Website audits, keywords research, keyword monitoring… when you want your website to really be visibile on Google, Search Engine Optimisation companies will start shooting all kinds of weird terms at you. But what do they really mean and what really should these companies do on a practical level?
Let’s try to clarify it and bring some peace into your mind.
This is what Search Engine Optimisation companies should do when they start working on your website to promote your business online.
The SEO audit: what is it?
If you already have a website, the first thing that needs to be done is to assess your position on search engines like Google or Bing compared to your competitors, understand which keywords you are already present with, how the website itself performs in terms of speed and much more.
This is done thanks to a website SEO audit, which is a bespoke report that you will receive and that will contain everything that is SEO-related to your website (if you don’t already own a website, a study will still be done as professionals will need to understand what keywords to focus on in your new SEO strategy)
More in detail, this is just an example of what generally is discussed inside a technical SEO audit:
- Overall website situation
- Website keywords
- XML Sitemap
- Search console and Google Analytics
- Website loading speed
- Backlinks and disavow file
- Meta tags
- Duplicate content
- Internal and external links
- Broken links
- Traffic sources
- Keyword density in pages
- Server errors
And that’s not all. These are just a few things that came on top of my head and what’s kept into account in such a document can greatly vary based on your current situation.
This is just to let you understand how important this phase is and why it constitutes a solid foundation for everything that will be done afterwards.
SEO Tools: what do Search Engine Optimisation companies generally use?
Nowadays there are hundreds of tools used by Search Engine Optimisation companies, but there is a few of them that are considered the unscathed leaders of the market in terms of added value they offer to their users.
One of them is surely SEMRush, a very comprehensive, £90/month-at-least suite that allows professionals to scan your website and look for SEO errors, both on site and off site.
Other tools include Google-offered stuff such as Google Analytics, Google Pagespeed Insight, Google Search Console. Also, there are ScreamingFrog, Moz, Ahrefs and many others. Every one of them serves a different purpose.
Just above here I’ve talked about on site and off site optimisations, but what is the difference between them? Its’s very simple.
- On site optimisations are all the things happening, as you might’ve guessed, directly on the website on a technical level, such as reducing the loading speed or using the correct title tags.
- Off site optimisations involves everything happening outside of the website. One example above all: the inbound links you get from other websites. They are essential as they transfer authority to your website.
You will need both of them for a perfect SEO job and there’s no way around it.
The SEO website intervention
After all the study part it’s time to get into action. This is where the Search Engine Optimisation companies will start getting their hands dirty and doing practical stuff.
First of all, if your website already exists and is present on Google, it’s very likely the SEO company won’t be working on it directly.
Instead, they will create a copy somewhere else, so they will be able to work without causing your actual website any SEO disruption.
After this process, the SEO company will start working on all the on site SEO elements, by speeding it up, optimising tags and keywords and so on.
The better the company, the better the final outcome will be. It’s all up to the professionalism of the company you have chosen at this point.
Experience and knowledge are absolutely important on this thorny step, where mistakes can actually lead your website to be penalised, instead of rewarded. So choose your Search Engine Optimisation company carefully.
When operations will be completed, you won’t get results on the next day: SEO takes time, but I guarantee you that it represents one of the most important and effective lead generation techniques and it’s really worth the efforts and the investment.
At this point, supposing the SEO company has done a good job and fixed your SEO-broken website, it’s time to keep that situation stable otherwise you will have wasted your money.
Why Search Engine Optimisation companies charge recurring costs for SEO?
Simple question, simple answer: we already talked about this in the past, but I’ll be happy to review it here. There’s different factors.
First of all – competitors. They will keep working to get a better indexation in Search Engines, and so should you. If you stop, you are lost!
Second – algorithm changes. Google algorithms change very often, sometimes even multiple times during the same month and up to 600 times a year. It is indeed essential to have a Search Engine Optimisation company that is ready to act based on the nature of these algorithm changes, otherwise you will lose your positioning.
