SEO, Blog

The Top 8 Questions to Ask before Hiring an SEO Consultant

We humans can live about 3 weeks without food.

3 days without water.

3 minutes without air.

How long can we go without Googling?

Hmmm, let me ask Siri….

Google processes over 40,000 searches every second, which is 3.5 billion searches a day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

My guess is that you can’t go very long without asking Google for an answer. Well guess what, neither can your clients. They are searching for your business right now, but the real question is, can they find you?  

If you have ever tried to search for your business by what you do, e.g. wedding photographer or what you want to be known for, e.g. natural light wedding photographer Boston, Massachusetts, and have been disappointed as to where your business ranks on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP), then you are probably in the market to hire an SEO consultant.

Google processes over 40,000 searches every second, which is 3.5 billion searches a day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.  My guess is that you can’t go very long without asking Google for an answer. Well guess what, neither can your clients. They are searching for your business right now, but the real question is, can they find you?    If you have ever tried to search for your business by what you do, e.g. wedding photographer or what you want to be known for, e.g. natural light wedding photographer Boston, Massachusetts, and have been disappointed as to where your business ranks on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP), then you are probably in the market to hire an SEO consultant.  |  Think Creative Collective

SEO consultants research and analyze the trends and best practices online to develop a strategy to improve search engine rankings.

Before you go and hire an SEO consultant, here are the Top 8 Questions to ask before you sign the contract.

1. Do they only do SEO, or do they do other stuff too?

If you are in the middle of revamping your website, working with someone who can both build your site and optimize it seems like a win-win, right? Not always. Though a lot of web developers, for example, add “SEO” to their list of qualifications, they are most likely not that well versed in the details of optimization. In most cases, developers who are also SEO consultants are much better developers than they are SEOs. They may opt to add in a plugin or two and write a meta description, but that is simply not enough to build a fully optimized site. You need both, a developer and an SEO.

SEO is a complex field. Each year Google updates their search algorithm around 500-600 times. Even though most of these changes are minor, a great SEO consultant is up to date on the latest changes to the Google algorithm and understands how it affects organic traffic and rankings.

2. How will the SEO improve your search engine rankings?

To get results, you need a plan. If you don’t target keywords, plan content and build links, you will never see a consistent rise in traffic and income (and that is what you’re going for, right?). Ask the consultant, straight up, what exactly their plan to improve your rankings is. If they can’t provide a detailed outline, run away.

The plan should look something like this:

  • First, we are going to do a thorough audit to get a baseline of the current status of the site.
  • Next, we will identify the best keywords to target.
  • From there, we will write and perhaps rewrite content based on those keywords.
  • We will also create a strategy for building links.
  • Most SEOs will include a plan for Social Media and the Editorial Calendar.

3. How will the SEO Consultant report their progress?

This is a biggie and is often what separates the good SEO firms from the shady ones. A quality SEO consultant will show you performance reports of what they are doing and what they have done.

A good SEO will make it easy for you to understand the complex side of SEO and how it directly affects your bottom line. You should expect regular reports (monthly or quarterly) which should contain:

  • A list of backlinks
  • Target keywords and their current rank
  • Audit of content (headlines, meta descriptions, and alt tags)
  • Organic Traffic Report
  • Ideas for improvement.

4. How do they measure success?

Ultimately, your success is the SEO consultant’s success. This can be measured in increased traffic, targeted keyword optimization and content creation.

To gauge the ROI of the SEO consultant, measure the traffic that is getting sent to the site and where it is coming from. Your SEO consultant should track the amount of organic traffic (the number of web visitors getting to your site by searching). Another important measure of success is to track the ranking of targeted keywords on a monthly or quarterly basis.

5. How long do they expect it to take to see real results?

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. If you have an SEO consultant who claims they can achieve immediate results, don’t work with them. SEO takes time. There are a lot of variables, but in general, most websites that have never been optimized before see significant traffic increases only 3-6 months after working with an awesome SEO consultant.
 

