There are many aspects to search engine optimization, keyword targeting, on-page optimization, link building, user experience, and social presence, to name a few. A competent SEO expert will examine your goals and employ those optimization methods that will best address the needs of your site.

Here are some points to consider in preparing to work with an SEO consultant:

1. Who is your intended audience? Are you primarily interested in local, regional, national, or global reach?

A business that caters to local customers would generally want to reach people in its home town or metropolitan area. A regional business might want to attract customers from one or more states. It's important to consider how far you want to reach, because that will be a factor in deciding certain keywords and inbound links. Nowadays, there's a great deal of attention on optimizing sites for local businesses, and there are specific techniques for achieving good results in local searches.

2. What are your target keywords?

This doesn't have to be an extensive list. It can be simply the few terms that relate most commonly to your business'îterms that people are quite likely to use when searching for your products or services. From these, your SEO provider can do an extensive keyword analysis to find additional terms that will return relevant results for your particular niche.

3. Are the structure and content of your site well thought out?

There are two aspects to consider here: your content, and the way it's organized and presented. To attract visitors, it helps to have fresh, well-written content that provides value'îthat truly informs, educates, or inspires the reader. Relevant, high-quality content generates interest such that visitors will want to share it. Social sharing has become a major factor in search results.

It's one thing to have good content, but another thing to have that content well organized in a logical flow. It's widely known that a site needs to be structured so that search engines can access and index it. But more importantly, navigation should be intuitive'îcontent should be easy to find and understand. A site's user experience strongly influences visitor browsing, conversion rates, and whether the site earns links and citations.

4. What other sites should link to yours?

There is a concept called domain authority, loosely defined as the amount of trust and authority attributed to a website by search engines. A key factor in determining domain authority is the number and quality of inbound links to the site. It's also influenced by social media mentions, the age of the domain, and the volume of searches for the brand name.

Clearly, links from sites that have high domain authority are important in establishing the authority of your website. You may already have some such sites in mind. Your SEO consultant can validate those and help you find other appropriate sites.

It's important to remember that no SEO provider can guarantee top placement in search results. Search is a very dynamic process, and search results are influenced by a wide range of factors. Your SEO provider takes all these factors into consideration to develop a strategy that will be effective in driving the right traffic to your site.

Relevant articles

'An SEO Checklist for New Sites' by Aaron Wheeler
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/an-seo-checklist-for-new-sites-whiteboard-friday

'8 Durable SEO Elements' by Erez Barak
http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2111842/8-Durable-SEO-Elements

Ben Bassi
By Ben Bassi

Founder and CEO of CommonPlaces, is a seasoned Internet veteran and marketing executive. His extensive experience in Web-related business dates back to the early ‘90s; with a career specializing in digital strategy, planning, and marketing.

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