You spent a lot of time and money on your website and yet, you have almost zero traffic. You look at your site, and you aren’t sure why. Your graphics are pretty. Your images are on point. Your copy reads well and describes your products. Yet…you wait.
You built it, and hardly anyone is coming.
You talk to your friends and business colleagues. They recommend you have your website optimized for search engines (SEO). Yet, it is expensive. And…you read or hear some bad things about it. It seems a bit “woo woo”.
In this post, I am going to tell you what SEO does for your site, and what types of services to expect when you purchase SEO services. I’m going to explain the primary SEO service areas an SEO firm and person identifies and implements.
Last, I’m going to explain why SEO has a reputation for being a bit woo-woo, so look around before you settle on an SEO firm.
Know What SEO Does for Your Website and Business
Optimizing your site for search engines means you are more likely to get found online by customers or clients. When applied properly, it means those same clients or customers will have a pleasant experience on your website.
Increased traffic to your site plus a better experience on your website means you sell more products and gain more clients. Thus, you increase your profits.
SEO is one of those services that are an expensive outlay initially, but when done properly you will receive a 100% return on your investment if you implement the recommendations and strategies consistently.
Understand the 5 SEO Service Areas and Tasks
When I apply SEO, I go through a checklist contained within five primary tasks: strategy and research; a technical site review; on-page SEO; off-site SEO; and maintenance and monthly reporting. I’ll explain what each of these means below.
Tip: if you cannot afford anything else, at least go through a technical site review and on-page SEO, built on a foundation of strategy and research.
Strategy and Research SEO Services
This is the foundation upon which the rest of your SEO services will be built. These SEO tasks consist of keyword research and analysis, and competitive analysis. During this portion of the process, your SEO provider will assess your current keyword usage and research your website’s current traffic and other website statistics.
The person will research new keywords for your website, products, or services; analyze your competitors’ keywords and website; identify link-building opportunities for your brand, business, and products; and, examine your website’s data to understand the current state of your site online.
Last, but not least, your SEO provider determines what they can do to improve your website’s search engine results rankings. They run tests on the site using software and a human being reviews the site page-by-page.
Technical Site Review and Implementation SEO Services
This set of tasks consists of an entire site review to ensure all technical aspects of the site have been honed as much as possible. The technical portion is still the most important factor when search engines crawl your site. If you are not fast, you will have challenges ranking well in search engine results.
During this phase your SEO provider will review your website for broken links, load speed, page size, mobile-friendliness, crawl errors, and any other latent technical issues. Most companies run these tests with software.
When I implement this portion of my SEO services, I also examine the site and results to determine the accuracy of the software tests. I want to find solutions to the problems, as sometimes the identified “problem” is the effect of another problem that is actually the one that must be solved.
That means, you have to examine the problem, and figure out the root cause. These tests review what search engine crawlers “see”. They don’t always identify the true cause. That part can take a human being looking at the site.
On-site SEO Description
This portion is the front-end website work. The technical optimization is the “back-end” work. This portion of your SEO services determines the current state of the website as viewed by humans, mostly, and somewhat, by crawlers.
Your provider will look at text, images, and the overall look and feel of the site (i.e., the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX)), navigation, footers, the blog, brand look and feel, image optimization, and ALT tag descriptions, title tags, Meta descriptions, etc.
This portion of the service integrates the early keyword and competitive research, and applies it to your web page. This ensures consistency of keyword usage within a page so that both a person and a human being seeing the page can understand the content and purpose of the page.
Off-page SEO Description
Once your SEO provider has your website in good order technically and visually, it is time to build up links from other websites to your site.
The goals involved with this service include checking backlinks and developing strategies to build links to the site, and then implement those strategies. The best rankings in search engine results develop out of organic link building.
What does that mean? That means you want people to love your site/products/ services so much that they blog about them and link to you. Or else, you receive press coverage or other links to your site via prominent websites. Think of this as the PR portion of your business marketing. Best of all, it’s free!
In addition, your SEO provider will examine which social media are the most relevant for your brand and business by researching and understanding your target demographic.
This ensures you have a presence where your clients spend time online. Off-page SEO services ensure your social media strategies integrate with your website to create a common identity for the business.
Maintenance and Monthly Reporting Description
Every website needs some kind of monthly maintenance. The first few months after a launch, and after initial on-site SEO, are crucial to the long-term success of the site.
You want to be able to gauge how your current keywords, products, copy, and other aspects of the website do and do not appeal to your target demographic. While monthly maintenance is not a computer-generated report with no analysis, the most basic maintenance you want to do is to check your website stats once a month.
In addition, assessing what traffic is gaining traction can provide ideas on how to engage your target demographic further with additional blog posts, off-site SEO, and on-page products and offered services.
Another advantage to monthly maintenance is that it keeps your website up-to-date, not just with platform and plugin updates, but also search engine algorithm changes.
The type of monthly maintenance service you may require will vary according to your unique needs, but they may include creating an ad campaign and setting monthly goals for it. You may also decide to set monthly goals for Google Analytics metrics and a strategy for how you will achieve them.
You may include other goals as time and results determine your needs.
Be Careful: Buyer Beware with SEO Services
No legitimate SEO company can promise to rank a client above the fold. There are many reasons for this. First, SEO companies do not control the search engines or their algorithms.
Second, search companies like Google have made recent changes to the layout and design of their search results pages. The top of the fold not goes to paid advertisements or maps showing local businesses that offer that services.
Third, the top search engine results go to sites like Yelp, FindLaw, Angie’s List or other aggregated sites, but not to individual businesses. That is not to say you cannot rank in the top three. It is not impossible, it is simply harder than it was a few years ago.
Last, people use mobile phones for about 50% of search now, and many times they are not using browsers to search for information. They are searching within apps. This means that your business has to have an online presence beyond your website. You may have to list yourself within social media applications in order to increase your presence to your target demographic.
What a legitimate SEO business can guarantee you is that you will be happy with the results. If not, within a pre-established time frame, they will make those changes. In addition, their recommendations and implementations will increase your traffic and improve your rankings (even if you do not get to the top three). Last, their SEO work should mean search engines never penalize your site. That is, they do not implement “black hat” practices.
Find the Right SEO Company
You want to find the right combination of price point and experience. If you pay too little, then you will not have enough work done and your SEO work will be incomplete or shoddy. Then your SEO services will fail you, and you will have wasted your money.
If you pay too much, then you may be paying for the name of a particular firm, and not just for the quality of services and results. My advice is to do your research – as you are now by reading this post – and figure out what SEO work you do need to have done and how much that should cost you. Shop around, and ask questions before you settle on a person or a firm.