6. What will the SEO consultant need from you?

Expect to have to provide some details up front. Your SEO consultant will need to know what you want to be known for and the details of your brand. There will be practical things as well, like access to your Google Analytics Account and the admin of your website. If they don’t ask for access to these, ask why not!

7. What is the best way to work together?

The SEO consultant will be part of your team. They should have great communication skills and be willing to work with the other people who are helping you. The data that they derive from the performance reports is directly applicable to your social media strategy, editorial calendar and overall marketing strategy. The SEO consultant will need to work directly with the people in charge of these aspects of the business to implement the changes necessary to meet the goals.  

8. Do you have experience with improving local search results?

Appearing in the top local search engine results is especially important to small brick-and-mortar businesses trying to attract nearby customers, according to Moz. You'll want a consultant who has expertise in local SEO techniques.

Have you ever Googled ” _____ near me”? This is the essence of local search. If your business has an actual location, local searches will be extremely important. Ask the consultant about their experience.

The key when choosing to work with an SEO consultant is to be thorough. Don’t be afraid to ask bold questions and know that you are going to be in this relationship for the long haul.



We're all about Instagram!

Blog, SEO

So You Think You Can Edit: Why Your Biz Might be Ready for an Editor

Hiring new consultants, contractors, and team members is a big step in your business, but once you’re ready to take it your workload decreases and your business is able to improve in multiple ways. This will leave you to work on your strengths and be the bad-ass lady boss you are (instead of the boss, chief bottle-washer and Jill-of-all-trades).

A blog editor may not have made the top of the list when you dreamed about bringing someone on to help you. But…

You only have twenty-six small letters and a handful of dots and dashes to wow, inspire, share, create, and convince. Surely you want to combine these in the best way possible?

Hiring new consultants, contractors, and team members is a big step in your business, but once you’re ready to take it your workload decreases and your business is able to improve in multiple ways, leaving you to work on your strengths and be the bad-ass lady boss you are (instead of the boss, chief bottle-washer and Jill-of-all-trades).  A blog editor may not have made the top of the list when you dreamed about bringing someone on to help you. But…  You only have twenty-six small letters and a handful of dots and dashes to wow, inspire, share, create, and convince. Surely you want to combine these in the best way possible?  |  Think Creative Collective

Using a blog editor can really help to perfect your brand, reach your audience in an authentic way, improve your social messaging, and shoot SEO through the roof so that you reach exponentially more people.

Five of the signs that your biz may be ready, waiting, and wanting a blog editor to improve your content and SEO results and to save you a ton of time include:

1. You want to improve your SEO results (without having to fuss with SEO).

SEO is a long, slow process of making small and incremental changes and tweaks to each post and being consistent over time. It requires a set of tasks for each post and many of our clients find it easier to let us take these jobs off their full business and blogging plates.

Having said that, it’s a long process. We’ve had clients who have seen rapid upswings in their SEO results in their first month with us, but don’t expect to see huge change happening before three to six months. After that, it’s up all the way, baby!

The best part of improving your SEO? It starts slowly, but improves with cumulative effort. So as your Google reach improves and you attract more readers and shoppers to your site, these improved numbers improve your SEO further, and your Google reach builds on itself. One of the things we do for many of our clients is to go back into virtual archives and ensure that old posts are optimized, so that your SEO efforts don’t only depend on your brand new posts, but on your whole blog.

2. Your writing could be better.

We’re not all professional writers. But we all have something important to say. Don’t let a lack of skills in this area hold you back. If your writing isn’t as good as it should be and you’d like it to better touch your audience by delivering perfect sentences right to their screens, you may need the help of an editor.

That said, many of our clients are fantastic writers themselves who realize the potential impact of having a professional eye run over their work. Some of our clients have dyslexia or other barriers to learning. Some are really busy and want to type and dash, leaving the rest to us. It’s a universal truth that it’s almost impossible to edit your own writing objectively (unless you stick it in a drawer and take it out a few months or years later – ever find those cringe-worthy high school essays, anyone?).

