Interview with a Hyattsville, Maryland Search Engine Optimization Expert

Some people love it. Many people don’t think they need it. And even more people don’t even know it exists. It’s called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and it has a history of making or breaking entire companies. While this facet of digital marketing is one of the more technical and complicated, it is also one of the most important. It’s the reason why your website is, or isn’t, on the first page of Google search results.

Sutter Group has a team of experts we pull together for projects based on the unique needs of that project. One of our team members is Scott Benson, whom we asked to help address a few SEO questions our agency still gets from time to time. He has a decade of experience at the enterprise level, as well as some experience with start-ups and small businesses.

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#1 What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice by which site owners and webmasters alter their website code and external influences to improve the ranking of their site on Google and other major search engine results pages. The initial goal of these efforts is to increase traffic to websites; but, in 2015, SEO has evolved into a broader Digital Marketing practice, and now focuses on user experience, sales or business goals, website performance metrics, and much more.

#2 What is the difference between organic vs. paid results?

Organic results are the classic “10 blue links” most searchers are familiar with; however, those displays are ever changing. Organic results are the free SEO listings we strive for and can be found on Google.com searches when you see a Blue Title, a Green URL (link), and a Black Description.

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Paid results are just that, paid advertisements. Currently, Google is identifying ads by placing a yellow “Ad” tag next to each listing. Advertising on Google.com happens through its AdWords service, where anyone can pay to run a campaign.

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#3 Should you optimize your domain name to include keywords?

Keyword Rich domains or Exact Match Domains have seen their day come and go. In the past, say 5+ years ago, a popular SEO tactic included buying domain names that exactly matched a company’s product offering. For example, a company selling “Blue Widgets” might buy a domain name like “www.best-blue-widgets.com.” The thought was their site would display prominently on Google searches for “Blue Widgets,” “the Best Blue Widgets,” or other similar terms because those terms were in the domain name. In 2012, Google released an algorithm update to monitor for this practice and other likely low-quality tactics. A better practice companies should focus on is using brand-themed domains that are short, memorable, easy to share, and also easily typed into a browser.

#4 How do you know when you’re using enough keywords on a page?

You don’t, and you shouldn’t worry about it. With that, make sure your targeted phrase or a synonym is located in the page Title (SEO Title), the H1 tag, and naturally throughout the body copy. Every SEO will tell you to write for humans, not search engines. Stick to that premise.

#5 How long does it take to see results from SEO?

It all depends on the industry, the competition, and the intent of the SEO campaign (here’s the case by Godrank gambling SEO services – result obtained too prompt to be true). SEO success really is the sum of all parts, including Technical SEO, Targeting, Content, UX and links. That sum is different for every company, but SEO should be given a minimum of 6 months to a year to show traction. I should also say it depends on where a company starts with their digital marketing efforts that could shape their successes in the future. If a website has historical technical issues, it might take longer for SEO to show results. The foundation of SEO—at least in my opinion—is running a technically sound site. From there, you get into the idea of Content Marketing, creating valuable resources for your target audience.

#6 What would you say to someone who does not think they need to hire an SEO expert?

I’d flip the conversation and ask them questions. How are people finding you if they aren’t already familiar with your brand? How do you know? How valuable is that missing traffic to your business? Don’t know…? That’s OK; we can grow and measure that traffic. You need to show them the value of the business they’re not earning by not being active with digital marketing.

#7 How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?

Sales. Leads. Business goals. Forget traffic and rankings. Those are nice, and possibly a prerequisite, but I like to drill down to business metrics that matter to the owner or executives. After all, that’s the whole point, right? We can show traffic patterns resulting in sales or leads, so why not use that as the baseline for success metrics?

#8 What are some SEO tools you use and what are the differences between them?

  • Moz.com – best social media consultant – offers website health monitoring, link monitoring and research, social media research, as well as client reporting.
  • Google Search Console offers website health monitoring, content opportunities, sitemap submissions and monitoring.
  • Screaming Frog offers in-depth SEO analysis for websites.
  • HelpAReporter.com (HARO) offers easy outreach to industry experts. Third party validation is critical to SEO.

#9 Once you’ve gotten good rankings, should you continue SEO?

Gone are the days where a few meta tags and low quality links resulted in ranking success. SEO is absolutely a continuous effort, with content marketing taking precedence once a site is “technically sound.” Also, consider the fact that your competitors are running SEO campaigns as well. What’s the next product or service you could be offering that also ranks well on Google? You need to be constantly building your site authority to own those opportunities.

Out of content opportunities? DFY SEO service experts say: ask your customer base what troubles they’re having. It’s likely other potential customers have the same pain points. Provide solutions to those problems through resources and you’ll make it easier for new customers to find your business online.

#10 What basic SEO lingo should every marketing professional understand?

Keyword Targeting. Yoast SEO for WordPress. Google Analytics. Usability. Site Speed. Conversion Optimization. Social Marketing. Outreach. All digital marketing professionals should be striving to become a T-shaped marketer, and understand the concepts of many digital marketing tactics. You’ll become a better marketer, and you’ll naturally build your nerdy lingo vocabulary!

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