Search engine optimization (SEO) is as relevant as ever—organic search makes up about one-third of traffic to brand websites, and SEO is what helps get that traffic to reach your brand. If you have a website, it’s vital that you get to know SEO, but to be successful in this area it requires extensive research and knowledge, along with time and practice to get it right. Not to mention, SEO is a moving target—algorithms change regularly, and there are more than 200 factors that search engines like Google take into account when ranking your site. But let’s start at the beginning and look at SEO basics, the benefits of implementing it, and some of the best practices and tactics that could help your site get ahead in the rankings.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. Simply put, it means the process of improving your website to increase visibility and improve the likelihood that it will show up in web searches. The better your SEO, the more likely search engines will show your content in their results, and the more likely prospective customers will reach you.
Diving deeper, SEO is about understanding what people are searching for online including the questions they’re asking, the words they use to ask those questions, and the type of content they wish to see.
How Does SEO Work?
All of our favorite search engines like Google and Bing use bots to crawl web pages, collect information on each page, and then index them. The search engines then analyze these indexed pages and use algorithms that take hundreds of factors into consideration to determine which pages should appear in search results to answer questions that people ask. These algorithms are designed to find the most relevant content to answer user questions.
Why is SEO Important?
While there are many different ways people reach your website, search is often the primary source of digital traffic for brands. Google handles trillions of searches every year, and people are using those searches to find information about products and services.
Search engines are smart, and getting smarter—the algorithms are being optimized to understand more and more of the context of websites, a huge improvement on the strictly keyword-driven SEO strategies of the past. While these search engines are more sophisticated, they still need the help of an optimized site that will deliver accurate information about your website content to the search engines so it can be properly indexed and displayed.
Why You Should Outsource Your SEO
Implementing and improving SEO is no small initiative. When done haphazardly, SEO can take up precious time and can even be detrimental to a brand. Focusing on the wrong tasks can mean efforts are spent on ineffective results and marginal returns. Good SEO services require time, effort, and expertise, and great SEO providers have taken the time to gain valuable insights into SEO practices. Because of how much expertise is needed, it is worth considering outsourcing your SEO services to an agency or consultant to implement a proper strategy. Finding the right SEO provider takes time and effort, but due diligence from the get-go will pay off in the end. Here are 4 reasons why you should hire an SEO agency for your business:
Your Team Gains Experience and Expertise
While you may have some knowledge in the area of SEO, it is a time-consuming practice that needs regular attention. Not only does SEO take time to implement, but the algorithms are also constantly changing and the field is ever-evolving, which means the people that are implementing it need to be on top of every latest trend.
By outsourcing, you can bring in an expert that knows the latest trends because they are living and breathing them day in and day out. They will know how to implement the best campaigns and strategies for your unique business needs and will be able to constantly oversee them to make sure you’re getting your intended results within budget.
You’ll Maintain Your Budget and Remain Cost-Effective
Hiring a full-time employee to implement SEO services is out of many team budgets, and having a team member dedicate their time to SEO can take away hundreds of hours from other efforts. Hiring a company to provide SEO services means you only pay for services rendered, and you get the benefit of an experienced team of professionals that will give you the confidence that you’re spending your resources in the right place.
You’ll Get More Website Traffic
You can have the best product or service in the world and the most beautifully designed website, but if nobody sees your website, you won’t ever be able to sell anything online. When you work with a company that provides SEO services, you get the benefit of their insights, techniques, and strategies to help you get more eyes on your website and ultimately get results.
Experienced SEO professionals know how to analyze your website and give you recommendations on what to change to help catch the eye of search engines, get more people to your site, and convert.
You’ll Get a Return On Your Investment
While SEO services do cost money, there’s no question that high-quality SEO will provide a return. Better optimized websites mean more visitors mean more sales.
Areas of SEO an Agency Can Provide
Before you partner with an agency for your SEO services, it’s important for you to understand the different types of SEO services available so you can figure out what your business needs and find an agency partner that offers those services, including:
On-page SEO refers to everything on the website itself and all its pages and implementing tactics to make these pages more friendly for the search engines to find. Some of the most important pieces of on-page SEO are:
- Content Optimization: This is the practice of making sure your blogs and pages are easy for the search engine to read, which means the important pieces of a web page are in place including page titles, H1 tags, headings, image tags, and that the page is formatted well.
- Keyword Research: Keywords are the specific words or phrases that consumers use in a search. Companies should be looking to answer people’s questions, so it’s natural to use the same language and phrasing that they do. SEO and long-tail keywords are the words that people search for that get people to your website.
- Content Implementation: In addition to all the tactical things, search engines look for the quality of content as well. Content should refer to whatever keywords have been established, should be long enough to answer the questions people are asking, and should link out to additional high-quality websites around the same topic. These are just a few of the things search engines look at for relevancy.
- Backlinks: Also known as inbound links or incoming links, these are links to pages on your website. Search engines consider backlinks almost like a referral—they show that your page has enough authority for someone to link to it.
- Guest Posting: Similarly, guest blogging or posting gives your site authority. When you publish a guest post on an influential blog, you get a backlink and you gain authority with that audience.
- Social Media: SEO experts give credit to social media as showing a correlation between social shares a page gets with how well it does in search rankings. More importantly, it’s how actively engaged people are with the post—posts with comments, likes, clicks on links, and images all sway results positively.
- Site Speed: Web pages need to load quickly. Fast loading sites have an advantage in the rankings, but also with people choosing them: conversion rates drop every second a page takes to load.
- Mobile-Friendliness: Just from sheer numbers, this makes sense—mobile devices account for about half of the web traffic worldwide. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of potential visitors.
- Crawlability/Indexing: Search engines use robots to crawl your website, and there are ways to guide the bots to make it easier for them to crawl your site and index it properly.
- Site Architecture and Navigation: This speaks to how your site is organized—in general, you want to make sure that your site structure is relatively flat and that every page is only a few clicks away from other pages. This allows people and search engines to crawl or navigate easier.
- Security: Your website should be able to guarantee that it is safe for visitors to visit and interact with safety and privately. There are a few things you can do to make your site secure, but the number one thing is to implement HTTPS and an SSL certificate.
How to Choose an Agency
Of course, the first thing you need to do when choosing an SEO agency is to determine what you need and find possible providers that offer that particular SEO service area. In addition, here are some questions to ask when searching for the right fit:
- How will you improve our search engine rankings?
- How will you inform me of changes that are being made?
- What is your philosophy for approaching SEO to get results?
- How do you stay on top of trends and adapt to changes?
- What metrics define success, and how often will you report on progress?
- How long until we see results?
SEO is complex and continuously evolving. It can be tough to stay up to date, which is why finding the right partner for SEO services can be a great choice for any growing company. If you’re looking for a results-driven SEO-partner or have questions about how to implement the latest search engine trends, we’d love to chat!