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Industry Expertise Matters in SEO

     -     Jul 12th, 2013   -     Accounting Marketing, Accounting Websites, Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

The number of search engine optimization (SEO) providers today is astounding. It seems that everywhere you look there is another expert coming out of the wood work giving advice on how to “properly” optimize your website. Because it doesn’t take a specific degree, or more than just a computer with an Internet connection to get started, it’s really easy to market yourself as an SEO “expert”. Unfortunately, this means there are providers that don’t always bring the bottom line value they promise. In this blog post, we will debunk some of the common provider promises and myths and address why it’s essential to work with a provider that understands both the sales and marketing cycle for your industry.

It may be true that in the past your biggest motivator for working with an SEO provider was their price point. After all, they promised you a #1 rank and they said they could do it for a competitive price. Unfortunately, all too often SEO providers talk exclusively about keyword ranking as if it’s the only aspect of SEO that a firm should consider. Of course keyword rank is an essential aspect to an effective strategy, but the reality is that a keyword rank shouldn’t be the qualifying factor for who you decide to work with. It’s more important to pay special attention to the strategy and methods the company you select is engaging in.

If you had a sore throat, would you go to a veterinarian to have it looked at? If your dog were sick, would you take she/he to the nearest endodontist? Of course not! Well then if your website is not performing to expectations why would you take it to a professional that doesn’t understand your business? Yes, they may understand how websites work and they may even make your site look very appealing, but if they can’t help it produce measurable results then what is the use? The importance of screening and auditing a SEO provider cannot be overstated. They are making the decisions that will determine where you land in the pages of a search by your potential prospects, as well as long term optimization leveraging more methods than just keyword search.

The following are key items you should consider when selecting an SEO provider for your industry:

1. Keywords

Keywords are typically seen by businesses as the main component in search engine optimization. While at one time this was true, search engines have evolved their algorithms to take into account many additional factors beyond the keyword. Keyword oversaturation, misplacing keywords, and using the keyword inappropriately simply to gain rank and increase traffic are ineffective practices that are now frowned upon by most search engines. If your SEO provider leverages these strategies then it’s possible the overall effectiveness will be limited.

In addition to over saturation and over use of keywords, its important that you work with a company that does proper keyword research. Flashpoint’s focus is specific to CPA and accounting firms. For example, we recently began working with an accounting firm that was clearly a victim to a poor SEO provider. The previous company didn’t have any industry knowledge or insight and as a result the keywords that were being used were very unrelated to their firm. Some of the more prominent examples include ‘Finance’ and ‘Banking Services’. While the old company may have had them ranking well for these keywords, the subjects searching these key words were unrelated to the firms target and therefore completely useless.

Beware of the keyword, and understand when you are working with a company that they should be screened for specific knowledge of your industry. Be sure to open the communication lines and ask for references or examples of their past work with other businesses like yours.

2. Copy Development & Targeted Knowledge

As stated above, industry expertise is extremely important when selecting an SEO provider. Realize that any certified professional should be making some adjustments to the copy on your website. A cohesive search optimization campaign will intertwine a variety of elements on your website to achieve a well rounded campaign that speaks the language of the search engine. Remember that content is king, and as a result it should be worked through carefully to integrate keywords, key phrases, images with alt tags, and links to other relevant content. A professional who specializes in targeted knowledge about your industry will understand the specific language that you will want to integrate into your site. They will also be able to guide you on the level of industry language that your prospect will or will not be able to understand. If the writer/editor of your content does not understand your business, how can they effectively communicate to your audience on your behalf? When hiring a professional, be sure to ask for samples of their past work in your industry. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for a list of references, and do call them. Questions like how they became interested in working on content for your industry are good, if they appear to be more of a general, less specialized copy writer you should move on and continue seeking other professionals. Copy is simply too important to leave to someone who would spend more time researching your industry then actually doing the work.

3. Website Development

Sometimes SEO comes wrapped in a nice little package with a great website. Although this can be a very tempting route to choose, be sure you inquire as to the level of expertise of your SEO professional on the website development staff. Just because a website and SEO work together, does not mean that a website designer can provide you with the expertise needed in SEO. Often website design and development is about the presentation and display of your content and your business, not many designers have a deep rooted understanding of SEO. As algorithms, rules, and best practices change so quickly, it’s important to have an understanding of who will be performing this service.

In the end, search engine optimization is key to reaching your prospects, but don’t be fooled by the snake oil salesman who promises you a #1 rank for a keyword that may or may not have to do with your business . Be sure to vet anyone who says they can do the work, check references and require portfolio samples of their work. Be sure to have a specific list of deliverables that are promised by the company, and ask for a timeline of when you can expect to see results (Hint: Anything less than a Month is extremely unlikely). Every step should be a step in the right direction, no matter how slowly they are taken.

Do you have a SEO horror story to share? Have you had an experience that surprised you? Let us know in the comments. We look forward to hearing from you!

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