What you Need to know to be an effective SEO

In order to be an effective SEO technician for any website, you will need to know a lot of things. I’ve seen some self-proclaimed experts struggle when asked the simplest questions which they should really know, but in reality these so-called experts are really just looking to make a quick bit of money and do so at your expense!
Here is a quick check list of what you SEO should know.
Use this list to check your SEO is as Professional as they claim.

    HTML – An intgral part of being an SEO is knowledge of your sites scripting (This is why a lot of SEO’s start of life as developers / coders). Your SEO should also know how a search engine will view your code and therefor be able to structure the code correctly, removing “waste” code.

    CSS – Along with HTML comes CSS, the “seo expert” doesnt need to be a CSS expert by any means, but rather should have a knowledge which means they can remove all styling attributes from your code, making the most of a search engines time.

    Basic Design / Development Skills – ALL seo experts should be able to design and build a simple, small-scale website without any hassle. If they can’t or don’t even have a website themselves they aren’t usually worth a look at.

    How a Search Engine Works – Whilst this would appear to be simple, knowing how a search engine works (which changes every few weeks for all major search engines) is a MUST. It takes time and study to gain any real expertise with search engine algorithms, and most SEOs will show case this knowledge in the results of work, or in a blog such as this.

    Trust of Search Engines – SEO experts should have a grasp of basic filtering systems within search engines such as Google Sandbox (and others of which some are trade secrets).

    User Experience – The SEO expert should have a great knowledge about how a user will use a site and view a site. This can be from both a psychological and physical stand-point. The SEO should be able to give you an outline from just a quick glance about how a user views your site.

    On-Page Factors – Most of my initial seo articles contain information about internal SEO factors, this includes everything from page structure, heading tags, meta tags, images, various other attributes to getting the most from your links, and use of anchor text.

    Off-Page Factors – Your seo expert should also be willing to discuss off-site attributes to your SEO efforts, from submissions to directories and search engines to use of twitter for SEO, and other social networking sites.

    Search Rankings – Your SEO should have a great knowledge of how to improve your search rank (not just PageRank). Search Ranking is the effect of all SEO efforts, and PageRank is considered to be around 1% of ranking information for ALL major search engines, including google!.

    Basic Penalty Knowledge – Any SEO Expert should have a basic knowledge of how penalties will work from within any major search engine. However, don’t expect them to share too much information about this as some knowledge is gained through contacts within search engines! This does NOT mean they have any special realtionship with a search engine.

    Use of Stats – ALL SEOs should be using your statistics to improve your website and develop some great leads to your site. Your SEO should provide a monthly or bi-monthly report telling you how your site is progressing and what the new targets are (as all our monthly packages do) …if your SEO expert refuses to make any targets chuck them!

    Research – If your SEO ever claims to not to need to do any research into your market they are lieing! Even if they are themselves experts in your field they should be doing some real competitor research. Though again don’t expect to see any written proof of what they find, this is often classed as trade secrets.

    Copy Writing / Editing – ALL real SEO Experts will be able to write and edit your copy to target your audience and address them correctly. ALL copy can be edited to target your market better, its the little tweaks that make all the difference.

    ALL of the above & more …. this list is by no means exhaustive and anyone who claims to supply such a list would be wrong. The needs of an SEO change on an almost daily basis, your SEO Expert should be updating their knowledge on a regular basis.

If your unsure if your SEO has this knowledge ask them, if they don’t have even one part of it question why and if there isn’t a valid reason then dumb that SEO.

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4 Comments on “What you Need to know to be an effective SEO”

  1. Interesting post Andy. I like the line that says you need to know the trade secrets. They are secrets because no-one knows them
    I’d be interested to see examples of where CSS has genuinely helped a site rank better for any term other than the ‘longest tail possible’.

    So what can you tell us about the Google sandbox? 🙂


  2. @MYBF -Trade Secrets are just that, they remain within the trade and i dare say most SEOs don’t have a huge idea as to what these secrets are. Or maybe if your life me and blog a lot one or two will sip out in some form or other… but I won’t draw attention to them 😉

    CSS is a matter of scepticism for a lot of web designers and developers, However the matter is this. Now ignoring coding for SEO here, imagine your a screen reader… and you come across inline CSS ….oh wait you will usually read it out! and you have a text browser…oh wait it will again usually (in my experience) render this code. So this alone should be enough to make you change your mind. If not then from an SEO standpoint even if you can remove a single character you will reduce loading time, do this thousands of times and you will make your page load a lot quicker! For a search engine (remembering time of a spider on your site is limited, on avg reading just 20% of a page!) if you can make information easier to access go for it, it means they will see more of your content. And in a few studies I have read recently it has shown the ration of Content to Script is becoming a little more important in ranking as time of spiders becomes more important.

    SandBox – the Sandbox is a weird idea, it is basically (in theory) where when you submit a website to google it will hold your site before it being shown in the Index Results for upto 2 weeks (but not limited too), whilst it ensures your site is valid and gives you the appropriate rank. Since the sandbox theory was established and later proven Google has in essence denied it but not its theory nor that they believe it would be a good idea. So …. I can’t tell you definitively that Google or any other search engine uses a SandBox or anything like it, but Just the fact i’ve explained the “theory” of a sandbox should tell you my view on its existence.

  3. Hi Andy,Thanks for taking the time to write a decent reply. I am back to read it!

    To put a finer point on my post..
    I think the trade secrets are just that.. they are secret. SEOs can GUESS bits and pieces here and there by looking at cause and effect, but basically there are too many dynamics to consider with most examples. eg: You could change something here and there but not realise that 3 people linked to you that you didn’t know about – thus rendering your testing irrelevant.

    I’m not so hung up on CSS either. Lots of forums rank really well and are spidered fully. vBulletin contains a HUGE amount of inline CSS (and tables) so that really defeats the argument for CSS in my eyes. I appreciate the load time concept.. which is somewhat lesser now everyone has broadband and masses of bandwidth. I think the spiders know what they are after to a degree… otherwise you’d see pages cached with only 20% of the information 🙂

    I’d like to know your theory of avoiding (or getting out of) the sandbox. Anything solid on that front?

    I like a spot of SEO every now and then so feel free to come over and knock heads with me over at http://www.mybusinessforum.co.uk 🙂

    Best Regards

  4. @MYBF – CSS will never be the downfall of a website in rankings, it just helps a little, and thats all you can do with SEO, a little. As you say there are far too many factors in the algo’s for us to really really cheat the system. All we can do is make the best of what we know.For example time and again you will see top 10 lists of how to SEO… same tips every time! but its the tips not given and that are given in longer posts such as mine usually are which you only find if you read between the lines, and more so ask questions like yourself.

    I will be across when I get a little chance, until then enjoy the surroundings and feel free to spread the word about this little site.

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