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May 10, 2011 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

3 Things your SEO Consultant should be doing (or Fire Them!)

All SEO consultants and firms claim to be able to drive more traffic to your website with different solutions and strategies. But not every consultant has a comprehensive approach to SEO. In fact, a lot of consultants tend to put all their effort and focus into a single facet of SEO when there are several that work together.

Good SEO is about doing a lot of little things right.

And these little things can be divided into 3 facets. Through our own SEO work and research, we've identified the 3 basic areas of SEO that make up an effective traffic-driving plan.

A comprehensive and optimum approach to SEO includes:

  1. Search-engine-friendly Coding
  2. Keyword Expansion Research & Keyword Placement
  3. Backlinking

If your SEO consultant doesn't address all 3, you should seriously consider firing them!

Search-engine-friendly Coding

A good SEO consultant will implement search-engine-friendly coding on your website to produce natural or "organic" SEO results.

To determine if a website is a relevant high-ranking result, search engine bots "spider" web pages, reading the code to make sense of the content contained there. If your code is too long, disorganized, or not web standards compliant, then search engines can pass over your site.

For better SEO results:

  • Structure your code and content with semantic HTML. If you're unfamiliar with the term, read our explanation of semantic HTML.
  • Use clean, short code. Doing so improves the clarity of your page to search engines. This includes placing JavaScript code in external files.
  • Validate your code. Always make sure your code is web standards compliant for the best quality and least amount of bugs.

Keyword Expansion Research & Keyword Placement

Keyword Research

To be the least bit good at what they do, SEO consultants need to perform keyword research to identify key phrases that:

  • are used in a lot of searches to drive the most amount of traffic.
  • are low in competition (to keep costs low).
  • have strong potential for your target audience.

Part of keyword research is identifying search trends and which keywords to avoid. Words that are too common or popular may yield little results for your SEO.

Keyword Placement

Once an SEO consultant has identified the best keywords, they should have a plan for effectively placing the keywords throughout your site's copy. This is where search-engine-friendly coding comes back into play.

The keywords need to be contained within the proper semantic HTML tags—the tags that denote importance to search engines. And the headline (h1 tag) is one of the first places a search engine will look.

Beware Keyword Stuffing

Search engines are programmed to find if there is an unnatural use of keywords in a web page's copy. If a search engine suspects an overuse of certain keywords, then your site will drop in ranking or be removed from its index.


A good SEO consultant will work with you to develop a strategic backlinking plan that stretches over a long period of time (at least 6 months for best results).

Backlinking involves increasing the number of links to your site on quality websites. The more inbound links you have on other websites, the more popular your site looks to search engines.

How to Create Backlinks

To create inbound links, you can reference your site or a specific page of your site via comments on blogs, forums, and networking sites. You can even pay to have your site promoted on other websites, but it must appear on the most credible sites to get noticed.

Beware Black-hat Backlinking

Generating too many backlinks in a short amount of time (like overnight) is not good, ethical SEO; search engines are programmed to avoid sites that do this. Backlinking should be a natural process that happens over time (6 months – 1 year).

SEO takes time and a decent amount of planning on a consultant's side.

For a consultant to implement one of these strategies without the others shows how out of touch they are with the scope and capabilities of SEO. All 3 basics must be covered if you want the best SEO results.

If your SEO consultant is unwilling to spend equal time on search-engine-friendly coding, keyword research and placement, and backlinking, find a new consultant who will.

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