Professional SEO Agency - what you should know about SEO
What does a professional SEO agency really do?
We should all know by now that SEO makes your website more visible, and brings more traffic to your website where you’ll have more opportunities to convert visitors into customers.
But with familiarity we tend to gloss over this explanation. Is this because what passes for SEO is nothing more than fiddling with basic page settings?
My experience is that most clients have not experienced the power of search engine optimization done properly.
So this article is about helping clients understand what it is that we as SEO consultants do and sharing the facts that you really should know.
SEO Is The Rainmaker
While SEO may be only one of the factors that bring traffic, not everyone knows that SEO is THE factor that brings the most traffic to your website.
Paid online advertising, social media marketing, and other online platforms can also generate traffic to websites, but the majority of online traffic is still driven by search engines.
Organic search results provide more digital real estate, look more credible to online searchers, and receive many more clicks than paid advertisements. For example, in the USA, only 2.8% of people click on paid advertisements.
SEO has about 20X more traffic opportunity than PPC advertising (Google & Social Media) on all devices.
In addition, SEO is the gift that keeps on giving, providing traffic long after its initial setup. Correctly optimized content can actually deliver more traffic over time, whereas advertising needs continuous funding to generate traffic for your site.
Some search engine statistics
Search engines play a dominant role in our lives, influencing how we shop, our entertainment choices, and how we find new information.
The following SERP statistics offer a better understanding of the current state of search engines.
- Search Engines are the jump off point for 68% of online experiences.
- Google Search, Google Images, and Google Maps account for 92.96% of global traffic.
- Google owns 91.94% of the search engine market share.
- In 2021, 70% of all global desktop search traffic came from Google, followed by Baidu (13%), Bing (12%), and Yahoo (2%).
- It is estimated that a #1 organic position in Google can result in a click through rate (CTR) of 34.2%.
Without SEO your website will never benefit from all that Search Engine activity.
SEO Takes Time
I often use the analogy of working out at the gym. The initial effort seems to offer little return, but with consistent working out comes a gradual transformation that becomes much more pronounced over time. In the majority of cases, SEO can take 6 to 12 months to start showing an effect. (But this depends on the budget you have at your disposal and the competition in your business sector).
The bigger your budget and the more concerted your SEO campaign, the quicker you will start to rank for keywords. But, no matter the size of the budget, consistent effort is required to succeed at SEO.
In addition, once you have completed the initial SEO phase, you will need to keep a maintenance plan in place in order not to lose your rankings. Therefore you should keep building your website ranking albeit at a slower rate.
Optimizing your site will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.
This creates better rankings for your keywords on the search engine results pages (SERPs). In the beginning your keywords will appear way down the ranking list – pages 15-20 or even lower, or not at all for new sites.
Then, initial rankings will be for easier keywords, with low competition and low traffic, gradually building to higher traffic keywords. It can take several years to gain true page 1 rankings when faced with strong competition.
Starter strategies for SEO
Starter strategies for SEO (Like local SEO) will inevitably go for the easy win, the low hanging fruit. Take heart from this because these results are cumulative, and you will build upon your earlier successes.
And SEO builds upon itself in so many ways. In the eyes of the search engine, additional traffic and on site behaviour lends greater credibility to your digital offering. Search behaviour provides user endorsement of the relevance of your website. To achieve this snowball effect takes time, effort and expertise. (And a permanent budget)
The Many Tasks Of SEO
There are 200+ ranking factors that every SEO campaign must deal with. Some are easier than others to achieve, but some may require technical fixes to your website.
SEO and Website Design
Not every website can handle the requisite SEO tasks. Some need to be rebuilt completely, some need a complete revamp, others extensive content revision, while others need fixes to infrastructure, navigation and architecture.
Briefly the main factors that determine a website’s SEO success are:
- High-Quality Content
- Quality Backlinks
- Meeting Search Intent
- Website Loading Speed
- Mobile Friendliness
- Domain Authority
- Keyword Optimization
- Website Structure
- Website Security
- User Experience
Tending to all of the above factors is not to be approached lightly. It often requires a team of experts. This process needs to be driven by solid research and technical expertise.
SEO May Depend On 1000s Of Keywords
You may have received emails from foreign SEO agencies offering to rank your website for 5 keywords. This sounds great until you realise that there are literally 1000’s of keywords and combinations of keywords for every topic. Your website may have many topics. Do the Math.
In addition, because of intense competition, it’s important not to waste your budget on trying to rank for the really big keywords in the beginning. Start small, and make small wins until you get the breakthrough. This is a race won by the determination of the tortoise.
SEO Starts Local
Local SEO is almost an entire field of its own, but it does mean increased engagement, traffic & conversions. With the ascendance of mobile, local search has become an essential part of small- and medium-sized businesses’ success.
