How many times did you Google something today? We’re all familiar with search engines, using them to find anything from the nearest shrimp tacos to the most high-tech niche software on the market. But are you as familiar with search engine optimization (SEO)? Sure, that probably makes some sense—the goal of SEO is to get your product, company, or service ranked as high as possible in search results so you can increase organic traffic and conversions. Most people understand the basic concept. But how is that actually done, and what does an SEO company do to make that happen?
In this post, we’ll highlight the value of SEO in 2020 and walk you through the steps that the best SEO companies like ClickGiant can take to help you improve your rankings and traffic.
Ready to start building your site’s organic traffic or want to learn more about our process? Contact ClickGiant today for a free SEO site audit!
Quick Links to Browse This Post
- Why SEO?
- Ranking Factors
- Our Process
- Site Audit
- Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis
- Content Strategy
- Meta Information
- Local SEO
- Monitoring, Reporting & Adjustment
Why Focus on SEO?
Before we strap on our hardhats and dive into the nitty-gritty details of search engine optimization, let’s start with a few basics to keep us on track:
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. As we mentioned above, that’s simply the process of increasing a site’s presence in search results by working to improve organic rankings for your targeted keywords.
We’ll take a closer look below at how to identify which keywords you should be targeting and how to actually optimize your site’s pages for those keywords. For now, just know that the goal of SEO is to improve your presence in search results when users search for keywords relevant to your organization or offering. In general, the higher you are ranked in the results, and the more keywords you can rank for, the more organic traffic you can draw to your site.
SEO vs Search Ads
Did you know that you can pay to have a page ranked at the top of search results? Google and other search engines sell ads, which can be used to bid on various keywords with cold hard cash. These ads may display at the top and bottom of search results, and they are marked with an “Ad” emblem. Search ads are also known as PPC, which stands for pay-per-click, because advertisers only pay when their ad is clicked on.
SEO, on the other hand, focuses on driving organic traffic to your site—i.e., traffic through search engines that you are not paying for per click. So why focus on SEO when you can easily pay to rank through search ads? Consider these statistics:
- Organic results generate 8.5x more clicks than search ads. Moz
- Search ads convert only 1.5x more than organic results. Moz
While conversion rates for paid clicks are slightly higher than organic results (1.5x), organic results are clicked on far more often (8.5x). This means that organic results can be 5.6x more valuable than paid search results. Here are some other things to keep in mind when deciding between an organic campaign and search ads:
- SEO is a long-term strategy focused on growing organic traffic over time
- PPC is a short-term strategy focused on allocating budget to bid for ad placement
- SEO and PPC can be used in tandem to dominate search results for your targeted keywords in both paid and organic results
Do You Need to Hire an SEO Agency?
Be warned. SEO is a fickle beast. Without the proper experience or knowledge of how to effectively implement a campaign, you can easily do more harm than good. Targeting the wrong keywords could drive useless traffic to your site, while duplicate content or technical issues could wind up getting you black listed from the SERPs. On top of that, there are unfortunately many scam artists out there who prey on those who know little about how SEO actually works.
It’s important to work with a reputable SEO company who has a track record of winning results through “white hat” best practices.
ClickGiant has been driving more clicks, conversions, and customers to client sites for over a decade. Explore our testimonials and results, and get in touch:
Contact us to discuss what we can do for your site.
So, What Does an SEO Company Really Do?
Now that we understand the basics and the value of SEO, let’s take a closer look at how an SEO company actually works to achieve results with your campaign.
The Most Important Ranking Factors
Google and other search engines rely on algorithms to index and rank pages for keywords. These algorithms in turn involve hundreds of ranking factors, which are evolving constantly. But don’t panic. In general, focusing on the following ranking factors can result in improved rankings for you’re the pages across your site:
- Secure Site. Ensure your site has an active SSL certificate for a secure connection. Your site should be HTTPS rather than HTTP.
- Mobile-Friendly. Mobile traffic has increased 222% in the last 5 years, and 67% of all web traffic is on mobile. The goal of search engines is ultimately to serve up the highest quality content to users—so if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it will not likely rank as high.
