After a number of years working at an SEO services agency I have monitored, worked on, analyzed, and overseen many projects across nearly as many industries. Some of these projects were successful beyond both the clients’ and our expectations while others struggled to climb the in rankings. I have been very careful to note the similarities between the campaigns that have the most success.
Some companies assume that their success is directly related to the amount of resources dedicated to that campaign by the agency. Although the budget an agency is given dictates what resources they can use in a campaign, I have found a number of things that companies can do to maximize their results, whatever their budget. The following is not intended to be all-inclusive, but even adopting a few of these suggestions can greatly improve your SEO spending.
1. Update Your Site With Relevant, Quality Content
It should come as no surprise that a site is no better than what it contains. Content can including videos, interactive games, pictures, graphics, audio recordings, written information, forums, and blogs just to list a few. Regardless of how much an agency or individual promotes a site, if the site does not contain content relevant to the search, it will be more difficult to consistently rank well for that search term.
2. Provide Content For Your SEO Team’s Efforts Across The Web
I have worked on campaigns that range from high-end summer camps for teenagers to companies that help large corporations manage their network infrastructure with IPv4/IPv6 support. For some reason I, along with 90% of the population, would have a hard time speaking authoritatively about the nuances of IP address management and related topics.
A professional SEO company can employ many different link building strategies that use content across the Web. Some of this content can be generated by writers at the agency and then published under a pseudonym, but this becomes exponentially more difficult if the subject is very specialized. Use your SEO agency to show off the industry experts that are already in your company. The one down side to writing under the names of the experts in your company is when they move on to another company you no longer have your expert. This is when pseudonyms come in handy.
3. Implement Suggested Changes To Sites (After Everyone’s On The Same Page) Quickly
Nearly every online marketing company will provide suggestion on how to better optimize your website. In its simplest form, search engine optimization is made up of two major parts: optimizing the site, and promoting it around the Web. From large corporate sites to small startups, getting the necessary changes made usually takes more time than one would expect. Each site has its own unique set of limitations that can cause problems. Generally, the person or team who built the site is going to be more familiar with these limitations and know how to work with them. If you no longer have access to those people, most search engine marketing companies should have resources, or trusted partners that can help make these changes.
There is a time delay between when those changes are made and when you see the results, though, so it is important to get it done correctly and in a timely manner. And remember: just because you have completed one set of changes that doesn't mean you won’t be asked to make some more. A site can never be fully optimized for SEO let alone all the other parts of online marketing and there is always something more you can do to improve your rankings.
4. Discuss Major Changes To The Site With Your SEO Team Before Making Them
All too often I have had companies optimize their sites only to turn around and change everything again a few months later. Large websites often make this mistake because internal teams are not communicating. Whether the communication gap exists internally or between the agency and your company, it is more of chasm that can gulp up months of progress in seconds. Consider your agency an extension of your marketing team. Consult with them on everything from large, site-wide changes to any little modifications that you plan to make on the optimized pages. This will keep your campaign moving forward in a positive direction and give you greater ROI on your SEO budget.
5. Be Committed For The Long Haul
Companies sometimes come to me two or three months before their peak season and ask what we can do for them. Unfortunately, SEO results don’t happen overnight. If you want to increase your marketing budget to include SEO, consider doing it well in advance of your peak earning season so you will have plenty of time to rank.
If you don’t have time to climb the rankings before hitting this season you should think of any work done this time as an investment and head start on next season. Be committed to having an SEO campaign for years not months. You should be able to see progress, movement and patterns established in three to five months, but the most successful campaigns I have seen are ones that are years old. Don’t worry. I am not saying that it takes years to get a good ROI, but rather that just like good cheese or wines, SEO campaigns simply get better with time under the right conditions.
6. Be Open About Your Business And What Makes You The Most Money
This has got to be one of the biggest things you can do to help get the most out of your SEO budget. As a SEO expert I can take a look at keywords, words that could potentially drive traffic to your site, in any industry and come up with some potentially profitable solutions. What I don’t know is what products or services you would most like to sell. Maybe the basic service package you offer is actually the one with the best profit margins. Some businesses are apprehensive when it comes to sharing details about profits and profit margins. Just get your SEO company to sign a non-disclosure and move forward. Once I know what makes the client more money, I am better able to provide not just rankings but ROI.
7. Identify Goals With The Agency
Determine what you want from the beginning of the campaign. Are you looking for pure ROI, traffic, rankings on specific terms? What is the measuring stick for success? Goals are an important part of any project. SEO, as stated previously, is a long term marketing strategy, and setting goals all along the way will help you determine if a campaign is on the right path.
I want to issue a few words of warning, here. Often people come to us and say: “I want to show up on the first page when people type “door” into the search engine.” As a search marketer I know that although I could potentially get you ranked for door, or any other major term, it would probably come at a high cost, require a lot of time, and potentially not convert all that well. Be sure all parties involved have good input on these goals. Set some short-, medium- and long-term goals at the start of the campaign with the short-term goals getting you closer to your medium-term goals and so forth. Also be sure that you have a good way to quantify and measure your progress. Tracking comes in many forms and could be a blog post in itself, though, so I am going to leave it at that.
8. Identify The Largest Roadblocks To Your Goals And Help Remove Them
After your goals are identified, look to see what is keeping you from achieving them. Once you identify these roadblocks look for ways that you can help remove them. I have yet to see a roadblock that would not benefit from, and often require, the client’s help. The two most common roadblocks that I see come up in SEO campaigns are fixing issues with the website to make it more search engine friendly, and getting internal decisions made in large corporations. (Both of these items are addressed in other points in greater detail.)
9. Coordinate Efforts With The Agency Team
The larger the campaign, the more important coordination becomes. Often, after starting an SEO campaign, I learn of other efforts that the company is undertaking to promote themselves online. It is not uncommon to have large corporations come to us that already have other companies to take care of PPC (paid advertisement through Google and other sources) press releases, and social media among others. It is great to have all these teams to their online success, but usually there is little cooperation between these different teams or companies. You can even take it a step further and see that corporations rarely manage to coordinate their online and offline efforts. Make sure everybody is on the same page. For example if you have a booth at a large tradeshow:
- Let your social media team set up a campaign around the trade show
- Write a press release about about the trade show
- Identify potential keywords that people at that specific tradeshow might look for and have your SEO team work on getting them ranked by the tradeshow
This is just one way to coordinate efforts, and there are many others. Look for opportunities to have different facets of your marketing team work together on a campaign. The combined efforts of each team will help you get more out of your online, offline and social campaigns.
10. Have Key Players On Key Calls
This has been discussed in passing in several other points, but I feel it is important to discuss it in detail. When I get on a phone call to discuss site changes I want two people in particular on the call: the person that can authorize the changes, and the person that can make them. If those two are on the call, then by the end of the call I know the approval for the suggestions has taken place, and the technical person has asked all the questions she has. Sometimes the decision maker can’t get on the phone. If that is the case put the next person closest in line on the call – whatever it takes to expedite the decision making process.
Every company has limited resources and wants to maximize their budgets for a better ROI. By implementing these points a company will find themselves getting more out of their budgets. This is not a full list of things that a company can do to maximize their budget but rather a few tips. Are there any other things you see that companies can do to get the most out of their SEO spend? Would love to hear back from you in the comments below.