What to expect from your SEO executive
If you run a business of any sort, whether it’s a large e-commerce site or a small, one-person trade company, you can benefit from Search Engine Optimisation. But what is SEO, how can it impact your business and what should you expect from an SEO executive are questions that can sometimes leave you feeling more confused than when you started. This blog will attempt to unravel the thread, leaving you with a complete understanding of what your SEO executive should be doing for you and your business.
What is SEO?
SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimisation, which is the process of generating online traffic from free, organic search results in search engines as opposed to PPC (Pay per Click) which is where you pay for your site’s visibility on the search engines pages. SEO can be used to drive traffic from any search engine, but as Google is the largest search engine results provider on the planet, we will be generally discussing SEO in relation to Google.
How does SEO work?
Google uses bots to ‘crawl’ web pages, moving through the site and going from page to page. The information these bots collect is then collated and stored in an index, somewhat like a library that the librarian (Google) will use to find the right book (webpage) for your search. Google then analyses each page and site in its library using ever-changing algorithms and uses those findings to rank the web pages in relation to the user’s search query. The search bots are interested in user experience, and if a page ticks a lot of boxes in the user’s query, that page will be shown to the user on the search engine results page (SERP).
What does your SEO Executive do?
The strategy is something that your SEO Executive creates in order to guide them through the work, and allows you to see what work is being undertaken. This is especially important for off-page and technical SEO as the work done, unlike content refreshes and on-page work, can’t be seen.
Client contact and report
Google Data Studios
Our agency uses Google data studios to show our clients each month’s work and how it has impacted their business. These in-depth reports will show users’ conversions, and Google rankings, as well as what work was actioned and the technical health of the site.
These will arrive in the client’s email on the first day of each month with an in-depth explanation of what work was done for the month and why. We believe that this is an integral part of the service that an SEO executive offers. It allows the client to gain a proper understanding of where their money is going.
A lot of SEO work is ‘behind the scenes,’ so to speak, with only the on-site work showing tangible differences between the before and after of a site. Both the technical and off-site work is invisible, so these client reports and monthly client catch-ups are an incredibly important way to make sure that the client understands that they are getting the very best value for their outlay.
Client contact is also a fantastic way to create a meaningful relationship with the client and their business, understanding their goals on a personal level, whilst also being able to put them at ease and guide their own strategies. An SEO executive is not just a digital marketer, they are also consultants and business partners.
How long does it take SEO to achieve results?
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for SEO timings. It all depends on your goals, the strategy, and Google. You can see some small bumps in the rankings within weeks of SEO, but should also be prepared for your SEO campaign to be a long and constantly evolving process.
This is especially true if you want to rank for national keywords or offer similar services and products as well-established household brands. That said, if you use an SEO agency, then you’ll generally see progress and results within the first quarter.
It must be said that SEO is a long-term investment. Whereas PPC helps create leads tomorrow, some SEO clients may need upwards of six months to start seeing tangible results. However, the difference is that when you achieve these results, they are completely free, and you don’t have to pay for them like PPC. This free traffic will continue for as long as you maintain an SEO campaign and strategy, and the only thing you’ll pay for is the expertise of your SEO Executive.
Three pillars of SEO
Onsite – Relevancy
Onsite SEO is also referred to as on-page and it covers everything that happens on the user’s end of the site, from the content that they read to the meta-title that shows up on the SERP. On-page SEO is focused on optimising elements of the page that will appeal most to the search engine’s bots. This is your opportunity to make sure that your site is relevant to the product and services you’re offering, showing Google that the page is relevant to the search query. But what does on-site SEO consist of?
Keywords are the bait that will bring people to your content, services, and products and are what people will be searching for. But, it’s important that proper, in-depth keyword research is carried out using keyword tools, as oftentimes what you think will have a lot of search results will actually show very little, and so concentrating on those types of keywords will be a waste of your SEO time. Any top-class SEO agency will incorporate keyword research as a standard before they begin to draft their strategy, as it will inform what direction their on-site content will take.
