Most businesses that retain search engine optimization professionals have no idea when they are shopping around what are the most important factors that make a firm good at search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is a new field, and like many new fields without rigorous academic standards in place, many substandard practitioners in the field make it difficult for businesses to find the level of assistance they deserve, and it makes it difficult for the best practitioners who maintain ethical standards and perform the ongoing research necessary to react to changes in the field to differentiate themselves.
The easiest way for us to discuss search engine optimization to our prospective clients then is to explain what it brings to your business. Search Engine Optimization is the online part of public relations. The field does not replace public relations, but compliments it. A good search engine optimization firm has to generate a lot of buzz related to a business for two audiences. The first audience is the consumer, and the second are the search engines. The first audience is more likely to respond to rich interactive media including explanatory videos and having many opportunities and methods to contact the company. The second audience, the search engines, responds to properly used text and linking methods as well as exposure that occurs on the websites of others.
Search engine optimization takes time and investment. Because it is an important investment, prospective clients should analyze the skill set needed to successfully provide SEO services. The skills that you should look for in a SEO provider are also important for us to mention at this point, as we pride ourselves in providing a unique level of service.
The first and foremost skill in any successful business is the ability to communicate to different audiences through their writing. Clear, cogent, engaging and believable content needs to be used to present the best face of your business in this modern form of public relations. Most decision-makers are generalists, so laymen’s text free of jargon with clearly defined ideas will be more engaging to readers. SEO staff must also have these communication skills for the internal communication with colleagues, clients, and third-party vendors and IT staff. Just as in any business undertaking, effective communications is essential to effective business.
The spoken word is also important, as SEO staff must be able to work with project stake holders, information technology staff, public relations and marketing departments, legal departments, and vendors. The SEO staff you are hiring should have good rapport with C-level executives as well. Internal consensus building is essential to any project where multiple parties are working together on a common goal. Initiating change involves managing change, and the firm you work with should have a keen understanding of the dynamics of working with people from a variety of backgrounds in both large and small corporations.
Search engine optimization involves a lot of link building. For search engines to know that your site exists and has regularly updated content that is of interest to others, links back to your site and your individual pages are measured by Google, Bing, and others. These search engines will rank your page according to how many times your website is mentioned and linked to with the right anchor text (hyperlinks based on keywords related to your product or service that are generic rather than related to your brand name). The more traffic from these sources you get, the more recognition and Page Rank you can have in the search engines. This boosts your search engine rankings, and once you have reached the first page for some of the searches which are relevant to your business, you may start getting more conversions to active clients. These conversions are our key measurement. When you hire a firm for search engine optimization, you are essentially engaging a public relations service, and you should track the amount you spend on search engine optimization against your gains in new clients to determine your return on investment (ROI).
These mentions and inbound links which are tracked by the search engines should come from a variety of sources. Common directories like DMOZ / Google should link to your business. Industry specific directories, telephone directories, and other local directories can often include a free link back to your site. Social network population is also a great way to provide a presence which will be noticed by the search engines. They give higher ranks according to the amount of activity of links on social networks, and without a social networking presence, it is impossible to compete. Luckily, social networking can be set up on an automated basis. You can syndicate all new content from your Website to social networks created on your behalf and then concentrate on creating new and engaging content on a regular basis while you reap the benefits. Another great source is other websites which your SEO Company has developed a relationship with. These should be a great place to have an article posted with engaging content which links back to your site, highlighting your product or service with great anchor text that is directly related to what people search for to find your kind of business. Written press releases to local news media can include link-backs (hyperlinks back to your Website, usually linked to from anchor text which is made up of your preferred keywords)and can be read by many in your community interested in your product or service. Unlike old-fashioned press releases, there is a lasting effect on your publicity related to these press releases that outlasts the readership: the remaining link back to your site, which still provides a bit of oomph for your Website from the search engines. Paid advertisement when judiciously applied can get businesses new clients for less money than traditional advertising, and when properly combined with search engine optimization, the two strategies can reinforce each other with a synergistic effect.
Another factor of great importance is that your search engine optimization team understands html standards and server operation. At the Web and I, we have intimate knowledge of the servers of Microsoft and Google which allows us to make sure you are sending the proper signals to search engines.
A word of caution is due concerning search engine optimization services. There are many in the field promising quick results, secret methods, schemes and other sensationalistic enticements. The field of search engine optimization is new and therefore without standards. There are many substandard services out there, and it pays to be cautious.
We have proprietary analytics developed that allows us to aggregate site data from a wide variety of critical sources. We know how to react to that data and create new opportunities, gradually and naturally so that your Website comes out ahead. But that data is not important to us nor do we wish to impress you with it. We measure your results in gains in clients. For us that is the only important metric in SEO.