Look, we're going to be honest, developing and executing a full SEO strategy while also trying to run a business and take care of other pressing marketing initiatives simply doesn't work. Not only does SEO take continuous research and implementation to stay on top of the latest search engine and industry trends to keep you ahead of the curve and competition (yes, it changes THAT quickly), it also takes nonstop measurement to ensure you're reaching your business goals.
One way a lot of businesses handle offloading this critical and time-consuming piece of their digital marketing strategy is by partnering with an SEO company that handles the day to day of developing and executing a comprehensive SEO strategy. With over 3.65 billion users conducting searches on Google, Bing, Yandex, and other major search engines, there's no doubt that your prospects are out there using search engines to find your brand, products, and services. By leveraging an SEO company, you dramatically increase the chances of them finding you by allowing experts to strategically build your website's organic visibility (rankings and traffic) for highly relevant searches.
Before we dive into what an SEO company is and what they do - let's take a few steps and work our way down.
What Is SEO?
SEO is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on optimizing the technical and content facets of your website, along with your off-page channels and properties, to drive more traffic and conversions to your website from search engines.
A lot of people and agencies define SEO as simply getting your website to the top of page one in Google. While yes, increasing your website's rankings in search engines for relevant searches is definitely a goal of SEO, it's not the end all be all. What we mean by that is SEO not only focuses on increasing your rankings and the amount of traffic your website gets but more the overall quality and relevancy of that traffic coming to your website from search engines. This means that your SEO strategy should drive prospects that engage and convert on your site at a higher level from search engines.
When it comes to strategy, a solid SEO strategy focuses on ensuring your website is structurally sound, fast, mobile-friendly, takes advantage of Schema, and is continuously churning out new content that capitalizes on prospective customer's search trends in a meaningful and engaging way, while also attracting high-quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites.
In order to accomplish all of these things (and more), you need an SEO expert at the helm, someone who knows and understands SEO best practices to set your website up for long-term organic success. You need an SEO company.
What Is an SEO Company?
An SEO company is an organization that partners with you in developing, implementing, and maintaining a comprehensive SEO strategy tailored to your business goals. SEO companies exist because few organizations have the expertise and bandwidth to learn and manage all the details that go into a successful SEO strategy. An SEO company takes on this critical work so you can focus on the areas where your unique competencies have the greatest impact - like running your business.
The important word in the above definition is the word "partner". Your SEO company should learn the ins and outs of your business, your target customers, your business goals, and your products or services to develop an SEO strategy. It should not be cookie-cutter or one size fits all because everything about your business - from your goals to your people, to your customers, to your industry - is unique.
What SEO Services Does an SEO Company Offer?
In order to be successful, an SEO company addresses and optimizes multiple facets of your SEO strategy, including the technical, content, and off-page SEO efforts to help build your website's organic visibility.
Technical SEO addresses the structural aspects of your web site. These include all the nerdy stuff like:
- Overall website performance
- Page loading speed
- Image loading
- Site navigation and architecture
- Internal linking
- Schema definition
- Site security with HTTPS (which Google now uses as a ranking factor)
Technical SEO also focuses on identifying and removing bottlenecks in your website's user experience and eliminates site errors such as duplicate pages, missing titles, and 404s. It identifies hidden pages, or pages behind logins, and marks them as non-indexable.
Finally, technical SEO ensures the website is suitable for mobile devices and is responsive to voice search. Over 70 percent of today’s searches are from mobile devices, and up-to-date SEO strategies put mobile-first.
While technical SEO addresses what’s on your website, off-page SEO looks at what’s happening elsewhere on the internet. Off-page is often neglected; studies indicate that over 70 percent of companies have no off-page SEO strategy. An SEO company will develop on off-page strategy that includes building high quality, relevant, and authoritative backlinks to your website to help Google validate your content as beneficial and rank you higher in search.
SEO companies can also help with is establishing and protecting your online reputation, another super important but often looked over part of off-page SEO. This includes locating reviews and helping you respond accordingly, while also establishing your brand name on industry websites and blogs, and sometimes even guest writing for industry blogs to gain those high quality backlinks.
Content for SEO
Most marketers think "content for SEO" and jump to "just include keywords in your content". Keyword research and keyword placement are a big part of content for SEO but by no means is it the whole story. Content developed for SEO needs to be driven not only by keyword and search intent research but also by stringent research into your target audience. This means you're creating and optimizing content with a purpose - you know why you're creating the content, who you're creating it for, what they're looking for in that content, and understand how to optimize your content so that it appears in search when users are searching for it.
An SEO content marketing strategy also includes selecting and placing images, optimum text formatting, and a plan for developing additional topically relevant content that can be linked to back and forth between each other to pass search equity through your site. Content optimization is a combination of art and science and requires experience and thoughtfulness.