- Page Speed. We’re all impatient when browsing the web. Search engines know this. If a page takes too long to load, then a user will likely bounce away. A tool like Google PageSpeed Insights can show you options for improving your page speed sitewide.
- Content Quality. Beyond the technical basics, content quality is among the most important ranking factors. Your content should be relevant to the user’s search, useful and engaging enough to keep users on your site (and ideally convert), and of an appropriate length. A thorough content strategy should be created to target relevant keywords on a page-by-page basis.
- Meta Information. Your title tags, meta descriptions, and H1s should all be optimized on a page-by-page basis, following a targeted keyword strategy. Including appropriate image alt tags and Schema markup can also help to improve rankings.
- UX. Are users engaging with your site, or are they bouncing away? Some UX metrics search engines use for ranking sites include: clickthrough rate (what percentage of users clicked to your site when displayed in search results), bounce rate (did users bounce away from your site quickly), and dwell time (how long did users stay on your site).
- Site Links. Inbound, outbound, and internal links should all be carefully considered. Sharing your content can help you to win valuable inbound links to improve your domain authority. Note that you should be seeking links from high quality domains. Avoid spammy links, and stay away from
“pay for link” services. Linking your site’s pages to one another internally can also be used strategically to establish high authority content “hubs” on your site.
- Reviews. Especially for ecommerce and local listings, reviews are a crucial factor. In addition to providing user confidence in your business or offering, reviews can also significantly impact your site’s rankings in organic and local “map pack” listings.
- Business Listings (for Local SEO). Ensure your business listings are accurate across the web, especially your Google My Business and Facebook profiles. Your name, address, and phone number should be consistent; your site should be linked to your profiles; and you should incorporate strategic keywords here as well.
When a client comes to ClickGiant seeking SEO services, we work to improve each of the ranking factors noted above. Let’s take a closer look at the services we actually provide to make that happen:
- Site Audit
- Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis
- Content Strategy
- Meta Information
- Local SEO
- Monitoring, Reporting & Adjustment
SEO Site Audit
The first step is to perform a thorough SEO site audit, benchmarking your site’s current status from both a technical and content perspective:
Here are the primary areas we look at when performing a technical audit:
- Site Security. Do you have an active SSL Certificate? If not, we’ll help you set one up.
- Page Speed. How is loading time across your site? If it’s poor, we’ll perform a page speed insight analysis and work to improve factors that are limiting speed. That could include optimizing site code, compressing images to reduce file size, and more.
- Indexability. Is your site set up for search engines to index properly? You may have a robots.txt file blocking your pages from indexing without even being aware of it. You may also have canonicalized certain pages unintentionally or have pages competing internally for the same keywords, which could create issues with indexing as well.
- Meta Information. Does your meta information follow best practices? We’ll check for duplicates, optimize for strategic keywords, and ensure all meta information follows appropriate character length requirements on a page-by-page basis.
- Sitemap. An XML sitemap can be used to inform search engines of pages you’d like to index.
- Analytics. We’ll help ensure you have an appropriate analytics account and that it is wired up to your site to accurately track activity and progress.
- Errors. Does your site have broken links, missing meta information, duplicate meta information, etc? We’ll work to identify and resolve these errors.
Here are the primary areas we look at when performing a content audit:
- Duplicate Content. Duplicate content across your site can lead to major issues—even slapping you with a penalty from search engines that can ruin your rankings. When auditing your site, we’ll check to ensure that all content is original. If it’s not, we’ll put a plan in place to get your content up to snuff.
- Current Rankings. We’ll benchmark the good, the bad, and the ugly. What keywords are you currently ranked for, how well are they ranked, and what can be done to improve rank for high value keywords?
- Keyword Strategy. Are you currently targeting appropriate keywords? Are there opportunities to target keywords with higher volume and lower competition?
- Content Quality. Is your content relevant to users, informative, and engaging? Again, this is one of the most important ranking factors. We’ll provide a thorough content strategy that includes our suggestions for improving content across your site.
- Content Gaps. Are there opportunities to better target viable keywords by producing new pages? Perhaps you’re missing key service, product, or industry pages on your site that could be major drivers of organic traffic. We’ll note any gaps in your information architecture and provide a plan of action to fill them in with quality content.
