March 24, 2021

What Do SEO Agencies Do & Why You Should Hire One?

Everyone wants to rank well on organic search, but few know how. SEO agencies have specialists who can help. This is what they do, and we think you should expect.

SEO Agency is Hired Because the Site is Not Delivering

You are likely reading this post because of the four top reasons clients come to us:

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies

If you traffic, lead generation, or basic site metrics are not meeting expectations, then this post is for you. You can put your doubts aside. We will walk you through what SEO agencies provide and we will touch on why we think we do it better.

SEO agencies exist for one simple reason - Google’s constantly changing algorithm. It is nearly impossible for a small to mid-sized company to keep up. 

Google makes thousands of changes every year. Most of these updates are so slight that they go completely unnoticed. However, occasionally, the search engine rolls out major algorithmic updates that significantly affect. - Search Engine Journal

Top SEO agencies have tools and experience to manage this volatility. A useful metaphor is a stockbroker, who monitors and adjusts your portfolio based on marketing conditions.

There are time tested, tried, and true techniques that work. Any solid SEO agency should be able to walk you through their process. We will share ours as an example of what should be included.  

It cost money and time to become an expert in the area. Each business has a decision to make whether to build that capability internally or hire externally.

Power of Page 1 of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Page 1 Rankings

We should not underestimate the power of page 1. 89% of all search traffic is captured on page 1. Nearly 60% is in the top 3 and 81% in top 7. All the other millions of pages are competing for 10% of the total volume.

SEO is a critical part of achieving page one ranking. It is a long-term investment, but unlike advertising and other online marketing, it endures. SEO agencies like ProStrategix know how to leverage best practices to raise your rankings. 

How to Improve Your SERPs Results

There are four critical elements to any successful SEO campaign that any good SEO agency should have a mastery of all four. These elements are: On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, Technical SEO, and Local SEO.

On-Page SEO: Keyword Research & Strategy

Keyword Research & SEO Strategy

Keyword research and strategy is more than just finding the keywords in your niche or site, it is finding those keywords which your site has the authority to have a chance of ranking on page one.

We typically used the above rules of thumb on which keyword or keyword phrases our clients are best able to rank highly based on their domain authority.

Doman Authority and its impact on keyword strategies by SEO Agencies

A lot of time, money and effort can be spent on the wrong keywords. Therefore, having a keyword strategy that is based on SMART goals is a great way to start. There are many SEO SAAS packages.

You can use Google Ads Keyword Planner tool to do it for free. However, the depth of the data and its granularity will make it difficult to follow the rules of thumb discussed above.

Tags 

Meta tags are bits of HTML code the bots used to help determine the principal topic of the page. The three most important are the Title Tag, the H1 or header tag, and the H2 or the sub-header tab. These are the easiest to modify when doing page optimization.

Title

These are really simple to use and include on all your pages. The title tag as the name implies is the title of the page. It should be no longer than 55 characters and should place the page's keyword as close to the beginning of the tag as possible. There should be one.

H1 & H2: Header Tags

The H1 is the header tag. Similar to the title tag, it should have the main keyword or key-phrase as close to the beginning as possible. It should also be less than 55 characters. There should only be one as well.

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - On Page SEO

We can use the H2 tag as needed to highlight the important sections of the page where the text provides more information regarding the keyword or key-phrase.

Meta Tag

Search engines do not use the final tag to rank or assign keywords. It is solely to allow the potential reader to understand what the copy is about before he or she lands on the page. Neither you nor Google views a search as a success if the user bounces (leaves) quickly.

Meta tags should be descriptive and include the keyword or key-phrase in the beginning of the text. The text should not be longer than 165 characters.

UX

Finally, we have user experience proxies. While some aspects of this fall under technical SEO, it is important to remember the importance of content and design in helping users find the information they need quickly and easily.

Off-Page: Direct Methods

Link Building

Link building is a critical part of any SEO campaign. Backlinks, while diminished over the year, are still a major ranking factor. A good white hat agency like ProStrategix needs to be dedicated to providing quality, relevant links from trusted sources and sites. 

With link building, it's the quality that matters more than the quantity. Links from trusted high-ranking pages can really amp up your results. 

Guest Posting

There are three solid means to develop backlinks. The first is guest posting, which you offer to write a post on another person’s blog. This comes with a backlink to your site as an author citation.

Blogging

Blogging yourself is another must have tactic. You might say Blogging is technically on the page. If you simply think of it as that, you are not looking at the complete picture. Your internal linking strategy is very important to pass authority. 

