Lots of firms offer SEO services. But, as you’ve likely noticed, not all that many do it well. How can you tell if the SEO service that you are getting is employing the full range of tools that it should be?
Not only is it important to satisfy Google’s requirements to rank as highly as possible, but the site needs to be as appealing as possible to the human visitors too.
After all, they are the ones who are responsible for the ultimate decision as to whether they’ll buy from you or a competitor.
If your SEO service doesn’t thoroughly address both the technological and human side of things, you’ll likely be missing out on a lot of business.
Read on to see what a fully realized SEO service should include!
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Checks 20 technical, design, and SEO factors!
Page Load Speed Analysis
Have you ever opened up a webpage, and then gotten annoyed and closed it because it took too long to load? If you have, then you know how important it is to have a page that loads quickly.
And this isn’t only a human factor, Google’s algorithm tests this when it crawls your page as well. So not only is a slow-loading page likely to cause frustration among your visitors, it’ll get your business demoted in the search results too.
Even though it may seem like a minor issue, your page load speed can have a big impact. What should your SEO provider be checking?
Server analysis: Not every hosting company is equal. Some have modern servers that are both fast and secure… and some do not.
Your SEO provider should be taking the server into account when analyzing your site. An inadequate server is an easy problem to fix, but makes a huge difference.
File sizes on your pages: Huge images uploaded to your pages will take longer to load, particularly as over half of your visitors are likely on mobile devices and signal strength can be inconsistent.
HOWEVER, grainy and low quality images and videos will also leave a bad impression on your users. Your SEO provider should be checking these to make sure they are properly compressed and still look good.
Your SEO provider should be looking into this as well and fixing any issues here during the initial setup process.
Analyze & optimize the website
Once the page actually loads, then it can start to do its work. And again, there are a number of items that can be analyzed and optimized here. Some have an effect on the human who ends up looking at it too, while others are invisible to a human visitor but will be important to have for Google’s algorithm.
So, what needs to be done here?
Keyword optimization: If you are like most businesses, people in your area are actively searching for services that you provide, so it’s important to put your business in a position to be found.
Your SEO provider needs to be working with you to find keywords that are both logical to rank for and have a high enough search volume to be worth the effort.
Technical optimization and fixes: Once people are at your site, you need to make sure it works properly. If they see something appealing on your site and click on it… and they get a 404 (page not found) error, you’ve probably lost them.
Similarly, if your site is awkward to navigate and your visitor has to spend a lot of time hunting down a link to find what they want, it will likely drive them away.
A good SEO provider will make sure there is no problem with navigation or broken links on your site, so that there is nothing to distract from your message.
There are also a few things behind the scenes that your average site visitor won’t see, but are very important for Google. Your SEO provider needs to make sure that the robots.txt file, schema markup and xml sitemap all exist and are configured properly.
Google uses these items to help its algorithm crawl your site most effectively, if they are not present then your site will likely end up with a lower rank in search results.
Copy optimization: You don’t just need the technical aspects of your site to be perfect. The quality of the writing (or “copy”) on your site is important to your visitors as well.
Anything that is poorly written and filled with spelling or grammatical errors will likely give the impression that your business is less than legitimate.
The agency you work with for SEO should make sure that everything written on your site is error-free and shows your business in the best possible light.
Calls to action: Ultimately, your website needs to get your visitors to actually DO something.
Whether it’s giving you a call, booking an appointment, stopping by your workplace or anything else, a good website will have clear and persuasive calls to action.
A good SEO provider will be ensuring that these are present and persuasive, because more web traffic doesn’t help you unless it converts into sales.
Create content and show it off
Great content is always important. It keeps people interested, encourages them to show others and most importantly, it ensures that people can see that you are experts at what you do.
But at the same time, if you’ve got a business to run, you likely don’t have a ton of time to write blog posts, make videos, or anything like that.
How should your SEO firm be helping here?
Content creation: In order to show that you are an active, dynamic player in your industry, you need to post new content on your site regularly. This content needs to be engaging, relevant to your business as well as specific search terms and professional in its presentation.
You can produce this content yourself, but your SEO provider should also be willing and able to produce it as well. After all, a busy business owner may not have time to keep up with a regular update schedule for a blog, so the firm you work with should be able to fill in the gaps.