How is your site performing in search engines? Contact ClickGiant to find out with an initial audit.
Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis
This is one of the most crucial steps that any good SEO company will take. Here at ClickGiant, we are very thorough with our keyword research and competitive analysis, as this provides a strong starting point for any campaign. Comprehensive research serves as the foundation for our content strategy and on-page SEO efforts. Here are the basics:
When performing keyword research, in general, we are looking at three things: relevancy to your offering, average search volume, and competition levels—aka “keyword difficulty” (KD). The best keywords to target will be highly relevant to your offering, show high average search volume, and low competition levels. Generally, these will be “longtail searches” of 3+ words.
So how does an SEO company actually find the right keywords to target? At ClickGiant, we use tools like SEMRush, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Google Keyword Planner to perform keyword research.
When using these tools, we first enter a broad “seed keyword,” which will return a list of relevant keywords along with their average search volume and difficulty. We can even use the tools to filter results that only include certain phrases, minimum search volume, max keyword difficulty, etc.
For instance, if performing keyword research for company that sells vintage engagement rings, we may enter “vintage engagement rings” (49,500 searches / month, 75.2 KD) as the seed keyword. From there, we may find a list of viable longtail keywords like:
- Vintage rose gold engagement rings (4,400 / month, 80.2 KD)
- Vintage sapphire engagement rings (1,900 / month, 72.8 KD)
- Vintage diamond engagement rings (1,600 / month, 74.49 KD)
- Vintage halo engagement rings (1,300 / month, 73.4 KD)
While the rose gold keyword is rather competitive, these seem like great candidates to target by producing dedicated collection pages to host rings of each type. During our keyword research phase, we will also look for viable keywords to target with ongoing content like blog posts, service pages, and more—all following the same basic research principles.
Tools like the Domain Analytics feature in SEMRush are very useful for competitive analysis. Using this tool, we can analyze your competitors’ sites to find out what keywords they are ranked for and which pages are driving the most organic traffic to their site. Here are some questions we ask when performing an SEO competitive analysis:
- Are competitors ranked well for relevant keywords that you are not? Can we optimize your existing pages or build out new pages to target any of those keywords?
- Are you missing product, service, or industry pages that are driving high organic traffic to your competitor’s sites?
- Are your competitor’s driving substantial organic traffic through blog posts? Which posts?
- For pages that are driving high organic traffic, what does the content look like on the front end, and what can we do to produce even better content for your site?
Once we’ve performed keyword research and competitive analysis, we should have a strong list of viable keywords to target across your site. The next step is to work these keywords into a comprehensive and clear content strategy.
Note that, in general, it is best practice to target one keyword per page on your site. This helps ensure that the content on a given page has ultra-high relevancy for users searching that keyword, which can be key to improving rankings sitewide.
When you work with ClickGiant, your SEO content strategy will include the following:
- Site Issues. We will identify key site issues from a content / SEO perspective based on the ranking factors noted above. We’ll then offer suggestions to help resolve these issues.
- Keyword Suggestions. We’ll identify the keywords we recommend for you to target on a page-by-page basis.
- Existing Content Optimizations. In many cases, there’s no need to start from scratch, as our clients will already have some content on their site. We’ll include our suggestions for ways that your existing content can be optimized for search engines—and if some pages are already performing well, we’ll note that too.
- Suggestions for New Pages. If we uncovered opportunities to target viable keywords through the production of new pages during our keyword research and competitive analysis, we’ll let you know in the content strategy. We’ll work closely with you to ensure all new pages we suggest are relevant to your offering and brand before producing.
- Information Architecture. We’ll include a suggested layout for your navigation menu and internal linking structure to optimize the user experience.
- Ongoing Content Suggestions. A regular blog targeting viable keywords can be a great source of organic traffic. We’ll provide strategic topic suggestions for ongoing content based on our keyword research.
- Content Production Schedule. To keep the campaign on track, we’ll provide a clear production schedule for content refreshes and new content development.
Once we provide the content strategy, you’ll have the chance to review and provide your feedback. We’ll then work closely with you to make any requested changes until we have your approval to move forward with the campaign.
Get started today with an initial site audit.
