The internet marketing questions never cease. This past week, fellow marketer Amy McTobin (@AmyMccTobin) asked an important question regarding what to look for in an SEO vendor. Here is a quick review of our Twitter dialogue:
I am not an SEO specialist.
Now I don’t consider myself a top expert when it comes to search engine optimization. I am more of an internet marketing generalist than an SEO specialist. It could be that six months from now it is absolutely necessary that your SEO provider also be your Social Media expert. I would certainly like to believe Winding Staircase is a “one-stop internet marketing shop” for our clients, and I know we can provide the internet marketing expertise they need.
To provide the highest quality search optimization AND social media marketing expertise, however, your firm would need to be large and working with large budgets. For local companies needing local search optimization, you don’t need to work with a large and expensive agency. A small and knowledgeable shop like mine will get you much more “bang for your buck.”
How much Social Media expertise should your SEO vendor have?
Any decent internet marketer knows that social media is increasingly affecting your search engine rankings. (That is why Amy had the forethought to ask the question.) If, therefore, your SEO provider says Facebook and Twitter do not have any influence on your rankings….FIRE HIM IMMEDIATELY!
At a minimum, your SEO expert should be able to talk intelligently about G+. He should know Google seems to be updating their algorithm to increase the importance of social media. He should also be able to identify niche platforms and forums that could help grow your credibility online.
Lastly, I would expect anyone you pay for search optimization to ask about your current social network usage and partners. Who manages your fanpage? Do you have a social media strategy? How dated is that strategy and are you following it? He shouldn’t be expected to correct the issues he sees, but he should be confident enough to tell you when he sees an error in your thinking.
What I would not expect a local SEO provider to know about Social Media
There are many things I would expect a “social media expert” to know that I would not expect a “local SEO guru” to know. For starters, there seem to be about a dozen new “big” social media or sharing platforms launched each month. Your common SEO expert is not going to be hip on the latest and greatest. As an example, even though internet marketing is my business, I have not yet begun to learn about Pinterest.
Second, an internet marketer that only provides help with your Google rankings should not be expected to help grow your Facebook fanpage audience. Asking him to get you your next 500 FB fans is like asking your butcher how to make a good pasta. He might have an answer, but you shouldn’t give his advice much weight.
Third, if you are working with a small SEO provider, such as a 1-3 person shop, you shouldn’t ask them how to invest the rest of your web marketing budget. Their answer will likely be either “more seo” or “we also provide pay-per-click marketing.”
Last, an SEO expert is likely to be more analytical than creative. Other than optimizing tags and copy, you shouldn’t take any web design recommendations from him. More to the point, he shouldn’t be so bold as to tell how to improve your color palette or what font you should be using.
Enter the “Small Firm” Internet Marketing Generalist
There is definitely a need for “seo only” experts. In general, however, most businesses are better served by trusting their internet marketing budgets to a generalist. A credible generalist will know when your needs are too large or specific for their staff, and more to the point, a true generalist will know who you should work with when you need a unique solution. That is, if one of my clients ever needs SEO help my team is unqualified to provide, I know exactly who I will recommend they call.
Each week I talk with several small web marketing companies from across the United States. Most of us provide general web marketing: website design, email marketing, social media, seo, and search marketing. We know our limitations, but we rarely exceed our skills.
- How Educated should your Marketing expert be?
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