The SEO process is one that requires patience, and commitment.
While great strides can be made quickly, true results often take a while to achieve with an SEO campaign.
The landscape is always changing. From Google’s algorithm to your competition’s strategies.
By doing research, staying up to date, and making continual improvements based on data, we help businesses become more present in Google, Bing, YouTube and other search engines.
Let’s walk through how we do this from start to finish. We understand that some businesses start from scratch, while others jump in at a different point in the SEO process. For the sake of this post, we want to give you a complete picture.
1. Getting Acquainted
At the start of the SEO process, we need to get to know each other!
We often learn a lot about our new clients on free audit/sales calls, but once officially on-board, we gather a lot of information that gives us a base to start research and ensure we meet client goals.
- What are your primary goals that would make this campaign successful?
- What are your priority products/services?
- Does your target audience have any unique characteristics?
- Are there any search phrases you’d imagine prospective clients/customers to be searching?
- Google Analytics, Search Console, and other Google Product Access
- Social Media Access
- Listing Access
- What are your points of difference?
Next up is arguably one of the most critical parts of an SEO campaign, research.
Knowing what is happening in key search results, identifying what competitors are ranking for, backlink opportunities, key listings, valuable phrases, search features, and more.
This helps us to narrow the target, and prioritize our efforts by what will have the highest impact in the shortest amount of time.
3. The Fundamentals
When you start playing a sport, one of the first things any coach will tell you is that you need to perfect the fundamentals. For example, a basketball player can’t be great if they haven’t learned to dribble well with each hand.
The same goes for SEO.
There are basic things that we take care of with new websites right from the start to ensure they can be recognized, crawled easily, and provide more relevant information that meets the expectations of searchers.
- Submitting to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
- Updating meta information (title/link and description in search results)
- Crawling the site and fixing unnecessary redirects, broken links, and 5xx errors
- Making sure external links open in a new tab
- Looking for dated/spammy practices like meta keywords, or keyword stuffing, and removing
- Updating the sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
Once the fundamentals are in place, content needs to be great.
Content should keep site visitors in mind, and find the balance between detailed but still readable. When considering the searches each page might rank for, more research must be done to make sure you cover everything site visitors might be looking for, and then some. Strategic linking comes into play here as well.
Existing content should be reviewed and updated, we find topics that may encourage the creation of a new page or set of pages, blog topics may be an option depending on your business type. Can you tell this can be a big undertaking?!
Along with this, there may be competing content on your website that dilutes the value of each page, making it more difficult for your website to rank for the particular search phrase or topic.
This can be time-consuming and generally requires some effort on the client-side to ensure content is authentic.
5. User-Experience (UX)
A key component of SEO is ensuring that users have a pleasant experience on a website, and making it easy for them to flow through the site.
Relevant links should be placed throughout the site, the site should be visually appealing, fast to load, and easy to navigate. You can use enticing animations, place interactive media, and more.
We evaluate this and ensure UX is on-point.
In part with UX, we optimize for conversions. Conversions could be form submissions, phone calls, transactions and revenue, PDF.
We’ll make simple changes that can go a long way. For example, simplifying the main navigation, simplifying the checkout process, shortening forms, etc.
If you’ve done a search recently, you may have noticed that there are a lot of listings appearing in the organic results.
You might find Yelp, Angie’s List, Clutch.co, UpCity, and more. Some will be more relevant than others to your business. Starting with the most relevant, we make sure our clients are setup, and have control of their listings to fully utilize and leverage them.
There are also local listings like Google My Business and Bing Places.
Many of these are places you want to generate reviews in order to further enhance your business’s credibility.
Backlinks are a time-consuming effort, but they can make a strong, long-lasting difference in your SEO campaign.
We could go down a rabbit hole here, but basically, you just want to have websites pointing links at your website, and they should be relevant.
People took advantage of backlink benefits to ranking a while back, and Google addressed it with their algorithm, penalizing anyone not playing fair.
We look for quality, relevant backlinks that will make a sustainable difference for your websites rankings.
9. Ongoing Efforts + Maintenance
We can’t say it enough, SEO is a long-term investment and an ongoing effort.
Search engines, competitors, and your prospective customers are always changing. We stay on top of that by paying attention to algorithm updates, refreshing research, reviewing user-data and making data-based adjustments, keeping active on listings, monitoring site crawl errors, and so much more to help our clients achieve success online.
10. Leveraging Data To Identify Opportunities + Grow ROI
Along with all of the above, data will present new opportunities to us and our clients. It can guide future digital investments and overall digital strategy.
A great example of this is when we see a 5%-10% of traffic coming from Bing, but conversion rate is higher with a significant amount of conversions coming in. In a case like this, we might recommend a low-cost Bing Ads campaign that has high ROI potential.
Maybe we’re running a Google Ads campaign and it’s so competitive and expensive, we can’t generate a high-enough return no matter what we do with the account. We will not hesitate to inform our clients if we feel like a digital investment needs to be altered, or removed.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with data/analytics insights.
One of our biggest hurdles and why we require 12 month SEO contracts in most cases, is getting through the first few months.
We try to be as transparent as possible, but sometimes only seeing growth in search appearances is not enough to satisfy. While we understand that, it’s part of the process that shows our progress (see the next section for the metrics we look at along the way).
Sometimes sites end up seeing nice improvements within the first few months, other times it can take a year or two, it depends on many factors.
Along with this, early on in SEO campaigns, there are a lot of fluctuations, and it’s easy to get caught up in those. We focus on generating a positive trend line with the key metrics we mention below.
Lastly, as we go through the process and get rankings closer to, or at the bottom of the first page, it can take a bit to get up to that top 3 depending on the level of competition. This can also be a cause for concern or frustration in the process.
Rest assured we do our best to be transparent, communicate regularly, and ensure you can feel confident in what we’re doing. When in doubt, we have happy clients and client results that offer support!
Metrics to Measure Progress at Each Stage
- Growth in Impressions
- More phrases ranking in the top 5 pages via SpyFu
- Engagement metric improvement (CTR, bounce rate from organic traffic, more)
- Increasing Clicks/organic traffic
- Key phrase ranking improvement
- Growth in organic traffic
- Growth in conversions or transaction/revenue
To our existing clients reading this, THANK YOU! We are nothing without you and we’re working hard to generate and maintain successful campaigns.
To anyone considering SEO, we’d love nothing more than to do a Free SEO Audit on your website and to talk through its potential.