Local SEO optimizes your digital properties and focuses on specific neighborhoods, towns, cities, regions, and even provinces to establish a brand’s messaging on a local level.
SEO Is The Brand, SEO is PR
SEO builds trust and credibility in the brand. SEO conveys the message of the brand clearly and with authority. Establishing the brand as an authority within a specific area of expertise takes a relatively long time.
Establishing a brand as an authority on a particular topic takes patience, effort, and commitment and relies on offering a valuable, quality product or service that allows customers to trust in a brand.
The reward of a brand’s authority is the recognition placed in the website by the search engines. Search Engines literally endorse the authority of the brand’s digital assets with higher rankings and other signals such as featured snippets.
So from this angle SEO establishes the authenticity of the brand in the eyes of the search engine and helps build long-term equity for your brand.
SEO Knows The Consumer
SEO analysis, search query data and SERP analysis tell us exactly what the consumer is looking for. So Search Engine Optimisation analysis is the best way to understand what the consumer wants and needs.
This is true from broad market analysis to understanding consumer intent in detailed user behaviour.
In much the same way, SEO professionals can best understand the user experience, and optimizing the user experience is a major part of SEO activity. Good SEO also means a better user experience.
SEO Content Writing Services
No SEO activity would be complete without content optimization. However, not all content is found equal. Good copywriting skills, combined with SEO expertise and on-brand narrative is the hallmark of good SEO.
Much of what passes for SEO still consists of keyword stuffing of the worst kind, where keywords are forced onto the page with little regard for the quality of the text. Worse still, the content is thin & facile and is an insult to the intelligence of the reader.
Poor SEO will harm your brand
I often get offers from so-called SEO bloggers, whose introductory email is written in painfully, ungrammatical English. I am sure if I offered to write blogs in a foreign language i would have the same problem. But the point is that I would not recommend using services where quality would be suspect from the very beginning.
Google has learned how to interpret a good or unfavorable user experience, and a positive user experience has become a pivotal element to a website’s success.
In addition, it is hard to gain trust and credibility if particular knowledge, authority and expertise is not apparent in the content of the website.
Consumers are not only interested in the facts, but are disillusioned when full information is withheld or when the content on the page does not assist in their understanding of the subject.
Good SEO Is Not Cheap, Great SEO Is Priceless
The skills associated with professional SEO are relatively rare and therefore you should expect to pay for this expertise. In South Africa, these prices vary between R550 and R1500 per hour.
These prices are reasonable because a professional SEO agency would typically use teams to deliver a SEO campaign for a large company. The team will consist of members whose skillsets complement one another to cover all the SEO tasks.
- SEO Strategist/Manager
- SEO Writer with relevant industry experience
- Content Editor
- Web Developer and Designer
- SEO/Marketing Analytics Expert
- Marketing Project Manager
Smaller agencies can probably get by with 3 team members:
- SEO content copy writer
- SEO/Marketing Analytics Expert
- Web Developer and Designer
So you are actually paying for a team effort and not an hourly rate per person. In any case horse trading around the cost of an SEO service ignores the massive long-term value of a properly driven SEO campaign.
Above all, every SEO campaign should have clearly defined goals and objectives that focus on the value created for the company.
Choosing the right SEO company
But choosing the right SEO company is critical. Too often business owners are sold by the agency with the cheapest proposal rather than the one with the highest value.
What should business owners look for when hiring an professional SEO agency?
- The agency website should be optimized and ranking well on the search engines for digital marketing and specifically SEO keywords. Ideally you should have found them on page 1 of the search engine.
- The SEO agency should provide examples of SEO campaigns run for other clients.
- The optimization agency should use ethical SEO techniques
- The agency should use analytical and reporting software and be familiar with industry standards such as Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.
- The agency should be realistic about ROI, timelines and expectations.
- The agency should provide regular monthly reports and feedback on progress improving the the website SEO
- The professional SEO agency should be willing to transfer SEO skills to your in-house team
- The agency should do a thorough baseline analysis of your current position.
- The SEO company should outline the strategy beforehand and outline the tasks that will be performed, including the keyword content plan, for each month in the campaign.
- The SEO campaign should be aligned with the client’s online business goals
What you should expect to pay and a reasonable SEO budget for your business:
- Micro business, a minimum monthly budget of between R1500 – R2000 should suffice,
- Small business, a minimum monthly budget of between R2 000 – R10 000, and
- Medium business, a minimum monthly budget of between R10 000 – R25 000.
Sadly, many companies don’t have any SEO budget, but spend money on more expensive and less effective strategies, such as social media advertising.
DMSA is a professional SEO Agency
At DMSA we analyze your website to identify SEO errors, keyword opportunities, and competition. We are focused on providing great SEO services, within your budget, to get you onto the first page.
Give us a call, we would be happy to discuss ways we can help you succeed with SEO.