Ranking your website pages on the first page of Google is complicated. Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, considers more than 200 elements determining your web page’s SEO value (note: Google ranks web pages, not websites). Moreover, the value of each of the elements changes daily. It’s estimated that Google makes roughly 500-800 changes to its SEO algorithm yearly. The bottom line is that no one knows what Google’s “secret sauce” is. But we do know the core elements of SEO. Unfortunately, not all SEO firms focus on all three core elements.
The Core Elements
Technical SEO focuses on optimizing the code underpinning the site to help ensure that Google, and other search engines, can efficiently crawl and index the website’s pages. Technical SEO includes (but is not limited to):
● Optimizing website speed
● Mobile performance
● Submitting information to Google correctly
● Implementing structured data markup
A technically sound website is crucial for effective SEO since it helps search engine crawlers understand and index its content accurately. Developers and SEO specialists handle a large portion of these tasks.
Onsite SEO, also known as on-page SEO, is an ongoing process involving optimizing the content and structure of a website’s pages to rank higher in search engine results. Onsite SEO, sometimes referred to as backend SEO, encompasses various factors, such as creating the website tagging structure of the unseen back end of the website based on Google’s best practices and internal linking of pages. In addition, adequately optimized content relevant to the user’s search query helps ensure higher rankings in search engine results.
Off-site SEO, or off-page SEO, focuses on building the website’s authority and credibility through external factors such as backlinks, social media marketing, and content such as blogs or press releases. Off-site SEO aims to improve the website’s visibility and reputation in search engine results by demonstrating the website’s relevance and authority in the industry. For example, backlinks to blog articles, pages of your website, or images from reputable and authoritative websites signal to search engines that the website has valuable content, resulting in a higher search engine ranking.
Eight (8) Key Questions To Ask An SEO Company
Do you have similar SEO clients in your local area?
An agency working with competing SEO clients in the same market can be problematic. Your strategy to increase traffic/leads should be unique compared to your competitors. Moreover, the same SEO professional will most likely work on both accounts if it’s a smaller company.
Is your SEO specialist on-staff or outsourced? Is your SEO person also a web developer, social media strategist, content writer, etc.?
Typically a company without a dedicated SEO team or specialist is not focused on SEO. Occasionally, you will see an SEO person who builds websites, handles social media, or manages email marketing. However, SEO is a hyper-competitive element of digital marketing and requires a dedicated person to stay updated with trends, the best software, and Google algorithm changes. Finally, external vendors may not have access to your website to perform necessary technical SEO adjustments.
What are two examples of websites with a similar SEO retainer you manage?
Website examples can determine if the SEO elements are in place. For example, are the onsite SEO tags completed or written using Google’s best practices? Of course, if you are a novice at SEO, you won’t know how to gauge these elements. However, Ubersuggest offers a great free tool that can give you easy-to-understand information about the quality of SEO on a website. Also, the examples give you an idea of the content the SEO company created for its websites.
What type of software do you use for SEO strategy? Is it the paid version?
The key here is paid version. The software can make a five-hour job take one hour. Furthermore, anyone can get a limited amount of information from free versions of software. But to create a real strategy, a company needs paid software packages from products like SEMrush, Ubersuggest, SpyFu, or Moz. A single software is good, but multiple versions are better.
Is Directory Management part of your SEO package? If so, what software do you use? Are you using the paid version?
To improve your listing on online directories, consider using directory management software. This software syncs all your company info, such as an address, business hours, and phone number, with the top informational and review sites on the Internet (e.g., Facebook, YP.com, Yelp.com, Bing, etc.). Managing review listing can lead to a nice boost in your local search value. An SEO company claiming to handle directory management manually or using a free version of directory management software will have little to no effect on your SEO value. Here is a link to a free analysis of any company’s directory management:
Do you use any software for reporting? When do you send out reporting? How often do I get a review and strategy meeting? Monthly, Quarterly?
It’s vital to have easy-to-read reporting. But, at the same time, be sure that the reporting is not simply duplicating Google Analytics and that your agency defines it as “reporting.” Google Analytics is the primary website reporting metric on almost every website. The insights are useful and can help you make educated decisions on creating website traffic. But, Google Analytics should be the baseline reporting. More advanced reporting tools from companies like Agency Analytics (link) and AHRefs (link)can create reports that are more insightful and easier to read.
Also, you will want reports monthly with a quarterly review meeting to measure progress and adjust strategy.
Where is my website hosted? Is it on a private server or a shared server? What company do you use to host? How often are security updates, core updates, and plugin updates?
Your choice of hosting provider can increase your SEO value considerably. A private server compared to a shared server is like the difference between living in a gated community and an apartment building. For example, private servers only have the agency’s clients on them. Therefore, the agency can control security and be alerted if a website has been breached.
On the other hand, shared servers are shared and have around 100+ clients from different companies with different security protocols. So, the company next to you on the server may have little to no security protocols. If another website on the server gets breached, it can also attack your website. Also, shared servers share traffic resources. So, if there is a large website on a shared server with a lot of traffic, the server will direct resources to that website by slowing down your website during peak demand times. No matter the case, Google will diminish your SEO value on a shared server due to security and speed issues. Accordingly, the company you use for your website hosting is vital to your SEO strategy.
Finally, be sure the SEO company or website development team updates your website’s plugins, security, and core theme. These updates should occur every month or at least every quarter. Regularly updating these items will make your website more secure, run faster, and increase your SEO value.
What software do you use for performance website audits? How often do you audit the websites? If elements appear malfunctioning, broken, etc., is there a charge to fix them?
If a website page malfunctions, there isn’t a notification sent out to the person managing the website. The only way to know and track issues are to audit the website using third-party software. These audits should take place a minimum of once a month. The paid versions of Screaming Frog, SEMRush, and UberSuggest do an excellent job of finding performance issues and recommending fixes. As discussed in #4, paid versions of software do a more thorough and cost-effective job of reviewing websites
If you want to discuss SEO or digital marketing elements, contact Power Marketing today.