Not all SEOs are created equal.
The SEO space is more competitive than ever. Because of this, SEO “best practices” are no longer enough.
If you want to provide true value to your client, or if you’re looking to get the most out of your SEO consultant services, high-impact results are the new standard.
In this episode of Content & Links, CEO Ross Hudgens discusses why a proactive, impact-focused SEO engagement might be the key to lifting any traffic plateau.
We’re going to talk about how to be a high-impact SEO consultant, and if you have an SEO consultant, how to identify whether or not the recommendations actually are high-impact as well.
I’ve been doing SEO consulting for over 10 years. Started Siege Media as an SEO-focused content marketing agency with that consulting arm that’s now over 100+ people, 50+ clients, some of the best brands that we’re very lucky to have in the world.
Make an Impact, Don’t Fix 404s
The first thing that I think every SEO consultant should do is have a focus on making an impact rather than just fixing 404s.
As someone who’s seen work for multiple SEO consultants over the years, there is a thought process of some SEOs where they more so fix best practices rather than actually make an impact for the business.
And what I mean by that is, if you go to some random page on a website and you fix broken 404s, technically that might be SEO best practice.
Similarly, adding meta description for pages 5,000 to 1,000 or 10,000 in your overall traffic list–technically SEO best practice. However, that’s not what moves the needle for that business.
When you’re thinking about paying someone as well as prioritizing their expertise against that, a few things should be happening.
The equation should be relative.
If you’re paying them X amount of money, hopefully the ROI is very clear. Why?
Very often that’s not going to be the case if you’re doing things like fixing 404s or meta descriptions.
On the other side of the equation, what you want to do is actually focus on pages that make an impact.
Sometimes you want to go deeper on things that really move the needle rather than those overall best practices, and that’s where a more business mindset comes in as an SEO.
Compare this to “I’m doing everything I learned in an SEO one-on-one beginner’s playbook.”
This is the difference between a high-impact consultant and one that eventually is no longer employed or hired as a contractor for that business.
Focus on proactive rather than reactive recommendations.
I think consistent good SEO consulting is bringing the client recommendations rather than waiting for them from the client.
Bad SEO work I’ve seen is that they will field a lot of requests from the client, and when they do get those requests, never push back on them.
The client expects you to be the expert rather than vice-versa, so you want to be bringing those thought processes to them.
Because if you’re not, that shows you’re more of a commodity.
You’re more like an SEO analyst who’s doing the nuts and bolts grunt work rather than bringing strategy to the table, which should be the goal of every single strategist.
Additionally, proactivity means you’re bringing ideas and thought processes to them in front of changes, in front of algorithm updates rather than after them.
In an ideal world, algorithm updates (even if it hits your client) aren’t a shocker because any kind of thing you’ve mentioned that could be an issue for them in their traffic in the future has already been brought up.
It’s where the puck is going. It’s being thoughtful in terms of qualitative things in the future.
That’s what good SEO consulting is.
If you feel things are all good and you’re making micro changes on 404s and they still see a 50% hit in their traffic, you’ve probably failed your job as SEO consultant, and aren’t truly being proactive rather than reactive in those changes.
Optimize Keywords Ranking 6-30
Some additional ways you can be really high-impact on a consistent basis as an SEO consultant, that’s part of the go-to playbook, is really looking at the keywords that site is ranking for in the 6-30 range.
And additionally, making iterative changes against that–sorted by search volume or traffic value or CPC, et cetera.
If you dive into Ahrefs and filter by these rankings, this is effectively low-hanging fruit that’s also high impact.
So, if you can make those subtle changes that will get someone from #6 to #3 or page 2 to page 1, and rinse and repeat the UX changes, the internal linking, external linking, all of that adds up to those changes.
You’re always making high-impact rather than being focused on the smaller, less impactful pieces of the website that add up over time.
And in that same framework, one of the things that can come up and make sense is focusing on bigger site-wide changes. Those will surface as page-level changes, but as part of that, another thing you can look at are the wider changes that impact many pages.
Instead of suggesting four pieces of content or four keywords to include on a page, you can instead go deeper on a set of pages or page templates.
So, say you’re ranking for “Texas car insurance” or every state’s car insurance. You could suggest a template change that will impact 50 pages rather than simply one page.
If you’re thinking about that and how one change can make a wider impact, you’ll be more impactful as an SEO consultant overall.
Encourage UX Improvements
Another piece that is increasingly important is thinking about UX.
These changes, I think are more and more part of the SEO consultant’s playbook, especially as more and more sites get to best practice or at least an “okay” at technical best practice.
The SEO consultant’s job is becoming more UX-focused on a day-to-day basis.
That’s something that’s less likely to get fixed immediately with the CMSs that exist and brings some decent best practice out of the gate within their installs and ultimately, make that piece of the equation for an SEO many times less high-impact.
If you’re thinking about UX and making changes consistently, you’re more likely to make changes that will create wins for the client.
Our instruction and our thought process as SEOs, especially for sites that aren’t millions of pages, is to focus more on UX and those site-wide template changes.
And because of that, you’ll make bigger impacts overall.
Back Up SEO Recommendations With Sources
Other things I love with SEO is backing up recommendations.
Overall, there are a lot of great places to get recommendations from, whether it’s Moz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, et cetera, many other great consultants on the web.
These places are great third-party consultation for evidence that your recommendation makes sense.
Hopefully as an agency, you could also grow and point to other case studies that you’ve had. This is helpful for making arguments for big site-wide changes that no client really should just make at a surface level trust of you.
Referencing a third-party website or a case study with every recommendation you make, will be more likely to actually create instructive change for that company.
Back Up SEO Recommendations With Traffic Value
Additionally, you can also make arguments in terms of change in traffic value increase.
If you’re trying to create a heavy lift, you should make that argument in terms of bottom line impact for that company.
Instead of just saying “change these 404s” you could say:
Obviously the argument of spending $2,000 to make that change is very easy when you’re putting it in those terms as well as using evidence of other people ranking well that do those same things.
Or are there changes you’ve made that have made those same impacts?
This will help push the strategy that you want for those search results.
Focus on Optimizing the Bottom-Funnel
And finally, as SEOs, I think you should focus on the bottom funnel.
We’re a content marketing agency, so we definitely have an SEO consulting department that helps with a lot of these things, but for the SEO side of the equation, I think thinking about those bottom-funnel pages are most likely to have high impact and make you more valuable overall.
The content marketing side of the equation is super important for leading people down the funnel, but if you have finite time (and I think a part of that holistic strategy), we think of our content marketing team as top and middle and our SEO team as bottom and site-wide, and content marketing as single-page setups.
That’s the complimentary setup that creates a high-impact SEO consultant, and it helps you perform better for your clients.
On the reverse side, my advice for people that have hired SEO consultants is that you should look at them and ask yourselves:
Are you sending them a lot of things to dig into and do? Or are they being reactive rather than proactive?
Does it feel like the kind of changes they’re making are SEO best practice playbook? Or are they really business-minded?
If they’re business-minded, proactive and impressing you with frequency, speed and professionalism in their communication, it’s likely that you actually have a great consultant and someone that’s going to lift that traffic month over month, year over year.