The world of digital marketing is always evolving, but there’s one tool that’s gaining particular attention. Search engine optimization (SEO) is undoubtedly the talk of the time, but it may surprise you to learn that less than half of small businesses don’t even use SEO in their strategy.
Well, that means that you have a head start. Let’s talk about why you should hire an SEO agency and how it can save you money!
What is Search Engine Optimization?
We won’t get too “into the weeds” on this description, but it’s important to discuss what SEO is for those who don’t know. It is one of the greatest tools to increase your digital visibility, build the right kind of web traffic, and convert leads.
SEO is the process of optimizing your website’s content to rank higher on a Google search. Take a moment to think about how important that is. How often do you click onto the second page when you search on Google?
If you, like most of us, answered “almost never”, then you understand why it’s so important. Most online traffic falls under the category of “organic traffic”, which is when people navigate through the web themselves, rather than clicking on an advertisement or other prompt.
The best part is that, for much of SEO’s primary factors, you can just set it and forget it.
Organic traffic is far superior to traffic that you had to ask for, as this kind of traffic is seeking out information that is relevant to your business model. The keyword there is “information”.
Content marketing is certainly not the only part of SEO, but it is important. An SEO strategy is incomplete without a quality content marketing strategy, whether that’s through video, infographic, blog, or any other content.
You see, people seek out information far more often than they do businesses or services. If you have a website, that’s a great start, but who is going to search for it?
Let’s say you have 5 pages on your website. Your homepage, services, contact, and a couple of others. How is anybody going to find that without searching for your website name directly?
Well, with a blog (or at least additional informational pages), you’ll be able to answer relevant questions and increase your chances of being found on a Google search. If you have 5 pages, that’s 5 opportunities to be ranked. If you have a blog, you have an endless amount of even better opportunities.
If your blog matches the theme of your website, then you will have an easier time ranking on Google and bringing in the right traffic. For example, a logistics company could have articles about “Best long-haul trucking solutions in Rhode Island”, “Why supply chain management is so important”, and “How much do 3PL services cost?”
Google will then match the keywords with searchers who are seeking out that information.
The reason this is so important is that these are likely questions that a potential buyer of these services would seek out. That way, if those potential buyers find them through an organic search, it is a lot easier to convert them into a customer.
Content marketing is important for putting out the right information, utilizing a keyword strategy, and more. However, it’s only one factor in SEO. The other half of the battle mostly pertains to your website.
In fact, Google uses over 200 factors based on your website to help determine a site’s ranking, and nearly all of them pertain to your website. Google places huge stock in user-friendliness, mobile-friendliness, linking structures, and a lot more.
Having a strong website sets the foundation for your content marketing strategy to take off.
The final piece of the puzzle is known as backlinks, which are links to your website from others. This is the primary, but not sole, external ranking factor in SEO.
Backlinks are how Google establishes authority in a website. Consider some of the major news outlets in the US. How many websites do you think link to at least one New York Times article every single day?
Well, because nearly every news outlet in the country (along with many blogs) links directly to them when crediting them for their stories, the NYT has nearly unparalleled authority compared to nearly every other site on the web.
Because of this, a new website could write the best article in the world on cybersecurity and the NYT could write the worst one. However, the Times article will still rank higher than the new website because it has built that authority over such a long period of time.
What Do SEO Services Offer?
Not every SEO agency is the same but you can still expect similar services related to improving your site’s SEO prospects. Here are some examples.
Content Marketing Strategy
Different services will offer you different help with your content marketing strategy, like keyword research, content writing, video production, or more. However, you will have to discuss those terms with your service provider.
However, what’s more important is that an SEO agency lays the basis for you to have a successful content marketing strategy, as this requires long-term effort and consistency. That all starts with proper web design.
Website Design Services
However, your website does need to be optimized in order to thrive with your SEO strategies. No website is perfect so there are always adjustments that will improve your SEO prospects.
User experience (UX) and SEO go hand-in-hand on point after point. The job of search engines is to offer high-quality and relevant content to its users, which means that it would reflect poorly on Google if they consistently offered websites with poor user experience.
