When it comes to building an effective business website, there are plenty of different elements that need to come together to form a cohesive whole. Search engine optimization (SEO) is just one of these components that’s vital to internet marketing – though it’s one of the least understood by most businesses. Hiring an SEO agency can help close this gap and improve your site’s rankings; however, be aware that not all agencies are created equal.
Here’s what to look for when it comes to hiring a good SEO agency…
A Website Doesn’t Exist Without SEO
Your business can have the best looking website out there, that’s packed with fantastic content – and still not receive any visitors. If your site isn’t search engine friendly, no one will even know that it’s there. Moreover, there are thousands upon thousands of websites in any given market. Without effective SEO, finding your particular website on the Internet can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Sure – programs like WordPress can make it easy for those with no technical expertise to create professional-looking websites. There are even special plugins you can install that will help with search engine optimization. But unfortunately, these plugins aren’t going to tell a website owner if he’s using the right keywords for his target market or how exactly to promote his website to ensure optimum traffic and conversions.
If this website owner doesn’t have the time or inclination to learn proper SEO best practices, he may be better off hiring an agency to do the work for him. A good SEO agency can help this business owner to find the right words and phrases to use on his website to separate the buyers from the tire kickers. The agency can even look at the website’s Google Analytics and other metrics to determine how to properly promote the site in the SERPs and how to adjust individual web pages to increase conversion rates.
In general, search engine optimization isn’t a process that’s done once and then ignored – it needs to be monitored and tweaked over time to make sure that the site is attracting the right visitors, and keeping them. Unfortunately, most businesses – especially small businesses where everyone has two or three jobs already – don’t have time for this type of ongoing project. In these cases, outsourcing SEO to a qualified agency helps save the company time and money by building an efficient, converting website that increases overall revenue.
The SEO is a Changin’
But beyond the time-saving advantages of hiring an SEO agency, it’s important to remember that keeping up with current SEO techniques takes an entirely separate amount of effort!
Search engine optimization techniques aren’t even close to the same as they were when the internet first developed as a place for businesses to attract new customers. In addition, with the launch of its Panda algorithm update in 2011, Google revolutionized the way keywords, links and other SEO techniques should be used on the internet.
Even for those SEO specialists working within the industry, it can be difficult to keep up on all of Google’s various changes. For business owners and other non-professionals, it’s even more difficult to stay on top of what Google’s doing. However, the consequences for not adhering to the search giant’s most recent updates can be severe. If Google deindexes your company website, you’ll probably wind up spending a great deal of time and money trying to back into Google’s good graces.
Outsourcing your business SEO needs can help avoid this hassle. As many of Google’s recent changes have to do with keyword optimization, linking strategies and webpage optimization, a good SEO agency can help you navigate these latest sets of requirements. They’ll be able to help you make any necessary improvements to your site, both simultaneously improving your online results and avoiding the hassle of being penalized by Google.
Local SEO Is Just As Important
But just to add to the confusion, small businesses must be familiar with local SEO practices, as well as the online techniques needed to rank well in the traditional SERPs. If a business has local, as well as online customers, it needs to use local SEO techniques – which can incorporate Google strategies, using social sites such as FourSquare and even mobile strategies to help local consumers find both its website and physical location.
If you only conduct business locally, understanding and implementing these techniques becomes even more vital. Given that nearly 80% percent of consumers conduct internet research before buying a product or service, it’s obvious why local companies must prioritize local SEO techniques that enable them to be found on the web.
But since learning local SEO requires studying an entirely new set of techniques, many small businesses find that they benefit from outsourcing these tasks in order to focus on more important areas of company operations. Hiring an SEO agency to take over local SEO can ensure that your business is found by both local and Internet customers through the appropriate use of linking strategies, keywords and tagging. They’ll also be more up-to-date on the latest local optimization technologies – including both mobile and interactive applications – that can help make businesses easier to find.
How to Find the Right SEO Agency
If hiring an SEO agency to take over your business’s web and local SEO needs sounds like a wise use of your time and money, be aware that there are plenty of different aspects to consider. For example, the agency’s expertise, strategies and past successes should be examined to make sure the organization is professional and competent. It’s also important to understand the agency’s mission statement and how they deal with clients to make sure your final selection is a good fit for your business’s needs.
Here are a few of the specific questions you’ll want to ask when interviewing potential SEO agencies:
“Where are they located?”
An SEO agency doesn’t have to be local to be successful. Some businesses like being able to have onsite meetings with their outsourcers to make sure everything is on track, although with today’s technology, online meetings can be just as productive as physical meetings. As long as you’re comfortable working long distance and the agency you’ve chosen is well-qualified, dealing with an SEO organization located elsewhere isn’t a problem.
“How well do they communicate?”
Even a local agency can be difficult to work with if they aren’t good about communications. While it isn’t reasonable to expect someone at the agency to answer the phone all the time, your agency contact should call back or reply to an email within a single one business day. They should also have established methods for updating clients and receiving feedback to alter a project as needed.
“Do they stay current on new advancements?”
With the field of SEO changing consistently, an SEO agency needs to demonstrate that they stay abreast of changes in technology and techniques. To determine whether or not this is occurring, look for whitepapers they’ve written, notes on social media sites about seminars they’ve attended or blog posts their employees have written about new techniques in order to find out how knowledgeable they are about their field.
“Is a long term contract required?”
Because SEO strategies need to be monitored and changed over time, you’ll want to find an SEO agency that you can work with in the long-term. However, be wary of getting roped into a long-term contact if you aren’t certain your SEO campaign will achieve good results. When looking for a new agency, start with a three-month contract to find out if they’re a good fit. This way, you won’t be stuck with ineffective consultants you can’t work with.
Because SEO is so important to internet marketing, it’s imperative that you use the newest and best strategies on your business website. If you aren’t able to commit to learning these techniques yourself and implementing them on your website, hiring an SEO agency to carry out these best practices for you could wind up being a smart business decision in the long run.