At Marcel Digital, we always conduct a preliminary SEO audit at the beginning of campaigns to establish a baseline of where client websites are at, both from optimization and organic visibility standpoints. From these initial audits, we are able to develop a prioritized list of what needs to be accomplished in order to build a long-term, ROI driven SEO strategy. SEO auditing is an ongoing process of reporting, analysis, and ongoing site enhancements conducted on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
SEO audits look at many factors of an SEO strategy, uncovering an average of 186 significant SEO issues, including:
- Organic traffic
- Keyword rankings
- Mobile issues
- Schema implementations
- Backlink profile analysis
- Content analysis
- Broken pages
- Internal linking
- Local SEO analysis
- Site architecture
And much more.
Almost half of Google searches are for local businesses, so local SEO is a critical component of an ongoing SEO strategy. This includes placing keywords and building pages oriented to your locality and also ensuring that you’re listed in relevant local business and industry sites.
Local SEO includes verifying that your name, address, and phone (NAP) are accurate in local directories, as well as identifying new directories where you should be listed. It also includes claiming and optimizing your Google My Business profile; many businesses fail to do this.
SEO Website Migration
One study has shown that launching a redesigned or moved website without an SEO website migration strategy can reduce organic traffic by at least 40 percent. There's so much goes into a migration, like moving content, updating URLs and backlinks, and a sitemap that needs to be updated, that no one person or internal resource can do it on their own successfully.
In order for a successful migration, there is auditing to be done before and after the move, this includes (but is not limited to):
- URL updates
- URL redirect mapping
- Tagging updates
- Search Console configuration
- Site move notifications
SEO Friendliness for Website Development
You don’t have to wait until your website is running to engage an SEO company. In fact, you should get ahead of the game by baking SEO strategy into the development or redesign of your website. Doing so will help you with important SEO considerations such as site architecture, mobile-friendliness, and site performance, as well as keyword research and building a content strategy. Bringing an SEO company or expert from the start can help you identify and prioritize the most important SEO aspects before you deploy.
Benefits of Hiring an SEO Company
Few organizations can develop and implement an SEO strategy as well and as cost-effectively as an SEO company can. Your business needs your full attention, and an SEO company frees your internal resources to focus on what they do best.
Build Organic Visibility
An SEO company improves your company’s organic visibility, traffic, and conversions in ways most organizations overlook. They understand the rigorous research, execution, and measurement needed to drive improvement. They can also suggest targeted campaigns to improve the quality of the traffic and boost the return on your investment in your SEO efforts.
Frees Up Your Time and Resources
It can't be overstated - SEO takes rigorous time and effort in order to be successful. More often than not, it requires a dedicated member of your team to be solely focused on your SEO campaign at all times. This just isn't possible for many organizations and businesses who need their team to be focused on running their business. With an SEO company, you have a dedicated partner who's there to develop and execute an SEO strategy built on in-depth research and experience with all facets of SEO, A-Z. You have a true expert behind the wheel - SEO companies give you just that.
They Use Best In Class SEO Tools
From SEO research to campaign measurement, including Google Analytics consulting, SEO companies invest in top tier SEO tools to help them run successful campaigns. These tools include:
- Keyword research
- Keyword tracking
- Content development
- Backlink profile analysis
- Search Console
- Site crawlers
And, again, more. All of these tools are leveraged to ensure your website is optimized, being indexed, getting traffic, and engaging and converting your organic traffic to prove true ROI.
Stay On Top of SEO Trends
SEO companies keep up with the latest SEO trends, something few organizations have the capacity for. They as experts understand what’s current with Google and the other search engines and keeps you in line with best practices. They should also explain these ongoing trends to you and your team so that understand the what, who, where, when, why, and how they affect your business.
How to Choose an SEO Company
Before you get into any partnership, you need to evaluate and vet the potential partner you may work with. This couldn't be more true than with an SEO company. Unfortunately, SEO is often an industry where many individuals and companies falsely represent what they are able to do for businesses, like getting you the number 1 spot on Google. Vetting an SEO company and making sure you are on the same page with goals, personality, and the process is huge when researching potential partners.
Here are some other questions to ask:
- What does the overall client portfolio look like? Are there recognizable brand names? Are there case studies? Has the SEO company worked with other companies in your industry?
- Has the company received awards? What do the reviews look like? Are there client testimonials?
- How long has the company been in the SEO business?
- Does it produce blogs, articles, and other publications? Are these professional and credible?
- How does the cost compare to other SEO companies? What commitment will you have? What is the cancellation policy?
- How will the SEO strategy be customized to you and your business?
- How is customer service? How will you and they communicate? Who will be your point of contact?
- What tools do they use in building, executing, and measuring an ongoing SEO strategy?
- What is their presence on social media? How will it integrate your social media into your SEO strategy?
- Is their work done in-house? It’s best if it’s not outsourced and that strategists work closely with supporting technical staff.
- Who will have access to the analytic reporting?
- What does it do to stay current in SEO best practices? How will it apply current best practices to your website?
Finally, beware of companies that make unrealistic promises. If they assure you of doubled traffic, instant leads, or huge increases in backlinks, they may not be offering a sustainable solution. They may be employing “black hat” techniques such as purchased backlinks, duplicate content, or keyword stuffing. Crawlers get smarter all the time, and these techniques will hurt you in the long run.
About the author
Joe knows what it takes to drive SEO results. He is an experienced SEO specialist who currently leads the SEO department and strategy at Marcel Digital.