Back in February, Maile Ohye made an excellent video outlining best practices for hiring an SEO expert. And as Google’s former Developer Programs Tech Lead, her guidance carries a lot of weight (she left the company a few weeks after posting the video).
We agree with just about everything Ohye says here, but there are some recommendations that deserve special emphasis.
Good SEO takes time
One of the first points Ohye establishes is that quality SEO isn’t a matter of tricks or hacks that claim to yield massive results in a short time. “If you want long-term success, there aren’t any quick magical tricks that SEO will provide,” she says.
Ohye even puts some numbers to the timeline of expected results, saying, “In most cases, the SEO will need 4 months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefits.” SEO is definitely a long-term investment, like your website itself.
Good SEO is supported by documented best practices
“A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.” – Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A vague plan of action for SEO is nobody’s friend, either. Ohye recommends requesting that potential SEO consultants document their recommendations and back them up with statements from an empirical source (like, say, Google). Those statements should corroborate not only the issues the SEO expert plans to address but also the approach and tactics they plan to apply.
Our default position on just about everything is that we start with data, research and best practices – in fact, we’re not sure why anyone would start with anything else. Our process begins with a 166-point audit in which we review every aspect of your company’s digital marketing, evaluating it against documented best practices; we find that it forms a strong foundation of objectivity and transparency for our work together.
Good SEO starts with a thorough audit
And speaking of audits, Ohye discusses them in detail in the video. She recommends a full technical and search audit, which includes granting a trusted SEO candidate restricted access to your company’s Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts.
We recognize that it might be a little unsettling to let someone “look under the hood” at your company’s digital marketing performance, but it’s truly essential to get complete, accurate data – which is itself truly essential to a valid, worthwhile analysis. Some issues can be identified from the perspective of a site visitor/user, but understanding the extent and consequences of an issue requires access to data.
Ohye also notes that such an in-depth audit is not likely to be free, and we agree with her again. We spend a minimum of 20 hours on each audit we conduct, tasking our most senior analysts with them. So you get the benefit of those analysts’ focus, insight and many years of experience, rather than a 10-minute evaluation done completely by an automated tool.
Good SEO goes beyond the screen
“If the SEO [expert] doesn’t seem interested in learning about your business from a holistic standpoint, look elsewhere,” Ohye advises. We think this is possibly the most important point in the whole video: SEO doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s an important component of your digital marketing strategy, and thus your overall marketing strategy and the company’s overall strategy.
There’s no one-size-fits-all SEO solution that can be applied to any business in any segment in any market. That’s why we customize all our services to fit each company, to ensure alignment with goals at every level of the organization and to focus on maximizing customer delight through digital marketing.
We’re sorry to see Ohye leave Google, even after 12 years, which is roughly 2.3 lifetimes in the digital marketing universe. In addition to her obviously excellent work in explaining SEO details to non-technical audiences, she was also one of the leading developers of Google Search Console. But we’re glad she made this video before she left.