Typical SEO Services
Before we get started, here is a general list of the types of services you can expect to receive from an SEO Company. We'll go into further detail about each service below.
While the most effective SEO strategies are data-driven, SEO is still far from an exact science. Still, there are certain established strategies, techniques, and services you can expect to receive from any reputable digital marketing company. Due to the varying levels of experience, expertise, and skillsets in the industry, tangible results and ROI will vary from agency to agency. Moreover, a successful SEO agency must genuinely understand your business and research your industry to gather a working knowledge of your subject matter. The best SEO companies will act and feel like an extension of your existing in-house marketing team, without the associated overhead.
If you want your website to perform well in organic search, it is not enough to go through a checklist of general SEO services that don't belong to a much larger strategic picture. Thus, SEO agencies must think outside of the box to integrate established SEO best practices with unique and clever ideas that align with the rest of your marketing initiatives (traditional, paid search, etc.)
In other words, hiring an agency that offers "content develop" as an SEO service is only half the battle if you choose a company that is unable to generate creative, unique content that speaks to your brand and engages your audience. Furthermore, the best content is only as valuable as you make it.
Many of today's most effective SEO strategies are rooted in traditional advertising. Content marketing, for example, has been one of the most effective advertising methods since the beginning of the 20th century. As such, many of the best SEO experts are simply marketing experts empowered with a bit of computer know-how.
Whether you're sending out proposal requests or trying to teach yourself SEO, it helps to have a basic understanding of the most common SEO services that are performed to boost a website's rankings. The following is a list of typical SEO services that are currently offered by the majority of SEO agencies in the business, followed by a high-level summary of each service. (sorry, we can't share ALL of our secrets!)
The whole point of SEO is to improve your keyword rankings, so it should be obvious that keyword research is an essential part of a successful SEO strategy. Yet, it is an often overlooked part of the equation.
In organic search, a keyword refers to any word or phrase that is typed into Google and searched. A keyword can be one word, like "SEO", or many words, like "how to choose an seo company". Keywords can be incomplete thought fragments like "open now pizza near me delivery" or questions like "where can I buy pizza and have it delivered to me right now?" Anything that has been (or ever will be) searched in Google is a keyword.
Keyword research is the process of discovering which search terms people enter into a search engine to find a given product, service, or piece of information. It also includes digging deeper to find ancillary keywords that people might use before they are even aware of their need for that product or service. Using various keyword tools (Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs.com, SEMRush, etc.), SEO professionals have access to lots of data about any given keyword which helps us make informed decisions on the best keywords to target for a given web site or page.
Keyword researchers must also explore the many nuances of how people use language differently, as well as how language use and lexicon varies from region to region. Digital personal assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are a fantastic example of how quickly a shift can happen in the way people search. Since many people are searching Google by voice instead of typing, SEO professionals have observed a clear trend towards longer tail and query-based keywords.
Keyword Research goes hand-in-hand with many other services on this list. For example, keyword research is the foundation of an effective content marketing strategy, as you develop content based on what you know people are already searching for on Google. Researching and targeting the right keywords for your site will help you to create rich and targeted content that drives QUALIFIED traffic to your site that is more likely to complete your desired actions once they arrive.
An SEO audit is a complete analysis of your website's ability to rank organically in search engines. Any and all known factors that affect a web property's ability to rank organically will be analyzed to document strengths and weaknesses. SEO audits are typically performed at the beginning of an SEO campaign, but may be performed periodically after that. When done thoroughly, an SEO audit of your website will provide a detailed understanding of the other SEO services you may need and helps lay the groundwork for your SEO campaign. Learn more about SEO Audit Services by OuterBox.
On-Page SEO, or On-Site SEO are broad terms that refer to the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher organically for a specific keyword or set of keywords. The term "on page" and its many variations refer to manually updating and optimizing content on the page as well as the HTML source code behind the scenes. Updating page titles, meta descriptions, and on page copy are typical tasks associated with on-page optimization, but there is much more too it than that. On-Page SEO evolves constantly as Google updates its algorithm to reward websites it deems as having the most relevant content for any given query.
