What Does An SEO Company Do?
Confused between organic results and Google Ad rankings? Not sure if SEO is your best chance of success? This guide is designed to help you understand some of the more important elements of SEO.
We are often asked, “If we invest in SEO, what work will you be carrying out for us?” This is a polite way of asking “So what are we paying for?” At Beyond Your Brand, we think that this question is perfectly reasonable. We are experts in what we do and we are not afraid to share our knowledge.
So, what is SEO and how does it work?
There are essentially two ways to get your website to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPS). You can pay to have your website appear at the top for certain keywords or phrases. In the case of Google’s search engine, this is done through Google Ads and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, in fact, both PPC and SEO can work well together. The alternative is to optimise your website so that you appear organically (without the need to pay) on the first page of a search engine.
But what is involved in achieving this? Here’s a breakdown:
SEO best practice has matured from the days when you could boost rankings by stuffing pages with keywords. However, on-page optimisation is still one of the top 3 most important SEO techniques. Such optimisation includes:
- Title Tags - They tell both users and search engines what a page is about, and appear on search engine results pages, web browsers and social networks.
- Meta Descriptions - should provide a searcher with a concise explanation of the contents of a web page as this can impact your clickthrough rates
- Alt Text - a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell website viewers the nature or contents of an image. The alt text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image.
- H1's - efficient and fastest way to help search engines understand the meaning (context) of a page
Backlinks refer to the links from other websites to your own.
But why are they so important?
In order to understand the significance and influence that backlinks have to the organic performance of your own site, you first need to understand why Google places such emphasis on this element of SEO.
How does Google know to rank your content above that of other organisations and experts in your field? What is it that tells Google that your website pages are better than anyone else’s?
Google wants to display listings on their pages that answer peoples’ questions and provide the best possible results to the search being performed. They do this in a number of ways, but one of the most important is by understanding your levels of authority. If other websites link to you, then Google becomes aware that your content must be relevant and trusted by others. The more sites that do it, the more “link equity” is passed on to you, and if you get websites that are already seen as “authorities” linking to you, then that link equity is all the better and a whole lot more valuable!
Outreach strategies for building backlinks is a hugely important aspect for improving visibility in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS), and by understanding what content to create, your reach could be vast!
3) Optimising for users;
We have talked about the significance of optimising your pages for Google’s benefit; so they understand what your pages are about and that your content is informative and trusted. Google also want to know that your content is valuable to the users to whom they are showing results. If you write content for your audience, not just for Google, then you are on the right path. Don’t write about things you are not an expert in; write about the things you know, and use your data to aid that content, but not lead it.
4) Content, based on search analysis;
Use Google Search Console. If nothing else, set yourself up with a Google Search Console (GSC) account. It helps you measure your site's organic search traffic and performance, fix issues, and makes your site shine in the Google Search results.
Not only that, but GSC allows you to see what search terms you rank for and whereabouts in the SERPS you rank. This is a great asset when considering what content you should create next in order to reach the largest possible audience, as well as how to improve your existing rankings for your high-value, traffic-driving keywords.
Know your audience; don’t second-guess what it is they’re searching for - be certain of it.
Keep your site fresh. Google knows that people want to read recent, up to date posts, so create content regularly.
5) Technical optimisation;
In this mobile-first world, where everybody wants everything immediately, there is no allowing for slow loading times; pages that won’t render properly, or websites that haven’t been set up to display correctly on mobile devices. Because it’s what the user wants, it’s what Google are prioritising, and you get marked down in their rankings if your pages aren’t optimised with this in mind.
Check out your website’s performance on these suggested sites
Mobile optimised - https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
Site Speed - https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
6) Internal structure of the site;
A bit like your backlinks, internal links between your website’s pages are also very important. Not only does a good link structure and navigational set up on your site allow users an easy, straightforward and clear path from one page to the next, it also allows Google to systematically crawl the pages. Imagine it like the Underground system. It’s easy enough to get from one stop to the next when you have an Underground map and clear routes from one place to the next. It becomes difficult to find those destinations that don’t have an Underground stop because there are no clear links or routes to them.
The pages of a website work in the same way. Google can head out along a route and easily identify the stops that are marked. However, how can it find the pages that aren’t on the route?
Create a clear internal structure to your site. Link relevant pages to each other, and allow both Google and your users, a clearly defined path that makes the experience of moving through your site one of common sense and ease.
7) Schema markup;
A fairly recent evolution in SEO is what’s known as schema markup. This new form of optimisation is one of the most powerful but least-utilized forms of SEO available today. Schema markup is semantic code placed onto your website, that helps the search engines return more informative results for users.
When a website has schema markup, users are able to see what a website is all about, where the business is, what they do, product prices, and so much more. It is a user-focused improvement that helps your website rank better for all kinds of content types, including:
- Local businesses
- TV episodes and ratings
- Book reviews
- Software applications
Websites that use schema markup will rank better than companies without.
Right now, one-third of Google’s search results incorporate rich snippets, which includes schema markup. However, according to recent research, less than one-third of websites use schema markup. Google has a tool to help you create the code you need for your site - https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper/u/0/
8) Benchmarking performance;
How are you going to know which channels work best for you; what content works; what call-to-actions provide results; which pages result in users leaving the site, if you’re not tracking what they do?
Here at Beyond Your Brand, benchmarking and tracking is crucial for both us and our clients, in order to measure success of campaigns. Benchmarking establishes baselines, defines best practices and identifies improvement opportunities. Over time, best practices emerge based on the experience of what actions lead to successful outcomes.
A good benchmarking process begins with data collection to provide a comprehensive picture of what’s happening on your website. The process can help your team keep things on track with specific recommendations for continuous improvement. It allows you to:
- Set clear goals and relevant strategies
- Drill down into performance gaps to identify areas for improvement
- Develop a standardised set of processes and metrics
- Enable a mindset and culture of continuous improvement
- Set performance expectations
- Monitor company performance and manage change
Beyond Your Brand use Google Tag Manager to track all sorts of user engagement on our websites; from e-commerce tracking to video plays, scroll depth to call-to-action clicks, page engagement to file downloads.
Know your audience, understand engagement and make smart decisions.
9) Local SEO;
56% of businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing! If one of these businesses is you, and you gain nothing else from this guide, please claim this listing!
There is, however, much more to local SEO than Google My Business. Local SEO refers to any optimisation carried out to attract business from relevant local searches, on Google or other search engines.
Here are some things you could be doing:
- Know what local people are searching for - carry out keyword research
- Know what your competitors are ranking for - find out what they are doing, and do it better
- Claim your Google My Business, Bing Places and Apple Maps Listings
- Use this link from Moz to check your online presence
- Set up local landing pages
- Publish new content regularly…
...to mention just a few...
10) Site security (https);
Make sure your site is secure. Do this by purchasing an SSL certificate, as aside from providing critical security and data integrity for both your website and your users' personal information, HTTPS is now a requirement for many new browser features.
Hopefully, if you’ve made it through to this point of the blog (congratulations!), you’ll have some idea of the aspects included in SEO. Ultimately, it’s a long-term strategy, but one that delivers the best results. Invest in yours and reap the rewards.