HOSTSEARCH: Hello Frank, when did you start working on SEO and what has brought you to work in this field?
FRANK SIANO: I have been working in the online marketing field since the early 2000's. I had been involved in web developments/web design and as new opportunities to market online were introduced, I quickly adapted to find out the best way to bring more traffic to client sites. Web Hosting has always been an area that I have been involved in both technically and from a marketing standpoint so I naturally fell into this area.
HOSTSEARCH: Why is SEO so important?
FRANK SIANO: SEO is important for many reasons. The most obvious reason is for highly targeted traffic, but there are many other benefits that go along with a properly optimized website. For starters, when a site is properly optimized it will rank well and above competitors within major search engine results. Actual visitors who are potential customers can benefit from visiting a site that is informative, relevant, and offers something they are interested in. SEO can bring many benefits including more traffic, well positioned rankings, branding, and more. The process of optimizing a site for an actual visitor and not just a search engine robot is what it is all about. When a website is properly optimized, major search engines appreciate this since optimization is a major part of the algorithm.
HOSTSEARCH: What do you think of some people saying that SEO is a waste of time and not worth paying for SEO services?
FRANK SIANO: I would say that SEO is definitely not a waste of time, and is something that all websites should be doing at least at a basic if not more advanced level. SEO isn't about tricking the search engines to rank a website highly, instead it is about ensuring your website is being represented at its top potential for actual visitors. So by not investing in SEO, your website may not be representing itself passing up relevant visitor traffic.
If you break down what major search engines are trying to do, they are simply trying to deliver the most relevant results to their users. So by making sure your website is optimized you will have a chance to be ranked naturally and gain traffic and potential customers from it.
HOSTSEARCH: Your company offers SEO services for the web hosting industry. Do you feel SEO companies that offer more general services are less effective than companies that specialize in a particular industry or field?
FRANK SIANO: I think it is important that whoever you work with, they are setting realistic goals from the start. There is definitely a benefit of working with companies that have clients in highly competitive industries similar to web hosting. The reasons are because optimizing for highly competitive keyword phrases is a very different game than optimizing for less trafficked industries. Having experience in highly trafficked industries brings different strategies and processes to the table that generalized companies may not know.
HOSTSEARCH: Do you guarantee the results?
FRANK SIANO: Anyone who guarantee's SEO results is probably targeting much smaller industries than a hosting related industry, or will promise highly positioned ranks for obscure keywords with no traffic or probably won't include the top search engine sites Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It is easy to rank for long tail phrases that get minimal traffic, but it takes lots of hard work, strategy, experience, and time to gain rankings in highly competitive markets. Before you choose any SEO firm, ask that you can see references of past rankings, and make sure they are providing keyword phrases that are as competitive as the ones you would like to rank for. SEO is not an exact science and algorithms are closely guarded so I would be cautious when dealing with companies that will offer a guarantee without even knowing what your keyword phrases are first.
HOSTSEARCH: How do you charge the customers? How does it different from other SEO companies?
FRANK SIANO: We charge based on the competition a keyword phrase has, and where the client currently stands. It is easier to move a site from page 2 to page 1, but if a site is not ranked at all it will take a lot more work and time. There are also some expectations that simply cannot be met based on a site's competition so we will not take on a customer if we don't think we can truly add value or get them ranked properly. We are a boutique marketing agency focused on custom solutions for each client so our approach is specific to each site and client objectives.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you tell us your process from start to finish?
FRANK SIANO: The process is custom for each and every client and situation that arises, but it typically starts with a lot of analysis. We analyze a site for its current credibility based on many factors that search engines look for. We then take it a step further to analyze the competition to find out what elements are missing from the client's current strategy based on the strategies we've had success with. We are big web analytics fans so historical data and current traffic details are always taken into account before we begin the optimization process. We then roll into on-site (elements related to the website itself) and off-site optimization (elements not related to the website directly such as backlinks, content creation etc) techniques and strategies to ensure the client's site is properly optimized both on-site and off-site to keep up with top competitors in their industry.
HOSTSEARCH: What are the most difficult keywords for SEO in web hosting world? Do you charge extra for difficult keywords?
FRANK SIANO: The industry has grown fiercely over the last 10+ years in relation to SEO, so there are many keywords right now that are highly difficult, and highly profitable if you are able to rank for them. Starting with some broader termed phrases I would say words like "Web Hosting", "Dedicated Servers", "Shared Hosting", and the related. There are plenty of hosting related phrases are aren't as popular as the above, but are fiercely competitive and profitable so most phrases in this industry take hands-on seo efforts. Depending on where the client currently ranks, and how much work and time is required to get the site to rank better determines how much we charge.
HOSTSEARCH: What advice or resources can you offer those who want to do their own SEO?
My advice would be to get online and read as much as you can. There is a world of information out there that can help build the base of a solid SEO strategy. The Google Webmaster Central help pages hold a lot of clues and information that is ideal and can help rank across many top search engines. This help area can be found here:http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769
In addition to those help files, I would suggest finding SEO forum communities and ask lots of questions.
Lastly, there are keyword tools available for free that can help figure out how competitive keywords are, and help make sure you are focusing on phrases that are actually searched regularly and are relevant to your website and offerings. There are many tools out there that come and go with time, so I'll provide a few that are helpful when I am writing this, but if you can't find one of these tools I've listed just go to a search engine and search for "Keyword Tools" and free and paid options will come up.
A few free tools include:https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternalwww.google.com/sktool/freekeywords.wordtracker.com/
HOSTSEARCH: Have you ever experienced a sudden drop in ranking or immediate disappearing of page from the ranking? What's your advice?
FRANK SIANO: We have had plenty of customers come to us who have dropped in ranks, and are uncertain why. Sometimes a site drops because of an algorithm change, other times it is because a site is not optimized properly, and other times it can be that a site is over-optimized and considered spam. We have been able to successfully reposition client sites back to their positioning based on the reason why they were dropped or banned in the first place.
My advice would be to always follow white-hat optimization strategies before you experience a sudden drop. If you think a recent change is the reasoning for your drops in rank, analyze your web analytics to see if there are any definitive clues to what may have caused the issue and make adjustments to the site ensuring they are search engine friendly.
HOSTSEARCH: How do you see the future of SEO in the next 3 years from now?
FRANK SIANO: I see SEO being a much more involved game than it is now. The SEO game is ever-evolving based on the different online marketing mediums that present themselves. Years back it was links, today social media is playing a major role, and the future will be following the trends that are required to keep search results fresh, and relevant. The early days of the web allowed websites to rank well without being optimized well, but the future is incorporating many other elements than just on-site optimization and the off-site optimization. Many elements that effect rankings are changing drastically and are involving a lot more strategy than they ever have. I see future SEO as being just as important as it has been from the start, but it will be a very different game as strategies evolve to incorporate new avenues of search marketing. The SEO task should be just one component of many that make up a successful online marketing strategy.
HOSTSEARCH: What makes up a healthy online marketing strategy?
FRANK SIANO: The days of just optimizing your website on-site and nothing else are long gone. Search engine algorithms have become far more sophisticated in how they determine rankings, and off-site optimization is a major element that expands regularly. Off-site optimization collectively is getting more complex, and there are more things to be done to compete as the internet spreads its web further out (Social Media, Video Etc). The internet has become much more "real time" as news and information is being updated much more quickly than it was in the past, and to keep up strategies, you must stay current. Staying with the trends of today and the opportunities of tomorrow will ensure you have a healthy online marketing strategy incorporating all factors and evolve with search marketing and competitors.
HOSTSEARCH: Well Frank, thank you so much for giving us an opportunity to talk with you like this.