to your campaign.
Your SEO specialist’s research tells you all about your potential buyers, which media they use and where, and what they want most from the companies they support. You’ll learn what your rivals are offering and how they’re marketing it — this kind of data used to cost marketers tens of thousands of dollars and many months of research. Today, online analytics and research software support valuable research for a fraction of that price, giving you all you need to gain competitive advantage.
Today’s SEO campaigns must refine your site’s architecture, load times, and content. A comprehensive campaign will restructure your site and create a responsive version that adjusts to every user’s device. Ecommerce functionality will be checked, and metadata will be optimized. Your SEO specialist will then grow your presence through several channels, all chosen for your unique audience. Your target market will be defined and divided into a series of personas. Finally, a social media presence will be achieved on the right sites to reach your audience. Listening tools may be used to keep you informed every time someone on social media mentions your brand. A thorough campaign will not only send your business presence across the web but also improve your service tools, helping you to win buyer loyalty while you promote your business to new users.
An SEO specialist is thus far more than a mere internet marketer. We’re able to give your business new scope, expand your market, and add to your client base. In short, we build the road you’ll take towards your greatest successes.