A lot of companies will only ever tell you about the benefits of search engine optimization services. We all know it’s not the whole story!
The companies selling the services — it’s not their fault. We’re all taught to avoid talking about the highly involved features and technical specifications of search engine optimization. Those influencers that shape opinions in the SEO industry will impart this wisdom as if it were law, writ in stone. The assumption, of course, is that our prospective client will get bored, lose interest and drift away to another agency, or feel frustrated that he or she doesn’t understand what we’re talking about. Sorry, but I don’t buy it.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.
If you’ve already read about our company culture, you will know that we believe in sharing knowledge with our clients. And that’s what this post is all about! However, I’m going to be honest… This may not be an easy read. When I first started looking seriously at SEO a few years ago, the learning curve looked something like this:
Search Engine Optimization Services
While the history of search engine optimization is interesting, we’re going to leave it to the historians for now. Lets focus on the present. Why? Because unlike other disciplines, search engine optimization services are rooted firmly in the “here and now.” In the last month alone there have been several significant shifts, including Google’s long awaited release of Penguin 4.0. If you’re still using SEO best practices from 2014 (or even 2015), your overall search engine performance is likely to suffer.If it works, it's obsolete. - Marshall McLuhan Click To Tweet
I’m going to break search engine optimization services down into the five major types that most companies will offer you:
- Keyword Discovery
- Content Creation
- On-Site SEO
- Off-Site SEO
- SEO Audit
We’ll go through this list in order and talk about the technical features of each service, the overall cost in terms of both time and money, and the benefits to your business.
Keyword discovery should always start with getting to know your business. Basic information such as products and services, physical locations, and service areas will be the starting point. From there, brand messaging and company values make up a powerful secondary dimension and can really round out a keyword strategy. Your search engine optimization company will take this information and use a tool such as Google Keyword Planner to assess which keywords will drive the right traffic to your website.
Your SEO consultant should give you reports that show indexed keywords and variants, targeted keyword search history over time, and targeted keyword searches by content area. Why are these specific reports important?
- Indexed Keywords and Variants – In a nutshell, these are individual words that Google will use to index — or list in search results — your page. Your search engine optimization company should show you only relevant keywords (i.e. the keywords should all be related to your business in some way) and the number of occurrences for each keyword and its variants. An example of a keyword variant would be “companies” instead of “company”.
- Targeted Keyword Search History Over Time – Again, these keywords should be relevant to your business in some way — whether it is products and services, service areas, brand messaging, or physical locations. The important takeaway here is the “over time” piece. Knowing what time of year people are searching for certain terms is absolutely critical. Here’s an example:
There are around 480,000 searches per year for Thanksgiving Recipes. That’s a monthly average of 40,000 searches, which makes this keyword good, but not great. However, if we look at search history over time, we find out that 450,000 of those searches occur just in the month of November.
- Targeted Keyword Searches by Content Area – If you’re a business that offers multiple product or service categories (e.g. Road Warrior Creative focuses on six different services), each of those will need to become a content category, sometimes referred to as a “content bucket”. It is important to know what the most relevant keywords are and how often they are searched for every single one of your products and/or services. Here is an over-simplified, but fun example:
Your business sells forks and spoons. You make a $10 / unit profit margin on cases of forks, but just $5 / unit profit margin on cases of spoons. We should optimize our website for selling forks because we make a better margin, right? Hold on a second! Average monthly search volume for “fork” is up to 100K. Average monthly search volume for “spoon” is up to 1 Million. If you chose the forks, you might have missed out on a big chunk of revenue!
This research is detailed to a granular level and takes many, many hours to put together. In addition to the raw data, your SEO consultant should be providing you with a written report that provides their interpretation of the data, professional recommendations for both a short-term SEO strategy and long-term SEO strategy, and an assessment of your website’s current search engine performance.
RED ALERT: If a company offers you other search engine optimization services without doing the above keyword research first, then they aren’t going to know enough to really be able to help you.