Knowing what to expect after you hire an SEO agency can improve the engagement. This post covers how to set goals, what to expect from comprehensive audits, how to discuss implementation, and more.
In today’s economy, having an optimized website is important for growth — even if your digital marketing is excellent. Hiring a reputable SEO partner can increase your company’s ranking on Google, Bing, and other search engines, which will bring more leads to your website. Good SEO strategy and implementation can also improve the customer experience, increase click-through rates and conversions, ensure you show up on local search, and much more.
But once you take the plunge and hire an SEO agency, how can you make sure you’re utilizing them appropriately? How can you make sure communication is dialed in?
If you’ve hired or are about to hire an SEO firm to partner with your marketing department’s efforts, here’s what you can both expect and do to ensure your SEO partnership is a success.
First Things First: What’s SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process by which individuals and/or teams (commonly called “SEOs”) improve a website so that the amount of organic traffic and the type of organic traffic directed to that website (from search engines like Google, Bing, etc.) improves.
What is organic traffic? Organic traffic is made up of those website visitors who end up on a site via a search engine’s non-paid results. To achieve an increase in organic traffic — and an improvement in the type of organic traffic — SEOs and SEO agencies collect site data and analyze it. They provide technical SEO services that focus on server and website optimizations so that search engine spiders can more effectively and efficiently crawl your site and index it. They do keyword research to ensure search engine optimized content creation, perform link building to improve domain authority, and they do all this and more via a wide variety of SEO tools and algorithms. Pay-per-click (PPC) is not part of SEO, although many SEO firms provide PPC services.
Setting SEO Goals
When working with an SEO company, it’s important to know what you are looking to achieve. Yes, you want to increase revenue, but what are your other goals? Here are some examples of goals clients who hire SEO experts often have:
- Increase revenue
- Improve content marketing
- Increase click-through rates
- Improve Google search rankings
- Gain more organic search visits
- Increase online sales
- Achieve top of funnel growth
- Reach an audience in specific geographic areas
- Improve CX and UX
Before hiring an SEO digital marketing agency, make sure the firms you’re talking with can provide all of the SEO services you and your marketing team are interested in. Most agencies specialize in particular services and may not be a good fit for others. For example, an agency that specializes in technical SEO may not be the best option if you only want a website redesigned.
Once you’ve signed a contract with a reputable white hat SEO firm, comprehensive audits will follow. Comprehensive audits are usually performed during the first 30 – 45 days of an engagement to determine all of the areas of weakness on your website, as well as strengths. They typically include three audits, or four if you are also in need of local SEO. These “legs” each have their own importance in overall SEO strategy and success, much like the legs of a chair.
The Technical SEO Audit
Technical audits are performed at the beginning of an engagement, right after the SEO partnership has been made official with the signing of a contract. The technical audit is a detailed look “behind the scenes” of your website that helps SEO analysts diagnose problems that may be preventing your site from ranking well. Implementing the recommendations that follow a technical audit will then start to improve your site’s performance, because they are based on real data. Here are some of the items SEO analysts will look over and measure on a technical audit checklist:
- Site speed
- Crawlability and indexability
- Site architecture
- Redirect issues
- Broken links
- URL structure
- Keyword cannibalization
- Mobile site friendliness
The Content Audit
Similarly, a content audit will be performed at the start of your engagement with an SEO agency to determine how well the content on your site matches up with what your potential customer is actually looking for. This will help determine not only how to increase organic traffic, but also whether or not the search traffic you’re getting is the right kind. The audit will also analyze the topics of content on your site to see if they are an appropriate fit for your audience. SEO companies also perform content audits to ensure that proper keywords are being integrated into clients’ websites to increase search engine rankings for the most relevant queries. Here are some of the items SEO specialists will look over and measure on a content audit checklist:
- Query match analysis
- Topical relevance
- Content plans
- Site search trending
- Content briefs
- On-page SEO optimization
A link-risk analysis will study the backlinks on all your web pages to assure they are of high quality. Bad links can lead to spam which, in turn, will make Google view your website as untrustworthy, lowering rankings as a result. Broken links can also create a poor user experience. This aspect of the comprehensive audit is important, because the benefits of good links include:
- Long-term gains
- Increased content authority
- No red flags from Google
It should be noted that it isn’t hard to find websites that offer low quality links at lower prices than you will find with reputable SEO firms, but these types of black hat strategy will only harm you in the long run (though they may seem to be working in the short-term). Your focus should be on the quality of the links, not the quantity.
Local audits are important for businesses that want to better target specific geographic areas. The local audit focuses on finding out what issues are getting in the way of local search engine results successes, such as:
- Poorly optimized Google My Business pages
- Poorly designed location specific landing pages
- Bad or no reviews
- Incorrect or missed citations
Decide Who Will Do What
When working with an SEO agency — or even an SEO consultant — it’s important to determine who is handling implementation, including what team members will be doing what jobs on your own team and on the SEO team. It’s also important to have appropriate time and budget expectations for the SEO implementation process.
For example, do you have a web development team that will make changes to the core web vitals, or will the agency need to implement necessary changes? Do you have a writer in-house for content or will the agency you’re working with need to provide a writer to create content for blogs, ebooks, social media, and landing pages?
Speaking of Timelines
SEO, especially technical SEO, is NOT a quick fix. Upon doing research, clients will find that most SEO agencies have six to 12 month contracts because it takes time for SEO strategy and implementation to work. The first 30 – 45 days of an engagement is when the technical audit, content audit, etc. are performed. It’s also when the SEO team will learn about you, their client, and the best ways they can help you achieve your goals. Strategies should be set monthly or every 90 days to keep all participants on track.
Hiring an SEO Company
Curious about what it’s like to work with an award-winning agency like LOCOMOTIVE Agency? Whether you’re a startup looking for SaaS-specific SEO solutions, a small business with local SEO needs, or a Fortune 500 company that’s grown weary of ruling the SERPs and looking for a new revenue burst, we have experts who can help. Contact us today.