Influencer Networking

The last step that most good SEO agencies can do is to help you foster relationships with other bloggers and influencers. While reciprocal linking can get you into trouble (I will link to you if you link to me), sharing relevant information will not. If the content is valuable, links can come organically.  

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies: Off Page SEO

Off-Page: Indirect Methods

I would be remiss if we did not touch upon two other indirect off page SEO techniques, namely blogging syndication and social media.

Blogging syndication is where you provide your feed to aggregators of feeds. The linking from the aggregators does not count for much. It is not the link you want, but the access. The broader your content is shared, the more likely you are to receive organic links.

As a corollary, social media is not a ranking factor. However, the extra exposure may lead to an increase in potential links from social media consumers.

Technical SEO

A solid SEO agency in technical SEO is extremely helpful. Many SEO agencies are afraid of code. We highly recommend that you consider only agencies with solid technical SEO expertise.

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Technical SEO

Technical SEO covers the computer coding of the page. There are several coding best practices that can help bots call your site better and improve user experience. When bots can find and index you faster and users find what they need quickly, your rankings will benefit.

There are two relatively quick fixes you can do on your own. These are robot.txt and sitemap.xml. Robot.txt allows robots to crawl your page, and sitemap.xml provides a map.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a godsend for local businesses. This is how local businesses with low domain authority can compete with the big guys.

Google MY Business (GMB) is a great place to start, but it is just the beginning. Any good of the good SEO agencies are going to optimize your GMB profile. However, the great ones will do more:

  1. Localize your content for the lead keywords in key locations
    Use localization internal linking structure to boost larger markets
  2. Local listing management for name, address, and phone (NAP) consistency - local listing put more weight on local listings as a legitimizing factor.
  3. If your site has a DA that limits your volumes and keywords, Local SEO is the best option for you. 
Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Local SEO

Merchant SEO (eCommerce Only)

When you are an eCommerce brand, you need to not only optimize your business for search but also for shopping. This is the only place in search where Google does not hold a dominant position.

For most, it is Amazon that matters. Amazon marketing solutions (AMS) are different from Google Shopping in how you optimize your listing. AMS is much more promotionally driven and its algorithms are honed to get the right product in front of the right buyer at the right moment, whether searched by text or voice.

Shopify and Google Shopping are both excellent. Shopify is an all in one solution, where you can couple web design, advertising, reviews, and several other customizable features to build the customer experience you want.

With Google and Amazon, you need to follow their model. Otherwise, do not bother listing. Walmart Marketplace is on the radar screen as another platform to consider as they expand into the digital retail space.  

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Content Creation

All Great SEO Agencies Provide Content Creation

Content is the engine that drives SEO. Without it, it will be very difficult to succeed. Luckily, all great SEO companies like ProStrategix offer high-quality content writing services.

The services provide optimized content that is ready for SEO content marketing. Sites that are active get a ranking boost.

SEO Does Not Stop and the Landing Page

If your SEO firm does not support your content or your conversions, then we would strongly suggest you consider someone else. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a pride of ours. We believe that every new page provides an optimization opportunity. We perform routine monitoring, testing, and optimization as part of the services we provide.

Attributes to look for in an SEO Agency

Experience Counts

When looking for an SEO or any digital marketing agency, experience counts. Experience in one area is great, but experience in how all the pieces of the marketing campaign fit together is even better.

Of course you want someone who has experience in SEO, but SEO is one part of the overall marketing mix. You will see better results when you have all the parts working in unison. 

Your web design supports your SEO. SEO supports your PPC and social media marketing. Email and chat align to your keywords.

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Experience Matters

Trained Professionals

SEO is an intricate and challenging process, which requires specialized skills to do well. Sure, you can purchase off-the-shelf software tools that claim to improve your SEO, but you’re unlikely to get the same results as a professional.

SEO is also about asking the right questions of the client to understand the priorities of the communications and information that is provided to his or her customers. To do SEO well, you need to have a solid understanding of business and its unique challenges and needs.

Results

Nothing shows success better than results. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are part of our DNA, and they are standard in every package we offer. We only succeed if you succeed. There are plenty of companies that will take your money.

Relationships matter. All the expertise and experience in the world can make up for a poor fit and bad customer service. It is very important that you find a search engine optimization company that will work well with you and your team.

Continual Education Mindset

The reason for an SEO agency’s existence is the fact that Google changes its algorithm thousands of times per year. If your agency is constantly learning, they will get left behind. Great SEO agencies have plans in place for continual education and training.

You will want to have someone working with you that is up to date on the latest trends and techniques. This way big swings in your ranking data won’t surprise you.

