There is so much to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), that it is best left up to the experts. If you have thought about teaching yourself, think again.
By the time you learn part of what you need to know, something new will come out and you will have to re-learn it all over again (trust us on that). With that said, it is still good to have a basic understanding of SEO, the purpose, what to expect and your potential results.
You never want to be in the dark about what should or shouldn’t be going on with your company. Know enough to be able to ask the right questions and demand the right results.
Setting SEO Goals
In a nutshell, SEO is meant to build your online presence and make it easier for your targeted customers to find you. One of the biggest digital challenges for a company is getting qualified traffic to their website. They keyword here is “qualified” – you don’t want to rack up massive traffic with people who aren’t remotely interested in your product.
Getting qualified leads to your website instead of just more traffic is what separates a mediocre SEO company from a great one. You will want to know enough about SEO to set realistic goals with the company you outsource and your team.
Goals are an ingrained part of our culture – fitness, business, financial, personal – we deal with goals all day. But do you set attainable goals? Before you set an SEO goal, learn what’s realistic. If there aren’t 1 million search visits in your market to get, you aren’t going to get 1 million worthwhile visits. Set realistic, attainable, actionable goals and you will thank yourself later.
Knowing the search volume around your core products and services, and knowing the market for your business in general, will help you develop goals that make sense – instead of just shooting for 10,000 visits/month.
Things Your SEO Company Should Be Doing
The list of what your SEO provider should be doing for you is a really long one, well, at least it should be if they are any good. I can’t possibly go through it all in a blog post, so I will give you the slimmed down version below.
#1: Website Review, Analysis & Design
A lot of time it is easier to start from scratch than to re-work each section. This step is crucial to build the proper framework of your business model and website presence.
At the end of this step, you should be presented with a comprehensive analysis of how your website is performing, what needs to be changed or improved upon and recommendations on how to move forward with the findings found in their report.
If your SEO doesn’t believe that visual design matters, then you need to run for the hills. The visual design of a page impacts conversion rates, user retention, bounce rates, experience and more. And the better your site does in these areas, the better your search marketing campaigns are going to perform. Further, Google and the other search engines are getting smarter each day. Machine learning algorithms are evaluating visual design as we speak, comparing layouts of common spam sites to site designs they crawl. This element is only going to increase in importance as time goes on.
If you are not happy with the amount of research your SEO partner has done here or their findings, this is the time to speak up.
If design work also needs to be done for your site, this would be the time that you would receive a list of recommendations.
#2: Keyword Analysis
Your partner should be able to identify what type of search terms you are targeting with your current site, evaluate your performance in those areas, and then offer suggestions to improve, expand, or re-target.
Understanding what keywords drive real qualified traffic to your site is important. Someone searching for “red widget” might be looking for any number of things related to red widgets – but not necessarily purchasing. Someone searching “red widget shipping cost” is much further along in the buying cycle – and that’s an important visit to get.
Ranking highly for vanity terms can make the executive team happy, but ranking for terms that lead to sales will make the bottom line happier.
Types of Search Intent
- Navigational: Search terms like brand names, or “company x website” type searches. Users are navigating via the search engine. These are low value if they aren’t your brand.
- Informational: Searches looking for more information on a specific topic. For instance, “what are popular vegetarian meals” or “how to make an omelet” type queries. These are middle value – you could end up with a new customer, but these searchers aren’t directly looking to buy something.
- Commercial Investigation: These are phrases like “electrician reviews”. Searches are looking for more information on a commercial service, and they are high value.
- Transactional: The highest value search term – these are terms and phrases like “mexican restaurants in boston” or “plumber in seattle” – people looking for a specific service or product in a specific area. High, high value for your site.
#3: Content Development
After you have been presented with the keyword research, it is now time to take those identified words and strategically position them throughout your website.
It is important not to keyword stuff your content to death for the purpose of only getting the keywords in as many times as possible. Your content should be the number one priority; make sure it is current, on topic and of the highest quality.
Once you have good, quality content written, you can make sure your keywords are well-meshed and skillfully placed in all content; website, blog posts, articles and press releases.
In the end, your result should be content that has maximized exposure that will be good for the search engines and easy reading for your potential clients.
#4: Content Marketing, Social Media & Everything Else
This stage would include implementing a way to efficiently market your newly designed website and content through all available channels. This is where you should expect to see options presented to you for social media, email marketing campaigns, newsletters, etc.
In addition to your plan to increase visibility, SEO companies should also present you with some sort of plan for tracking and analytics so you can see how you are doing or how much you improve. A quality SEO company wouldn’t have any problem sharing all this data with you or giving you full access to your reports as well.
Good SEO takes more than a few weeks or months to get going. It’s not a one time process, and frankly, it isn’t quick. You might grab some of the so-called “low hanging fruit” early, but that fruit is low hanging for a reason. It takes time and a lot of effort to get to the goodies at the top of the tree. So if your SEO campaign seems to be winding down right after it started, you need to take a closer look. Good SEO is long term, and it snowballs. Make sure you’re getting what you paid for.
No matter the avenue you choose for your SEO, you need to know the basics of what should be done for you. Increasing website visibility is no simple task and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It takes a lot of skill to write quality content, design a site that will get noticed, produce keywords that rank, implement link building strategies, social media and email marketing in one complete package. You don’t need to be the expert here, just know enough that you will get the results you need.
“If you change nothing, nothing will change.” – Author Unknown