What do SEO consultants do?

An SEO consultant is someone who specialises in making websites more visible in search engines. This process is called search engine optimisation, which you will not be shocked to learn, is what SEO stands for.

Primarily, Google is the main search engine that SEO consultants focus on and this is because it has the highest market share of the major search engines.

An experienced SEO consultant will typically have a deep understanding of how Google search works. They use this expertise to guide and educate clients on the actions they should take in order to drive more traffic to their websites.

The role can be seen as a technical marketing role, which relies on combining data analysis and a knowledge of website and internet technologies to form a coherent SEO strategy. The ultimate aim of any SEO activity, as with any digital marketing in general, is to increase the amount of revenue a website generates.

Goals and responsibilities of SEO consultants

We now know what an SEO consultant is, but you may be wondering 'what does an SEO consultant do' within their day-to-day role? And what are their responsibilities?

Let's take a look at some of the key goals that any SEO consultant working with you should have:

  • Increasing your online revenue which is achieved by improving visibility for important keywords and topics.
  • Increasing your online visibility as a mechanism for driving revenue and conversions, and deciding upon the best strategy to pursue to achieve this.
  • Strategically align teams such as your web development team, content creators, and other marketing teams to get everyone working towards the same objectives and ensuring all work is completed in a way that benefits organic search.
  • Avoid issues before they spiral out of control and detrimentally impact the performance of the website. Whilst the main focus is on growing traffic, sometimes SEO consultants do need to take action to mitigate any damage caused by technical issues or algorithm changes.
  • Educate your team on SEO best practices and offer insight on tasks they could be performing within their day-to-day work activity that could lead to SEO improvements.
  • Report and analyse performance so you know how the SEO campaign is performing, what's working, and what may require greater attention or resources. This will likely be achieved by using Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other SEO tools.

These are generally the goals that all SEO specialists will be aiming to achieve. However, when it comes to SEO, there isn't a one size fits all approach. SEO professionals will mostly fit into one of the following categories:

  • High technical expertise, taking on more technical SEO focussed briefs, which may involve focussing more heavily on how a website is crawled, rendered, and otherwise interpreted by bots and algorithms.
  • High creativity and content creation prowess, that may take on more content and PR focussed briefs, with the aim of creating great content to inform, educate, entertain.
  • An all-rounder that blends aspects of the above, without having the very deep knowledge that specialising in one or the other would bring.

Key skills SEO consultants may have

SEO is an incredibly broad industry which is heavily influenced by complimentary disciplines, such as copywriting, design, web development, and user experience. As such, there's no such thing as a quintessential SEO consultant, and specialists within the field have a lot of freedom to carve out their own processes on focus on whatever they deem to be most important.

However, generally, there are some key skills that people working as SEO specialists have:

  • Clear communication skills are critical, especially when it comes to briefing and managing different departments.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving are vital for figuring out what is happening to a website, why it is happening, and what action should be taken. SEO is like a jigsaw puzzle; all the information you need is right at your fingertips, but it's down to you to figure out how it all fits together.
  • Project management, because as we have already seen, good SEO work frequently involves many moving parts and multiple team members collaborating on a task.
  • Inquisitive nature and the ability to constantly learn because the digital landscape moves fast and it's critical to stay up to date with internet and SEO best practices.
  • Business acumen, which is really what sets apart a senior consultant from an SEO executive. The issue isn't whether XYZ task can be done, but rather, whether it should be done, and how this works towards the overall objective of generating more organic revenue.
These broader skills are in addition to the more specialist skills an SEO expert may have, such as content marketing, coding and web development, UX, analytics and data science skills, PR and networking. Again, it is important to reiterate that everyone will have their own specialisms, expertise, and mix of skills that they bring to the table.

Types of businesses that work with SEO consultants

We have looked at what SEO consultants do, but who do they actually do it for? There are two main types of businesses that typically use SEO consultants:

1) Smaller businesses that don't have a dedicated digital marketing team, but still want to follow SEO best practices

2) Larger businesses that want to get ahead of their competition, are serious about growth, and have access to the necessary internal resources

The smaller businesses tend to be those that are just starting out, or have been around for a while but haven't yet got to grips with SEO. They often lack the resources and budget to hire in-house staff, so instead opt for outsourcing their SEO needs. Their niches are not likely to be competitive, so they are mainly looking for some guidance and the fulfilment of a basic SEO strategy.

Large companies are usually looking to make a bigger impact than they currently are, and see SEO as a way to help them reach new heights. They're also likely to have a very clear idea about where they would like to go and what they would like to achieve. This means that they'll have a much clearer picture of what they expect from a consultant, as well as the specific areas they are looking for a specialist to add value.

Any business that generates a substantial amount of its revenue through its website can benefit from SEO consultancy. However, there are certain industries that stand to gain significantly more from SEO than others. Some examples include:

1) eCommerce - Because organic traffic is one of the key drivers behind online sales, eCommerce sites can reap significant benefits from SEO, often at a fraction of the price of using other marketing tactics. Ecommerce websites come with their own technical quirks and intricacies that require specialist knowledge to optimise.

2) Local businesses - As local search has become increasingly popular, local businesses are now able to tap into this market by optimising their websites for local searches. More people are using mobile devices to find nearby businesses, which makes SEO even more relevant for local businesses.

3) Lead generation - If you sell products or services to clients/customers, then SEO can play a big role in helping your company generate leads by being visible for the right topics. This can either be right at the moment they require your service, resulting in a direct conversion, or at the stage before they directly need your service, allowing you to nurture the lead into a sale at a later date.

The type of insights SEO consultants will give

SEO consultants will provide insight on how to improve your site's visibility by forming an SEO strategy to follow, as well as their reasoning for any recommendations within this strategy.

Depending on your working arrangements with them, they may grant you this insight as a one-off piece of work in the form of an SEO audit. For longer term work, they will essentially become a member of your team and will become responsible for overseeing the implementation of their recommended strategy.

Some typical insights a consultant may give, and how they relate to business objectives, include:

'You are not currently meeting all of your audience's needs with the content on your website. There is significant search demand for XYZ, so your website should produce content on XYZ'.

'Your website is not as accessible to Googlebot as it needs to be, and is sending conflicting signals about which content is important. This is due to duplicate content, as well as poor internal linking. You can alleviate this by doing...'

'Your website doesn't have a good user experience and is difficult to use. This could be improved by making XYZ information clearer and more prominent on the page, allowing users to achieve their goals faster and easier'.

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