SEO Required Skillset for Search Engine Optimization Professionals

Link Development:

Most assuredly, Google’s rising fortunes using link analysis as part of its algorithm is going to increase the importance of this, as other search engines are sure to follow suit. A background in or thorough knowledge of Internet marketing has been added to the skills a search engine marketer should possess.

Reciprocal linking was a service many search engine optimization consultants didn’t do. It was done by a different person or department. The reason being that optimization is a very technical skill, rooted in manipulation of HTML attributes, whereas reciprocal linking definitely involves marketing skills. Marketing requires highly honed organizational and language skills.

Link analysis in a search engine’s algorithm is not based on just having a large number of links to the site. The quality (ie: links to that site, quality of content on the site etc.) of the site is important. The search engines’ ability to evaluate the relevancy and the value of a link has increased dramatically over the last few years.

Since this means the sites in the highest positions have the highest quality the search engine marketer should be providing a list of the top sites to be used in the reciprocal linking campaign. Why? Because that list should be part of the activity and search engine monitoring report.

While a small portion of a site’s total link profile can still be reciprocal links (provided they are highly relevant, in the same niche), reciprocal linking has taken on much less importance in modern link-building strategies. Too many can actually created problems for the site.

Keywords Strategy:

A strategy is just a long term plan. A plan is implementation of the strategy. There are search engine optimization consultants who will ask you “What are your keywords?” or something similar. If a search engine optimization consultant or company doesn’t include keyword list development, than they may be a company to avoid.

What you may think are your keywords may not be the phrases and words that users actually use most often (if at all) on the search engines. There are resources on the net that provide this information for free and some that charge. The list compiled using these resources for related terms should be the basis of the keywords strategy.

Why? No point being number one for mayonnaise if 3 times as many people use mayo when querying the search engine. The keywords list is the foundation of any good search engine optimization strategy.

Knowledge of HTML:

I repeat, don’t mistake design for HTML knowledge. HTML knowledge is a big part of search engine optimization. In fact, for the best of both worlds, a search engine consultant should be part of the development team. Many development companies claim this, but few really have a search engine marketing specialist.

  • Ask if the person doing the optimization has other duties.
  • Ask for a link to the last SEO article they read and how they found it. Chances are this will tell lots about the time spent on SEO and what is spent on other duties as well as SEO techniques. If they haven’t read something in the last week you may want to avoid them.

This is probably the reason why there are few data driven sites at the top of the rankings. The programmer didn’t account for some search engines not following URLs with a ? in them. Then they come to search engine optimization consultants wondering why they can’t be found on search engines. Frames are another issue, in and of itself! They are a definite problem for some search engines to index.

Search engine optimization also should be part of the design phase. A search engine friendly design ( search engine indexing can be manipulated using HTML ) and the added relevance for headings, which most designers dislike (they prefer a graphic), and opportunities for embedding links and other optimization techniques means that the search engine marketer should have input sooner rather than later.

If not, task redundancy has become part of your development regimen, slowing down the entire development process.

Language Skills:

It should be a given that strong communication skills and understanding of the language of the target audience are skills a search engine optimization consultant should possess. A big part of optimizing a page and developing a keywords list is language related.

Skillful writing of search engine and marketing copy is important. Marketing copy is superlatives based because it is trying to create a call to action whereas search engine copy is keywords based.

If you notice in this article I seldom refer to a search engine consultant as he/she or a search engine as it or search engines as them. He, she, it and them on most engines are stop words meaning they are not important. The keywords are!

Remember this when you retain a search engine consultant and the marketing department or developer treats their copy like it came from the pen of William Shakespeare. Simple changes similar to my demonstration throughout should suffice.

Knowledge of Search Engine Optimization Boosters:

Search engine algorithms put different relevancy to each element on the page, those with a heavier weighting in the algorithms are called optimization boosters. A search engine optimization consultant’s knowledge of boosters is not easily determined and is seldom immediately reflected in the positions achieved.

As search engine algorithms have evolved the ease with which they could be manipulated has diminished. Search engines now use elements outside of the page itself. Link analysis discussed above would be a good example.

A review of the site by a search engine channel ( a directory of reviewed sites ) and inclusion in the directory also provides a booster. If this is not part of the contract, then the optimization consultant should at least make you aware that this can help.

In short, search engine optimization techniques are subjective. Implementation of a strategy that isn’t search engine centric is the true test of a search engine optimization consultant’s knowledge of boosters. Remember this when you go through the responses from your RFP submission.

Submission Strategies, Planning and Budgeting:

Hand submission and/or Inclusion are absolutely the only sure fire way to ensure that your site has been submitted properly. As mentioned in the search engine Optimization Services to be avoided list many search engines do not index sites submitted via remote technology. Three of the most important portals are directories (do not index sites) and using submission programs are a recipe for disaster.

Increasingly, search engines are adopting paid submission. A submission plan takes advantage of this by leveraging elements of Inclusion programs. Some search engines give higher relevancy to sites they find themselves or in one of the topic specific or reviewed directories. A submission plan takes advantage of these boosters.

Topic-specific directories provide well targeted traffic. Many of these charge for a listing. It is important that these are listed in a manner which enables easy tracking so a true ROI can be calculated and used when the subscription comes up for renewal.

Search engine optimization consultants should also be knowledgeable of paid listing sites such as Google’s AdWords and a list that is growing fast. Most engines now have some sort of paid listing mixed in with the results. Paid listings provide well-targeted traffic which result in higher sales conversion ratios.

In short, a good search engine optimization consultant will prepare a budget for all of the above and spend it wisely.

Submission Tracking:

What URLs were submitted to what search engines and when? Tracking should include:

  • pages that were submitted by the SEO
  • a list of URLs that have been indexed (verified by logs or position monitoring tools)
  • a submission schedule for future submissions of pages not indexed or found by the search engines ( a separate list for each engine ).

As you can see a search engine optimization consultant or marketer should have many skills, not just HTML skills, in order to be able to optimize your site for the highest visibility on all the searchengines.

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