Having worked in the online marketing industry for many years, I realize that “SEO Services” can mean many different things to different people. Most of what we believe about SEO work is what we have read online or heard from someone else. Your colleague may mention that he has hired someone to help with his SEO. You go to a marketing seminar for lawyers or doctors or real estate or dentists, and they mention that SEO is a “must” — but what, exactly, does this mean? If you hire someone to do SEO…. what will they be doing for you?
The Obvious – Search Engine Optimization
SEO, in and of itself, is optimizing your website with keywords so your site will appear higher in search engines (which can include Google desktop, Google mobile, Bing, Safari, Yahoo, and others).
That’s what SEO really is – nothing more and nothing less. If someone is an “SEO Expert,” it means that he or she knows how to find the best keywords for your website through specific research with specific tools, put them in the right place, and show proof that those keywords are helping your site get more traffic.
SEO work does not guarantee conversions, although that is always the end goal. It is not something that can be explained to you because this work is based on 1) an in-depth knowledge of search engines and how they work, 2) experience, and 3) intuition.
SEO work, specifically, should always be “result-based,” not “task-based.” In other words, the proof that SEO is working is seen through the results you should be seeing. The most accurate result is proof that the researched keywords on your website are increasing in rankings in Google and other search engines. Consequently, you may see more conversions (more people buying your products/services) and more traffic to your website.
SEO should not be a task-oriented service, in the way that we consider how the plumber worked above. He had a job to do, and he did it. As an example, SEO on your site may require one hour a month, but if you’re paying $1,000 per month for that one hour of work, and it’s bringing you an increase in profit while growing your website and your business, it’s well worth it.
You can and should ask questions but don’t expect a monthly task list of what they did and didn’t do – SEO doesn’t work that way. One month may require several hours of researching keywords, changing them out on the site, indexing pages on Google, checking out competitors, etc. The next month might show a substantial increase in rankings and traffic, so it might be best to leave things alone and check back in a few weeks.
Why Is SEO So Confusing?
When you hire a plumber to fix your pipes, both you and Mr. Plumber know what he’s there to do. He comes in, asks a few questions, and he gets to work. After some time, he lets you know that the work is done, explains what he did, and hands you an invoice. You pay him, and you’re happy to have this plumbing issue resolved.
Unfortunately, SEO is not so clear-cut. Your website is unique and comes with its own set of positive and negative attributes. You may have great content, but your theme is very difficult to navigate. Your site may look awesome but it’s slower than Moses. You have 50 pages, but only have 150 words on each page. The list goes on of how an SEO service provider would need to help you.
In addition to this, there are other factors that make SEO difficult to understand. SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Sounds easy, right? Well, when you consider that your online reputation, domain, website speed, content, user experience (and a ton of other things) affect how easily keywords on your site will rank or how much traffic comes to your site… it starts to get confusing.
And that’s why most SEO companies offer other services. It’s not because we love to have a diversified company; it’s because there are so many other things that can affect our work. Typically, an SEO company will do everything they can to work with your website, but oftentimes, it will become obvious that other pieces of the puzzle are negatively affecting your website’s ability to rank, get and keep visitors, and/or facilitate conversions.
Content – Not as Obvious, But Definitely Not Optional
The most important aspect of SEO work that is often overlooked is content. SEO can’t really be done correctly without content. Content is anything that adds value to your website – all from Google’s perspective. The most valuable thing that can be done for your site is adding fresh, well-written pages that show you (and your company) as the #1 expert in your field.
Does this mean that you know you are the #1 expert? No, not necessarily, because we all know someone who probably knows more than we do about our industry. However, your website needs to prove to search engines that you have the “right” to rank in their search results for competitive keywords. In fact, you want to beat your competitors at this game because, if SEO is done correctly, you will outrank them and potential customers/clients will contact you rather than them.
The only way that search engines can see that your site is worthy of ranking is through your content. Some would argue that an “attractive website” is the most important thing, and I do understand that most business owners want a site that is pleasing from an aesthetic point of view. However, without content, a beautiful website may not rank at all. The content, which includes pages, posts, images, and videos, are the very things that separate you from your competitors.
In addition, keywords are added within the content, so without content… limited keywords. If your webpages have 150-200 words each, with lots of images, it’s going to be difficult to get your site ranking and get more traffic.
There are two aspects of “Content” that need to be explained:
This is basically a plan for content. Search engines need to see that there is activity on your site. Most people think that blog posts cover this, and for ongoing, consistent content creation, that’s acceptable. However, you should also have a content plan for new pages on your website.
While some would disagree, I believe that this should always be included in your SEO services. Your SEO provider should take the time analyze your content for length, number of pages, duplicate content, and more to help you come up with a content plan. SEO can’t work properly without content, so it really is a part of the “job.” This is just strategy, however, not implementation.
Once you have analyzed your content, it’s now time for the implementation of the Content Strategy. Now that we know we need content, what’s it going to be? Weekly blog posts? One or two new pages per month? YouTube videos once a quarter? And who will create this content?
Unless it has been previously arranged, it’s not the “job” of your SEO provider to create content for you. If you write your own content, and you know how to add that content to your website, that’s perfect. Your SEO provider will then optimize that new content, and you’re good to go. But maybe you don’t write or maybe you don’t have time to write. Perhaps you have no idea how to add things to the backend of your website.
In this case, your SEO provider might provide some options for you. Maybe he or she writes or has some writers that can help. Perhaps they know how to add this new content to your website. While it’s fantastic that they have the ability to do this for you, it is not necessarily a part of SEO that is figured into the monthly cost of their services. Therefore, unless previous arrangements have been made in the contract, these services will likely be billed separately.
Optional Services – Not Necessarily Included in SEO Services
There are many different items that may or may not be included in your SEO contract. Some SEO providers consider these items a part of the “deal,” while others don’t. What does that mean for you? It’s your job to verify what he or she will be handling.
These optional services can include backend updates, reputation management, site speed optimization, image ranking and optimization, backlinking, social media, hosting, website design and development, and more. Don’t assume that these are a part of the SEO plan, so if you know you want or need these additional services, be sure to ask in advance.
Most of these services are important, and most are not optiona if you want to get more traffic and conversionsl. However, they fall outside of the specific service of Search Engine Optimization. The caveat is that these can affect your SEO, which is why it can get confusing. So, check with your SEO provider, and find out what is included in their “SEO Services.” If you find you need something that is not included, ask them if they can do it (perhaps for an additional fee) or if they can refer you to someone.
Capstone Digital Marketing – Boutique Digital Marketing Firm
Here at Capstone, we can help with your local SEO needs. We work best with invested local business owners who understand the importance of their websites. They want to put their website to work for them — and at Capstone, we know how to make that happen. We’re straightforward, kind, and love to help clients succeed. Make an appointment today with Tracy, CEO of Capstone, by clicking here, or fill out our contact form, and we’ll get in touch!