Growing your business and finding customers and prospects is much easier when those individuals can find you on the Internet. Unfortunately, just publishing a Web site isn’t enough to get noticed by search engines.
Most companies have turned to search engine optimization, the act of meeting the needs of both their customers and the search engines themselves, to improve the position at which they are ranked on the search engine results page. As a result, companies recognize the importance of SEO, but don’t always know the best way to go about improving their rankings. Yes, keywords, links, and page headers are involved, but the process a search engine uses to determine that ranking is often a well-guarded secret that pulls together a variety of Web-based specialties.
Nearly 40 percent of e-commerce traffic around the world started with a search engine — just one of many pieces of research that show how valuable a good ranking position can be. Unfortunately, though, small businesses that are already stretched don’t necessarily have the time to dedicate to improving those rankings. Enter SEO outsourcing, a viable option for businesses with limited budgets and staff that want to drastically increase their online reach.
SEO Outsourcing and Content Creation
Gabe’s experience in SEO outsourcing led him to state that “outstanding content” should be the first priority of an SEO firm — and he is among the majority of professionals to feel that way. SEO is far from dead and quality content, from blog posts and white papers to infographics and videos, is the leading way to both meet your customers’ needs and boost your ranking.
Copywriting with search engine optimization in mind is a valuable part of reaching new customers while sparking a conversion from your existing Web visitors. If you’re considering SEO outsourcing for your content, keep a few things in mind:
- Content should be relevant. This means you find out what your Web site’s visitors want and you answer or address their thoughts in an easy-to-understand, highly accessible format. Each word should add value rather than just increasing the word count, and should lead the customer to a logical, actionable step.
- Keyword stuffing used to be a popular trick to rank higher. Now, search engines have caught on, and it’s far better to work your keywords in naturally, rather than including the keyword or phrase multiple times in the same sentence or paragraph. This presents more readable copy that your visitors will use and share. You should, however, include the keyword in the title and headers to help both visitors and search engines identify the information presented in your piece.
- Content should be organized and flow well. Headers should provide a summary of each section in just a few words. As the bots crawl your page, they’ll be able to find an accurate snapshot of the information being presented.
SEO Outsourcing and Your Web Site Design
On-page SEO can be a great component when it comes to improving your ranking. Web sites should be both attractive and appealing to perform well — you want an end product that both gets visitors and keeps visitors. If you’re thinking of moving your Web site design and development to a specialist, look for a firm that understands the balance between graphical elements like banners and call-to-action boxes and the structure used to build the, like crawlable Webfonts, CSS, and HTML.
Combining appealing design elements with descriptive body text in rollover or mouse-over images allows you to give your visitors a great experience while still meeting the needs of the search engine crawlers.
SEO Outsourcing and Link Building
While link-building isn’t the most important of the components to successful SEO, it is a tool that contributes to a higher ranking. Consider each quality link a vote. With a few caveats, more links to your Web site or a specific page tends to create a larger impact on the overall formula used by the algorithm to rank the page. A site that is considered trustworthy will also link to a trustworthy site, because the administrators have their users in mind. Sites that would be considered spam will receive very few links, because a trustworthy site wants to give its users valuable content.
Some companies shy away from SEO outsourcing for link building because they’ve experienced problems in the past, but putting together a thorough plan with a reputable SEO specialist can help you delegate the time-consuming work of reaching out while still building up your authority.
- To get the best results, links should be to Web sites based in the country where you want the link.
- Finding the best partner can be a lengthy task — you want a Web site that is reputable and a good fit for your link. Some companies will search the results on several hundred pages to make sure the site is trustworthy and reputable.
- Reach out and ask the site to consider link-sharing. A template for the e-mail can be a useful tool, as long as it is personalized and includes the reason why you want to share their link, as well as request for them to share your link.
- The relationship building is the crucial part. Find a company that can represent your Web site well to maintain that, and SEO outsourcing for link building is a doable part of your SEO strategy.
9 Hints for SEO Outsourcing
- Look for a company with native speakers of your target audience: This makes placing orders a much easier job, since the people you’re entrusting to your SEO will be able to clearly communicate as you place orders. More importantly, your readers will know if your Web content has been written by someone who doesn’t speak their native language with a high fluency to native speaker level. The word choice, grammar, syntax, and copy structuring will cause readers to ditch your Web site; even worse, poor writing could cause a public relations nightmare should something be worded in a way that produces false claims about your product or service.
