Let’s be clear about one thing: Search Engine Optimization is what your business actually needs, not an SEO company.
I know a lot is going through your mind right now. But first, clear it off your mind that this post is against search optimization companies--it’s not.
Instead, it’s for entrepreneurs and business owners like yourself who may think what they’re getting is SEO (since that’s what you guys paid for) when in the real sense of things, it is not.
Let’s take things in turn. First I’ll dig into who SEO companies are. Consequently, I’ll show you what the SEO of your business should be looking like.
Who SEO Companies Are
Try to recall some of the horrible experiences you’ve had with SEOs. I’m talking about instances like when you dropped rankings from page 3 (pre SEO) to page 8 (post SEO).
Or maybe you improved in ranking as promised, got those traffic visiting your website, got few sales here, another there then … reality dawned on you--your website disappeared from the search results. You’ve just been penalized by Google!
If you remembered quite all right, here’s how the event that culminated into the dip in your rankings (and therefore the eventual penalization of your website from search results) unfolded:
You got in touch with this small business SEO company that you needed help with your SEO. (Keep in mind that’s just about the progress you’ve been able to make as regards to securing their small business search engine optimization services).
So they replied, raving about their expertise, years of industry experience, the number of websites they’ve helped to rank #1 on Google blah blah blah. They could even claim that they were responsible for the SEO of Amazon, Forbes, hp and other top brand names that you’re already familiar with.
Or they could go as far as guaranteeing results before they ever have the chance to see your website, know your industry and its competitive nature and if there are enough SEO opportunities to make good their otherwise bold promise.
Your SEO campaign goals have not been discussed in details. The SEO company may just have assumed that since most businesses goals are revenue and traffic, then these will probably be your own campaign goals too.
Expectations to start with are not clear. Which ultimately led to mismatched expectations.
It works both ways. It could be that you as the business owner have little to no knowledge of the workings of SEO, which explains why you’re making such requests like “Just get me ranking on the first page” or “Get me as much traffic to my home page as you can”--and the SEO firm, on the other hand, may have subpar SEO skills and experience and as a result, they’ll have to pretend obliging your request is the last option they have.
And, oh, traffic? That easy.
But do you care about the traffic being from black, grey, or white hat SEO strategies? Or if the strategies will be effective and sustainable over the long time (hint: all three of those SEO strategies will get you ranked, the rankings of one of those strategies if done right is very much assured, while the other two strategies will get you penalized, eventually.)
Then you couldn’t be bothered if the traffic being generated are from your main keywords, if they’re converting visitors, the quality of those visits, or maybe those visits are actually from people who aggregated your contact from the numerous directories that your website has been submitted to by your SEO specialist vs. people who are actually interested in your offerings (spoiler alert: this is 2018 and links from directory submissions may not be doing enough as to help you rank, plus leads generated from directory submissions hardly convert. Often, they’re sales call--from people who want to pitch you their services.)
Seriously, it doesn’t matter where you’re ranking or how much organic traffic you’re getting from a particular keyword. Is it your main and most important keywords? If those keywords for which you’re being ranked can’t help to achieve key measurable goals, it doesn't count.
Anyone can guarantee a #1 Google ranking for the long tail keyword "best 2017 small business post". Realistically, that keyword won't do you any good because no one searches for that term.
Likewise, your SEO consultant can promise they’ll get you to rank well for "best running shoes" but you don't sell shoes so that traffic would not convert for you as well.
Given all of the above, there shouldn’t be surprises as to why SEO for your business never worked out: You wanted an SEO company and there you have it--they came highly recommended; you chose them because they could guarantee results and make lots of promises (since results is what should matter, after all); or because they seem to be the SEO destination for top brands.
What SEO For Your Business Should Really Look Like
So, what keywords are you trying to rank for and why are you trying to rank for them?
What you should have in mind when trying to rank for a keyword is to convert a visitor into a customer by getting them to call you or schedule a quote.
Other times, you could have them completing some micro commitments like form submissions, downloading lead magnets, watching videos, adding items to carts, and other trackable goals.
In that case your first port of call: determine what keywords to rank for and how ranking for those keywords will impact your business.
Before anything else, your website needs to be optimized. Not just the titles and meta descriptions, but for conversions.
Do you have lead generation forms on every page? Do you have clear calls to action? Is your checkout process simple and short? Are you using microdata? Does your phone number appear at the top and bottom of every page? Does your site pass Google insights?
Are you also tracking phone calls and on-site searches? The former is very likely to have mobile searchers calling you. The latter, on the other hand, will ensure that you’re optimizing your page for people who are actually interested in your services.
In addition, goals should be configured in Analytics so you can track where your submissions, purchases, sign-ups, etc are coming from. This is what you should use to measure your SEO success. More conversion is the only thing that matters.
And you see, there’s no point sending traffic to a site that’s not going to convert. Google values the user experience and all of those will contribute to that.
For those SEO companies that are offering their SEO business rather than offering their SEO services; one way to know them is that they always want you to trust them versus them earning your trusts. That way you’ll be easy to manipulate.
The key thing will be to revisit the purpose of your wanting to do SEO for your business and the criteria with which you’re using to qualify SEO firms.
The fact that an SEO company is ranking top on the organic result or whether they came highly recommended shouldn’t replace your responsibility of running a background check on them to see if they have enough industry experience in your niche/space, and/or if they care about their client’s businesses.
Type their name in Google, Facebook and see what others who have used them are saying about them.
Having made your choice of an SEO firm, discuss and define expectations. Then, ensure their SEO efforts takes into account what SEO for your business should look like, making necessary tweaking when and where necessary.
That way, you’ll see positive results from your investment in SEO, and thus will be able to tie those results to revenue and other key performance indicators that are important to you.