Regardless of your writing level, having your posts, webpages and content edited professionally can only improve your brand and its perception. After all, you may be a colorful, interesting, talented, creative, and skillful person (yep, we know you are), but unless you use video content, the way in which your site reaches out to potential buyers or blog readers is through words. Those words need to be kick-ass so that they attract attention before viewers click away and onto another site.

Think about the last time you came across really badly-written website copy, marketing emails, or social media captions. Did it make you want to buy? Nah, me neither.

3. You have a large archive of outdated posts that are no longer attracting much traffic.

As mentioned above, we go back and edit archives to make sure that all your posts are best optimized. We also make them evergreen, if and when possible, so that you can re-post, re-use and recycle as either refreshed blog posts (yay for an easier content writing calendar!) or other types of content, such as social media posts, courses, and e-books.

4. You need help with social media content creation and posting.

In addition to editing blog posts, we also help by creating or editing (and then scheduling) social media posts so that you don’t have to be the crazy woman who is trying to cover Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and ALL the social media networks. Turn off that phone. Take a breath. We’ve got it.

5. You make mistakes in your writing, and your readers may have commented on them.

You may be surprised as to how many gremlin errors are lurking in your sales and About pages, not to mention in your most-read blog posts. Or maybe you’re not surprised. One of my clients receives nasty comments anytime there’s an (often perceived) error in one of her posts. Although we certainly don’t change our actions on the say-so of internet trolls, comments can indicate that you may have been publishing posts that contain more errors than usual. Regular errors in your writing, and the rampant disregard of spelling, grammar, and punctuation conventions, can discredit your message, detract from your voice, and diminish your shiny expertise sparkle. They also give an impression that’s not professional.

If you’d like to try out a month of no-commitment, no-strings attached editing for your business, just keep on reading and give us a shout! We’d love to give you a taster of what we do.


Think Creative Collective was one of her first clients, and Abagail and Emylee say: 

“Sarah has been such an incredible addition to our team. We previously handled ALL writing/editing, etc. and it got to the point where we were letting things that were less than stellar head out the door. Sarah swooped in and saved the day. She got us to stop flying so much by the seat of our pants and schedule writing in advance. This not only has allowed us to be better writers from the get go, but adds time to get valuable feedback from Sarah. She is now a crucial part of our everyday process. Highly recommend!”

Would you like 30 days of free editing and SEO for your blog? No card details, and no strings attached. We’d love to connect with you! Please write to us here or email Sarah at sarah@sarahevelynedits.com


See all the behind the scenes fun on Instagram

SEO, Video Tutorial

SEO Case Study: First Page Rankings in 2 Hours Flat

If you’re reading this, you might have gone through the overwhelming task of learning SEO and are just curious how to optimize your posts so that they can rank first page on Google and other search engines.

The day I published the SEO newbie to pro article was the same day I spent speaking in Facebook groups with other entrepreneurs about the importance of SEO. So it was a great surprise to see the results in action on the same day, as my article ranked on the first page of Google among some of the best experts in the SEO industry.

It's proof that SEO is beneficial and can really impact the online visibility of your blog. With just a few deliberate tweaks to your content, you too can rank!

If you’re reading this, you might have gone through the overwhelming task of learning SEO and are just curious how to optimize your posts so that they can rank first page on Google and other search engines. With just a few deliberate tweaks to your content, you too can rank! | Think Creative Collective

There’s often this mysterious element to SEO. There’s many posts online that will tell you what needs to be done, but they never share the HOW it’s done.

Let's take a deeper look at how I optimized the post and walk through the specifics in this video breakdown.

Ok ladies, I’m in the backend of my site and I’m going to my post SEO Newbie to Pro. Using my Yoast SEO plugin, here’s some of my must-have items to check off my list to make sure it’s properly optimized.

First we’re going to drop our focus keyword into the focus keyword area. What I love about Yoast is that is will give me all these red and green lights to let me know if I’m doing great or could be better in another area of my post.

