Ask a few SEO companies what they actually do and you’ll probably get as many different answers. Lets look at the purpose of SEO first:
The purpose of Search Engine Optimisation is to improve the page ranking in search engine listings of a website and so increase the exposure and expand the correct target audience.
Notice that my definition includes the word “correct” whereas many other definitions don’t.
SEO professionals achieve that in a variety of ways, the most important ones I will cover here.
Websites that make it to page 1 get significantly more expose and those that make it to spot 1 or 2 get the lion’s share of clicks, to the point where not being on page 1 is considered failure. That lead to many SEO people (I won’t call them professionals) guaranteeing a spot on page 1 of search engines.
Your audience matters
What these SEO people omit is to mention for which keywords your website will be on page 1. Getting to page 1 for a long tail keyword (or longer key phrase) is not difficult. So, while my own website is in spot 1 for the term “Website Review Auckland” it is evident that not many are searching for that term (in fact only 10 searches per month). The term “Website Design Auckland” on the other hand is searched nearly 900 times a month and is clearly addressing a wider audience.
Would it be beneficial to be on page 1 for that term? Well, it depends entirely on your intended audience.
One of the very early tasks (if not the first) for an SEO Professional is to find the correct key words or key phrases related to your business and your particular marketing campaign. Unless your SEO person already knows your business well, it will require input from within the business. The type of information the SEO company will want to know is:
- Profile of the ideal client (Type A)
- Profile of the clients (Type C and D)
- How do these clients engage with your business?
- Is there a lead-in product or services (e.g. a website review may lead to new website business)?
- How do they find your business?
- What is their pain point?
Sound familiar? Yes, probably because it’s the same as establishing a normal sales channel. Why should SEO be any different. After all the objective is to target the correct audience, not just any audience.
If you have an established website and some history, the one tool that can help here is Google Analytics. From that you already know who your audience is and how they engage with your website.
After the Keywords
The next step is to take a good look at the website to ensure that it speaks to your audience. I maintain that with the right information, every website can be improved, be that to shape it better towards your audience, to improve engagement or to improve the written content.
Website written content is important. Not only should it have keywords strategically placed in meta data, headings and content, it must also be written in a way that engages the audience and entices them to take action.
Content is not a one-off task. For any business that wants to establish themselves online, fresh and interesting content has to be created on an on-going basis. Content is what drives interest in your website, attracts links from other websites and brings in new business.
Google’s new algorithms look for “Expertise, Authority and Trust” (EAT). That asks for informative, honest and original content.
Your SEO company may have the expertise to write that content, but chances are that a good deal of research is required, along with good writing skills, and it may be that a content writer will do a better job than your SEO company. It does go to demonstrate how wide the skill range of a good SEO company reaches.
For me the technical SEO is the easiest. There is a list of things that has to be completed for the technical side of the Website. A large part of that is to work on website performance (speed). That requires small, correctly scaled image files and technical things like caching.
Websites that use page builders frequently get bloated with unnecessary code and for that reason I code my own html where website performance is critical. That really falls outside of the tasks of your SEO company, but some knowledge of coding is beneficial if there is to be consultation between your web design/development company and the SEO company.
Get SEO and Website Design to work together
In my opinion, the one does not work well without the other. I believe that better results can be achieved where both are done by one company or team. At the very least there has to be collaboration between these parties and the business.
PPC (Pay per Click)
Every business should consider using PPC advertising, either through Google Ads or a social media platform. Compared to other forms of advertising it’s inexpensive and, depending on how well the campaigns are configured, can be highly effective.
The trick is target the campaigns well and to monitor them often and to avoid spending money on non-target clicks. A/B testing will help with selecting effective wording and design of the ads.
PPC advertising should be an on-going exercise.
SEO is not a one off task
SEO work is not done once the website is launched and the initial SEO is taken care of. I already mentioned that content creation is an on-going task. Another to build links, both internally to and from the new content, and to reach out to external audience to link back to your website.
A word of warning here. Where I tried to purchase these links, it had the opposite effect to what I expected or wanted. Firstly, I suddenly got many site visitor from outside of New Zealand (my target country) and secondly, my Google ranking dropped. It’s difficult to say whether that was the cause, but it’s likely.
In my view it’s not wrong to pay for links back to your website, but it’s best to get YOUR work (with links included) published and pay the publisher for that. As long as you can determine where your work is published, you can select the right audience.
One important way to publish your work is to use social media. It does not matter whether you like Twitter, Facebook or Linked in. Publish your work on ALL sensible social platforms. I don’t have to explain what I mean by sensible. Take every opportunity to get your work out there. Facebook, for instance is a great medium to create posts and push them to the right audience.
SEO is a field that encompasses a wide range of skills, from technical to writing, web design and development as well as knowledge of social media. If you employ and SEO company and your website is performing well then you can assume that they have a lot to do with that performance. If your website is not performing well, then it’s either time to get in touch with and SEO company or fire the one you have.