Investing in any digital marketing strategy requires confidence in the approach, and trust in the agency you partner with. But all too often businesses don’t know what to look for, as their knowledge in SEO strategies and their ability to spot the best digital marketing agencies are blurred and out of focus.
SEO is the most challenging digital marketing strategy to perform, and naturally the hardest one to show value in. While paid media, inbound marketing and social media marketing can show direct revenue and ROI, SEO as a stand-alone service doesn’t show where direct transactions come from, nor does it reveal the buyer’s journey. Instead, there is a level of opaqueness that shows engagement metrics and conversions from organic traffic, but this data goes no deeper.
Due to the opaque nature of SEO, there is room for businesses to think they are getting screwed (even if they aren’t), and, unfortunately, many opportunities are created where those SEO agencies that are dishonest can find very plausible excuses to create the illusion of value, when in fact their clients are getting hosed.
This article is intended to help business owners, executive managers, and members of the C-Suite learn how to spot the best SEO agencies, identify real value, and also learn some of the tactics dishonest SEOs use to deceive their clients.
Identify Goals and How SEO Agencies can Help You Achieve Them
Before you can determine the level of value your SEO agency offers, you must first have a clearly defined set of goals for your business growth. Without understanding your goals, you have no way to gauge whether or not your SEO is working.
All too often businesses think their goal is to rank well in Google. But in reality this is not a goal. Your goal may be to get more orders placed, see an increase in downloads, or set more consultations. Thinks like ranking, improving your domain authority, and generating more user signals are necessary steps that need to be taken in order to achieve your actual goals. In addition, the SEO strategy designed to improve these metrics must also increase conversions from organic traffic. Again, your business will only grow if you can increase the number of people you set appointments with, share your buyer guides with more people, and hit those high-revenue sales targets. This means placing your focus on rankings and engagement is elementary. Instead, you need to see how these metrics play direct roles into conversions and your overall growth.
Define your goals. These could be selling more shirts, or setting more demo appointments. Then determine how the SEO strategy will help you directly achieve these goals.
Digital Marketing Agencies Need to Understand Your Customers
An organic search marketing strategy is pointless if it isn’t grounded in an understanding of your customers. If your current SEO agency is running a strategy focused on search traffic and popular keywords, then you are merely touching on a small portion of the overall picture. The best digital marketing agencies specializing in SEO start the engagement by understanding exactly how your customers engage with your content, overall industry-related content, and what their common needs and pain points are. Then a strategy is engineered from understanding the real problem customers are facing, and how the brand’s products offer the ultimate solution.
But why does this matter for SEO?
Google’s algorithm continues to evolve, and with its AI and machine learning attributes, Google is able to understand search query intentions, look for context in both longform content and in keywords, and award ranking based on semantic considerations in order to offer searchers the best user experience with search results that best accommodate one’s needs.
Ever look for something online and the the first page of Google has search results that are five years old (or older)? In every case old content that continues to rank well does so because it targets specific audiences, touches on multiple topics that feed into contextual frameworks, and the content is full of educational information that speaks to a specific consumer and their unique needs.
Not many SEO agencies dive this deep with strategy, and the main reason is they lack the talent. Gone are the days when someone from the copywriting team can step up and start performing organic search strategies. Writing content full of keywords, tagging pages, and paying for links no longer works and this means the SEO bar has been raised exceptionally high. Today’s true SEO experts are savvy researchers with graduate degrees, have a background in writing and marketing, and have a decade of experience in riding the Google storm through continuous algorithm updates with experience in knowing how to adapt without losing a beat.
If your SEO strategy focuses on buyers, it also focuses on Google’s requirements for ranking your content as it accommodates best practices. If your digital marketing agency doesn’t have an SEO team with the above mentioned criteria, then you are investing in the same strategy businesses used back in 2010.
Make sure your SEO strategy is grounded in a deep understanding of your customers, their needs, and that a comprehensive content strategy is being executed by true SEO experts.