A solid On-Page SEO strategy will begin by focusing on the most important pages of your website, including the homepage, top-level categories, and landing pages. The foundation of successful on-page SEO begins with in-depth keyword research to find the best mix of keywords that are relevant but also attainable. Read The Ultimate On Site SEO Guide & Cheat Sheet for tips from SEO Expert and OuterBox CEO Justin Smith.
Link Building / Earning / Backlink Profile Management
The quality, quantity, and relevancy of links on the web that point back to your website is collectively referred to as your backlink profile. A website's backlink profile is one of the most weighted aspects of Google's search engine algorithm. Search engines analyze your backlink profile to assess the "authority" of your domain. For example, if your company sells spaceships, a backlink from NASA's website would be an extremely relevant link from a quality source. After all, NASA.gov has an incredibly robust and diverse backlink profile of its own, having acquired over 500 million external links historically. Just earning one link from NASA would make your website much more likely to rank organically, especially for space-related keywords.
The term link building in and of itself is an outdated term as the industry has shifted much more towards a link earning model. In the early days of SEO, manually building links by doing things like submitting a website to online directories was both practical and common. While online directories are still a decent place to start for a brand new website with no existing backlink profile, they do not have the same effect as naturally occurring links from authoritative and relevant websites. Today, the best link building plans focus on creating engaging content that adds value to the web and provides your audience with information they can't find anywhere else. Reaching out to other industry websites and bloggers to build relationships within your industry is also paramount to success and in line with the type of link building worth paying for in 2018.
Since links to your website are so important, it may be worthwhile to pay an SEO company to monitor your link profile. As effective as Google's algorithm is, its reliance on external links to assess a domain's authority leaves them vulnerable to manipulation. There is an entire community of Negative SEO professionals on the web that will build hundreds or thousands of spammy, low quality links to a website for a small fee in an attempt to derail its organic rankings. Things like Negative SEO are a real problem on the web, but potential damage can be mitigated by telling Google not to "count" certain links using what is known as a disavow file. This can be a laborious, tedious and time consuming process that is best left in the hands of SEO professionals.
Content Development & Content Marketing
Content Development refers to writing new pieces of content for your website or online business. This can include blogs, press releases, even general copywriting (see further down for more information on SEO copywriting services specifically). SEO companies develop content for a number of purposes, but typically the goal is to establish yourself as an authority on your topic or level of expertise or to market a product / service. Plus, developing new content for new pages on your site creates additional opportunities to target keywords that you wouldn't be able to otherwise.
Content Marketing refers to the big picture strategy of your content development and how you plan to put your content in front of your audience. Content marketing is one of the most tried and true forms of advertising and has been around much longer than the internet! Whereas content development simply refers to creating the content itself, content marketing is all about how to market it.
Regarding SEO, effective content marketers can perform keyword research to discover what potential customers might be searching before they even realize they are in need of a product or service. Extensive keyword research must be performed to create a content marketing strategy that educates and engages your audience, adds value to your website that can't be found elsewhere, and ideally targets the potential visitor early in the process. For example, a content marketing strategy for a mattress company could include targeting people searching for "how to get a better night's sleep". This is a rudimentary example, but it clearly illustrates the idea.
What actually drives users to take action on your website? Compelling copy!
SEO copywriting is all about writing compelling content for PEOPLE that is still optimized for Google's robots. Too often, inexperienced SEO companies lose sight of the human element and cater their copywriting to search engines instead.
When it comes to outsourcing copy for your website, there are many options. You can hire an SEO company to develop SEO focused copy for a specific project or set of web pages, or include SEO copywriting as part of the services outlined in your SEO contract or retainer. Copywriting can consist of things like email marketing copy for promotions or category and product descriptions for products you sell on your custom eCommerce website.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is not necessarily directly related to SEO but has an indirect effect and is integral to an effective online marketing strategy. SEO companies do often offer separate Social Media Management packages or at the very least should be able to provide consultation on best practices for your industry or niche. Social Media signals are believed to be part of Google's algorithm, meaning if you have a strong social media presence, you are more likely to rank well in Google. Social Media is also a fantastic opportunity to promote new content on your website, and therefore goes hand in hand with your content marketing and development efforts. Do not underestimate the importance of Social Media Marketing and its ability to impact SEO!
