In such a technology driven world we live in, most of us have heard of the term SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). But getting your head wrapped around what it is and what SEO firms actually do, is a completely different story. In short; the art of Search Engine Optimisation helps companies get business from major search engines like Google. This includes helping the business rank well in the search engine results through creating content, building high quality links and a range of essential SEO services to give you the best possible results. But SEO delves much deeper than that.
1. Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO
The biggest problem with SEO is the bad rep it usually gets. This is because, like with any industry, there’s firms out there violating the system. Black hat SEO utilises a set of practices that boosts your search engine rankings and helps potential customers find your website first, but the practices these firms use go against the search engines’ rules and regulations. Some examples can include hidden content, keyword stuffing and link farming (linking to unrelated websites).
On the flip side, white hat SEO are the good guys in the industry. They utilise quality and structured content, effective keyword use and high quality inbound links to help your website be found. White SEO firms will be completely transparent about the work they’re doing for you too. Whilst the process can certainly take longer, it’s much more reputable.
2. Initial Research, Audit and Analysis
In stage one of white hat SEO, initial research, audit and analysis will be conducted. This part is essential to ensuring your website’s content and structure is both useful and appealing to potential customers and major search engines. This section is divided into a few major parts, each just as vital as the others:
Keyword Research: The process of identifying specific and relevant key phrases you want to rank for to help potential customers find your products or services online. Competitor research is big in this part to determine what other businesses in your industry are ranking for. Keyword research helps to map out a buying path for people who would be searching for that term. The SEO firm will help to narrow down the keyword phrases to the most important ones for your business.
Technical SEO Audit: To help your website rank in the search engines result pages (SERPS), ‘spiders’ are sent out to crawl your site. Through the SEO audit, the SEO firm will check how easy it is for these spiders and real life users to navigate.
Content Audit and Analysis: All content on the site is reviewed and list of suggested changes made. Essential SEO factors like website load time, URL structures, internal linking and meta tags and descriptions will be looked into. Additional content pages may be added to add more meat to the site and page quality and relevance will be taken into consideration.
3. Onsite and Offsite Optimisation
The results from the initial SEO audit are then weighed up and discussed with you, leading to both onsite and offsite optimisation and various SEO activities. Some of these activities include a website redesign (extreme cases only), a code overhaul (used to make your website more SEO friendly) and link removal. Link removal is paramount for removing low quality links that can hurt your website’s reputation or warrant a manual penalty by Google. Any ‘bad’ links that can’t be removed will be disavowed to avoid your site being stung.
4. Link Building
Quality link building is an integral part of SEO and is one of the major parts white hat SEO firms are distinguished from the black hats. Building quality links is one of those ongoing SEO services, and like maintaining anything in your life – if you don’t stay on top of it, things can get messy! Google thrives on fresh content and a stream of new, quality and relevant links to feature your website in the SERPS, so continuing to build them is vital.
Effective link building comprises of regular link monitoring to avoid being victim of a negative SEO attack, extensive competitor research, brand monitoring and outreach to relevant sites for potential link juice.
5. Web Marketing
Another ongoing SEO activity is content creation which makes up a massive part of web marketing. Through the use of valuable, relevant content in your industry, you’re in a better position to reach prospects who are activity going to use your services or purchase from your business.
A reputable SEO firm will do this by providing you with unique, fresh content to build authority on your site. This is done through article submissions to high quality sites relevant to your industry (outreach) and Press Release Optimisation. Website content optimisation and blog management is another core part of this.
In addition to these services, a white hat SEO firm will be able to assist with local search, monthly reporting to keep you in the loop and social media optimisation.
SEO can be a powerful marketing tool. And the more energy you and your SEO firm are willing to put into it, the more benefits you’ll see are being gained.