You have the brand, the right team, product or service, and you are ready for the World Wide Web.
It’s time to think about how and where to promote yourself digitally. In the beginning, building an online marketing strategy can seem like a broken puzzle with a hundred incongruent pieces. It might look complicated and time-consuming, but the end result will be worth the time and effort.
So, where should you start?
Just like with any puzzle it makes the most sense to start with a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy–the proverbial corner pieces for any digital marketing plan. Not only will SEO help optimize your workflow, it will help build a base for all the other pieces of the marketing puzzle.
If your team lacks SEO know-how or the time and resources to learn and implement an SEO strategy, than you should seriously consider hiring an SEO company to manage this process for you. Rushing to launch your site can have disastrous consequences for your business, brand, and customers, so take the time to hire real professionals and save some piece of mind.
SEO Techniques to Protect Your Brand
The three pillars of creating a brand’s image are the content, design and user experience–and all are closely tied to SEO:
- Content – but not just any content. You need to promote content that is optimized for relevant keywords, so your brand can become visible to search engines. In this fashion, your brand gets exposed to a myriad of users who are looking for specific products and services the company offers. After you’ve churned out enough consistent content, and attracted a steady stream of traffic, your brand can become synonymous with the very products and services you promote. For example, in some parts of the world, cream cheese is known simply as “philadelphia”, as if there were no other versions available!
- Design – once your brand is discovered, you’ll want to greet your online visitors with an organized, nicely designed website. Developing a SEO-friendly website means your site will optimize for speed, visuals, navigation and mobile responsiveness that can help boost your brand’s reputation and prominence in search engines, and stay on top-of-mind to your audience.
- UX – similar to the design of the site, you need to think about the overall user experience. How easy is it to navigate your site? Does the site architecture seem logical? Is the UI (user interface) overwhelming, or does it make you want to stay on the page? We recommend testing out your site on several users, preferably people that know nothing about your product and service, in order to determine what they think.
Grow Your Audience with Search Strategies
Apart from branded searches, you’ll most likely want your website and products to be discovered in search engines through other non-branded queries. A great SEO campaign, encompasses a variety of topics and can help you target prospects in the bottom-line of the sales funnel, but also in the top and middle-line of the marketing funnel, by encompassing keywords that match all stages of a user’s intent.
One of the top SEO techniques used for boosting audience growth lays in keyword research. Finding new long-tail keywords and integrating them into the content, can help you boost both top of funnel leads and bottom funnel conversions. Great content is also more likely to be distributed, and here is where the new audience acquisition through SEO and Social Media comes into play.
Increasing Leads and Conversions on your Website using SEO Campaigns
When based on valuable content, including relevant keywords, your SEO strategy can attract more organic traffic to the website, from a highly-targeted audience. This in return will result in an improved stream of leads to your website, generating more sales and revenue.
Although using SEO lead generation techniques will require some time before it starts delivering results, this process can generate a steady stream of sales prospects, unlike the instant leads provided by paid lead generation strategies.
Outrun the Competition with Smart SEO Analysis
A comprehensive competitor investigation can and will provide an SEO agency with the intel needed to shape their digital strategy. It’s important to understand who your competition is, how they win organic visibility, how their keywords are targeted, and which backlink strategy is performing best. All of these factors can help your website rise above the competition on search engine results pages.
Backlink and keyword gap analysis–two of the top processes used in competitor analysis–provide critical data on the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors. These two studies can help you plan how to outperform your rivals, identify which tactics are performing best in the industry, and how to prioritize your particular SEO tasks so that you can improve your ranking authority.
Ok, so by now you have an idea how and SEO agency can help you, but how do you select one out of the thousands in your market?
Choosing the Right SEO Agency Shouldn’t Be Complicated
The first question you should ask when selecting an SEO agency is:
What other digital services do they offer?
Every online marketer knows that running a successful online business requires resources and time invested in a strategy that will deliver results in the long-run, but also in the short-run. If you are interested in SEO campaigns, the first thing you should consider is that search engine optimization is a process that requires continuous improvements and lots of fine-tuning that can only be made in allotments of finite time.
Therefore, you are most likely to benefit from SEO when pairing it with other online marketing strategies that can deliver results in a consistent fashion, across all your websites’ traffic channels. Whatever your business profile, it will most likely benefit from combining email, display, lead gen, PPC and SEO campaigns. So make sure to research the other online advertising services they offer, or refocus your search to a full-service digital marketing agency.
Ask for references & check their clients’ testimonials
Any SEO agency worth hiring should be able to provide you with their clients’ testimonials. If they cannot market their own work, why should you trust them to market your business?
Of course, testimonials will always be presented in a positive light, but they can offer helpful information about the type, size, and industry of clients the agency is comfortable serving.
Another way to evaluate a prospective search company is by looking at the reviews found on Google my Business, Bing, Yelp, and other third-party sites. Unlike testimonials written by the company itself, reviews are left by previous clients voluntarily, and they can be both positive and negative. There’s no better way to verify the performance of an agency than to review comments that come directly from their past clients.
Look for Expertise in your Industry or Vertical
When researching a search agency it’s also important to determine if they have any expertise in your industry or vertical. An agency that is already familiar with your type of work means you can start off the partnership with the same vocabulary. There are agencies that only focus on SEO for e-commerce or SEO for financial institutions, which means there’s plenty of options out there that can uniquely fit your company’s profile.
An agency that works in a particular niche industry already has the know-how and expertise to deliver similar results that you need. These agencies can quickly establish an online strategy because they’ve put in the work with similar clients, and they can get your site to rank competitively by combining best SEO and user experience tactics.
Are you running a local business? Then you should opt for a local search company. Chances are that the prospect agency that has its office just around the corner is already familiar with your brand or even using your services and products, and already has all the connections it needs for delivering top performing local SEO services.
It is always a good idea to either meet the SEO expert or dedicated Account Manager in person or at the very least on Skype or some other video messaging platform. Before signing for any long-term deal, sit down and talk to them. If they focus on realistic expectations, while being up front with you about not guaranteeing rankings, then that search agency should be worth saving in your shortlist.
Ask for an SEO Audit
Once you have a shortlist of potential candidates, you should ask for a professional SEO audit of your website. A thorough SEO audit should look at the on-page, UX and off-page factors that impact your website’s rankings in search engine results versus those of your competitors.
The results and conclusions of the SEO audit should be based on a comprehensive assessment that addresses your site’s:
- Current ranking keywords
- Site-speed and mobile friendliness
- 404 and coding errors
- Images/overall design
- Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console
- Backlinks profile and competition, and whether these findings are following the best practices laid out in the Search Quality Rater Guidelines by Google.
Make sure you also review their SEO audits with them in detail. No question is a dumb question when it comes to the success of your business. Try to get extra intel by asking exactly what SEO tools they used, how they use rank tracking, conduct backlink analysis, and what KPIs would be implemented in order to measure your site’s success moving forward.
If they cannot answer you completely then walk away. It’s that simple.
There’s always somebody better willing to do the job, you just have to stay patient and follow these tips. In no time the puzzle pieces of your online marketing strategy will take shape, and your company will benefit from the methodical process you took to get it there.