If you don't know where to begin, it may be best to reach out to an SEO company for a simple SEO consultation. This can be especially useful if you find yourself tasked with hiring an outside agency. If you're sending RFPs (request for proposals) to SEO companies but have no idea what SEO services you need, an SEO consultant can provide invaluable advice and recommendations. An SEO consultant will likely need to perform an SEO audit of your website to know what areas of your website need improvements, and to prioritize planned tasks in order of what can make the most significant impact immediately.
SEO Consulting is different than actual SEO because the service provided is based on advice and recommending tasks/actions to take, but doesn't inherently involve completion of the legwork. An SEO Consultant can be especially valuable if you have a skilled team capable of performing SEO tasks that simply need guidance when it comes to SEO strategy creation. For example, if you already have a team of experienced writers, an SEO consultant could create the SEO content marketing strategy needed to maximize your existing staff's value. If you didn't have writers available at your disposal, your consultant could recommend professional writers or other companies that have the skills and experience needed, and at times can even work as an intermediary between teams. Learn more about SEO Consulting Services we offer at OuterBox.
Source Code Optimization
Technically, optimizing your code for search engines could fall under the umbrella of on-page SEO, but code optimization is often overlooked so we wanted to give it its own paragraph! Code optimization takes place behind the scenes in the source code of your website. Your website's source code is the computer code that a web browser reads to display your website to the user. The "cleanliness" and organization of your website's source code affect Google's ability to understand your website, and there are many best practices when it comes to creating clean and concise code for search engines to crawl. Thus, taking the time to make sure your website source code is well-formatted and organized is very worthwhile.
Analysis and Reporting
When you hire an outside SEO company, it is critical to share as much data as possible. Most of our clients give OuterBox full access to their Google Analytics accounts and rely on us to monitor and analyze organic traffic, revenue, and goal completions. Furthermore, the best SEO companies are transparent with the work that is completed on your site and should provide you with reports on at least a quarterly basis. At OuterBox, we have developed a proprietary monthly reporting system that incorporates all of your website's KPI, plus documents all the work we have completed on your site each month. Learn more about SEO reporting and the OuterBox SEO Reporting System that we developed to report our monthly progress to our clients.
URL Redirection (301s, etc.)
Launching a brand new website with hundreds or thousands of new URLs? For usability and SEO reasons, it is critical that you redirect the old URL to the corresponding new page. URL redirects ensure that any links on the web that direct to your old pages get properly forwarded to the most relevant page so that you don't lose out on any potential conversions.
More importantly, if the old pages on your website had links pointing to them, 301 redirects are necessary to preserve your "link juice" and ensure your historical links continue to work in your favor. An SEO company will perform a backlink profile audit and look into your website's analytics to develop a redirection strategy that will ensure your new website launches with its best foot forward and is ready to hit the ground running. URL redirection is one of the most overlooked aspects when it comes to redesigning a website, and can have catastrophic effects on your website's organic (and referral) traffic if not handled with extreme care.
As mobile devices become increasingly ubiquitous, Google now considers user location more than ever when serving results for a given query. This is especially true when Google determines a search query (keyword) to have localized intent. For example, if you search for "pizza delivery", Google is much more likely to provide a list of the closest pizzerias in the area than to show you an article about the history of pizza delivery. This combination of location and Google's dedication to improving their ability to understand "search intent" of a given keyword has created an entirely new type of search engine marketing referred to as Local SEO.
Local SEO is similar to SEO in general but has its own set of established best practices, including citation building with consistent NAP details (name, address, and phone number), optimization of Google My Business Page(s), and developing dedicated landing pages that target each region serviced. If you provide a service or product within a specific area(s), you should definitely consider Local SEO services.
CMS Specific SEO
With such a variety of CMS out there to choose from, you will find SEO companies that specialize in working with specific content management systems. At OuterBox, we have plenty of experience with all of the major CMS and shopping cart systems, including Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, etc. We've also developed our own custom CMS and shopping cart system designed with a focus on SEO from day one.
While SEO "works" on most any website or CMS, some are easier to work with than others. If you're outsourcing SEO as a service, you will want to choose a company that has experience working with your CMS. OuterBox offers CMS specific SEO services and will pair you with an expert with experience working with your CMS! We have in-house experts for Magento SEO, Wordpress SEO, WooCommerce SEO, BigCommerce SEO and more! In our 13+ years in business, we've worked extensively with pretty much every CMS on the planet.
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