Once we’ve outlined our plans in the content strategy and received your approval, it will be time to implement our suggestions. One of the first things we’ll do is work to optimize the on-page SEO elements across your site. This includes your title tags, meta descriptions, H1s, and more.
Optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions are especially important, as these are what will display in the search results for each of your site’s pages.
We will work to ensure your title tags and meta descriptions align with our content strategy, which will be grounded in our keyword research and competitive analysis. When drafting your meta information, we will work to ensure the following:
- Targeted keywords are included in title tags and meta descriptions for each page
- Character limits not exceeded (70 cc for title tags, 145-160 for meta descriptions)
- Clear call to action, especially in the meta description
In the same way, we will work to ensure the H1 on each of your pages reflects our keyword strategy—and we will double-check that only one H1 is included on each page.
ClickGiant is an SEO agency that focuses on small to mid-size businesses. Many of our clients are targeting local traffic, which requires a few different strategies for implementation. While most of the above remains true when trying to win rankings in local “map pack” results, here are some other important things to keep in mind for local SEO:
- Build Reviews. As mentioned above, reviews can be a significant ranking factor, especially for local results. We offer tools to help make review requests easier and more effective, and we can offer guidance on responding to negative reviews as well.
- Business Listings. Ensure all business listings are accurate and linked to your site, especially your Google My Business (GMB) profile.
- Location Pages. For multi-location businesses hoping to improve rankings in local results, we will sometimes recommend producing dedicated location pages. These pages should contain information specific to each location and can be optimized to improve indexability for your core geo-targeted keywords.
- Localized Meta Information. We’ll work to ensure your locations are adequately represented in all title tags, meta descriptions, and H1s. This is another crucial factor for winning top local rankings.
Monitoring, Reporting & Adjustment
How do you know if your SEO company is really having a positive impact on your site and business? Regular monitoring and reporting is essential to highlight what’s working and what isn’t. At ClickGiant, we provide our clients with two primary reports:
Live Rankings Dashboard. Through RankRanger, you can view a live report of your current rankings for keywords we are targeting. You will have access to this report whenever you want, and you can view current positions as well as changes in position on a daily, weekly, monthly, and campaign basis. You will also be able to see which specific pages are indexed for individual keywords and associated search volume for those keywords.
Analytics Report. We provide our clients with a monthly report through Google Analytics. This report highlights your traffic across all channels, including organic traffic, direct traffic, social, email, and more. Your report can also display data such as new users, returning users, time on page, bounce rate, conversion rate, revenue, and more. Upon request, we are happy to set up custom views in Analytics if there are particular pages or data you would like to track.
These are results from an actual ClickGiant client after one year.
While reporting is essential for our clients to see their progress, it is also essential for us to continue to improve results. When we can see what is ranking and what is not, we can make appropriate changes to our strategy to achieve greater results for our clients.
What Results Should You Expect from the Best SEO Companies?
While success levels vary by client, in general the following results should indicate that your SEO company is delivering value to your organization:
- Improved Rankings. The best SEO agencies should be able to show you what keywords your site is indexed for now vs the start of the campaign. While some fluctuation in rank is normal, in general, you should hope to see improved rankings across the board.
- Increased Organic Traffic. Stay away from companies promising a specific increase in traffic. The results of SEO cannot be easily projected at the start of a campaign. Instead, you’ll know that your agency is doing something right when they can show you clear increases in organic traffic. Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy, and it can take some time to build traffic—especially for newer sites or sites starting with poor rankings / authority.
- More Leads. Another clear sign that you’re on the right track is an increase in qualified leads. This could be in the form of calls, contact form submissions, email sign-ups, etc.
- Increased Conversions. Your goal is likely to close more business, period. Increased traffic and leads won’t matter much if you’re not increasing sales and revenue. While your SEO company isn’t solely responsible for conversions, an increase in conversions can be a sign that content has been targeted appropriately to capture relevant searches and optimized for both search engines and user experience.
Let’s Get Started
Now that you know what an SEO company does, we hope you can see the value for your site and business. If you’re ready to grow organic traffic to your site, contact ClickGiant today! We’ll work hard to get you more clicks, conversions, and customers.