First we start in our title. This is going to be what the searchers will click from the search results page, so we want to make sure it’s got our keyword front and center. This will give context to what our page is all about.

Pro tip: You want your keyword to be closest to the beginning of your title as possible.

Next we’re going to add a description. It’s really important to sum up the entire article here and help people understand what they will be reading. This will prevent people from clicking into the site and leaving right away because the content wasn’t what they expected.

Now that we’ve optimized our post for the search results page, let’s dive into the article itself.

First I’m going to make sure my page name and url have my keyword as well. Keep the url short and sweet.

Now I’ll make sure that my images also have my keyword. So I’m going to go into my media library and select an image. Then I’m going to add my keyword to the ‘alt text’ area, so that if someone searches my keyword in Google Images, my picture will rank as well.

Finally, make sure that your keyword is also in your heading tags and content.

Pro tip: In order to avoid looking spammy, like you’re trying to stuff your keyword everywhere into the post, try using similar phrases. For example, SEO beginner, starting in SEO, etc..

There you have it! A perfectly optimized WordPress blog post with help from the Yoast plugin.

Other Reasons You Might Rank

Besides optimizing your post, there may be other factors that make the content rank quickly.

If you enter 'SEO newbie to pro' take a look at what you see in the results. Does anything stand out to you?

First I notice the titles; that none of the other results have that specific phrase in the title itself.

That lets me know that although people are ranking for this term because of relevant, similar content, no one is specifically targeting that phrase.

Without spending time on keyword research - Google Keyword Planner or any other keyword tools you use - I can see an opportunity here.

Because I was specifically targeting this keyword and my page was optimized to support that phrase, I was ranking in the top three in less than two hours!

It could have been instant for all I knew.

But the next morning when I checked again, things had changed. There are a few reasons that your rankings might be constantly teetering up and down in search results.

Let's talk about why.

Reasons Why Your Posts Move Up and Down in Rankings

Did you know that Google pays attention to when the article was published?

You can see in the search results screenshot that it highlighted my page as 11 hours old, while the other pieces of content were published more than a year before.

This was a fresh new page for Google to highlight in that search result, which is one reason why - along with the great on-page optimization - I got an extra sweet boost to page one.

Google is a Business

Have you ever thought of Google as a business? And the search results being the product they’re serving?

In order for searchers to continually use Google, it needs to give the best possible answer the questions they're asking.

In ways you and I will possibly never understand, it uses extremely complex algorithms to understand what the searcher is really looking for, and then scans millions upon millions of pages to find the best possible answer.

How to Gain Google's Trust

In order to prove to Google that our content is informative and valuable to the reader, we’ve got to gain some trust. To do that, we just need a few ‘wins’ to show our worth.

First we need to rank.

Think about a princess being locked away in the tallest tower. Our white knight is likely not going to storm the front gates because it’s so heavily guarded. But there are entrances around the back of the castle that will be much easier to charge.

The same can be said about rankings.

You’ve taken a great first step in choosing a focus keyword. But have you considered how heavily guarded that keyword may be?

Think about these two searches:

  • SEO - extremely competitive, not related to any one industry, no context about what exactly the search is asking; do they want to learn SEO, or are looking for an SEO conference? No idea.
  • LEARNING SEO FOR BEGINNERS - much more specific, can anticipate exactly what the searcher is looking for, longer-tail keyword (3 or more words).

Try it for yourself. Enter in both phrases to the search box and see the different results you get.

My point is, we may not be trusted with such a general phrase like SEO because it’s so highly searched. We may have better luck with our longer keyword. Google may be willing to take a chance on us, and offer our post as a search result.

What's Happening Once You Rank

Once you’ve made it into the search results, you may think your work is done. But there are some things happening behind the scenes that Google is watching.

They want to know:

  • How long are people spending on the website once they click your search result?
  • Did they click the result and then click back right away?
  • Did they visit any other pages on your website?

All this is showing how valuable your information is to the searcher. If you truly have great content, are people engaging with it?

