There is a big difference between ‘traditional’ SEO consultancy and what we offer at TopLine. There are still plenty of SEO consultants out there who will recommend a short term, spammy approach to SEO that might generate some early results but will decimate your online brand in the long term.
Unfortunately, we’ve worked with a number of companies that have been victims of this reckless approach to SEO. They find that within six months of appointing a cheap SEO agency, their website has all but vanished from Google’s search results, leads have dried up and their business is in trouble.
Hire the wrong SEO consultancy and your business will suffer.
Good SEO consulting services should take a holistic view of your online brand with a specific focus on the following areas.
Your short- and long-term objectives
What are you trying to do? Is there a product focus? Is it a low value high volume sell? Or are you trying to sell high value low volume? Where is your sales funnel failing you? Are you targeting local customers or are you interested in national or even international business? And what are the timeframes involved? How quickly do you need to achieve your sales objectives? Is SEO able to deliver what you require.
Your SEO history
What SEO activity have you done up to this point? We’ll need to get an honest overview of previous on-site and off-site activity, including who was involved and what they did as we might need to reverse some of these actions. We’ll also want to understand your website’s history. Was it relaunched six months ago? Is it due to be revamped soon? Did you change the domain name? Who handled all of these changes? An effective SEO consulting project is founded on this information.
Search engines are keen provide the most relevant results every time someone conducts an online search. It’s therefore important to consider how your content stacks up against the competition. Does it provide the most helpful information to the searcher? Does it need images and/or videos to be clearer and more accessible? Is there enough content? Have you structured the information in such a way that Google can extract elements to display right on the search results page? And most importantly of all, are your pages structured in logical hierarchies.
If you want search engines to associate your site with a specific topic then you need to group your content around that subject. This may mean you have ‘hub’ and ‘spoke’ pages (or parent and child pages – different consultants will call them different things). Optimising your site hierarchy and navigation is really important for SEO success.
Link and brand profile
An important part of the SEO consultancy we offer focuses on the links that point at your site and the way your brand is represented online. Google has been using hyperlinks from other sites as ‘votes’ for the quality of yours since it was launched. The original algorithm that determined the quality of your site (or PageRank – named after Larry Page) was easily exploited. Over the last 20 years the algorithm has changed and improved, which means two things for the SEO profession. First, it’s much harder to game the system. And secondly, when Google finds out that you have been gaming the system, your site tends to get penalised. That is why working with cheap SEO consultancies is so dangerous.
At TopLine, our consultants will review your link profile versus your competitors’ and make suggestions on improvements and changes. They will also consider your online brand profile, as non-linked mentions in the right online publications are also becoming an important factor in determining how Google sees your site.
Keyword research and the SERPs
Keyword research is important and it is a very in-depth process. Your keywords need to be matched to your sales funnel, which means targeting longtail (usually informational type) for top of the funnel objectives or shorter, more direct queries for lead generation. Are your keyword targets realistic, based on the strength of your website and those of your competitors’?
And what do the search engine results pages (SERPs) look like? For each keyword we need to analyse what we’re up against. Does Google show maps, instant answers (known in the industry as featured snippets) or star-based reviews (called rich snippets)? And which websites are dominating the search results and why? All of this information will help us pull together a comprehensive SEO strategy that will deliver results.
Technical SEO consultancy is an important element of the whole process. We’re now living in a mobile first world (Google returns the mobile versions of websites in its search results whenever possible). You need to get the fundamentals right: like the health of the server your site is hosted on, the speed of your site, how mobile friendly it is and your internal linking strategy. And an important part of technical SEO is conversion rate optimisation – which simply involves increasing the chance that a visitor to your site will become a customer or lead.