White Hat

The only long-term survival play in the field is to play honest and be fair. Staying true to Google Search best practices, it is the only way to avoid Google penalties, which can devastate the website traffic of any business.

You don’t have to cut corners to win in SEO. It takes time and effort, but it’s not worth jeopardizing your reputation or ours. If you plan to be around for awhile, reputation management is critical.

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Reporting & Refining

Simple Reporting

With SEO, it is easy to get bogged down in the details. There are so many numbers and so much data that it can become overwhelming. We focus on a few KPIs that indicate your standing and what we need to get to the next level.

Our custom dashboard uses Google Analytics data to highlight your SEO performance, rankings, tasks completed, and recommendations. We review this with clients monthly. This is a best practice for most reputable SEO agencies.

Search Engine Marketing - Surround Sound SEO

As we touched on early, SEO is not done in a vacuum. If it is, it is a terrible lost opportunity. We believe in a holistic view of Search Marketing (SEM). SEM takes your SEO keyword strategy and applies it to your paid search and social media marketing plan. 

This is important because when a customer types a key-phrase, you want to be seen not only in organic search but also in ads and on social media. This emphasizes your credibility on the topic and your ownership of a given meaningful keyword. 

What is the Typical Process the SEO Agencies Uses

We usually break it down into four parts: discovery, analysis, planning, and executing. Some break executing down further, but it’s more a distinction without a difference.

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Process

Discovery

We use a custom and provide an SEO method that many other SEO agencies follow with differing degrees of success.

Discovery is the first phase. For us, this phase entails detailed interviewing of your key internal stakeholders. Next, we conduct a full site audit to understand and uncover areas that need attention and prioritize them. 

Once the interviews are complete and the audit is finished, we start our keyword research. This uncovers other important information that applies to the company, such as goals, processes, and the rest.

Analysis

This is where we convert our discovery findings into actionable insights and next steps. We start with the site audit and historical Google analytics data. We do a full backlink analysis to see what’s working and what is not. We do a full technical analysis of the page to look for areas of improvement.

Then, we take our findings and sort them into three categories: on-page, off-page, and technical. For small businesses, we add in local data. For eCommerce, we include shopping data if provided or is publicly available. 

Planning & Executing

Once the analysis is complete, we deliver a 30-60-90 plan with fixed KPIs for each deliverable and during each phase. We track this performance monthly with a formal report and supplement it with weekly updates.

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Process

When looking at an SEO agency, we recommend you insist upon some performance goal metrics. Without one, it is very difficult to gauge performance and avoid being gaslighted by extraneous data.

Reporting & Refining

As we mentioned in planning and executing, we report formally on a monthly basis and informally on a weekly basis. Reporting is great. Recommendations for refinement are better.

SEO is never a set it and forget it activity. It is constantly developing and changing. You will want to make sure that the SEO agency that you choose is monitoring your account regularly and suggesting revisions based on the weekly or monthly results.

Two Hats We Won’t Wear: Black or Grey

It is important to know with whom you are partnering for SEO. Poor choices can cost you. 

Black Hat

These are the “get the front page on Google now” groups. They flood the internet so they have likely spammed you in the past. These groups find a loophole or shady scam to build up links quickly. 

Google changes them quickly. You may get great initial results, that crater after 3 to 6 months, and it penalizes your site for not following Google’s guidelines, which can take years to undo.

Top Reasons for Using SEO Agencies - Grey Hat/Black Hat

Grey Hat

As the name suggests, tactics in these areas are not technically against the guidelines, but they are not exactly in line with the spirit of the guidelines. Paying for a post on someone else's site is one example.

If you do not abuse Grey Hat tactics, you are not likely to be harmed. However, that is not something we would do for you. At ProStrategix, we abide by an SEO ethics code which is built on Google’s search engine optimization best practices.

In Summary…

I hope we answered all of your questions about what SEO Agencies do and why hire one.

We would like to leave you with some pointers to remember:

  • All businesses need to make a choice between building SEO capabilities in-house or outsourcing them.
  • There are 3 main types of SEO (on-page, off-page, and technical) that apply to every business. 
  • Local SEO has great value to local businesses. Merchant is only relevant if you are selling physical products (maybe services in the future).
  • The 7 things to look for when hiring an SEO agency are: experience, professional aptitude, results-driven, continually learning, white-hat ideology, simple reporting, and SEM.
  • SEO Agencies with a proven process are far more successful than those without. They do not have to follow our process, just some process with similar steps.

ProStrategix provides SEO services to small to mid-sized businesses. We are a full service digital advertising agency, and we offer web design, PPC advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, and chatbots.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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