Third – the content strategy. Someone will need to publish content on the website on your behalf and help you manage it or, if you want to deal with it personally, at least review what you are adding under an SEO point of view.
For example, if there is a specific focus keyword you want to work on, one of the suggestions SEO specialists usually give is to focus on writing blog posts containing keywords related to that focus keyword. This means making sure that for every blog post, meta titles, opengraphs, keyword density, image’s alt tags, formatting, headings and so on are reviewed before going live.
So it’s not really something you do one-off.
Fourth – the monitoring. The SEO company should constantly monitor the whole situation for you. Usually they will send you a monthly SEO report to discuss achieved results. At Wiredmark we don’t always do this: we believe it’s useless to send boring documentation when there’s really nothing to discuss yet.
We only do it when we think there’s something worth talking about and try to reduce the loss of time by the client at minimum.
Can I can reduce Search Engine Optimisation companies’ costs by doing some stuff by myself?
In general, when you receive an SEO audit, at the end of the documentation you will find something like “how to proceed from here“. The SEO company will, in fact, give you the following options after their analysis:
- Now that you know what to deal with, you decide to work on it by yourself without incurring in extra costs (not suggested, unless you’re an expert);
- Deal with parts of the strategy you feel the most comfortable with, e.g. writing blog posts, while the SEO company deals with the reviewing, analytical and technical part;
- Let the SEO company entirely deal with it.
At Wiredmark we usually follow these guidelines as well in our audits. We leave the choice to the final customer. Also, we have a specific all-inclusive offer for startups called Popup by Wiredmark: with the Premium plan we basically assist our clients with 2), in the Advanced plan we do 3).
How do I understand if an SEO company is the right one for me?
In my and my team’s opinion, there is no guaranteed SEO and a serious SEO company shouldn’t go around promising the first position on Google after the first couple of months of activity.
If they do, they’re either unprofessional or they have in mind to use black hat SEO techniques, meaning non genuine methods to help you climb faster than others until you are noticed by Search Engines and penalised.
Surely it is possible to climb to the first place with one or multiple good search volume keywords, but it takes time when done the right way, and still it would be impossible to guarantee it constantly. What if you are first and then a sudden Google update sends you back to page 10?
Google doesn’t certainly warn you before pushing algorithm changes. It just does it (trick: you can use the SEMRush Sensor to figure out if there was an algorithm update on a certain moment and eventually try to interpret it).
Another factor you should keep into account is the price they quote you.
Don’t expect to pay a few dozen pounds per month: SEO takes time and efforts and when the pricing is too low, it should raise a flag to you. You should consider spending at least a few hundreds per month if you want the job to be well done.
Ask yourself if the Search Engine Optimisation company can possibly spend 5, 10, 20 hours per month for your business at that price and if the answer is yes, then go on and accept the deal.
Conversely, it’s highly likely they won’t be doing a thing and just send an SEO report at the end of the month with no results achieved.
How long should I wait to see real SEO results?
As bad as it might sound to say it like this, the answer is: we don’t know.
For all intents and purposes, Search Engine Optimisation is an inaccurate science and is open to interpretations, because search engines cannot share their algorithms publicly for obvious reasons (everyone would know how to be the first).
What we know for sure is general guidelines: websites need to be fast, links (or the so-called “juice”) needs to flow inside and outside the website and there must be focus on the content.
In fact, the content is the key. We know for sure that Google, for example, rewards good, genuine content.
Of course there are hundreds of other different factors. Just to name one, domain age can play a very important role in the indexation strategy. The older the domain, the more authority it will have, if the right SEO strategy was implemented over time.
I saw cases of websites reaching the first position in as low as three months (specific niches with low or no competitors).
In other cases, it took over one year to achieve satisfying results.
The only way you’ll know it is by trusting one of the many professional Search Engine Optimisation companies out there. At some point, you will do it.
Thanks for being with me during all this long blog post. If you have doubts or maybe questions, feel free to get in touch with me by commenting under this post.