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Virtual assistants are an integral part of the digital metamorphosis that has been happening for years. They play an important role in many businesses—particularly online businesses and those that rely on digital marketing.
If one were to compare them to workers in a brick-and-mortar store or establishment or office, virtual assistants would be the all-around administrative assistant or clerk.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is somebody who provides administrative support to businesses and business owners (especially those of online businesses). A VA is usually self-employed although there are now companies that offer virtual assistance services.
Virtual assistants at SquareFish Inc. offer administrative support and other specialized skills like bookkeeping, search engine marketing or SEM, content marketing and social media management. In some instances, VAs can also perform tasks related to graphic design, website design and development and digital marketing or e-commerce. Additionally, SEO tasks are also essential workloads for virtual assistants.
Present-day VAs are at a different level because they’re now trained to do more than just basic administrative and customer service tasks.
Virtual assistant origins
The term virtual assistant was first used back in the 1990s, at the time when document sharing and the internet started making waves and people realized that remote working was possible. Actually, even in the 1980s, there were already secretaries who worked at home. However, back then, they didn’t have the 1990s’ computer technology that allowed administrative assistants to perform more tasks and stay virtually connected with the people or companies they were working for.
Anastasia Brice and Christine Durst are considered two of the most prominent names in the history of virtual assistance. It was they who first lived up to the term virtual assistant. Brice worked as an assistant to speaker and coach Thomas Leonard. He had no physical office as he travelled a lot, but he had Brice as his assistant. She took care of his travel arrangements for him. Leonard called her his virtual assistant. He was the first to use the term.
Durst, on the other hand, is considered as the very first virtual assistant. She worked from home and used the internet in carrying out her tasks. Eventually, she established the International Association of Virtual Assistants.
Nowadays, virtual assistants use a variety of technologies for their day-to-day tasks: electronic mail, the internet, Skype and other messaging apps and smartphones, among others.
Virtual assistants and SEO
Search engine optimization or SEO is an integral factor for the success of today’s businesses, especially those with websites and those that are involved in online retail. As such, SEO has also become an important element in choosing a virtual assistant. Fortunately, majority of today’s VAs are trained to carry out SEO tasks.
Not a lot of business owners know what search engine optimization is. For those who do, they hesitate to perform the optimization tasks on their own because they’re not confident enough. This is why they outsource this task and look for a professional VA to do it. Doing so will not only ensure them that their website will be properly optimized, it will also lighten their working load.
While not all SEO tasks can be delegated to virtual assistants, there are several that they can comfortably and confidently handle.
- Contribute to content curation websites
Content curation is all about getting information on important issues, topics or areas of interest. Many virtual assistants are trained to do content research that can give them concrete ideas about their client’s audience, market and competitor. All these details will make for a good article.
Many of them can also do content repurposing and promotion. These are all relevant to search engine optimization because, yes, content is king. If your website has relevant, purposeful content, then it will generate a lot of attention and interest. This will mean an increase in online authority.
Additionally, this also means virtual assistants can submit content to certain websites. Of course, this content is relevant to their client’s brand or company and is another way of building a strong online presence.
- Doing keyword research
Keyword research is something that virtual assistants can do for you for you and your business. They’ll help you get an idea of which keywords are perfect for your market/niche, your audience and the kind of content you want.
With keyword research, your virtual assistant will likewise be able to provide you with ideas on which keywords are the strongest, most popular and most effective.
A lot of virtual assistant Philippines companies have VAs who are highly trained in keyword research. As such, it will be easy to find one perfect for your business needs.
- Blog commenting
Another surefire way of building an online presence is blog commenting, and this is something that a virtual assistant can do. A skilled VA can post relevant comments on chosen blogs—blogs with content relevant or related to the client’s brand or business.
This is not just random nonsensical commenting like “I like your blog. It looks cool.” Rather, VAs are trained to comment on topics and issues with utmost knowledge and sincerity. They don’t just pretend that they’re commenting; they really post actual useful comments.
Aside from blog commenting, virtual assistants can also perform a number of offsite optimization like link building or getting backlinks from relevant sites. Guest blogging is another form of offsite optimization that you might want to delegate to virtual assistants.
- Doing a research on competitor/s
A virtual assistant can regularly get updates about the client’s competitor. While they cannot fully analyze the actions or the competitor, some VAs are usually provided with a list or a guide on what to watch out for and what to observe.
In addition, there are some instances when just visiting and browsing through a competitor’s website already enables a virtual assistant to determine what the competition is doing.
- Tracking content
Aside from submitting content, virtual assistants can also track the content they submitted to various websites. This will give them an idea of how the content is doing. Whatever information the VA is able to get will be handed over to the search engine optimization specialist so he or she can verify the data before coming up with an SEO plan.
- Tools set up and monitoring
All the tools needed for carrying out SEO tasks have to be properly set up and maintain. Instead of the SEO Philippines specialist doing these things; the virtual assistant can. This task doesn’t really require technical expertise because the installation process is normally quite simple. Besides, there are easy-to-access guides that can be easily found online.
In addition to this, virtual assistants are also often tasked to monitor the tools. Whatever they learn or observe from monitoring is then to be reported to the SEO specialist.
- Regularly do an SEO audit
Virtual assistants can help SEO specialists and business owners understand the reason or reasons why their website is not getting the expected SEO results. This can be done through regular SEO auditing.
When doing an SEO audit, the virtual assistant will try to analyze the online campaign and the website and try to come up with observations that can help SEO specialists formulate actions that can help increase their website’s traffic—specifically organic traffic. It then becomes the task of the specialist to bring the site back to action and the right direction.
The virtual assistant usually takes care of the following information: strategic objectives > keyword analysis > competitor analysis > technical analysis > page-level analysis > content analysis > user experience analysis > link analysis and citation analysis. All these may sound too technical, but for the most part, the VA will pass on over the information to the SEO specialist.
- Social media marketing
Nowadays, it is not surprising to learn that virtual assistants perform social media marketing tasks. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are now considered ideal platforms for digital marketing. Promote a brand or product on Facebook and in a matter of minutes, everybody will be talking about it.
Virtual assistants can compose engaging, interesting and relevant posts. They schedule posts and monitor these, including comments and audience/follower interaction. Some VAs even go as far as answering queries sent via Facebook Messenger.
Social media marketing is relevant to SEO campaigns because they can help drive audiences to the client’s website.
These are just some of the search engine optimization tasks for virtual specialists; there are still quite a lot that they can use to help leverage businesses’ online performance.
Where you can find good virtual assistant
There are a lot of venues and platforms to find good and reliable virtual assistants.
The first place to look for one, of course, is the online job boards. There are also quite a lot of information on social media pages; some employers even create pages when they post job announcements.
However, the most popular way of finding good virtual assistants is to get outsource staffing from VA agencies such as the ones found in the VA Philippines community. These companies have well-trained virtual assistants so you’re guaranteed to get a VA who can get the job done for you.