If you’re trying to find out more about search engine optimization and how hiring SEO professionals can help your business succeed, here’s some food for thought.
Many searching what an SEO company can do for me find advertisements often with outlandish promises (though you might not realize, at first, that their promises are unrealistic).
The first thing to understand is that SEO success takes time. If an SEO company is promising the moon, it’s often something to be suspicious of. SEO is an ongoing commitment and yes, it can pay dividends regularly, but it requires ongoing work.
You can’t work on SEO for a few weeks or months and then move onto something else. SEO is dynamic — it’s ongoing, so your SEO strategy must be fluid, must evolve. It’s also vital to continually analyze your website traffic reports to see what you’re doing right and where efforts are paying off. SEO companies with website monitoring tools and expertise can help you turn your website into a lead generation tool without taking up too much of your time.
Because the market continually changes, search engines do as well, as they try to continue to meet the needs of searchers. This means you’ll need to continue to work at not only maintaining the rankings you achieve but also at providing a great customer experience on your website. Search engines won’t keep sending you organic traffic if you have a lousy conversion rate. Your website can’t be static, either, as the search engines will eventually de-index your site as outdated.
There are hundreds of factors that are looked at, there’s a need for ongoing fresh content, and there’s a good chance that while you continually work at achieving SEO success, your competition will be doing the same. You have to know what you’re doing, keep up with what the search engines want, measure results and conversions so that you can react and plan, plus keep an eye on the competition, too.
What Does an SEO Company Do?
There’s a lot to SEO and search engine marketing, and rather than try to do it all in-house, hiring a professional SEO company frees up resources so that you’re ready to wow the leads and customers that your SEO efforts bring.
Investing in SEO can provide a great ROI, but it’s important to note that not all SEO companies are created equal. When doing a cost analysis to help you decide which SEO company is best, you should look deeper at what they offer, whether their practices are considered white hat or black hat, SEO guarantees, contract periods, deliverables, and so forth. Here are some basics about what you might be able to expect an SEO company to do for you.
Analyze Your Current Site and Make Recommendations
Missing factors on your business site could be costing you. There are SEO tactics that are helpful and that are essential. An SEO audit will help you ensure your efforts to get found by your target customer aren’t missing the mark and /or hurting your rankings. An SEO company looks at your existing site layout to help determine whether or not search engine bots can easily crawl and read your site.
Note: The technical SEO elements need to be there, and you also need to be sure you’re working to appeal to visitors that are sent your way. Click-through rates and conversion rates are measured by search engines. If they send you a slew of traffic and that traffic doesn’t find your content useful, you’ll quickly lose rankings. You need to optimize for search engines and for people.
Technical Aspects to Make Your Site “Spider” Friendly
An SEO site audit helps you ensure you’re doing all the right things with a site structure that can get you noticed and get your site ranked. It can help you see potential gaps and areas for improvement.
Some basic technical things SEO companies look at include:
- Permalink structure
- Unique (non-duplicated) content
- Image tagging
- Page load speed
- How your page looks on various devices (i.e.: mobile-friendly SEO, voice search, etc.)
- Content layout
- Keywords and keyword optimization
- And more…
The above list is not exhaustive. A site audit will look at your existing rankings, keywords, conversion rate, and more, showing you technical areas that need improvement to make your site welcoming to search engines and appealing to visitors. Your goal is to make it easy for search engines to crawl every page of your website and use that information to figure which traffic to send your way. You want your content to also convert that traffic into leads or customers.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO
Effective SEO strategies include optimizing in many ways, including both on-page and off-page SEO. A good SEO company does both. Things happening on your site as well as things that point to your site all factor into your site’s SEO-friendliness. Ongoing activities in both areas are essential to bring you rankings and help you not only achieve them but also to maintain them.
An SEO company will recommend ways to boost your off-page SEO efforts while also maximizing your content marketing / inbound marketing efforts that bring quality backlinks as well as drive traffic and boost authority.
Note: You don’t want just any backlinks. Some black hat SEO companies will sell services that include questionable linking strategies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure that you don’t hire a black hat SEO company. More tips on that will follow later in this blog post.
Your SEO specialist might also make recommendations for on-page SEO content that includes new content as well as optimizing existing pages. Adding regular content via blog posts, a news center, archives of your newsletter, and/or a strategy to optimize existing content pages can be instrumental in your overall online marketing strategy. Your SEO company can help you determine great topics and keywords that can boost your rankings and help you attract buyers who are ready to make a purchase.
Content = Opportunity
Every time a new page is published on your site, search engines will crawl that page. They’ll measure technical elements to determine how to rank that page. It’s a smart goal to publish search engine optimized content regularly that’s useful to both your SEO efforts as well as your relationship-building and lead generation efforts. Each page you publish should be optimized with all the right technical elements as well as written in a way that will convert your visitors into buyers or leads. Not all SEO companies offer content writing services, but some do — and can help you plan and execute a highly effective content marketing strategy that will bring you targeted traffic and better rankings.
Other factors in off-page SEO strategies can come into play, too, such as directory listings, press releases, article marketing, video marketing, and more.
Important Factors to Consider When Hiring a Search Engine Optimization Company
When looking at hiring a service provider for your business, it’s probably ingrained to ask for a guarantee. Warranties and guarantees can instill confidence in a buyer.
However, in the world of SEO, guarantees are a dangerous thing. While you may have guarantees for satisfaction, timely reports, and improvements, specific ranking or traffic guarantees are often suspect. Too many factors are out of the control of any reputable SEO specialist. Those who make promises of top rankings often do so only because they use black hat tactics. While those tactics might occasionally or temporarily work, they put you at risk of being penalized by Google and others. If your site is found to be trying to ‘game’ the system, your site could get de-indexed, even blacklisted.
What should you expect from your SEO company? You want easy-to-read, regular reports that make it clear that you’re improving on online presence and traffic levels. Some SEO companies help with various aspects of online marketing too, to help you ensure that the traffic you get has a great chance of being converted into sales.
Beyond costs, you want to look at other factors for SEO, including:
- Longevity. Is the SEO company you’re looking at a company that’s established, with staying power and can they show results with past clients?
- Are you going to be locked into a long-term contract?
- How do you cancel your agreement with them and ensure any/all access is revoked?
- How often will you get updates on progress and what will the deliverables be?
- What other services are available? Some of the top SEO companies offer a breadth of services that help with your online marketing efforts, too, such as website development, e-commerce services for online stores, pay-per-click advertising management, social media marketing, reputation management, video production, and more.