Content publicizing: Even the best content in the world won’t help you unless people see it. Just like the rest of your site, the content needs to have links built to it from other, trustworthy websites.
A good SEO provider will know that these links accomplish a number of things on your behalf. Not only do they get the content in front of people who might be interested, they can get the content pieces to rank for additional keywords in searches, plus improve the whole site’s performance in search results.
Monitor and continue to optimize
Once everything up above has been done… do we get to rest on our laurels? Of course not! Your competitors are always changing and updating their strategies, so your SEO firm should be doing the same thing.
Over time, keywords change in importance, people’s content preferences shift and Google’s algorithms are periodically updated. Your firm ABSOLUTELY needs to be on top of these things.
They should be hands-on with both the management of the campaign, and communicating with you.
So what should you be looking for?
Keyword monitoring: For a variety of reasons, the ideal keywords for your SEO campaign to be targeting can change.
Whether it’s the activity of your competitors, industry trends, changes in technology or something else entirely, it’s important that your campaign remains focused on the items that will be bringing the greatest return.
Your SEO provider needs to be monitoring the landscape and making changes accordingly.
A page 1 ranking for a term that has dramatically dropped off in search traffic is not helpful to your business.
Continuous link building: A hugely important part of SEO is building links around the web that lead to your page. Not all links are created equal, however.
A link from a well-established and trustworthy site that is relevant to your industry can be quite valuable. Links that show up within posts on low traffic sites, sponsored posts or comments on articles and blog posts are not, and can hurt your site’s search placement rather than help it.
A good SEO provider will be continuously working to build GOOD links to your site, on a site that people frequently visit and makes sense to be associated with your business.
This will not only bring direct traffic from people clicking the link itself, but also make sense to Google and improve your site in their eyes.
Complete Transparency and Accountability
All of the above things are vital to an SEO campaign, but just as important is the type of firm that you are working with. There are a great number of digital marketers out there that will promise the world, and then become mysteriously hard to reach when they don’t deliver.
Nobody wants to work with a firm like that. Your business deserves a partner, someone who is as invested in your success as you are. The work being done on your behalf, or how your site is doing, should never be a secret.
Setting expectations: Your SEO partner should be very clear about what they can and cannot promise.
Anyone who promises results like “#1 ranking for all google searches on xyz keywords GUARANTEED!!!” will most likely either fall well short of those expectations or engage in some type of black hat strategy that Google will shut down once they discover it.
Neither of these will be a good investment of your time and money!
What CAN be guaranteed is a strong strategy, skillful implementation and consistent work performed on your behalf to improve your online presence. An effective process and the patience to see it through will generate great results, but it is NOT a quick process.
The time it takes to see significant results in your campaign varies based on a number of factors, but in general you should expect to wait several months before seeing your site start to jump in search results for your targeted keywords.
Reporting: An important part of any marketing or advertising effort is being able to track the results. After all, if you are investing time and money in something, you need to know what kind of returns you are getting. SEO is no different.
A good SEO partner will automatically send you comprehensive reports every month to be able to see how many people are visiting your site, which and how many pages they’re looking at, how long they’re staying and other metrics as well.
Ideally, your partner will also offer a portal where you can look at this data whenever you need it, so you can always get up to the minute metrics on your website.
Communication: It should NEVER be difficult to communicate with your SEO partner. Ideally, they will be reaching out to you periodically, both to provide updates on how your campaign is going and to make sure you are happy with their service.
In addition to being responsive when you reach out to them, a good firm will be proactive and reach out to you periodically as well. A good SEO partnership is just that, a long-term partnership where both parties are invested in your success.
Regular communication is important to make sure that their efforts always stay in line with your goals and that anything not performing to your expectations gets addressed.
If your campaign doesn’t include all of these things, you aren’t alone! But paying for an incomplete campaign is likely not the best use of your marketing budget.
A cut-rate campaign that doesn’t provide a comprehensive solution will at best be a waste of time, and at worst dig you into a deep hole with Google that will cost you a lot of customers in the long run.
Want more detail? Take a look at what a complete, full service SEO campaign includes, and compare it to what you’re getting now. If you’re seeing that your current package leaves out a lot of the listed features, it’s likely that you’re not getting the results you are paying for.