Google’s algorithm, along with its crawlers, attempts to mimic the average user and understand how the website would appear to them, how easy it would be to navigate, and more.
It’s important to remember that as much as 56% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, and that number is only on the rise. Google knows this well, which is why they place such a high priority on it.
If your website isn’t designed properly for mobile devices, Google will penalize your website for that, which will hinder your ranking.
There are a lot of citations issued by search engines when your website isn’t living up to their codes of conduct. These citations and penalties hinder your ability to rank higher, even if you don’t realize it. SEO services can help to clear up these issues and rid your site of these devastating citations.
404 errors and other redirects could be killing your site’s SEO value. Search engines do not like sites that are riddled with errors, so a site cleanup is one important part of SEO services to look out for.
You need to have a strong internal linking structure, including your navigation tools. There should be hyperlinks and buttons throughout your content to help both search engines and users crawl your site, but there also needs to be a clean and up-to-date navigation system.
Did you know that the average person only waits 3 seconds for a page to load before exiting? Well, Google starts to penalize you before one second. This is because different devices will also slow load times, which needs to be compensated for. Ideally, you want your page to load in under 0.4 seconds.
Helping to Build Backlinks
Now, in terms of backlinks, it’s important to know that SEO services can’t wave a magic wand and force some big-name companies to link to your site. However, they can lay the groundwork for it.
In the SEO world, there’s something known as “link bait” that content marketers try to use. Think about specific infographics, online calculators, and videos that you’ve seen time and time again across the internet. Well, those were created by someone and then spread around the internet.
Having a proper website design and an improved content marketing strategy will only help gain links from other websites, as they will be more willing to pass authority onto you.
Benefits of SEO
SEO is such an important part of any digital marketing strategy, and the benefits are enormous. If you’re used to email and PPC campaigns, then SEO can seem like a foreign language. Here are some of the benefits that you won’t get from your other marketing efforts.
Build Organic Traffic
As we mentioned before, organic traffic is superior to paid traffic. Users, on average, want to find you. They don’t always want to be found.
There simply is no better way to build organic traffic than by incorporating SEO into your marketing strategy. The increase in digital visibility is also only a one-time purchase, which brings us to our next point.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “buy once, cry once”, it strongly applies to SEO. Sure, there is a need for developing a content marketing strategy and implementing it over time, but once the groundwork is laid out, the benefits will last.
It takes time for an SEO strategy to come to fruition, but once it does, the benefits last for a long time. Check out the average SEO timeline for a better idea, but remember that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Although, showing up at the top of a high-traffic Google search could single-handedly keep your business afloat for years to come with nothing more than some simple, minor upkeep.
This is unfamiliar territory for those who are used to pouring money into PPC ad campaigns. Once those funds run out, you have to keep adding. That isn’t the case with SEO.
Improved User Experience
UX is such an important part of SEO, and you can call it a “happy side effect” of SEO services. Having an increased user experience will only help with user acquisition, retention, and even loyalty.
An improved UX also means lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates. Your website often acts as a first impression of your business for many users, so making a strong first impression will only help to set a positive tone for your potential customers.
Benefits of Local SEO
Let’s be clear here. Everything on the previous list applies to local SEO as well, whether it’s UX or organic traffic. However, there are some specific benefits of using local SEO that don’t apply to global or national SEO strategies. Here are a few examples.
More Relevant Traffic
Google’s model is designed to match searches with relevant web pages, right? Well, that’s taken an extra step further with local SEO.
When you get off a train and land in New York City, you may decide to search on Google for “best pizzeria” or “best pizza near me”. One of the primary factors about you (the searcher, in this case) that Google uses during a search like this is location.
Because of this, Google isn’t going to show you pizza shops in Seattle or Boston. Instead, it will ask to know your location, and if you allow it to, it will show you the nearest pizza shops based on a number of other factors.
That means that, if your business relies on local traffic, the people in your area are more likely to be exposed to your website through organic search than anybody else would. However, that’s only by using the proper local SEO strategy.
