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5 Times You Absolutely Must Hire An SEO Pro

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5 Times You Absolutely Must Hire An SEO Pro

There are plenty of business owners and digital marketing generalists who can handle the everyday management of their own SEO.

Even at the enterprise level, you may have web developers, content creators, and others taking care of tasks that support your SEO program.

However, there are some situations that absolutely require an experienced SEO professional to resolve.

Trying to tackle major issues on your own can result in an inordinate amount of frustration and lost revenue.

So how do you know when the situation calls for the intervention of a seasoned pro?

Here are five times when you should absolutely hire an SEO.

1. Google Search Isn’t Indexing Your Website Or Pages

Troubleshooting why your website is missing from Google search results is best handled by a professional.

An experienced SEO will not waste any time and will know what to look for.

It could be a simple oversight that is not allowing Google to crawl your website or a more complex issue with the structure of your website or URL parameters.

It’s possible that your content is plagiarized or that Google thinks it’s too similar to another page on your site.

There are many different reasons, and an SEO professional can help solve the problem and get your website indexed and visible on Google.

2. During A Site Migration Or Redesign

Any time there are major changes to a website’s domain, CMS platform, design layout, navigation, URL structure, etc., there are risks involved.

Blindly putting your website in the hands of a great web designer is not a good idea.

As the business owner, you should understand how the changes made to your website may affect your organic search traffic.

You’ll want to consult with an SEO expert who handles site migrations to get a full breakdown of the different needs and technical demands.

An SEO can help you create a plan to reduce risks, assist in managing the migration, and watch for traffic anomalies post-migration.

3. When Organic Traffic Drops

If you notice that your Google Search traffic is decreasing, would you know what to do?

Site traffic drops can happen for a lot of reasons and most of them can be reversed.

How to fix it isn’t always straightforward, which is why hiring an SEO consultant is a good idea.

It could be a reporting glitch or seasonality trends, an algorithmic change affecting the site at a page level, or a technical issue like a manual action affecting the site.

A professional SEO will be able to review your search traffic trends and detect what the most likely cause for your traffic loss is and provide a clear path to correcting the drop.

4. To Reverse A Manual Action

If you suspect organic traffic drops are due to manual action, the first step will be detecting what type of manual action took place and which pages are affected.

You need to fix all of the issues on all of the affected pages before submitting for a reconsideration review.

A reconsideration review will explain the exact quality issues on your site, the efforts and steps you’ve taken to fix them, and document the outcome of your efforts.

It needs to provide Google with good-faith assurance that it won’t happen again, you’ve turned the corner and won’t continue to spam the internet.

All of which need to be handled with care and by someone with experience navigating manual actions.

5. Not Getting Results From SEO Strategy

Maybe you’ve been working with a junior SEO or a well-known SEO agency and are not seeing the results you expected or need from your organic channel marketing efforts.

Maybe your SEO strategy worked really well and you’ve been too busy to devote the time needed to keep the lead machine operating smoothly.

Maybe you have been DIY-ing SEO and no longer enjoy it.

Whatever the reason, if you are unhappy with your current organic strategy, then it is time to hire an SEO.

Listen to your intuition, free up the mental space, and continue to tackle other aspects of your business that spark joy.

Choosing An SEO

I’ve worked in search marketing for well over a decade, and during this time, I’ve seen long-term marketers share bad advice and newcomers share really good advice.

I’ve seen people gain popularity quickly and know a few that prefer to fly under the radar.

So, this list is not going to include years of practice or contain any reference to popularity metrics.

These six tips, however, are going to help you choose an SEO that best aligns with your business goals.

1. Clear Communication 

Communication is number one. You need to understand what your SEO is recommending, how it will be implemented, and how results will be tracked.

Ask for explanations if something is unclear.

Ultimately, it’s your business that is on the line so it is in your best interest to know exactly how a marketer plans to help you.

Google warns that deceptive or misleading tactics, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, could result in your website being removed from Google’s index.

There is a level of comfort and ease that is felt when you know someone has your best interest in mind.

Red flags will arise when you feel like “just a number” and quickly move along without any explanation.

2. Strategy Aligns With Your Business Goals

Be prepared to pay upfront for an SEO audit so the strategy can be tailored to fit your business goals.

Before you sign a contract or agree to work with someone, you need to make sure that their idea is in line with your own idea for your business.

While it is true that marketers can not promise or otherwise guarantee results, they can align their strategy and goals with what you define as a win.

