You Do Not Need an Expensive SEO Consultant

SEO Consultant. $2k a month minimum.

This advertisement popped up on top of my Gmail. I saw this and thought: I am in the wrong line of work. Apparently, search engine optimization is so much in demand that you don’t need to state your qualifications or the benefits of your service – you just tell customers what they’re going to pay.

As someone who has worked on web sites for more than 15 years, I’m going to tell you a secret:

You do not need an expensive SEO consultant.

The practice of search engine optimization is based upon the belief that you can optimize web site content so that it shows up higher in Google’s search engine rankings. This is correct. There are simple things that you can do to improve your rankings, such as clear writing, good page titles and being consistent in how you describe your content. Most of the SEO practices that work revolve around words – the content of your site. Why is that?

You cannot outsmart Google.

Over the years, a variety of discredited practices have been employed by unscrupulous SEO consultants and shady web site operators to improve their site rankings. In the beginning (the 90s), this meant hidden text, where you hid a bunch of text in your site, visible only to search engines. Later on, it was the manipulation of meta-information, the descriptors of your site. Then, most maddeningly of all, it was keyword stuffing – where you repeated the same keyword over and over again in attempt to convince Google that your site was the authority on that keyword. For example, “The Acme Hotel is the best hotel in South Beach among all South Beach hotels, all South Beach hotel experts agree.”

A whole industry grew up around this practice called content farms – they produced low-quality, repetitive content that succeeded (for a time) in garnering top search engine spots on almost every topic.

But then Google changed their algorithm, killing off this industry.  Their mission is provide searchers with the best content. They don’t want to send people to crap. They employ some of the smartest techies on the planet, much smarter than a content farm owner or a slick SEO consultant. There is only one way to beat them:

Write content that people want to read.

This is a simple idea that’s rarely practiced. Instead of investing in good writing, organizations post dry reports, self-serving press releases and jargon-choked product descriptions. They end up with a web site no human would want to read and then wonder: how come we’re not #1 in Google? It’s an outrage! We need an SEO consultant!

You don’t need a consultant. You need a writer. You need someone who knows your customer, someone who can look at your organization from the outside and determine what it is that people want. This information can be found in your site’s analytics - what are web site visitors searching for? It’s probably not your annual report but is instead something simple, like a price list or store locator or if a widget comes in blue.

Start there, with this unsatisfied need that visitors have expressed. Write pages that answer these questions. Skip the SEO consultant and, instead, write content that people want to read.

 

About Joe

Joe Flood is a writer and photographer from Washington, DC. He is the author of the mystery novel Murder in Ocean Hall, as well as articles, short stories and screenplays. In his spare time, he likes wandering about the city with a camera.

3 thoughts on “You Do Not Need an Expensive SEO Consultant

  1. Ummm… You are wrong. You are just flat out wrong. If you think writing good content is going to help you rank for competitive keywords you obviously know nothing about SEO. $2000/month for SEO consulting seems like a lot of money? I guess if you’re a blogger it might be a lot of money. For a company selling $1M/year in products online the $2k/month investment to compete for keywords is nothing.

    There are SEO experts that have no problem discussing why SEO is expensive:

    http://www.seohermit.com/articles/why-is-seo-so-expensive/
    http://www.seobook.com/learn-seo/infographics/great-seo.php

    It is expensive because in competitive markets there is much work to do. You have oversimplified SEO in order to prove your point, but your point is ridiculous.

  2. The writer is absolutely correct. Writing good content is the right way to go. The SEO industry is, like the advertising industry once was- overpaid and bloated! With Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda Google emphasizes the same point: WRITE YOUR CONTENT FOR PEOPLE NOT SEARCH ENGINES and the web is full of complaints (legitimate and illegitimate)

    The only reason why SEO is costly is 1) Most companies prefer to outsource rather than keep an in house consultant and 2) Most companies buy PPM instead of focusing on Organic searches!

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