Of course, local businesses have competition, but it’s significantly less than businesses that are competing at the local level, which means that it’s easier to get to the top.
Also, your competition is less likely to even be implementing an SEO strategy, giving you a leg up. It’s a shame that so many small business owners don’t see the value in using SEO, but it isn’t a shame for those who do. Believe it or not, 28% of small businesses don’t even have a website, let alone an SEO strategy.
Well, this is very good news for their competitors, as this opens up an easy path to get ahead. The best part is that SEO’s long-lasting benefits are a great way to ensure that you stay ahead over the long term.
Why Should You Hire an SEO Agency?
We already mentioned the benefits of using SEO in your strategy, so why should you hire an SEO agency specifically? Glad you asked.
Improved Google Ranking
The first and most obvious benefit is that your Google rankings will undoubtedly improve if you use the right services. Showing up on the first page of a Google search instead of the second could easily be the difference between a company sinking or swimming, so don’t underestimate the value of this benefit.
Higher Website Traffic
Higher visibility on Google equates to an increase in web traffic. More traffic to your site means increased brand recognition and more opportunities to convert leads into customers.
Improved Conversion Rates
Your ad campaigns, email marketing efforts, and social media activities will see a boost from the right SEO services. This is because your website acts as the heart of your digital marketing strategy. When it improves, so does the rest.
When people click on links to your website, which is where you most often try to direct traffic, having a user-friendly, professional website isn’t exactly going to send anyone packing. It all starts with your website.
Building a Brand
Digital branding is one of the most important investments that you can make, and there is no better place to start building it than on your website. Your brand is not just a logo.
Your brand includes a chosen color scheme, a specific font, overall aesthetic, tone of voice, and a specific persona behind your digital presence. When these tactics are used uniformly across your social media, email, and ad campaigns, imagine how well that will play into developing brand recognition among your target market.
Let’s use an example to give you an idea. Imagine a sleek, silver piece of futuristic technology with a black and white background. What company does that make you think of? If you thought of Apple, that’s because they’ve done such a good job with their branding that a few completely unrelated, descriptive words can make you think of them.
Well, your brand can benefit from the same tactics if you start early enough. Having a unique brand is a great way to stand out and facilitate loyalty among your customer base.
Get the Job Done Right
There are so many common SEO mistakes that are made in the industry, so having trusted professionals taking care of your strategy is always the best solution. You wouldn’t change your brake pads without the knowledge of how to do so, so why would you try SEO on your own?
Well, these aren’t the only benefits to hiring an SEO agency. In fact, there are many benefits just for your wallet.
How Can an SEO Agency Save You Money?
“So, if SEO is so great, what’s stopping me from doing it myself? Wouldn’t that save me money?”
We understand that thinking, but actually, no, it won’t save you any money. In fact, hiring an SEO agency will save you money in a number of ways, especially over the long term. Here’s how.
Let’s say that you decide to fix your website yourself. You’re going to do your own keyword research, develop your own content strategy, fix your citations, and completely redo your entire website.
This is certainly an option that many choose to take. However, the number of tools that you will need to purchase in order to do so will already cost you about as much as hiring the right services would, if not more.
For example, let’s say you use WordPress. This is a very valuable web design tool with plenty of SEO assistance available for beginners. However, it’s almost useless without plugins, which only come with a business plan, which is $300 a year.
Next, you’ll need to buy the right plugins to maximize your efficiency. Then, you’ll need to pay for a subscription to the right analytics and keyword research tools. This adds up to a substantial amount of money, not to mention the amount of time that you were taken away from running your business or focusing on other marketing strategies.
When you hire the right team, they have all of these tools available, and they know how to use them.
Of course, developing a website takes time even if you have decades of experience. However, it takes a lot more time if you’re a beginner.
There will be a lot of research involved before getting the right tools, getting used to the system, and developing a full understanding of search engine optimization before developing and implementing a strategy.
As we mentioned, Google uses over 200 factors in its rankings. If you aren’t prepared to go through them and learn how to fix them on your website, then professional help is the better option.
