It’s a question that comes up everyday in the digital marketing space—”uh, so what do SEO companies, like, do?”
Most people know that SEO stands for search engine optimization, but few people truly understand what it means. And even if they do, they don’t necessarily ‘get’ how an SEO company performs SEO services.
So, what do SEO companies do? The easy answer: they help mold websites into their best possible form in the eyes of Google, and users, while also growing the amount of traffic, leads, and conversions to the site.
Of course it isn’t that easy. Which is why SEO companies follow a structured process in order to get these sites where they need to be—both in terms of rankings and conversion rates.
SEO doesn’t happen overnight, but a dedicated (and honest) SEO company will put in the following leg work so that a site may reach its organic traffic goals within 6-12 months.
Here’s where the work of an SEO company begins…
Analyzing Site Structure
It starts with the nuts and bolts. Every site that’s ranking high in the search results has its structure down. Simply put, their pages have the right technical components for SEO, as do their subpages.
During the on-boarding phase for a new client, SEOs will scour the site making notes of its current structure and ideas for improvements.
Checking for Errors
Technical errors happen without you even knowing it. It’s why SEO audits are so necessary to ensure your site isn’t lugging around crucial mistakes.
During the on-boarding phase, an SEO company will perform a full website crawl and audit. Errors such as broken links, coding issues, and duplicate content will be documented and prioritized for fixing.
Looking at Metadata
All that HTML code that goes in the <head> section of each page is pretty important for SEO. We look at title tags and meta descriptions across each page, and optimize them with keywords, proper length requirements, and click-through-rate optimization. Metadata are probably the most important words on your site that you can’t actually see on your site, if that makes sense.
A big component of site structure is topical organization, potentially even more so than keywords. In fact, it was late 2015 when columnist Stoney deGeyter proclaimed that we’d moved past traditional keyword optimization, and into topical authority building.
For SEO, this means agencies are looking more at the way a client site presents its ideas, rather than treating each site like a conglomeration of keyword phrases.
Of course keywords still matter, but it’s much more about the framework within which they’re presented.
Anyway, all this means is that SEO companies are trying to help website’s categorize their information in a logical manner.
Here’s what a category map might look like:
Topical organization ties into the idea of user experience. The user will spend more time on site and be more likely to convert on offers if there’s a clear sense of organization.
As SEOs, it’s our job to identify the best ways of connecting the information across your site; then employing an internal linking strategy that makes sense.
Study Google Analytics and Search Console
Probably the two most popular tools for any SEO Specialist are Google Analytics and Search Console. Not only do these show us boatloads of important data about a website, they are also 100% FREE!
Here are some of the numbers that matter most to us.
Using Search Console we can filter by pages to see which ones are getting the most impressions and clicks.
We then cross-reference that info with the queries option; this way we can tell what keyword phrases are getting people to those pages.
Top Traffic Sources
We use Google Analytics to see the top sources sending traffic to a website. This tells us how the site’s organic search strategy is currently going, and where it can be improved.
One of the best ways to do this is by clicking on Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
SEO companies need to continually monitor how organic traffic is performing, and what percentage of a site’s total traffic it makes up.
Setting Conversion Goal
After checking general traffic figures, our attention shifts to setting up the all-important goals.
In Google Analytics, you can set up goals fairly easily and tie them to events. This is how monetary values are assigned for the actions that users take on a website.
Ultimately, the job of an SEO company is to help a site raise its conversion rate, and goal setting is a crucial step for measuring exactly that.
Weighing Against The Competition
Success online doesn’t mean you should reinvent the wheel. It’s simply a matter of mirroring what’s already working for others, and trying to do things better.
This is why competitive analysis is one of the most vital elements of any SEO strategy, and why it needs to be done early and often for all clients
Understanding the Content Gap
There’s a fantastic feature within the SEO tool Ahrefs, called Content Gap.
What this does is take three competing domains (ex: bestbuy.com, staples.com, frys.com) and list the shared keywords for all three.
It’s like getting access to a secret playbook and viewing your opponent’s next move. If you find that other domains are ranking highly for a keyword you want to rank for, now’s the time to make your move.
Regardless of whether they’re using Ahrefs, SEOs owe it to their clients to decipher exactly what the competition is doing and what keywords they’re targeting. By paying attention to patterns, we are cutting out the guesswork of keyword research and choosing only the terms that have proven success.
Finally, after all the upfront research, it should come as no surprise that SEO companies eventually start optimizing their client sites for long-term success.
But even during this implementation process, SEO companies are never done looking for better ways to improve a site’s SEO.
Keywords, rankings, and conversion rates are monitored on a weekly basis to see what needs to be rectified. Plus, as new pages are published to the site, more SEO measures will be needed to ensure that a nice topical organization remains in place (remember that section above?).
Ultimately, SEO companies are responsible for conducting the delicate balancing act between search engines and user-friendliness.