What is SEO?

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, which is a process of obtaining maximum traffic in a particular webpage or website by the means of free/organic/natural search results, and hence improve its ranking on search engine index. These search results do not include any paid advertisements.

Why is it important?

Majority of the users who go on search engines are more likely to click on the first 5-6 links displayed in the search results. With SEO, the ranking of the website can increase, which in turn increases its visibility and bring in potential customers – leading to increase in revenue. It also ensures that the website is user friendly and interactive.

How does SEO work?

SEO occurs in the following three steps:

1. Crawling: Which includes scanning of various pages in the web and collecting its details? It is accomplished by a software program known as web crawler, which uses links to find out where to go next.

2. Indexing: It includes processing of the collected data and storing it in the database

3. Ranking: The ranking algorithm works on ranking of the website in the search engine by checking the entered query against numerous pages for relevance. The ranking algorithm considers quality and number of links coming into the website to determine its authenticity and quality.

Features / benefits

  • SEO deals with improving the visibility of a website in terms of unpaid/free search results
  • It helps in increasing the ranking of a website on various search engine indexes.
  • The authenticity of a webpage plays a key role in determining its crawl budget (the amount of time a bot spends in crawling a webpage)
  • By the practice of proper search engine optimization, one can increase the visibility and publicity of a webpage, which in turn can attract larger potential customers and lead to increase in revenue.
  • As compared to other marketing tools, SEO gives remarkable rate of return for a lesser given budget.

Tips for carrying out proper SEO

  • Creation of fresh content helps improve the ranking of a website.
  • Updating of existing content on a regular basis is very essential. More frequently the content is updated, more frequently the bot crawls the webpage and is optimized.
  • Create a sitemap for the entire website, especially for a website having large number of pages for bots to crawl the website easily.
  • Prevent using fancy features like flash and Ajax. They are not crawled by the bots and do not add to the website’s ranking.
  • Use back-links and monitor them on a regular basis.
  • SEO is an ongoing process. It is never completed. So never stop while optimizing a website, and work on a dedicated schedule for better ranking and indexing results.
  • Do keyword research using tools like Google Keywords Tool, and use appropriate keywords while building the website.

Choosing the best company for managing your SEO

  • Go for companies offering an ongoing SEO management service rather than a one-time website audit. This increases customer base and potential clientele.
  • Check for their portfolio and analyze customer reviews.
  • Look for companies that promise long term relationship and technical support in the future.
  • Avoid companies offering overnight doubled traffic, instant leads etc.

Black Hat SEO

Black-Hat SEO involves practices which increase the page rank and visibility of a site via means that are against the terms of service of the given search engine. Such practices can result in the site being banned from the search engine and all its subsidiary sites. Common black-hat SEO practices include:-

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Content automation
  • Hidden texts or links
  • Reporting a competitor

How do you know which company can get you the results you need? Usually, the proof is in the pudding, but you can typically figure out a basic “Yes, I’ll contact these companies” and “Hell no, they aren’t touching my website” by reading SEO company reviews, case studies, and website content.

Clearly Define Your SEO Goals

In order to find the right team for the job, you first need to figure out which areas of your online presence you want to improve. You might need a whole new website or you may just need SEO. If you’re not sure which areas you need to improve, then get a digital marketing analysis done. A good agency will have the data needed to prove which areas are most beneficial to focus on.

Find an SEO Company That Tracks Your Data

To find the best solutions for your unique business, you will want to use an SEO firm that can track and measure all of your company data. This includes phone calls, contact forms, site visits, click through rates, and more. To choose the right business strategies for your company, it’s important to make decisions based off of results and not gut instincts.

Get SEO Company Reviews, Case Studies & Testimonials

The best way to get unbiased opinions about a company?  Reviews! One of the best ways to find a reputable agency is to read through their testimonials and online reviews. You will often find these reviews by exploring the company’s site or searching for them on sites like Google, Yelp, or even Glass door (to see what their employees think about working for them).

For more thorough information, request case studies from the agency by calling them up or submitting a form online. This is one great way to see what the agency is capable of. Another great way to get a feel for an agency is by requesting a reference. A reputable agency should be able to put you in touch with a current client so that you can speak with them about their own experience and level of satisfaction.

Schedule a Consultation

Whether you are a block away from the SEO firm or thousands of miles across the country, you can always ask for a consultation. Most likely, the agency will be happy to pull up some research on your industry and walk you through some strategies they have used on past clients. A consultation will help you get a feel for the type of people on their team and their level of passion and creativity.

It’s important to build a trusting relationship with your SEO agency, so use this as an opportunity to see how well you connect. Do you understand everything they are explaining? How is their attitude? Are they overselling it? Do they seem passionate about the work they do? This is your time to ask them specific questions!

Define Your SEO Budget

Before you get invested in a service you can’t afford, don’t forget to plan out your budget ahead of time. It is a good idea to ask about package deals and price ranges early on to see if the service is in your price range. Most SEO companies will have a variety of monthly packages to choose from, which should make your life easier. When it comes time to choosing a package deal, refer back to your original goal to see which package will get you to your goal 

Sometimes it’s easier to know what you should avoid, rather than what you should look for. Below are the top five mistakes to avoid when choosing an SEO company:

1. Falling for shiny SEO presentations.Your parents should have taught you not to judge a book by its cover, so why business owners keep falling for flashy sales presentations is beyond me. The theory is, if a digital marketing agency creates these beautiful, high-tech marketing pitches for you, you’re going to get the same for your customers. That’s rarely the case. Trust me. 