Let’s say that you want to hire an SEO expert instead of an agency. It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, right? You’ll even have them permanently to implement your strategy.
Well, with an SEO agency, you share the resources with other companies who seek out these services, which makes it more cost-effective. You’ll have a team of dedicated SEO professionals who know how to help and some of the costs will be offset by other companies seeking out similar services, which only saves you money.
Less Need for Ads
Again, organic traffic is better than paid traffic. Advertising will still have a role to play in your marketing strategy, but it won’t have to play as dominant of a role as they do without an optimized website.
SEO also requires less of a need for upkeep over time, which saves you money over the long term. Plus, your ads will likely see a boost in conversions due to your SEO services! Here’s how.
Instead of spending more and more money on ads, many businesses choose to invest in conversion rate optimization. Well, the majority of that involves improving your website’s UX design, which can easily be done through SEO services.
Essentially, you’re getting an entirely optimized website as a 2-for-1 when you take on the help of an experienced SEO agency. However, you have to find the right one for your needs. Let’s talk about that.
What To Look For in an SEO Agency
Okay, so we know the benefits of SEO and the benefits of hiring an SEO agency. What’s left?
Well, you need to know what to look for when choosing SEO services, as different agencies can vary widely in services and quality. In order to find a reputable agency with the right services for your needs, this is what you should look for.
First, you will need to determine that the company you are checking out offers the services that you need. To find out, try to undergo an SEO website audit to determine your needs.
If you have a rough idea of what you need, then it will be easy to find an agency that offers those services. Click on their “services” page on their website and make sure that they offer options for a website redesign, content marketing, and more.
Portfolio Or Case Studies
Reviewing a portfolio is excellent. It will show you the quality of their previous work. However, if you don’t know much about SEO or web design, then this won’t give you a great idea of their performance.
Many SEO agencies will offer case studies to prospective clients, which will tell you how their sites have performed over a certain period of time since their services, compared to how they performed prior.
This will offer you examples of key metrics like clicks, views, retention, and conversion before and after receiving the SEO services, which will offer you great insight into the quality of their work and help you make an informed decision.
Online Reviews & Testimonials
Even “Honest Abe” wasn’t quite as blunt as an anonymous online reviewer.
Always check out reviews on company websites before requesting their services. This will give you a rough idea of customer satisfaction, and offer you specific insights into what it’s like to work with the company.
Keep in mind, it is a rare company that doesn’t have a single one-star review. If you see a one-star without any specific complaints in the review, take it with a grain of salt, as some people will give a bad rating for just about anything.
However, if you see poor ratings that come with specific complaints, those tend to be legitimate. The same goes for positive reviews. Don’t just look at the stars, but instead see what people are saying and try to get an idea of how the company operates before making any decisions.
References are different from reading online reviews because you’re in control of the questions. It’s great to see the first things that come to people’s minds when they review a company, but asking about your specific needs is even more valuable.
If you’ve found a company with good reviews, proper case studies, and the right services for your needs, you should contact them about their pricing to make sure that it fits your budget, and then ask for references.
Once you get a hold of a reference, ask them about their experience working with the company, how communicative they were, how long the job took, and any other questions you may have. This will give you the best idea of what to expect from taking on their services.
Now, if you’ve gotten this far and asked an SEO agency for an offer, it’s time to take it into consideration. However, you want to make sure that it’s the right offer for the price, timeframe, and expectations.
Have a budget in mind before you decide to accept or reject an offer, but more importantly, make sure that they are offering realistic expectations. Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
If an agency tells you that they’re going to get you to the very top of 5 different searches in the next few weeks, then this is a major red flag.
Assuming that they are setting realistic expectations, ask about their specific plans on how to achieve these ends. If they can give you a concrete answer and everything checks out, then it’s time to accept and start reaching your SEO goals!
Can’t Wait to Sit in Traffic?
How about swimming in it? Well, if you hire the right SEO agency for your SEO needs, you could be doing just that. Remember, it takes time to develop and implement an SEO strategy, but it’s well worth the wait! Stay up to date with our latest digital marketing news and feel free to contact us with any questions about our services.