If you have a website, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the importance of good SEO (search engine optimization), especially if you have a website for your business. But what is SEO? And how do you determine if the SEO services you’re receiving are “good”? We often have clients come to us after they’ve had a bad experience with an SEO company or professional. The problem is, most SEO professionals promise clients the moon, but they don’t have a plan in place that will actually deliver real, sustainable value to their customers’ online presence. That’s why we’ve put this guide together; to help you avoid empty promises for “amazing! First page! #1 ranking!” SEO services, and help you to connect with professionals who are interested in the long term viability of your website and ultimately your business.
First, what is SEO? The Basics:
There are two basic types of SEO: onsite SEO and offsite SEO. Their definitions are pretty straightforward: onsite SEO are things you do on your website to improve it for search engines. Some examples include (but are by no means limited to): making sure your target keyword is included in the page title, URL, meta description, and body of the page, and making sure you are using clear and simple URLs when designing the site architecture (e.g. confluencedigital.com/blog vs. confluencedigital.com/87^~Pg1/blog).
While offsite SEO is everything you do online, but not on your website, to optimize your website for search engines. Some examples include (but are by no means limited to): making sure you have a Google+ page for your business, and making sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) is accurate and consistent across all relevant online directory listings.
SEO & Google
It is Google’s job to deliver the most relevant results to their users’ search queries, that’s why they employ 50,000+ engineers to constantly be testing, improving, and protecting their algorithm. And that’s why you want to choose SEO tactics that are following best practices laid out by Google. Google is very clear about what they consider to be black hat SEO, and they can be very severe if they catch your site engaging in any of those practices.
What SEO Companies and Professionals Aren’t Saying
There is no quick fix. There, I said it. There is no quick fix to ranking #1. There is no quick fix to being king/queen of the Internet. You have to earn it. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but that’s the truth, and there’s really no way around it. It takes a comprehensive strategy, long-term plan, and consistent effort to execute on SEO that will translate into real, sustainable value for your business.
Anyone claiming to get your site to rank at #1, before they’ve even seen your site, before you’ve even discussed what you want to achieve with your site, is not interested in following best practices. Let’s be real, being #1 in search is great, but if you go about achieving that rank through black hat SEO practices designed to try and game the system, you might rank #1 for a week, a month, a year, before you’re slapped off of Google completely. And you don’t want to be invisible to Google. You’re missing the point if all you want to do is rank #1 for a particular keyword on Google.
When Hiring SEO Professionals Makes Sense
Anyone can follow good SEO practices, there is a ton of content online that will help you learn how to optimize your own website. But there are some benefits to hiring SEO professionals that are actually interested in the long term success of your website. When hiring a SEO company and/or professional here are a couple of things you can look out for in order to make sure the SEO services support your business objectives.
- The SEO company/professional presents a comprehensive strategy and plan that aligns with your website and business objectives.
- The SEO company/professional understands that rankings aren’t everything, and they don’t guarantee rankings.
- They understand technical SEO best practices like optimized meta data, schema, link analysis, and they help you to understand them as well.
- They suggest goals and KPI’s (key performance indicators) for determining whether or not their services are providing value to your website.
SEO & ORM: Online, Reputations Stick With You
Last, but not least, we have to discuss the importance of ORM (online reputation management) and how it relates to SEO. We get quite a few people that come to us because they are ranking well, but for the wrong things. The truth is, if you have a bad reputation, it’s hard to erase that online. And it’s nearly impossible to erase it completely. Anyone telling you that they can get rid of a negative article/review/or social mention about you online, is not someone who’s interested in following best practices. Let me be clear, if someone is slandering your name because of a personal vendetta, there are legal actions you can take. But if you’re mad because someone gave your restaurant a negative review, that’s not a digital problem, that’s an internal one. Good ORM isn’t just allowing good things to be said about you online and suppressing the bad. Good ORM is acknowledging the good, the bad, and the ugly, and then being transparent with your customers as to how you can address and improve any negative aspects of or stories associated with your business.
We hope this guide will help you distinguish between the good, the bad, and the ugly SEO professionals and companies out there who are all vying for your business. If you have a question please leave it in the comments or contact us directly and we can discuss your SEO issues further.