8 Things You Should Know About SEO Before Hiring An Agency

Search engine optimization can be a daunting task for any business.

The constant changes, new techniques or strategies, and endless bombardment of expert recommendations is exhausting, so we wanted to help guide you through some considerations prior developing a relationship with a digital marketing agency or hiring your own team.

What follows is 8 things you may not know, but should consider, prior to starting your SEO strategy.

SEO Takes Time To Work

If you’re not committed to longterm SEO work, it may not be worth the effort.

Forget about instant results.

Actually, forget about results in the first 3-6 months altogether.

Committing to legitimate search engine optimization practices in an effort to drive growth and conversions is a long term effort. If you or your company does not have patience, determination, and flexibility to achieve real results, you may want to consider other marketing efforts.

Shocking right?

We’re a digital marketing agency. We want to work with you and other businesses to achieve real results. So why on earth are we shooting ourselves in the foot here?

We want to be as transparent as possible. That means telling all of our prospects and clients that the issue of commitment toward affective SEO work causes a lot confusion and tension.

SEO strategies take considerable time and effort and those businesses seeking immediate results, or those concerned with quarterly and yearly projections, often consider SEO a waste after too brief a period of time.

Implementing the right strategy and tactics for your business takes time to research, test, measure, adapt, and even pivot for better performance.

Plus, your SEO efforts shouldn’t really every stop.

Tailoring Your SEO Strategy

There’s no such thing as a one size fits all SEO strategy.

What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another company.

Yes, local plumbers, electricians, and manufacturing organizations may offer the same products or services as the next guy, but there are too many factors that contribute to the growth of companies to think a cookie cutter strategy works for them all.

You’ll run into quite a few digital marketing and SEO companies that offer “proven models”, or “standard SEO packages”.

Stay away from this type of agency at all costs. You’ll be treated like another notch on their belt and the service will be the exact same as every other business they manage.

Your SEO should provide an unfair advantage, not resemble every other competitors strategy.

Remember;

Your business is anything but standard.

And…

You wouldn’t offer your clients and customers a “cookie cutter product or service”, so why would you settle for one?

SEO Is More Than Blogging

SEO is more than blogging.

Yes, blogging is a fantastic way to improve search results. But if you’re only purpose is an improved rank on Google search, you should rethink why you’re putting in the work.

We’ve seen many prospects and clients publish article upon article on their company blog, only to find that pushing content into the digital abyss yields little-to-no results.

This is because writing and posting content on the site is just one option/tactic within search engine optimization opportunities. Plus, there’s much more work involved than writing and posting.

The heading, subheadings, conclusion, structure, contextual links, meta information, micro data and schema markup, call’s to action, etc… all contribute to great blog content, and are missed by most company blogs.

Plus, text content is just one medium that drives search engine growth.

Video, podcasts, infographics, micrographics, photography, digital tools, educational guides, slideshows, e-books, audiobooks, quizzes, SoundCloud streams, etc… are all useful content types that can replace, enhance, or compliment, your blogging effort.

The diversity of content mediums are something to consider when jumping into an ongoing SEO strategy, so start by asking yourself; how do my customers or clients prefer to engage with my brand, products, and community?

Probably more than one medium, but it can’t hurt to ask them directly.

Content Creation For Search Engine Optimization

The creation of content will always be necessary.

Hoping your product or service will “go viral” is not an option.

Even the biggest ‘viral hits’ have needed a nudge to get the ball rolling, and relying on tactics other than content development and distribution is a fools errand.

NOTE: We’re guessing that you don’t already have a community of raving fans to tap and your network is only going to get your so far.

People will do research on the web for your products and services, so answering their questions, addressing their pain points, and showcasing you or your company’s expertise is the place you’ll want to start.

The best metaphor to help visualize your content marketing efforts is a pyramid made of blocks.

Each digital asset you own or manage is a block at the bottom of the pyramid, which grows the base. The wider the base of the pyramid grows, the taller the peak will become, allowing more and more individuals to ‘see’ your business pyramid from afar.