For example, let’s say you’re hiring an SEO because the leads your website is currently generating are not any good.

If the SEO you chat with reviews Google Search Console clicks and says, “Hey, you can increase traffic by 300% by bumping this keyword from position seven to position three!” – that’s not a good match.

You don’t want to increase traffic to pages that are generating poor-quality leads.

If the SEO you chat with plans on starting with speaking to your sales team to define a good keyword strategy, now you have someone who is listening to your business’s needs and working to help you meet goals.

3. Knowledge Of SEO

There are many different specialties within the blanket term of search engine optimization.

For example, if you’re going through a site migration then you’re going to look for an SEO with a technical skillset.

Whereas, if you were ranking well and have sense loss traffic, you’ll want someone who has a good understanding of organic content strategy to regain your keyword rankings.

Maybe your website is technically sound and you have content that converts well, and now you’re looking for someone with PR chops to win more backlinks.

Just like when you build an app, the developer needs to be able to code in that language. The SEO you hire needs to have knowledge of the type of SEO that your website needs.

4. Cost Of Service

Before you start looking, it’s important to determine a marketing budget where you can reasonably not expect results for the next six to 12 months.

The cost of SEO services varies a lot depending on the type of service, the provider, and the plan.

In 2022, SEO packages are not as common as a monthly retainer.

For local SEO, the price range is between $300 and $1,500 per month, while national or international retainers fall between $5,000 and $10,000 per month.

Hourly rates for SEO consultants fall between $75 and $1,500 per hour.

5. Expectations 

When hiring an SEO, be sure to have your expectations in check.

A study from 2017 tracked keyword positioning on 2 million pages over the course of one year.

After one year, only 5.7% of all studied pages ranked in the top 10 search results for at least one keyword.

Proving that SEO is a long-haul game.

It took between two and six months for the “lucky pages” to make it to the first page.

Actually, I shouldn’t call these pages “lucky” because there was likely an SEO behind the scenes putting in work.

6. Ask For References

Even if an SEO shares amazing results on social media, or is referred by a friend, or has great case studies – ask for references.

Just as you would when hiring an employee.

When checking references, ask questions to find out if the SEO’s guidance was helpful and sustainable.

The mark of a good SEO is their ability to integrate the optimization processes into the general business operations.

You’ll want to make sure that the SEO practitioner focuses on long-term wins and not just quick fixes.

Questions To Ask When Hiring An SEO

When hiring an SEO questions like, “How will you improve my website?” are not helpful because they may have a different idea of what “improve” means than you do.

Try to phrase your questions in a way that provides a better idea of whether their processes align with your business objectives.

Here are seven questions to ask when hiring an SEO:

  1. Can you share a success story where you’ve solved a problem similar to mine?
  2. How do you measure the success of your SEO campaign?
  3. How often will I receive campaign updates and analytics?
  4. What are the most important SEO techniques?
  5. What areas (if any) do you outsource?
  6. What are your fees and payment terms?
  7. What happens when we part ways?

Final Thoughts

A lot of SEO best practices can be handled in-house, once you have basic SEO skills and processes in place.

There are, however, situations where you are better off hiring a professional SEO – like a site migration or reversing a drop in organic traffic.

During the hiring process, be sure to ask questions that will help you find an SEO that aligns with your marketing goals.

More Resources:


Featured Image: insta_photos/Shutterstock

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Is Fresh Content A Google Ranking Factor?

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Is Fresh Content A Google Ranking Factor?

As with most updates in Google’s history, search industry rumors spread quickly about how to “game” the system.

“Freshness” is a common theme among Google updates, spanning over a decade.

And “fresh content” as a ranking factor has been an ongoing point of interest for SEOs, especially among content marketers.

To better understand the debate, we will look at Google’s “Freshness” updates, specifically what they mean and how (if at all) they affect search rankings.

[Recommended Read:] Google Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction

The Claim: Fresh Content As A Ranking Factor

The speculation that fresh content may be a ranking factor began in response to a few major Google updates and has snowballed into quite the claim.

The idea behind “fresh content” started a few years before Google’s Caffeine update.

In 2007, a New York Times reporter was allowed to spend a day with Amit Singhal (Senior VP of Search at the time).

During this time, Singhal spoke on the record about the solution he had developed to solve the “freshness problem.”

It was a new algorithm that tried to determine when users wanted new information and when they didn’t.

And like all Google initiatives, it had a catchy moniker: QDF for “query deserves freshness.”

