What are “SEO services”? Essentially, SEO services are what we in the agency business call deliverables. Deliverables are concrete actions performed by an agency to achieve a set of objectives a client has hired the agency to pursue.
SEO Objectives: The Driver of What Is SEO Services
Before delving into deliverables, it may be helpful to examine the objectives you would hire an SEO agency to pursue. This is important because a lot of organizations get tripped up by focusing on the wrong objectives — and by doing so, doom their SEO campaigns to focusing on the wrong deliverables (in other words, the wrong services).
The main objective of an SEO campaign is to build conversions from organic search engine traffic to your website. A conversion, for the vast majority of SEO campaigns, is a sales lead or an online order. A sales lead from a search engine user could be a phone inquiry or a form submission on the website. An order is obvious enough: an order for a product(s) on your e-commerce site placed by someone who found you in the organic results on Google or another search engine.
An SEO campaign may have other, secondary objectives, or in some cases, a different main objective. Other objectives that crop up frequently include:
- Local SEO campaigns undertaken by large organizations to test a new geographic market or defend a geographic market under attack
- Defensive SEO, to improve rankings that “push down” negative reviews or other unfavorable content in Google SERPs (search engine results pages)
- Building credibility and brand image by appearing more prominently in organic results for search terms (keywords) used to vet the organization
SEO Services in Detail
SEO services are the things SEO agencies do to accomplish these objectives. They are the elements of an SEO campaign, and are usually billed as a monthly fee. SEO services break down as follows.
- Competitive research. Research is two-pronged: understanding your company and understanding the search engine competition. Since an SEO campaign involves selecting the right keywords and creating/marketing content, the agency needs to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organization, products, services and competitors. Your campaign strategy will be influenced by how well (or poorly) your competitors are performing on various keywords.
- Keyword research. Keyword targeting is the foundation of an SEO campaign. It’s important to select the right ones, and that requires careful research of variables such as keyword volume, intent, competitiveness and your current rankings for that and associated keywords.
- Website setup. Before an SEO campaign can be launched, your website has to be ready to support it. This can be a routine service or one that is rather complicated and costly. Technical issues that make it difficult for Google to crawl the website and properly rank the content must be addressed. Usability issues such as mobile-friendliness, intuitive navigation and page-loading speed must also be evaluated. Shortcomings in content must also be fixed in order to impress the Googlebots that crawl your site.
- Link building. Your inbound link profile is probably the single most important factor in achieving high rankings. Link building gets the lion’s share of what is SEO services. Agencies strive to acquire as many high-value links to your website as possible, within your budget. Some links can be built at a relatively low cost, such as listing your site in a directory. Other links require a great deal of effort, such as placing an article on a high- profile blog, with a link to your website in the author bio.
- Content creation. As just mentioned, off-site creation — articles, infographics, video, slide presentations, etc. — is used in SEO link building efforts and usually created by the agency in collaboration with you. Content is usually created on your website as well, both to optimize existing pages dedicated to strategically important keywords and to add new pages to cover additional keywords.
- Content marketing. The whole link building effort of placing off-site content requires the agency to identify and pitch high-value websites and blogs, to convince them to publish your company’s content. Since online publishers are inundated with pitches, this is no easy task and requires considerable skill, organization and follow-up.
- Tracking, analytics and validation. To evaluate the ROI of an SEO campaign, and to help the agency continually improve its campaign execution, all the necessary data must be captured, reviewed and validated. Proper tracking involves granular phone tracking and form tracking, which usually requires additional setup on the website and ongoing monitoring. Validation is the very important process of reviewing all tracked phone and form leads to isolate true sales leads from non-leads, which comprise about half of all SEO conversions. Non-leads include things such as sales solicitations, spam and misdials. You’ll grossly overestimate the success of your campaign if your agency fails to validate.
- Local SEO. Local SEO is a special area of SEO that concentrates on building rankings for searches in a particular geography. Local SEO has its own set of best practices and activities, and is almost essential these days for organizations that rely on a local clientele.
- Google penalty recovery. This is a specialized service for organizations that have received a penalty from Google for doing something wrong in their SEO campaigns. Penalties can stop a lead or revenue pipeline cold, and must be addressed.
- SEO consulting. If you are not sure whether an SEO campaign is right for your business, not sure your current campaign is being handled properly or not sure your budget can support SEO, then a consulting engagement will help you get the answers. Some SEO agencies and freelancers will provide consulting services independent of an ongoing campaign engagement.
To discuss SEO for your business in more detail, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.