Every business owner has likely heard the acronym, “SEO,” and at some point thought about what it stands for, and why it’s important. This comprehensive article should help you understand exactly how to leverage internet searches and your website to your advantage to rank high and get more traffic and sales.
Another question we’ll answer is, “What services do SEO agencies provide?” From here you’ll be able to determine if you should hire a professional SEO company to create a full marketing strategy, or if you should just do it yourself.
What Is The Ultimate Goal Of Search Engine Optimization?
The purpose of SEO (search engine optimization) is to get more leads from internet searches by trying to rank your website or blog on the first page of organic search results. There are various methods to creating a better online presence and increasing the visibility of your web pages such as link building and proper site architecture, which we will cover in more detail below.
When you look for answers to questions or queries on the internet via your computer, cell phone, tablet or other device, you typically use one of many search engines, like Google to get results. There are many companies who have developed these complex programs to analyze all web properties online, here are a few that you may recognize:
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
When it comes to ranking a website, we’re talking about web pages being analyzed and served to a user in the form of listings, ordered by relevance to the question (inquiry) based on the determination of search engine algorithms.
The Importance Of A Website
Your website is the starting point for taking a piece of that organic traffic pie. Most people don’t realize that it’s not entirely possible to rank websites in search engines unless the site has proper SEO page optimization, fast page speed and must be user-friendly.
Your site will gain higher rankings and generate more sales and phone calls if you keep these things in mind:
- An attractive website — Getting traffic to your site is useless if it’s not as beautiful and visually appealing as your competitor’s website. When people search Google, they make comparisons of each business they see. Local customers make quick decisions based on the appearance and functionality of your site, so if the user can’t easily navigate and find what he/she needs in the page content, they will bounce.
- Call to action — There should be multiple ways to contact any company via the website, including a few stylish custom designed areas of the site promoting the business, including all social media, email and phone numbers, as well as a contact form.
- Responsiveness — Google states that they are viewing sites on mobile devices first, before they analyze it on the desktop computer / laptop version. So your site is required to fit properly, and look good on cell phones and tablets.
- Security — Websites traditionally rank higher when they are free of malware and are protected by an SSL certificate. Backlinks to your site should be free of spam as well, so be sure to check your spam score.
- On page SEO & technical SEO — Proper page titles, meta tags, internal links, optimized site images and clean website code are key to search engine visibility. We will be diving deep into this later.
- Relevant content — Perhaps the most critical aspect of your website is the text you write. Read the next paragraph to understand why.
The Core Component: High Quality Content
We talked about search engines above. But they rely mainly on the website’s content to determine what your business is trying to sell and what you’re all about. Search marketing is basically content and links, so the more you optimize your writing process to target the right keywords, the more phone calls you should get.
Your website ranking position is displayed in search results related to your page content as well as the meta description content, so it’s imperative that each page has one clear focus, and not multiple unrelated topics.
In this article, we’ll try to keep the SEO strategies brief, but we cannot understate the importance, as well as the complexity of your website’s text. You can read more here about writing relevant content for your site.
A good SEO company should include a content analysis to determine what text needs to be changed or added as part of the SEO strategy.
What Are The 4 Main Categories Of SEO?
There are literally hundreds of SEO techniques which can help you rank high in major search engines and lead to more business generated from online traffic. Let’s start by categorizing these activities.
On Page Optimization
Optimizing your website is the very first step to ensure SEO success. It’s amazing how many sites are online with improper page optimization, which is a huge contributor to search engine rankings. When Google examines (crawling) your website, the robot is actually reading everything you input to see what the site is about.
Before beginning this process, you may want to ask an SEO agency to help with a full competitor analysis. This information will help determine what the top ranking sites are doing, then you can copy the blueprint.
Knowing which keywords to use, and which ones to avoid is crucial data you’ll need before developing the rest of your digital marketing efforts. Many SEO companies will include this process for free as part of their service if you hire them.
There are a lot of great tools you can use to mine all the keywords that your competitors use as well, like AHREFS and SpyFu.
Writing high quality content using your target keywords is just the beginning. Additionally, there are some things in the website code that you want to pay attention to:
Optimizing your site title
You should have a title, like a book, to tell search engines the topic, or purpose of your website. Make sure you use your best keyword here.
Page title tags
Next, each page you create within the site needs a title, almost like the “chapters” of the book. Be sure to use more target keywords for each page topic, and avoid over-optimizing (using the same kw repeatedly).
Proper usage of heading tags
Pay close attention to the websites content on every page and article. It should be structured properly by organizing your headings in order. Only one heading 1 (H1) per page, followed by H2’s for every topic with H3’s for your subtopics.
Why you need meta descriptions
The reason that SEO titles and meta descriptions are important is because this is the information displayed in search engine result pages for your website. Every article and page needs to include this metadata so that visitors can quickly see a summary of what that page is about.
This is also vital real estate for using your targeted keywords and has a significant impact on your Google rankings.
On page linking
Connecting your pages together based on your site’s hierarchy is another way to pass topical relevance inside the website. A good strategy for on page SEO is to link topics to each other using keywords in your text.
Off Page SEO
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), off page optimization is what’s done after the website has been built and optimized. Every SEO campaign must have a solid process for getting links from other relevant websites, but we can break this down into a few categories.
Link building is the core component of off page SEO, but it also helps to increase website traffic, which is what justifies numerous links to your website. This is a full time job that must be done on an ongoing basis, and can be done in various ways, and requires up-to-date industry knowledge to avoid penalties from Google.
