Hi, I'm Tyler Willis and I've been helping businesses optimize their digital marketing and web development efforts for over 10 years. I excel at teaching and helping companies understand complex digital solutions, and applying them to their businesses.
Websites and their influence on the success or failure of business have steadily been on the rise for the past 10-15 years.
And most businesses have embraced this truth, investing more money and time into website development and website services, and making updates than ever before.
However, there often still exists frustrations when it comes to helping potential customers find your website. This is due to 2 primary factors - incorrect expectations and understanding of how the internet works.
Businesses often don't know what to expect when they launch a new website, add pages to an existing website or complete a site redevelopment. We often get tricked into thinking that once we launch something like a website, there will quickly be a virtual line out the door of users ready to embrace it.
Unfortunately, that's not the case. In fact, no one is automatically alerted when we launch a new website. If we simply launch a site with no follow through, it's possible that no one will ever know that it exists.
Yes, the website can and should be a high-performing marketing and sales tool for your business, but it, too, has to be marketed and promoted - especially at first.
This may feel disheartening after paying a developer or agency what felt like a lot of money to even just design and build the site for you. But the truth is that successful websites aren't static - we don't just build them and then walk away. No, websites are dynamic and require continual investment.
The right expectation for your website should be that it does and will require continuous investment of time and money, but with a proper strategy, you can also know for sure that it will eventually pay off and be a growth machine for your company.
So, how do you market your website? One very effective way to do so that has unmatched long-term payoffs is search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engine optimization is the process of improving your website to work and communicate better with search engine's and their algorithms in an attempt to have your webpages rank higher in search engine result pages.
A well-optimized website will rank highly on sites like Google, Bing and others for multiple webpages and search queries, and can send your website free visitors for years to come.
There are a number of search engine optimization services that a company can and should consider investing in to grow their free, organic search website traffic.
1. Setup and submission
You may need assistance to simply get started with SEO. That's where a service offering to help you setup the basics and submit your webpages to search engines would be very helpful.
Search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo may eventually (eventually!) find your website and pages, but you can give your site a head start by actually cataloging your webpages and telling them about your site directly - and that they should begin indexing it.
It starts with a site map. There are front-end site maps - web pages that list a link to every page of your website, and there are back-end site maps made for search engines. They look something like this:
This would basically include a listing of every page of our website, or every page that we'd like to be ranked in search engines.
Then, it's important that we have a file called "robots.txt". This is usually a small file, but tells search engine web crawlers (and which ones) are allowed to crawl and index our website.
Once we have those 2 files created, we can go ahead and, for free, submit our website and all of its pages to search engines. Google, for example, offers a platform called Google Search Console that helps us to verify our site (that we own it) and tell it where our sitemap.xml file is located that we created earlier.
We can go back to Google Search Console periodically to review their crawling and indexing of our site, and even review the performance of our webpages in search results. The platform includes data such as impressions, clicks, average position, and more. This is all very helpful as we try to gain a good understanding of how search engines view our site, and even how we can improve it.
A successful search engine optimization setup service will put the basics in motion for our website to rank in search engines, help you to understand what to look for and expect in the days ahead, and give you the keys to review the information for yourself.
2. Webpage metadata
If you're at least a little familiar with SEO, probably the most common components of your website that come to mind are the meta tags, such as:
- Page title: the text that appears in a browser's tab at the top of the page and the headline on a search result
- Page description: the longer text that appears under the header on the search result
- Page URL: the web address of the specific page
- Image alt text: the text that can be coupled with images primarily for accessibility purposes, but also benefits SEO
And taking care of these elements is a good place to start to improve your search engine optimization.
Fortunately, there are a lot of helpful (and often build-in) tools that website platforms provide that allow you to update the set these values yourself - at least the title, description and URL. And if you use a content management system like WordPress, there are plugins that you can install that will help you to add alternate text to images.
Simply populating these values is a good place to start, but fully leveraging these components, to receive the most benefit to your site's search optimization, requires a focus on:
- Sales: using text in your values that will entice users to click on the search results
- Keyword and key-phrase research: using text that is relevant to your page, and targets high quality search query keywords and phrases
- A/B testing: analyzing performance and modifying the values for best performance in the long run
A successful search engine optimization metadata service will help to ensure all pages and images contain relevant, high quality and search-friendly values in their metadata components.
3. Content creation
The creation of new content might not strike you as an SEO service that you could hire an agency for, but, from our experience, we believe that high-quality content, and the creation of it, is actually the most beneficial search engine optimization activity in the long run.
Creating new pages and adding content to existing pages gives search engines like Google, and their web crawlers who are constantly crawling and reviewing your website and all of its pages, more content to identify, index and add to their database of information.
It's with this information that they can return results to users who use its search platform to perform search queries. Google will look into its database to find the best content that is most likely to match what the user is searching for.
Your goal, as a website, is to put your webpages in the running for as many of these search queries as possible. That means having more high quality content for Google to index and more pages that they can possibly return to the user.
If you haven't noticed, it's not just your home page that is and can be returned and displayed in a search engine result page. Every single page on your website has a chance to be visible and displayed on a search result page, depending on what the query is and what your webpage is about.
