Over 100,000 internet searches for “best SEO” occurred in November 2013 and a Google search for “SEO services” turns up over 44 million results. Clearly there is a market for SEO companies. How can a business owner distinguish between the best SEO companies, the mediocre ones, and the crooks?
One differentiator between “the best” and “the rest” in this field is the range of services offered by a single company. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a multi-faceted, long-term strategy. The best SEO companies:
- provide individualized SEO services to accomplish client goals.
- provide a holistic approach to SEO.
- understand the changing SEO landscape and adapt their approach as needed.
Effective SEO is not just about page rankings—it’s about conversion rates. Your objective is to ensure that customers who are most likely to buy what you sell find your business easily and respond to your call to action, whether that is a newsletter sign-up or a product purchase.
When choosing an SEO company, learn what they have accomplished for other clients using the following components of effective SEO campaigns.
Keyword research provides the foundation for an effective SEO campaign. Your SEO provider must understand both the how and the why of effective keyword research. To optimize a website for a particular keyword, you first must know the words and phrases your ideal customers search for. The right keywords bring qualified traffic to your site, resulting in higher conversions. The wrong keywords might drive traffic, but result in high bounce rates.
How does your business rank in organic search results? If you aren’t ranking in a spot where your customers can find you, you must figure out why. An SEO audit includes a competitive analysis examining how your competitors are ranking and what they are doing to achieve those rankings. It also studies on-page optimization—looking at behind-the-scenes technical details that are important to search engines, and off-page optimization, covering backlinks and social media.
An SEO audit identifies whether everything possible has been done to make your website “crawler-friendly” so that search engines can easily find and index your site. Search engine crawlers or spiders look for specific items and structure on websites including
- A sitemap
- A robot.txt file
- Appropriate use of title tags, header tags and descriptions.
On-page optimization includes everything from source code to content and usability, and the best SEO firms understand how everything works together. Off-page SEO analysis explores how other websites and social media point to your site. The quality and quantity of links to your site affects search rankings.
An SEO audit will reveal changes that should be made to make your site more accessible to search engines, and therefore more visible and more attractive than your competitors’ websites.
Monthly Reporting and Ranking Analysis
Since SEO is an ongoing strategy, not a one-time fix, results must be monitored and tactics adjusted accordingly. Your SEO provider must understand SEO metrics—what is important to measure and why, track the appropriate metrics, and use them to consistently improve your strategy.
Effective reporting analysis goes beyond keyword ranking reports and traffic analysis. The right metrics provide ongoing quality control information and indicate changes that are needed to help your business remain competitive. A basic website traffic analysis report focuses on organic search traffic. But what your business really wants to know is who you are reaching, how you are reaching them, and what visitors do once they are on your site. Organic searches are just part of the equation. You should also analyze how customers are being referred to your site, such as from social media and referral links, and what referral sources result in the highest conversion rates.
If your business serves a specific geographic area, you want potential customers in that area to know about you. Local SEO uses on-site and off-site techniques to make sure that people in your area find you quickly when searching for services like yours. A local SEO strategy includes posting your name, address, and phone number with area code (NAP information), creating location pages if you have more than one physical location, and publishing locally relevant content. Your strategy also includes listing your business with a variety of reputable directories, properly categorizing your business for local business listings, and developing a plan for obtaining and sharing customer reviews.
Website visitors want more than text and pictures. If you are selling a product, they want to see how it works. If you are selling a service, they want you to explain how it will help them. Video has become a standard requirement for websites and is an important part of successful SEO campaigns. Keywords should be in the video label, title, and descriptive information. Videos are easily linked and shared and are more likely to keep visitors on your site longer.
The Best SEO Companies Get Results
The best SEO companies do not promise a certain ranking on Google. Instead, they use “white-hat” SEO strategies and implement a well-crafted, holistic SEO campaign that increases non-branded organic traffic, high quality traffic, qualified leads, conversion rates, and ultimately revenue.