Choose the Right SEO Consultant For USA or Anywhere
The main job of an SEO consultant is to constantly increase website visitors from search engines. The SEO consultant is an expert in using keywords that specifically target only those visitors, who quickly convert into a customer or a lead. Therefore, he plays a major role in deciding the success and failure of your website.
SEO is most popular in USA. But, the SEO expert may be located in USA, or anywhere - he need not be local. The location does not matter as long as you can effectively consult with him by using software for live chat or by email. For example, an SEO expert outside USA can manage clients in USA by using a software tool like Skype for video chat and voice calls.
To choose the right SEO consultant, you must be aware of his job responsibilities, and the skills required, and the rates charged for various SEO work. Before you hire him or sign a contract with him, ensure that he fulfills the following criteria.
What are the job responsibilities of an SEO service provider?
Evaluating Business Objectives: The true return on investment (ROI) from SEO service is judged not just by the increase in organic traffic volume, but more by the increase in organic traffic conversion rate. So, while determining business objectives, the SEO consultant has to properly evaluate that the investment in time, effort, and money spent, can be justified in future by the profit generated for the business through new customers acquired from organic search.
Preparing Questionnaire: In order to accurately analyze client requirements, the SEO consultant prepares a detailed questionnaire about different aspects of client's business. One part of the questionnaire template consists of purely technical questions related to the client's industry. This is required to gather unique content about the products and services offered by the client. The other part of the template contains questions on marketing and sales value propositions. Competitive keyword content can be written by the SEO consultant only when he is able to extract accurate and comprehensive answers from the client.
Determining Website Objectives: The SEO consultant specializes in determining the multiple objectives of a single website. For example, first time buyers and repeat customers have different objectives. They use different keywords to reach the website. First time buyers use only product keywords. Repeat customers search for product pages by frequently supplementing product keywords with brand names. Returning visitors also search for customer service pages using customer service keywords in search engines. Hence, you should not follow the experts who advise you to use the "nofollow" attribute on links to customer service pages. This actually works against the website's objectives. So, by determining the different objectives of a website, the SEO consultant creates a comprehensive list of keywords and maps the keywords to appropriate landing pages.
SEO Audit: The knowledge and experience of an expert becomes evident with the report generated by him after an extensive website audit for content, link, and technical issues.
A content audit is used to detect and fix problems with Title tags, headings, keyword distribution in body text, and keyword stuffing, and thereby cause a significant improvement in rankings and organic traffic.
Link audit deals with both internal and external links. An internal link audit is used to detect problems with grouping of navigation links and keyword stuffed anchor text. An external link audit is used to detect and clean spam backlinks, and remove resulting search engine penalties.
A technical audit is used to immediately detect technical issues like broken links, which include missing web pages, files and images. Complex technical issues like duplicate URLs can be removed through URL canonicalization by writing technically challenging 301 redirects or by generating REL canonical tags.
SEO Training: No matter how good the SEO expert that you have hired, he can't execute the entire job by himself. He has to train the employees at different levels in the client organization to manage website content according to search engine guidelines. Without properly training the employees on how to select keywords for SEO and how to place keywords in your website's content, even an expert has little chance of optimizing the entire website.
Monthly Reporting: If you want to track progress on the amount SEO work done and ranking results achieved, you will need a work report and a ranking report from the SEO consultant. Work done is measured by the quality of content and links produced. Results achieved are measured in terms of improvement in search engine rankings and traffic generated by targeted keywords. More importantly, a monthly increase in landing page conversion rates resulting from search engine traffic signifies that the SEO services are moving in the right direction.
What are skills required by an SEO Expert?
Data Mining Skills: An expert detects ranking signals by first applying "pattern matching" on search engine data. Search engine data is an example of big data, but the SEO expert uses pattern matching techniques on the results of individual search queries. Matching patterns may indicate ranking signals, but this can only be confirmed through further experimentation and analysis. However, data mining skills are crucial in the first step of detecting ranking factors.