For this reason, most people hire an SEO service provider or outsource this process. Here are some ways an SEO expert will help you with building links.
- Directory listings — Create business profiles in local business directories, and national niche sites.
- Press releases — Writing up and distributing a digital announcement to credible news sources.
- Guest posts — Submitting relevant blog articles to credible, related websites which links back to your site.
- Link insertions — Getting a backlink on an existing article from quality sites.
- Local SEO outreach — Reach out and obtain links from companies that your competitors are linking from.
Google My Business
When it comes to free SEO resources, Google offers one of the best tools for local businesses to create a profile and select their location on the map. You can also manage negative reviews, post about your business services and so much more.
Although we think the number is higher, some data from Neil Patel shows that 44% of clicks come from the Google Map Pack, so use this to improve your online visibility.
Having a fast website is a major website ranking factor, and can help improve your bounce rate (how quickly visitors exit your site). Many companies who offer SEO services will also provide speed optimization if the site is not up to par with your competitors.
Some things that contribute to a slow website are:
- Too many large files on the page
- Videos that auto-play, especially towards the top of the website
- Heavy widgets, or complex functionality and plugins on the site
- Lack of resources from your hosting provider
- Malware, or any other occurrence of hacking or spam
Most aspects of technical SEO refer to a properly built, secure website, so it may be worth the investment to hire a professional web design agency to create a solid foundation.
Google Analytics & Search Console
Valuable website optimization and search results data doesn’t only come from SEO experts. The main search engines like Google and Bing offer free, easy to use tools to integrate with your website to get real time information and a monthly report on critical information to help you optimize you entire business.
Any quality digital marketing strategy is based on the behavior of its target audience, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the metrics that come from your website traffic. You’ll see loads of data in these tools like demographics, current keyword position, ranking history, on page issues such as improper formatting on mobile devices, schema errors and more.
You basically get a free SEO analysis by the minute, so go ahead and plug these tools into your site.
Social Media Marketing
A great SEO strategy usually incorporates the human interaction element that we get from Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms. Search engines can see that your website is getting referral traffic from these sources, which ultimately will help your website rank higher in the SERPS.
When people are talking about your company on social media channels, it builds trust, and organically aids in building links. You can also view this blog to help with social marketing success.
Why Is SEO Important?
Searches on the web are taking place in the United States thousands of times per second, and this traffic is a literal goldmine for any local business trying to grow in competitive industries. Simply having a website is not enough because every company is constantly trying to “one-up” each other, and search engine optimization techniques are being used in every industry to get better rankings, which results in more sales.
Search engine optimization is a permanent investment for your business.
If your focus is on your clients, and working within your company, you will want to hire an established SEO provider. The next part of this article will focus on choosing the best SEO agency in your area.
Part 2: What Are SEO Services & What Do SEO Company Services Include?
It’s safe to say that most companies offering search engine optimization services will have a great SEO strategy themselves, so finding them on Google with a quick voice search shouldn’t be difficult.
Firstly, you have to educate yourself on if SEO services are worth the money?
SEO Services Description
Businesses looking for professional SEO services will likely pay a retainer fee up front to get the process started. This is when a complete SEO audit will take place, which includes keyword research based on a competitive analysis, a deep dive into the company website, and the start of building a search ranking strategy.
SEO companies usually charge in advance each month. This “retainer” is based on many factors, and is different for local SEO. Increasing your online visibility is based on your niche, location, targeted keywords and how much work needs to be done to spruce up the existing site. Keep in mind that very competitive industries, like service-based businesses, usually have a higher monthly cost, because more work needs to be done to rank higher.
A typical search marketing agency will itemize your proposal using the following categories:
- On Page Optimization, which includes tightening up your site architecture with internal links, writing better title tags / meta tags and page content based on the keyword research.
- SEO Audit, which we mentioned above, and is the first step to identifying issues and developing the right SEO strategies.
- Technical SEO Services should be included to be sure your sitemap is indexed properly and fix any page speed issues.
- Link Building becomes the main task of any SEO company on an ongoing basis. Getting strong, authoritative links from other reputable sites is like getting a “vote” online. Your agency will be initiating in outreach campaigns to gain backlinks via guest posting, link insertions, business citations and other means of digital marketing. This process usually yields quick SEO ranking improvements.
Things To Know About SEO Services
Hiring an SEO company is a permanent investment into the long term success of a business. The company website should maintain its position in search rankings for quite some time in less competitive markets, so you can always benefit from your progress, and build it up over time.
I tell my clients, “Your search results are what you put into it.” The more you spend on your efforts, or can afford for put into SEO services, the more you will get out of it.
Who are the best SEO companies?
When it comes to local SEO, working with a nearby agency for your search engine optimization services is usually best, because they typically understand the area and how your target audience behaves.
Any good search marketing (SEM) company will have a nice informative website, and plenty of Google reviews.
If your organization must target a national audience, you can still use an agency in your city, but be sure they have a track record, as well as case studies for getting great search engine results for similar businesses.
What does SEO work involve?
The best SEO agencies should have a web developer, a project manager and a few team members to implement and execute their strategy. It’s a full time job that involves constant research and outreach to other websites for backlinks.
Your company should be monitoring all progress to be sure your focus keywords are improving in search results. Check to see that the proposed SEO services list is being completed each month, and that you’re getting more organic traffic to your site.
At the end of the day, engaging in any type of activity which improves your Google rankings can help. The more you do, and do properly, will start to cement your website in SERPS and align your company for long term success. Lastly, if you hire or get advice from a professional SEO agency, you’ll likely fast track your growth, and learn alot along the way.