SEO Consulting (SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization) is the current buzz occupation in the Internet Business today. The demand for firms or individuals (who are called SEO Consultants) is driven by the reality of the Internet that there are literally billions of websites that have sprouted in cyberspace since the world wide web inception, with millions more entering everyday. While a large chunk of these websites are personal sites that the owner puts up for his own satisfaction, a rapidly increasing number of them have been put up for a commercial purpose.
The biggest challenge you will face as a business website owner (which any firm will tell you) is finding ways and means for many visitors to come and visit your site, thus increasing your chances of generating business. One way you can achieve this objective is to spend on traditional and/or on-line advertising and promotions to build brand awareness. While this is unarguably an effective strategy, not only is it quite expensive, it is also not targeted, i.e., it does not select the market that you are really interested in communicating to.
Fortunately, firms (or individuals) will tell you, there is a more practical and effective way to attract the right market to your Internet business website, which takes advantage of three Internet facts:
(1) Most, if not all, Internet users go to cyberspace for INFORMATION
(2) In seeking information, the common first step for an Internet user to take is to go to a search engine website, enter the keywords for his search, and click on one of the recommended sites spewed out; and
(3) there are only a few popular search engines on the Internet that searchers go to (firms know the ones that really count and keep up with their algorithm).
To get targeted visitors, therefore, you need to find a way (either by yourself or through the expertise of a consulting company) to get the popular search engines to list your website as close to the top of their list based on the most common search keywords entered by the searchers that refer to information that your website provides. Performing this “trick” successfully is what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about.
In a nutshell, SEO is a set of strategies implemented on a website that, when “crawled through” by the search engine “spiderbot”, gets evaluated with a high relevance score so that it gets listed high in the results based on the keywords entered. Different consulting groups apply different strategies to achieve this objective but will invariably use some of the strategies listed below:
Keyword Selection – In registering your site with the search engines, consulting firms will choose the keywords that: (1) your website’s information is responsive to (2) the user will most likely enter when he is searching for the information you have. Meta tag Optimization – This is another common strategy used by SEO consulting firms. Meta tags are normally found in the remarks page of your HTML code. SEO consulting firms will embed as many of the responsive keywords here because the search engine “spiderbot” always “crawls” through them. Content Optimization – firms will make sure that your website has a lot of information (either on the website itself or in the files that it hosts) that contains the relevant keywords. d. Link Building – A consulting team will use their resources and databases to build an arsenal of one way inbound links from relevant and content rich sites.
When do you know that you need the help of an consulting firm or individual? Here are a few tips to help you decide:
If you have experience in SEO, by all means do it yourself and save some money. If, however, you do not know where to start, it always makes sense to contract the services of a firm so that you do not have to go through the “hit and miss” ordeal. If you are not in a hurry and would like to let your website grow in popularity over time, then you can afford to “wing it” by first building your website, telling (or emailing) your friends to pay your site a visit and refer it to their friends. In case, however, time is critical for you, then an SEO consulting firm might be your best option. If you are running on a shoestring budget, then you really don’t have much of a choice but to optimize your website by yourself or seek financing if you are serious about making it. On the other hand, if your website has a well-thought of business plan with budget allocations for promotions, then your money on this aspect is well-spent if you opt to hire an SEO consulting firm to promote your website for you.
A final word of advice: If you decide to hire a firm or individual, choose carefully. While rates should be one of the criteria for firm selection, equally important should be experience and reputation. Do not be blinded by bargain and low priced offers that are too good to be true. If an SEO consulting firm practically gives away its service, you should be really wary. You could end up spending more than you bargained for in terms of damage control efforts, money, time, and lost opportunities if the firm you select is the wrong one.