Yes, it’s a bit of a hokey metaphor, but we like it better than the fishing with a wider net visual.

Also, the development of content need not be complicated, expensive, or a burden. Start by considering what you or the company can commit to consistently.

Consistency is far greater than frequency!

SEO Analysis and Measurement

Measure everything against one main goal. (Ok, maybe two)

Whether you’re looking for more new customers, filling gaps to improve retention rates, seeking to engage and grow a community, or continuing to drive people through your sales funnel, it’s important to maintain a focus on what drives real results.

When it comes to digital marketing, it’s far too easy to get sidetracked from what actually works. There are countless “experts”, “gurus”, and “ninjas” selling their time tested search engine optimization strategy, desperate to teach you or your team a new growth hacking technique.

Vanity metrics like site traffic, social media followers, or the number of publications writing about your company are all useless, unless they get you closer to your goal(s).

Your superiors or shareholders may like to see growth in these numbers, but you know better. You know not to get blinded by them.

Measuring based on real goals also means testing and iterating based upon the data.

But let’s remember a few things;

  1. The duration of your tests should always be considered when judging results. (Reference the “SEO is a long-term commitment” note above.)

  2. Small tweaks to strategy can have multiplier affects.

The last thing we want to note on the topic of goal setting and measurement comes from a client’s blog post called The Big Picture.

He recommends;

“Never lose site of the big picture as you get caught up in the day-to-day minutia.”

You or the superiors in the company have a direction they are “steering the boat”, which influences the entire company’s goals and therefore the work.

If your goal for the company is to increase revenue 10% month over month, then worrying about the things that don’t contribute to that growth will be toxic and ineffective in the long run. Find out what contributes most to exceeding those goals and go all in on them.

Everything else is irrelevant.

Distributing Content For Search

Content distribution is just as important as content creation.

So you created a blog post, video series, or podcast.

Great! You’re only 50% done.

Don’t get us wrong, you should be proud to produce such valuable content. It’s exceedingly hard for most companies to get that far.

But publishing content, in whatever medium you have chosen, is only half the battle. It can be a big gut check when your expertly written blog post or beautifully produced video only receives a handful of views.

It might be even harder for the creatives at your digital marketing agency to know their beautiful work is destined for the dusty shelves of the internet after finding out the client has no budget for distribution.

To make this point even clearer, here’s the equation we like to use.

0 Distribution = 0 Results

So ask your SEO company up front, what they do specifically besides content creation. If they struggle to answer or provide recommendations on distribution tactics, it may be time to look for a new agency.

Search Engine Optimized Websites

Website updates and possibly a redesign will be needed.

An affective SEO strategy utilizes site performance updates to help drive results. There are countless things that contribute to better site performance and we won’t dive into all of them here, but it’s important to note that your site is a tool to be sharpened.

Don’t neglect site enhancements if they’re going to contribute to reaching your goals.

This might be the best place to use the fishing analogy actually.

Consider your website as the net. A tattered net with holes or one that is tangled, is an ineffective tool. When the net is maintained and lacks holes for fish (your prospects) to swim out of, your fishing instrument works well.

Whether it’s a lack of mobile optimization, lead generation capability, or a messy website back end, be open to updating your site to ensure additional SEO work doesn’t result in poor performance.

Local Search Engine Optimization

Local SEO strategies are much different than mass market ones.

It’s important to recognize your place within the market because the work it takes to drive local search engine traffic can be much different from the work it takes to drive larger mass market results.

Yes, your SEO efforts will contribute to both local, national, and global visibility, but if you’re a locally focused business, it may not be necessary to cast a massive net.

Keywords are the most notable differences when it comes to a local vs. national strategy, but there’s much more involved than simple keywords.

Be sure the SEO agency you work with is able to scale or narrow its focus accordingly.

Conclusion

As you can tell, there is much more involved in search engine optimization than most companies are comfortable investing in. The agency you work with should be patient, communicative, and focused on results, so don’t settle for a standard strategy or a relationship that doesn’t get you closer to your goals.

If you have questions or want to talk about developing an SEO strategy for your company, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team here.

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