Since 1997, there have been individuals espousing their belief that SEO or Search Engine Optimization is dead. They claim SEO and its by- the- numbers tactics of increasing search by using Title, Meta and H1 tags have outlived its purpose. The truth is SEO is very much alive and well and significantly more relevant today than ever before.
SEO – Is it Just About Getting Found Online?
Business and life as we know it has become dependent on technology. If you’re not maintaining some kind of presence on the Internet, you are undermining all of your efforts to grow your business. Businesses have recognized the importance of being found online because nearly half of the world is online every single day.
More than 3.5 Billion people are on the Internet daily; searching for information and content that could address a concern, a need or a general interest. There are more than 1 Billion websites operating on the Internet; all of them competing for every consumer that launches a search query related to their industry or value proposition.
Competition for markets is fierce. You need every advantage you can get to stay ahead of everyone else. Social media, content marketing and Pay- Per- Click advertising are all proven strategies for generating interest. But without the foundation of a solid SEO program, they will be rendered ineffective.
SEO is a process that uses a variety of techniques, tactics and tools to improve the organic search engine ranking of your website. Basically, SEO makes it easier for the search engine bots to track and index your web page. SEO helps increase the visibility of your content in other distribution channels as well.
Think of SEO as the Sun with all the other online marketing strategies, processes and tools revolving around it. SEO makes your online marketing universe go around.
But it is not just about getting found. SEO helps you find the right customers; people who will be genuinely interested in patronizing your products and services. The Internet has given consumers immediate access to information. This is why trends and demand preferences are always in a constant state of change and evolution.
If you cannot revise your online marketing strategies to conform with the changing times, it will fall short of its targets. An effective SEO program is dynamic; it recognizes factors that contribute to change and moves to integrate these into the strategy.
SEO is not dead. It is merely evolving constantly to reflect changes in online behavior.
When Should You Outsource SEO?
If you’re a small business owner, a startup or have limited resources you would be better off outsourcing SEO for the following reasons:
Save Costs – Outsourcing is a cheaper alternative to running a full- time department. Generally, SEO agencies are paid per productive hour or per project. Some even accept pay- per- performance conditions depending on the targets.
Increase Productivity – Even if you have the expertise or training, it’s best to outsource SEO. As the business owner, your time should be allocated to functions that are directly related to your core enterprise.
Improve Quality of Work – As earlier stated, SEO is a constantly evolving process which means results take time. You need someone or an agency that can devote the necessary hours to manage your SEO and turn in quantifiable results.
You’re in a Competitive Industry – Don’t be surprised if every competitor in the industry is using SEO to get ahead. Don’t take chances; outsource SEO to an experienced professional or agency.
The benefits of SEO will have a significant impact on your business success. But not everyone who purports to do SEO can do the job. You have to take proper measures in qualifying your SEO services provider.
How to Qualify an SEO Services Provider
Before looking for an SEO services provider, you should take the time to research and learn everything you can on the process. Better still consult with a digital marketer who understands SEO. If possible have the digital marketer present when you interview prospective service providers.
As a backgrounder, here are 5 things you should look into when qualifying an SEO services provider.
Keyword Research – Keywords provide the pillars for any strong and stable SEO strategy. Effective keyword research will help build great content that will generate leads for your business.
Find out how the agency does keyword research. Here are 3 important components you should keep in mind:
- Traffic Volume
- Ranking Ability
There are online tools an agency can use for keyword research such as Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends and Keyword Tool i.o. Find out also if they can uncover Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords that will boost your website as an authority in your industry.
Optimized Content – In a tightly competitive industry, it’s not enough to create content that is usable, relevant, engaging, fresh and unique. After all, what good will it do your superb content if no one can find it?
An effective SEO service provider not only compiles the right keywords but knows how to utilize them to optimize content. Optimized content is not merely integrating keywords in your blog, web copy or article.
There is an ideal ratio or density of keywords to content. If your content is loaded with keywords without rhyme or reason, you might be flagged by the search engines for keyword stuffing.
Analytics – The great thing that distinguishes SEO from traditional marketing techniques is that you can track the performance of your campaign in real time. This is made possible with analytics. Every self- respecting SEO practitioner should know how to use analytics.
There are many Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s that can be used to measure progress. Not every measure will give an accurate representation of your campaign’s performance. At the very least, the SEO service provider should be able to give detailed analysis on the following KPI’s:
Keyword Ranks – Determines how your keywords have progressed in search engine rankings throughout the campaign.
Search Engine Traffic – Measures the amount of quality traffic your website is getting over a specific period.
Visitor Engagement – Determines if current content strategy is resonating well with your target market
Brand Exposure – Shows if your SEO strategy is getting both your brand and non- brand keywords ranked higher.
The value of analytics is that it allows you to identify potential weak points in the campaign and find ways to fortify them.
Integrating SEO with Other Online Strategies – One of the reasons why some marketing people pronounced SEO dead was it seemed to function on its own. Bereft of any other online marketing strategy, SEO fell victim to changes in search engines’ algorithms.
Today’s SEO integrates its principles with other online strategies for a more dynamic, holistic approach:
Social Media – Social media is an effective distribution channel for content. Search engines are not only using optimized content as conditions for high rankings. The number of “Likes”, “Shares”, “Ratings” and “Reviews” are also considered.
Content Marketing – We already know the value of optimized content that resonates with your audience and compels them to action.
Lead Generation – The collective effort of your SEO process should create inbound avenues toward your website. This helps you acquire leads for your sales funnel. The higher the amount of qualified leads, the greater the potential to improve sales conversions.
Cost of Service – As previously discussed, outsourcing SEO is generally more affordable than supporting an in- house team. You don’t have to pay benefits or incur additional expenses.
SEO is not a one- shot deal. It will not generate returns overnight, after 1 week or 1 month or in 1 quarter. This is a process that constantly evolves. You need to understand that you will have to continue to invest in the process to yield its full benefits.
Before you decide to outsource, you have to determine your budget. This is where it is important to find out if the SEO service provider is open to accepting pay- per- performance, retention or propose packages that fit your budget without compromising expectations.
SEO is an integral component to the success of your online marketing campaign. From a process that was perceived as limited to one that binds strategies together, SEO has become more valuable in maintaining visibility in a competitive industry. Outsourcing SEO services is a smart idea because the cost savings and improved productivity will allow for greater flexibility in strategy design.
Felix is a marketer with over 10 years of experience in SEO. He works at SmartVirtualAssistant, a company that provides outsourcing solutions at affordable rates.
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