Nearly 30% of global web traffic is generated by using online search, and high rankings have become one of the top digital priorities for businesses around the world, according to Statista.
Marketers and brands often turn to SEO agencies to help them grow their search engine optimization programs. Today aAgencies and brands are facing historic forces of change. Lifestyle changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created a massive shift in the way people search for information. This allows companies to inspect and adjust the SEO of their sites and online media.
So when making these adjustments, what should marketers look for in an SEO agency and partner? What does a strong and successful relationship look like?
Let’s start with the basics.
SEO agencies need to deliver for the long haul
A standard client-agency relationship is meant to produce more than a list of keywords and a linking strategy. The relationship involves discussions that examine the content of web pages or application elements and supporting materials in some cases.
Businesses with a strong YouTube presence need to plan a YouTube optimization strategy. This should also boost website search optimization, as YouTube videos may show up in a search engine result.
Research planning with agencies should lead to a number of process steps instead of focusing too much on immediate ranking. A big first mistake? Asking an SEO agency “How long would it take for you to rank for these keywords?” This question creates a bad expectation: that the team can achieve a certain improvement in a given amount of time.
Your search results can get a quick boost. However, search improvements are influenced by what is implemented over time. This includes the frequency of blog content and the addition of outbound links and videos.
Related article: Alternative Search Engines: A New SEO Frontier?
SEO agencies need to understand your business
An SEO agency should develop a plan that fits your particular needs. Can you stick to a content publishing schedule suggested by the SEO agency? Agencies should provide a plan that proposes improvements while respecting the capabilities of the client.
So, a successful search strategy requires meaningful evaluation of the keywords and phrases that bring people to your site. Your agency should identify content gaps in query subjects.
Search engine optimization is never a set-and-forget tactic for website or app content. Optimization effectiveness changes over time, requiring periodic reviews to determine which campaigns should start, change or stop. And it comes down to your SEO agency understanding your business goals.
Research tactics must connect to objectives
Marketers should approach SEO agencies with a framework of discussion that outlines optimization activity against a business goal. The objective can be deterministic. You can ask about X% increase in leads from organic traffic or Y% increase in brand awareness.
A good opening discussion is to determine what types of services are provided to deliver the report. This opens up a discussion about how the agency will review and interpret referral traffic. Answers may not be accurate with respect to your site structure or content media plans. Ultimately, the agency needs to understand what topics to highlight and make your search traffic more relevant to your site or app’s goals.
Related Article: How to Inspect Search Engines for Better SEO
Is the SEO agency keeping up?
Keeping up with technological changes is difficult, especially during a global crisis like the current pandemic. The popularity of search terms has changed during the pandemic. “At home” or “remote work” are as popular as “nearby” was when cell phones first took off. So agencies need to show they’ve been following industry news, and then imagine the potential impact.
For example, if an agency is working with a new car dealership, the agency should be aware of the shortage of microprocessors in the automotive industry which is reducing vehicle production and affecting supplies. The current crisis should spark ideas about the types of recent search patterns that would connect with customers considering a vehicle purchase. The agency can always use a tool like Google Trends to get started.
Strengthening local search has also become a priority, as many people search for needed items near them. Make sure that agency recommendations play a role in the strength of local search patterns.
Is the agency capable of providing technical SEO services?
According to Hennessey Digital, technical SEO is a subcategory of SEO in which the infrastructure of your website or application is optimized so that search engines can easily crawl and index content for search queries.
During initial discussions for an SEO plan, a good agency does a light assessment of the site structure, usually using browser developer tools. Initial discussions should include clarification of the expected technical tasks that the agency can perform. The discussion is a good transition to creating supporting graphics that link tasks to pages, like the one for keyword mapping.
Related Article: How to Improve SEO with Keyword Mapping
Beware of guarantees for search ranking
The most basic and universal advice is not to work with someone who guarantees search rankings. Nobody controls the search algorithms, so they cannot guarantee a ranking.
Instead, assess how they will understand your industry and your business. Their knowledge and insight guide the decisions they apply to your strategy.
They should be able to provide guidelines so that your business does not suffer from “Black Hat” SEO tactics. Black Hat SEO is a term for using tactics that violate search engine terms of service, such as link buying, keyword stuffing, and cloaking. Google Bing and other search engines demote websites that use Black Hat tactics, which reduces organic traffic and increases the costs of fixing problems created by Black Hat tactics.
Recognize that it is not an exact science
SEO is a vital digital marketing strategy. Choosing the right SEO agency team is not a perfect science.
However, the right one can have the right resources to improve referral traffic from search and increase conversions for a website or app. The result ultimately refines your website or application with the right value for your business and your customers.