2. Falling for “secret sauce” pitches.There is no “secret sauce” of SEO. It’s very well documented how to succeed in SEO, just like it’s very well-documented how to succeed in building a rocket launcher. That being said, some people are better at building rocket launchers than others because they’ve been professionally trained to, and that’s all they do all day long. Same with SEO. What separates the amateurs from the experts is experience and proven successes.

3. Choosing a local SEO company just because they’re local.The great thing about SEO is you can do it from anywhere, meaning you aren’t stuck with your local Joe Smith. That being said do not sign on with a foreign SEO company unless your target market is in that country.

4. Not doing your research. Look at a company’s case studies. Read their online reviews. Browse through their blog. Does their language vibe with you? Do their clients remind you of your company? Do they have documented results similar to the ones you want? Breakups suck. Don’t set yourself up for one.

How Do I Find the Best SEO Company for My Needs?

Good question. Whether you’re looking for the best local SEO companies for small business or need an enterprise solution, picking the right company is crucial. An SEO partnership is long-term, so you need to be sure of who you’re picking.  Not all SEO companies or content marketing firms live up to their promises of more traffic, better rankings (note: rankings aren’t the real measure of success), and more leads. Avoid any SEO company that promises anything like the following:-

  • Overnight rankings
  • Doubled traffic
  • Instant leads
  • Search engine submissions
  • X amount of back links
  • Any sort of ROI projections

If you want promises like that, you can find them—but you’ll regret it later when the results aren’t what you signed up for.

What to Ask Any SEO Company before Hiring Them

Before you just pick one from a list of SEO companies in the USA, make sure you look at SEO company reviews. All of them. If numerous people have had issues with an SEO company, there’s something going on. Ask up-front for examples of reviews and case studies that prove success in your industry. It’s CRUCIAL they have proven success in your particular industry because each industry has different nuances and different consumer expectations. You should also additionally ask the following questions:

What’s in my current contract?  Re-read the contract. What does it include? When does it end?

What’s the process to cancel? Sometimes contracts have an end date or a fee for canceling before a certain length of time.

How will we communicate and how often? Set communication expectations early, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Do I have full access to my Analytics/Ad words accounts and my website? It’s helpful to know who has FTP access, CMS access, Analytics access, and Ad Words access.

Will I own my website? Many SEO companies have website ownership clauses built into their contracts. For example, some will build “free” websites but if you leave your contract early you lose all rights to it. (We, of course, don’t do this. When you buy a website from us, it’s yours from day one.)

Do you provide performance guarantees? A reliable SEO company doesn’t. Because of all the moving parts and because each website is different, it’s impossible to guarantee results. If you talk to a company that does, you need to back away as quickly as possible!

Have you done work like this for companies similar to mine? This is crucial. Different industries have different nuances and SEO requirements, which mean you, need to find an SEO provider that knows your specific industry backward and forwards.

What contracts, budgets, and options are available? Your budget should depend on your starting point, goals, competitive landscape, and internal capabilities. No one size fits all—there are no cookie cutter solutions, at least not from the best SEO companies.

What are all your fees and payment options? Be sure you know every single aspect of how you’re going to pay for what SEO costs. Otherwise, you might have work withheld because you “didn’t pay.”

Now that you know what SEO is, understand the necessity of using SEO for your business growth and have a clear idea of the costs, the next step is to select the best SEO company for your budget and needs.

Where do you find SEO providers?

One of the nice things about SEO services is that you don’t need to search for SEO providers in your area but you can find them online. SEO is a service that can be provided online and no physical contact is required. Everything can be done by email and Skype and this saves time and money for both the client and provider.

From my experience you can find good SEO providers by:

  • Searching Google for “SEO packages”, “SEO services” or other similar keywords.
  • Reading authority websites on SEO like MOZ and see what they recommend.
  • Searching Google for SEO related information and if you find an article interesting and convincing you can check if the author provides SEO services.
  • Recommendations from friends or colleagues who used an SEO company and they are happy about the results.

How much will you actually pay for SEO?

  • Based on the three SEO pricing models described above and according to industry research on SEO pricing, the average amount you will pay is:
  • Fixed amount: project based pricing is a very popular way to pay for SEO and the range is between $1000 – $7000. Of course this depends on the work that needs to be done but this range is a good indication.
  • Per month: Per month packages are in the range of $500 – $5000. Anything beyond that is unlikely to produce any real results. Usually the monthly SEO packages include other activities like content marketing and social media marketing.
  • Per hour: The average hourly rate according to the survey is between $76 – $200. In my opinion this is overestimated, a reasonable rate to hire an experienced SEO is between $50 – $150 per hour.

How long do you have to pay for SEO?

  • SEO takes time to generate good results and should be consider as an investment and not a cost. If you haven’t done any SEO work on your website so far then the best approach is to fix your on-page SEO (that’s the fixed amount described above) and then work on a monthly or hourly engagement for at least 6 months.
  • After the 6 month period, if your SEO provider didn’t manage to give you measurable results then it’s time to look for other options. Everything in the online World can be measured so are the results from SEO. What you are after is improvement and increase in website traffic.
  • In the case that you did see an improvement from SEO then the decision to continue investing in SEO is easy. The actual amount you will spend per month depends on your budget; what you need to have in mind though is that more monthly budget does not necessarily mean better results.