Different professionals win their customers’ trust in different ways. For a doctor, say, or a mechanic, there are credentials: certifications and advanced degrees. Things aren’t always so cut-and-dry in the digital marketing world, where many professional roles are multidisciplinary. So how do you know if you can trust an SEO provider? The short answer: results.
There are no official credentials for SEO, so SEO professionals who want to win prospective clients’ trust have to rely on their past work to prove the value of their services. When you start looking more closely at an SEO’s track record, it becomes much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff. Search engine optimization encompasses many marketing activities, and any SEO worth his or her salt will be well-versed in the following:
- Content marketing – content is the lifeblood of SEO. Without good content, quality SEO results can be kissed goodbye. ‘Content’ includes blog posts, website copy, videos, images, PDFs, infographics, and other assets. All of these media can be optimized for search engines.
- Search marketing – the sole focus of an SEO is to ensure that your business is visible across search engine results for as many relevant queries searchers use as possible.
- Consumer behavior – a good SEO will be able to identify important industry trends and search behavior.
- Advertising – SEO is a form of marketing, and selling your brand to potential customers is the goal. Just because people find your site doesn’t mean that they are going to engage with your business. Creating specific calls-to-action within your content aids this process to create leads and generate sales.
- Public relations – creating relationships with your potential, current and former customers is essential. SEO accomplishes this by incorporating social media and blogging into campaigns. Reputation management is also at stake here, as online reviews become increasingly important factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions. A good SEO will keep an eye on online reputation, though active reputation management is another discipline entirely.
So how can you tell the difference between a good SEO and a bad SEO? Unlike doctors and mechanics, SEOs have a more difficult time proving results. Why? Because of tangibility. Optimizing a website does not produce a product, or something that cures your cough. What it does is help people find the information they’re looking for – and trust me, everyone is always looking for something. But that’s the thing – we SEOs can’t provide results in minutes or days. Try months. What’s tangible for what we do are the metrics we provide. We can show you metrics about how much traffic you received during a period of time, where those visitors came from, which pages they visited on your site, and how long they were on your site.
This data represents a car dealership in Orlando, Florida that sells four brands. Its large metropolitan location, number of brands, and inventory are all factors that affect these metrics. The more brands you sell, the greater the opportunity you have to attract searchers based off of brand recognition. Remember: just because you get a lot of traffic doesn’t mean that traffic is necessarily qualified. You want to make sure you are attracting the users most likely to invest their time and money into your business.
These metrics are important because they indicate areas of opportunity in your SEO campaign, and help diagnose website issues. Metrics are also important in understanding performance over time, to see how your industry and other factors affect your digital marketing results.
SEOs working in any industry understand that their work plays an important part in obtaining new business, but that many factors affect the success of a campaign. The question of ROI causes some businesses to shy away from SEO: they don’t see the value, or aren’t familiar enough with SEO to understand the ROI. Quality SEO work will bring benefit, and offer a solid ROI. Here’s how:
- Branding – If you’re in a competitive industry and optimize your site for high-volume, competitive keywords, you’ll be more likely to populate in SERPs. More people will visit your site and will understand how your services can help alleviate their problems. Visitor traffic in Analytics will show increases in organic visitors, increases in pageviews per session and an increase in the percentage of new users that visit your site.
- Sales –SEO can lend a hand in creating leads and sales, by driving traffic to your site, which should be optimized with goals and conversions in mind. Your sales can be monitored through advanced website traffic reporting, with Google Analytics, Google Search Console and other third-party services. This data can show you which products your customers are interested in, and where to focus future SEO efforts.
- Overall traffic increase – having a well-optimized site will help attract more visits to your website, which is just like people walking into your shop. If they visit, it’s likely that you have what they’re looking for, which looks great for your brand and for your sales!
This screenshot shows the same car dealership in Orlando, Florida. Organic sessions have increased significantly year over year, and are consistently going up.
It’s important to note that SEO results differ by industry and by business, and depend on how goals are defined. Some metrics may show huge increases, and some small increases. Some metrics may seem negative, but may actually be positive. It is up to the trusty SEO to analyze the data and provide clear, accurate reports.
SEO results aren’t instantaneous; it can take months for optimization to yield traffic increases. SEO is an ongoing process that requires constant tweaking. Search volume for all keywords fluctuates, and user intent also changes. It is important to understand these trends and constantly adapt to search intent to stay on top of your target audience and your competition. Search engine optimization is a worthwhile investment for any business with a website.
In a space where millions of businesses are competing for users’ attention, your brand can’t afford to fall behind.