Caffeine (2009 Google Update)

If you think Google core updates are a big deal now, wait until you hear about the Google Caffeine update of 2009.

It was such a massive change that Google actually provided developers with a preview a few months before rolling it out.

Caffeine allowed Google to crawl faster, thus delivering fresher results from a much larger index.

The indexing update was completed in June 2010, kicking off the fresh content myth because Google said, “Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results.”

Freshness (2011 Google Update)

Google announced a “Freshness update” in November 2011, four years after the New York Times story broke.

In the announcement titled, “Giving you fresher, more recent search results,” Google explained that this was a significant improvement to the ranking algorithm and noticeably impacts six to 10% of searches.

Featured Snippets Freshness (2019 Google Update)

Freshness updates did not stop there. Relevancy continues to be top of mind for Google as they seek to satisfy user queries.

Pandu Nayak, Google’s current Vice President of Search, announced in 2019 that the company updated its search algorithms to keep snippets current, fresh, and relevant.

Danny Sullivan confirmed that the Featured Snippets Freshness update went live in late February 2019.

Rumors on how to optimize for Google updates spread quickly, and this was undoubtedly true for fresh content.

Speculations circulated claiming that by updating content frequently, you could secure an SEO advantage or that updating the publication date of an article can make it look fresh.

Let’s take a look at the evidence behind these claims and whether fresh content is in any way a ranking factor.

For a deep dive into Google Ranking Factors, download the ebook now.

The Evidence: Fresh Content As A Ranking Factor

To decide if “fresh content” could be a ranking factor, we need to understand two things: what the “Freshness” algorithm updates mean and how they affect search rankings.

QDF

Query deserves freshness (QDF) is very literal.

Google’s solution revolved around determining whether a search query is “hot,” meaning whether or not the user wants the most up-to-date information on the topic.

The mathematical model looked at news sites, blog posts, and Google’s own stream of billions of search queries to see how much global interest there is in a particular subject.

For example, Singhal shared what happens when cities suffer power outages.

“When there is a blackout in New York, the first articles appear in 15 minutes; we get queries in two seconds,” Singhal told the New York Times.

Such a sudden spike in interest can signify that people are looking for new information.

Caffeine

Unfortunately, many people got the Caffeine update wrong.

Caffeine wasn’t a ranking update. The intention behind it wasn’t even to impact rankings. It was a complete rebuild of Google’s indexing system.

Indexing and ranking are two very different things.

Indexing is when Google first looks at your content and adds it to its index. That means it has the potential to be ranked.

Ranking, however, is an entirely different story, with much more complex algorithms behind it.

And while Caffeine focused on indexing, it was the Freshness update that affected Google’s ranking algorithm.

Freshness

The Freshness update was an effort to understand when a user is looking for more recent information.

But “freshness” doesn’t apply across the board to all search queries.

Google shares information on precisely which queries deserve freshness on its How Search Works page.

Screenshot from Google “How Search Works,” June 2022

Google’s Freshness algorithm seeks to provide the latest information for trending keywords that fall under categories such as:

  • Recent events or hot topics: celebrity news or natural disasters.
  • Regularly recurring events: the Olympics or Sports Scores.
  • Content that frequently updates: best/reviews or technology industry.

Freshness is a complex topic in its own right, so it’s a good idea to learn about it if you’re targeting time-focused queries.

Google Representatives On Freshness: Give Users The Respect They Deserve

Do we have an official answer? Yep.

In 2018, John Mueller replied to a question asking, does Google favor fresh content?

John Mueller on freshnessScreenshot from Twitter thread, June 2022

Mueller’s “no” reply has to be taken into context with the whole Twitter conversation.

User @anilthakur2u had made a joke about title tags updating on December 31 to become relevant for the upcoming year.

Mueller replied, “SEO hacks don’t make a site great. Give your content and users the respect they deserve.”

Here, here!

Just updating your publication date is a poor SEO strategy and won’t help you rank better.

Want to learn more? Get the complete Google Ranking Factors guide.

Our Verdict: Fresh Content Is A Confirmed Ranking Factor For Some Queries

Ranking factors: confirmed

When the query demands it, fresh content is a Google ranking factor.

Does that mean you should constantly change the publish date? No.

Does it mean an article could outrank other pages because of the date they were published? Potentially, if Google thinks freshness is critical to the user’s query.

Please keep in mind there are a lot of ranking factors, not just “freshness.”

You may be able to win a ranking boost by riding the wave of popular trends, upcoming events, or breaking news, but it is not an evergreen content strategy.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]



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