Expert Interview

Our Expert: Joe Melton, Director of Sales, Slingshot SEO

Joe Melton is Director of Sales for Slingshot SEO. During his three years with Slingshot, several case studies have been published under his direction including the "Google and Bing Click through Rate Study" and the "Multi-Channel Attribution Study". Melton directs multi-million dollar SEO strategies for five Fortune 100 companies and services more than 80 other incrementally smaller clients.

What is SEO in the simplest of terms? Why is it important?

SEO is the art of maximizing a business' digital relevance and search engine visibility. There are over three billion searches PER DAY on Google. These are consumers searching to fulfill their needs of products and services.

What advice would you offer a company that's looking to improve its online presence?

Before you focus on promoting your site and gaining traffic, you should first decide if you're conveying the proper message and have the right user experience for your audience.

What's the first step in evaluating that?

Look at your competitor's website. Compare the quality and quantity of their content to yours. Compare the user experience. If you were a consumer, which site would you choose to fulfill your needs?

What's the next step?

Then, review the analytics of your traffic. Look at how much traffic you're getting from search engines. Look at what search phrases people are punching in to get to your business.

How do you know if you need help with improving SEO?

Use Google Adwords to see the monthly search volumes for what you're offering. Are you getting significant percentages of those volumes to your website? If not, you can do better, and you should consult an SEO expert to gain an understanding of what you're lacking.

What sorts of results can companies expect after investing in SEO?

The possibilities are directly proportional to the size of the potential audience. Some of our best case studies show traffic increases of over 800% and 15 times ROI.

What would your counsel be to someone who's skeptical about paying a web developer to increase traffic?

In broad terms, there are 400+ variables that determine your page rank and they can be broken down into four major categories: the content on your site, the quality of other sites that link to yours, your sites architecture and authority, and social signals. You need to have a strategy that cohesively maximizes all these variables. If not, with trillions of websites on the internet, enough others will outperform yours and your site won't be found unless someone types your name into a search engine.

What questions should a business owner ask when interviewing potential SEO experts?

The questions you ask should revolve around a desired strategy: What should be our dynamic content strategy? Who will be writing thought leading content? What partnerships should we leverage? How will ROI from SEO and social media be measured? How will you audit or site architecture and user experience? How will you gain quality links to our site from partners, affiliates, industry resources, blogs, etc?

What can a small business do to gain an edge?

The Google Maps algorithm, which takes into consideration local factors like zip code and Yelp reviews, is different from the one that determines page rank. Google Map placement can be improved largely on your own, by putting effort in the right places.

What are the "right places"?

Emphasis on compelling content and a user friendly website. There are also SEO companies that can help with a small, regional focus.

For more information about increasing your brand's awareness online, visit Joe Melton at Choose Chicago's Marketing Workshop on October 23rd. To register, click here.