Final Thoughts

Rankings can be a bit of a roller coaster. Up one minute and spiraling down the next.

There are many factors that go into why your blog post might rank. All you can really do is:

  • Choose a keyword wisely (ideally a longer keyword with less difficulty)
  • Optimize your blog post for the focus keyword, and
  • Make sure you’ve spent time and effort making it full of useful information to keep visitors engaged

I’d love to hear about your stories about ranking! Share with us a time when you noticed your posts falling in and out of search results, and any best practices you use to hold your rankings.

Happy rankings, ladies!



Are you following our biz journey on Instagram?


SEO, Email Marketing, Entrepreneur

11 NEW SEO Practices to Get Your Business Noticed, Gain Followers & Increase Engagement

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) evolves and changes constantly. What was once an extremely technical and data-driven field is changing into a social marketing bonanza! Now, rather than needing a full staff of IT experts, many SEO capabilities are at YOUR fingertips. Below we have compared what traditionally worked in the past with the new SEO trends. You might be surprised as to how on track you already are in this ever-evolving industry. 

We have compared what traditionally worked in the past with the new SEO trends. You might be surprised as to how on track you already are in this ever-evolving industry. | Think Creative Collective

Traffic & Rankings vs. User Engagement & Brand Exposure

Numbers used to mean everything. They used to focus on how many visitors came to your site, how many pages were seen, and how long they lingered on the site. Today's numbers have shifted to center on increased engagement. Often, this engagement does not even happen directly on your blog or website, making social standings and user interaction even more vital. Now, rankings and metrics serve as a reporting effort instead of a direct correlation to success. Clicks and pageviews should no longer have the emphasis. Utilizing user engagement to convert a potential customer to revenue-generation is on trend. This engagement can tell you what the people want.

Organic vs. Diversified Traffic Sources

Finding out information used to mean picking up a physical encyclopedia. Then we used search engines online. Even though people still continue to search out what they are looking for, there has been a major increase in discovery. How many times a day do you click on an article because a friend shared it, rather than going to Google and asking a question? Google has its purpose and we hope it will always exist, but continuing to diversify your traffic, especially through social media outlets, is very important. 

Technical vs. Marketing Knowledge

SEO used to involve complicated back-end coding: altering alt tags, padding keywords in the most ridiculous places, and creating outlandish descriptions. The algorithms have become much smarter and they pick up on “fake” attempts at making your website better. True marketing knowledge will go much further than any IT-made attempts. 

Search Engine vs. User Optimization

We’ve also seen a shift in optimizing titles and headlines to match keywords. Gearing these towards creative headlines, engaging content and ease of navigation for users, is now so much more important. 

Exact Matches vs. Keyword Diversity

Formerly, a certain set of words would help you to rank higher across search engines the more you reused them. Search engines now have a wider vocabulary and favor diversity. For instance, instead of just using “graphic design” over and over again all over our website, we use words like “brand, identity, design, logo”. As you can tell, these all relate. However, they touch on different aspects of graphic design. And since the padding of keywords is now so frowned upon, the only way to continue to add to your keywords is to continue to put out amazing content. Although it takes more time than most things we do, this reason alone is one of the major players in why we add new content to the blog so regularly. 

Rank in Search Engines vs. Competing in the Blog-o-sphere

The race is on. No longer just on Google and Yahoo, but the competition continues in industry-related blogs. The necessity of putting out your own personal content or publishing to a blog has grown. Reposting other content on your social media, though acceptable, does not go quite as far as sharing your own original thoughts and ideas. 

Privacy vs. Personality & Transparency

Though many people still value their privacy, we have started to accept the lack of anonymity on social media to capitalize on the person behind the brand. Adding “You” back into your business is crucial, and letting people in through complete transparency continues to achieve returns. 