- Think about your true outsourcing needs: Do you need your entire Web site re-done? Do you need copy for your Web site? Do you need regular optimization or a one-time review? What about link building or removal, reputation control, or pay-per-click advertising? If you’re still not sure, think about your overall company and marketing goals. What kind of growth are you hoping to see? Some might want to see a direct sales increase, while other companies are hoping to grow their leads or improve their conversion rates. Once you know what you want to happen, you’ll know what questions to ask when hiring an SEO specialist or firm.
- Set realistic, measurable goals: True success is measurable and traceable — you know what caused the growth, and you know how your growth changed. When you’re setting the goals that will help you choose an SEO firm, you should be able to put quantifiable benchmarks in place. This means you need to know where you are right now, where you are when you start working with the firm, and where you should be as your build your online presence. Putting these numeric gauges in place will be a benefit, as well, for your superiors, managers, and investors who want to see that you’re making progress and wise investments of your resources.
- Take advantage of free audits: You’ll get to know the companies involved and what they offer, while learning more about the success (or failure) of SEO efforts already being taken. If you’re working with a company and haven’t seen results, take the time to call a company offering a free review of your Web site. This often includes the firm doing some research, and they’ll come back with recommendations and pricing structure. It’s also a good idea to ask the company about their specialty area. If you’re looking for quality SEO content, you may have better luck working with a copywriting company rather than a firm that focuses strictly on Web design. Ask the firm about their specifications for hiring employees: copywriting companies, for example, should have writers with high proficiency in your target audience’s language, expertise or experience in your industry, and a quality track record of gaining growth and exposure for their customers. Learn about how the company processes orders and conducts business.
- Find companies with more than SEO expertise: SEO is more than just search engine optimization. Find a company that specializes in a variety of Internet marketing areas, including social media, blogging and content creation, Web design, pay-per-click, e-mail marketing, and data analysis. These will be the companies that help you create a complex campaign that is more effective in the long run. While SEO is about rankings, it’s made up of a variety of different components, all of which can play an important factor in the way your site is ranking and perceived by your customers.
- Know what to outsource and what to keep in-house: While you’re setting your budget, find out what skills and talents your current employees possess. You may have a skilled writer, a social media master, or a Web designer on-staff in a different area. Realigning some of their job duties could help you free up your outsourcing budget to focus your investment in the areas where you need the greatest assistance. You can also consider talking with the SEO firm during your consultation; many are willing to work with you to help you decide which tasks can be done in-house and which should be outsourced.
- Seek out firms that stay on top of updates: Thanks to the quickly changing world of search engine algorithms, SEO outsourcing should be done with specialists who can keep up with all of the changes. Google alone can make anywhere from 500 to 600 minor and major updates each year that could have a significant impact on the work you do to improve your SEO. Firms that are completely focused on one aspect of SEO might be exceptionally good at what they do, but it’s important that they also understand how that specialty fits in the bigger search engine picture.
- SEO outsourcing requires consistency: Like anything else, you’ll see better results as you continue to build on the work you’re doing. SEO requires patience and regular effort. Writing one SEO piece of content once may help; weekly optimized blog posts, though, will help you find a steady stream Web traffic, which can lead to growth in other areas of your SEO efforts.
- Remember — people first: SEO outsourcing should be done with a company that understands that, while optimization is determined by a search engine, the deciding components depend on how useful the content is for people. Google ranks Web sites based on things like the domain’s trustworthiness and authority, which can be determined by the number of legitimate shares of links to value-added content. The company, along with other search engines, is regularly changing and updating rules and criteria. These factors aren’t widely shared, either, since the companies would prefer sites to create online growth to start by thinking about their users rather than concentrating on the formula used to rank the sites. For example, one recent change included making your site mobile-friendly, to appeal to and better provide information to users searching on smartphones and other Web-enabled devices.
Take the first step today: contact us for a free SEO analysis. Our experts will give you a thorough audit and can help you take the good activities you’ve been doing and turn them into productive, results-generating components of a comprehensive SEO plan. We’ll only be offering this for a limited time, though, so definitely take advantage of the offer.
What are your thoughts on SEO outsourcing? If you’ve tried it before, I’d love to hear your results; if you haven’t, I’d love to hear why. Comment below with your thoughts.