SEO (or search engine optimization) is the practice of creating, populating, and promoting web pages or sites with the goal of securing top rankings on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
There are many different factors that go into SEO, which makes pulling it off a difficult task for businesses that don’t have years of experience or technical knowledge. This is where SEO agencies come in: by outsourcing the work, the average business can enjoy expert results at a fraction of the cost of developing in-house capabilities.
Of course, not all SEO agencies are created equal. When choosing an agency to partner with, keep an eye out for these five key services that are a sure sign of quality.
1. Content Strategy & Production
When it comes to getting your pages to rank high on your search engines of choice, much of the heavy lifting comes from your content. Web crawlers scan your pages, articles, and the other things that populate your site to determine if they’re worth recommending to search users.
Your content allows you to deploy keywords: words and phrases that people use when searching online (ex. “best Japanese restaurant in Jumeirah”). If you run the right strategy, you can fill your site with great content that ranks well and convinces your site’s users that your solutions are the real deal.
We recommend you look for an agency that can help you develop a strong content strategy as part of their SEO services.
As you meet with representatives from the companies you’re vetting, ask them what factors they consider when building strategies for their clients. A real team of experts would have answers ready: either a plan that could fit your needs with a little more work, or strong ideas that prove they have potential.
Likewise, their ability to produce content should factor heavily in your decision. Check their blog to see if their own articles are helpful, and ask for samples of things they’ve written for clients—the best SEO agencies can create strong content no matter the industry.
2. On-Page SEO
SEO services go beyond writing. Keywords on a webpage are only part of the work: the rest involves a lot of complex, technical steps that involve website developers and programmers.
On-page SEO is a set of services that improve the ranking performance of websites and pages by working with the back end of the site. It’s less about what’s written on your webpages and more about how those pages are built.
A good example of this is how quickly your pages load. Google has no interest in sending its users to websites that perform poorly, so page load speed is a big factor in determining rank. This means it helps to partner with an agency whose SEO services include web design: if they can keep your pages lean and high-performing, it’ll be better for your visibility in the long run.
Speaking of web design, certain textual elements of your pages aren’t immediately visible to viewers but play an important role nonetheless. For example, your URL structure should be neat and organized—clearly indicating the content of your pages through, you guessed it, keywords.
The same goes for your title and meta description tags, as well as the way you structure headers in your content. Your whole website ought to be organized and take a logical form in the way it’s presented.
Ultimately, our point is this: choose an SEO agency that knows how to think like a search engine, and has the technical expertise to put their knowledge into practice.
3. Backlink Building
Building backlinks is one of the SEO services that you’d definitely want to outsource to an agency. It’s a lot of work, but the benefits range from better leads to an improved reputation across your whole digital presence.
You earn a backlink whenever another website hyperlinks to your website using a follow link. Google and other search engines refer to the number of backlinks a site has earned when determining its rank. It stands to reason that when high-quality websites make citations, those citations are valuable in and of themselves.
If you’re wondering how you can guarantee that other websites link to yours, the answer is through hard work. Reaching out to webmasters, producing high-quality content, and marketing articles once they’re published are all painstaking steps that go a long way towards link-building.
SEO agencies that provide this service are rare, but very valuable. Keep this on your list of questions when vetting potential partners and considering the SEO services they offer.
We’ve covered backlinks in a separate article, so please feel free to check that article out for more details.
4. Local SEO
Local SEO services ensure that your website and its content are served to people who live and work in your target area of business. Google has been working hard to ensure that their users can reach the nearest, most reliable solutions—that’s their entire business model for search.
It’s important to invest in an SEO agency that can improve your local search rank. We aren’t exaggerating when we say it might be the most competitive and strategically important arena in all of search engine marketing.
There’s a lot at stake when it comes to reaching out to your nearest, most accessible base of new leads. Neglecting your NAP data, the Google Map Pack, your Google My Business platform is a good way to lose market share fast.
5. eCommerce SEO
The last SEO service on our list might not apply immediately to yours, but it’s an important one to look out for if your business operates a digital storefront.
eCommerce SEO is a sub-field of search engine optimization that deals with getting digital product listings to rank well on organic search and in the various SERP features. It ensures that people searching for stores can find yours, and that people looking for specific products see yours featured prominently among a list of options.
Ask the SEO agencies you’re considering for case studies of their past work with ecommerce clients. Take a look at how they’ve designed their web pages (ex. does it look good, and does it rank well?) and what they’ve managed to do for their product listings.
There are many different kinds of SEO services out there, and finding an agency that can perform each of those functions well will make or break your digital marketing ROI.
If you’re interested in generating more leads than ever before with a website that looks great and performs well, the experts at Igloo are here for you. Consult our experts today to learn more about the SEO services that’ll take your business to the next stage of growth.