SEO Copywriting Skills: The web page copy should have the right mix of search friendly content and user friendly content. Search friendly content is keyword rich copy. User friendly content is the copy that strikes an emotional chord in the user and evokes an emotional response. An SEO copywriter has the expertise in jointly writing both these types of content, which is the key to acquiring and converting search engine traffic.
Programming and database management skills help to easily optimize content for large database driven websites. For example, consider e-commerce websites of internet retailers with huge inventories. Can you imagine optimizing the content of thousands of category and product pages simultaneously without using programming skills? The SEO professional with technical expertise can easily guide you on how to do this, and thus save time and reduce website bandwidth.
So, technical skills greatly help in efficient content management of large websites. They are very useful in making improvements in search engine rankings on a large scale.
Content Marketing Skills provide a great advantage while promoting your brand not only on external websites but also on search engines. But, content marketing is not easy. If you hire a person with journalistic skills, it becomes relatively easier to write the creative content required to successfully market brand names. When the creative content is distributed on social media sites, people increasingly search for your brand names in search engines, and also link to your website, thus improving your website's search engine rankings.
Link Building Skills are required to place links at relevant positions on high traffic websites. It is a tough task because you need to build relationships with high traffic websites before they allow you to place links. Links not only generate traffic, but also improve crawl rates, and enable better indexing of content. The ability to write optimized anchor text for links also improves rankings of specific keywords.
Such skills are expensive to hire, but they are essential for an SEO consultant to guide both on site and off site optimization, and boost search engine visibility.
What are the rates charged for SEO?
An SEO company may charge rates varying from $500 to $5000 per month for its service. The pricing depends on the size of website, complexity of work, competition in the industry, location of the company, and other factors. The cost of SEO service is calculated on the basis of hourly rates or monthly retainers.
Hourly rates vary from $100 to $500 in USA. However, you can get the same service at rates varying from $25 to $100 per hour, if you outsource your optimization work to countries like India.
Similarly, rates for contract projects can vary from $1000 to $10000 in USA. Rarely does any SEO service provider in USA take up projects worth less than $1000. I have taken up individual projects for clients in USA at rates ranging from $500 to $6000 per project, and completed within two months.
With such a wide range of rates charged for a wide range of services, how much do you pay your SEO consultant? It's better to fix the pricing as a percentage of the profit expected from the increase in search engine traffic. However, for a new site, you have to wait for a few months before you see the effect of optimization work. So, a contract based on monthly retainers helps you to better evaluate the cost against the work done and the return on investment.
What are the terms and condition of an SEO contract?
Proper understanding of client-consultant contracts is crucial to future client-consultant relationships. The terms and conditions of contracts primarily focus on deliverables, payments terms, and period of contract.
Deliverables: Often, SEO consultants promise deliverables like page one rankings for targeted keywords. However, it's impractical to guarantee page one rankings in search engines like Google because rankings depends on unpredictable factors like constantly changing search queries, addition of new landing pages by competitors, and frequent updates to ranking algorithms of search engines. Reasonable deliverables that you can set are - an increase in search traffic and an increase in search conversion rate, from a wide range of relevant keywords.
Payment terms: These are closely associated with period of contract. For contractual projects, it's better for you to make half payment at the beginning and the remaining amount on completion of the project. However, monthly payments are ideal for new consultant-client relationships. A monthly payment option makes it easy to terminate the agreement at the end of each month, if any dissatisfaction arises in either party.
Non-compete agreement: A contract may also include a non-compete agreement, which prevents the SEO consultant from simultaneously working for a competitor. You may want the non-compete clause to persist even after the termination of the contract. However, as the consultant's domain knowledge about a non-SEO industry significantly increases after a long term client project, he will always want to reuse the domain knowledge instead of wasting it. So, you can expect a non-compete clause to exist and work in your favor only during the period of the contract, but not beyond it.