Link Building & Backlinks vs. Link Earning & Real Relationships

Having other websites linking back to your own used to be such a major player that people would purchase memberships in directories. They would buy “links” and participate in link exchange programs. Now, quality links are much more important than the quantity of backlinks. High-quality content and the rise of guest blogging on industry-trusted sites have come to the forefront. People used to even do crazy things like barter for link backs. Today, bloggers tend to give links freely, without any conditions. It isn’t uncommon for us to link to other resources or tell you about who inspires us. We don’t mind at all if it helps their rankings! Instead, we care more about creating the best user experience possible for you. 

Short-Term Hustle vs. Long-Term Strategy

Short-term tactics aimed at tricking search engines just don’t work anymore. We have to operate under the assumption that SEO is a long-term strategy. How are we going to grow and shift as the industry continues to grow and shift? 

Content Distribution & PR vs. Communication 

You might remember the day when social media (and even more traditional methods like press releases) were written and the medium was just the method to put the information out there. Current social media has evolved into becoming its own ecosystem for communication. It has become participation-driven and not just a “preach from a soapbox” concept. We used to rely on other media sources to talk about us to “gain exposure”, but now, we all pray for that viral moment. Having an article published in a major newspaper or being on the news is still a major win for any business, but users going crazy about a post, product or service can often be even more effective.

Commenting vs. Participating in Community

Backlinks were such a crucial portion of the SEO equation that people would spam other blogs, leaving phony comments just as an opportunity to link back to their own site. Authenticity is now realized, and sharing in the full experience of a brand is necessary. Users need to be engaged and participatory. Instead of leaving phony comments, help people to solve real problems, build real relationships, and create brand authority. 

What SEO practices do you rely on? What do you use to help you track results?


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Pinterest, Business, SEO, Photography

The One Thing You Must Do to EVERY Image on Your Blog

This may be review for some, but for many I have chatted with this is a major Ah-Ha moment! When I first started blogging I did a TON of research, mainly because I was afraid of screwing up. I spent months making sure I understood the ends and outs. And today, I am here to share one of the simplest things I learned that completely changed my blog traffic. 

Since I began blogging I have managed to double my blog traffic month over month. Pinterest now serves as my single largest website referrer with 42.06% of total traffic and generating more than 20k website impressions daily!  |  The One Thing You must Do to EVERY Image on Your Blog  |  Think Creative

Since I began blogging I have managed to double my blog traffic month over month. In many areas I grew, but in one I completely exploded. I used to not believe that Pinterest had the power to drive business. I have watched it go from my single smallest referrer at a mere 2% to my single largest referrer (which literally just happened this past week) – now sitting at 42.60% of total traffic and creating more than 20,000 website impressions daily! I definitely believe this is in large part to the strategies I clearly laid out in the last couple months, but it also is because of this extremely minor and easy thing I have done to every single image.

Here are a couple of my favorite Pinterest articles that show how I skyrocketed my traffic:

Name Your Images

Sure, you call them Abbie-postimage.jpg on your computer, but that is definitely not going to help you on the internet. Not to mention the blog-o-sphere. Name your images directly on your website.

Squarespace makes this super easy. When you are in edit image mode, change your “filename”. 

How to Edit the Image Name in Squarespace.  |  The One Thing You Must Do to EVERY Image on Your Blog  |  Think Creative


Now when I say name images, don’t simply rename them to “Abbie Post Image." Use this space as an SEO opportunity to generate traffic. Name your images using key words or phrases that someone could find in your article. Pull direct quotes from your article. Or perhaps even add a little extra information. 


The One Thing You Must Do to EVERY Image on Your Blog! - Tweet That


This may seem like a goofy waste of time, but I promise you it isn’t. When someone now comes to your blog and decides to “Pin-it” for later the box that pops up with text is now auto-filled – yes you guessed it, with whatever information you put in the file name. 

Naming your file image will auto populate in Pinterest Pins

I will often add several full sentences, commentary and always include the blog post title and the name of my company. Let’s be honest – most people are lazy and they won’t retype the description. So use your pinners to your advantage and give people a reason to come back!

It has worked for me and  it will likely work for you! Plus – it will save you time and energy when you go to Pin your own articles.