So, the goal is to produce more content that can be indexed, and increase your exposure to as many user search queries as possible.
That, and another reason why we believe that content has bypassed any and all technical factors for SEO relevance, is because content can't be faked. This goes back to the early days of Google when website owners could simply list any and all keyword that they could think of in a meta keyword tag. You can imagine how things got out of hand:
And how irrelevant most of those keywords must have been to the actual page content.
Content is what the visiting user actually sees on the page, so that takes priority to any technical factor. Although, technical SEO can help you to get the most out of your content.
On the topic of content creation, one of the best practices that businesses large and small who truly want to compete with the mega-companies for organic traffic, is programmatic SEO.
Programmatic SEO is the practice of using data and content templates to generate quality content in bulk - potentially hundreds or even thousands of URLs that will be indexed in search engines. It can get pretty technical, so we actually created a helpful tool for this called SEOBrrr.
A successful SEO content creation service will help you to develop a plan for content creation, or even offer to create the content, and ensure that it is of high quality, relevant to your business, keyword-researched and search engine optimized.
4. Technical SEO
Technical SEO and the previously-mentioned meta tags are probably what you think about when it comes to search engine optimization. Behind-the-scenes components that require a developer and are buried in the code.
Search engines like Google and Bing first focused on the technical parts of websites in their search engine algorithms as it was more straightforward, and many technical factors still play varying roles in how a website and its pages perform in search engines.
It would be a good idea to hire a company to help you with technical SEO if you have a new website and are unsure of the level of optimization the developer provided or you have an existing website that has never been reviewed or inspected for optimization.
A few things that company might review include items like:
- Headings: in the webpage content, is the proper hierarchy of heading and subheading tags being followed (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6)?
- Crawl errors: are search engines able to crawl the pages successfully, or are some pages returning errors such as 404 (not found) or 500 (server)?
- Duplicate content: does each page contain original content, or is there a large portion of duplicated content or even duplicated values in meta tags?
- Broken links: does each link on the website redirect users to active pages, or are some out of date and considered broken?
- Structured data: does the website and its pages contain structured metadata which is used to help search engines understand the context of a webpage or website?
This usually starts with some sort of scan - automatic and manual - to get a good understand of the site's starting point, and then optimization and even communication back and forth with the client to understand and resolve any issues.
A successful technical search engine optimization service will provide a thorough review of your website, take the time to explain the results and findings, and know how to resolve the opportunities for improvement.
5. Page speed
The service that search engines provide to users is that they provide the best results to users based on what it is they're looking for. This means that the content should be relevant, original and high quality, and that the website should be able to offer a good enough experience to its users so that they can consume that content.
This means that your website's loading performance plays a big role in how your pages rank in search engines.
It would be a good idea to hire an agency to help you with your site's page speed if you've noticed slow-loading pages, you've never had your site's performance analyzed before, or you're simply wanting to make sure your site is fully search engine optimized.
A few things that the company might take a look at include:
- Source code minification: removing unnecessary spaces and line breaks to code, and even transforming the code into a more optimized format
- Image and video compression: media files are often the largest assets of a website loaded by the browser, and you can usually compress them without surrendering quality
- Content delivery networks: hosting your site's assets on global servers ensuring that your content doesn't have to travel as far to the user
Similar to technical SEO reviews, there are quite a few helpful tools that help individuals to scan websites and learn of some low-hanging fruit in a site's page speed. So, that's likely where an agency would start, followed by some manual review of how your site's source code is currently distributed.
A successful SEO page speed service would be able to identify and resolve any bottlenecks between your server and delivering your site's content to its users.
6. Off-page SEO
The final service in this collection of SEO services doesn't actually require any interaction with a website at all. It's referred to as "off-page" SEO because it's external to a site and its webpages. Think of it almost as promotion or marketing of your website.
One of the longest-running and most important search engine factors for search engines is backlinks. Backlinks are other websites and sources linking to your website. In Google's view, this is almost like a vote in support of your site. If another site is linking to yours, then whoever created that link must have thought, at one point, that your content was worth linking to, correct?
Social media accounts and posts can also provide an SEO boost. After all, when you create a post on LinkedIn that contains a link back to a page on your website, that's like a backlink, correct? An external site (linkedin.com) is linking to your website.
Having a large audience on these channels can mean that many users are clicking on that link and visiting your website, validating the quality of that post and backlink.
Having a Google Business page can also provide an SEO boost - not so much in the "backlink" way, but for more local- and regionality-type searches.
Google Business pages help your business and its information (contact information, list of services, etc.) appear in local map searches on search engines. This is sort of like a regular search engine result page but instead of listing search results in the form of text it's a listing of businesses with links back to their websites.
It would make sense to seek off-page SEO services if you're looking to expand your SEO influence further than it already is, or if you're a local business wanting to make sure that your listing is being displayed for regionality-focused searches.
A successful off-page SEO service will be able to help you capture backlinks, and provide direction for creating content that will garner backlinks in the future from other websites, and help you to take your website's optimization to the next level.