Internal linking has two main purposes, site navigation and site structure
Internal links used for site navigation are links that create pathways for the user to follow throughout your site. The most common links are from the homepage to each category, and then from each category to each sub-category. But they can also lead back to the homepage, to blog pages, or anywhere that you would like your user to go. A great way to figure out your site’s navigation is to make a diagram showing where the links lead from. This gives you a physical look at where your links are going.
If site navigation is for users, then site structure is for Google. Strong internal linking allows Google to understand the hierarchy of your site, displaying the most important pages.
Title tags (Meta)
Meta tags are a snippet of information that tells the user about the page. They don’t appear on the site itself but will be on the search results page. Think of them as advertising for a specific web page and must contain a certain amount of characters. Google doesn’t tell us what the magic number is, but if you don’t want the text to be truncated, then aim for between 53 and 57 characters for the meta title and 155 to 160 for the meta description for ideal readability. Depending on your product, they should include at least one keyword, the location you’re trying to rank for, and if space allows, a call to action.
Headings can be one of the most important tools in your site structure. Heading 1 (H1) is the title of your page. It shows the user exactly what they should expect, much like the heading in a newspaper article. It should include your keywords and be written in a clear and succinct way so your user is in no doubt they’re on the right page. From there you have your 2nd, 3rd and 4th headings. However, they do not have to go in order. Your H2’s should be for the 2nd most important information or sub header and so on until you get to H4. But unlike H1 you can have numerous H2s and H3s. Google also uses the headings to help understand what the page is about
Offsite – Authority
Off-site SEO is everything that is done that won’t appear on your site or on the search results page and is about building your website as a brand so that Google can see that your page is important to other pages on the web. This value is what helps Google choose who sits where in their rankings.
Backlinks are links from one website to another website, and Google sees them as a sign of authority and trust. You can build backlinks in a number of ways, and your SEO executive should have a trusted strategy for creating a solid backlink campaign. Building backlinks is a constant work in process, and as such is never finished. Making sure that you are constantly improving your backlink profile, either by adding more or concentrating on higher-value backlinks will enhance your Google ranking.
Many blogs will accept guest posts, which is a process where you submit quality content which is then published on the website’s blog. This quality content allows you to insert a link back to your website. Not only will this guest blogging allow you to link back to your site using specific ‘anchor’ text. This guest post then allows your brand to be mentioned outside of your webpage and gives you visibility to a broader audience.
Link Reclaim and Realignment
Sometimes links you’ve already created get lost. This may be because of a domain change or the owner of the site linking to you has taken them off. In this scenario, your SEO executive should reach out to the owner of the site and either update the information or ask them to reinstate your link. This is a quick and easy strategy for link building, as the hard work has already been done, and all your SEO exec is doing is a little bit of housekeeping and making sure everything is nice and tidy.
You may be asking what is a linkable asset? Consider you are a removals firm and have a downloadable PDF of a moving checklist. This is a linkable asset. Here you can get in touch with blogs that have written about the same topic – in this case, removals and moving – and ask them if they would like to include your asset in their blog post. This is a win-win for both parties. You get the backlink whilst the original blogger gets to update and refresh their article and send it back into the world.
Competitor analysis is an underappreciated section of Off-page SEO which should be in every SEO executive strategy. Not only will it show you gaps in your own SEO which you could take advantage of, but it will also allow you to specifically find out who your competitors are, which is not always who the client thinks they are.
Your online competitors are those around you in the search results, not the shopkeeper down the road and being able to see what these competitors are doing or not doing will help plan your own campaigns. Competitor analysis also allows you to identify keywords that your competitors are using that you may not be.
Technical – Architecture
Technical SEO encompasses all of the website and server optimisation that help Google’s bots crawl and index your site, and anything that enhances the site’s usability, whether speeding up load times or ensuring there are no broken pages or redirects. Technical SEO is really a section of its own and your SEO Executive should be doing technical audits each quarter, and working through any issues that arise as they come up.
Redirects are how your website forwards one URL to a different one. In an ideal world, your website wouldn’t have any redirects as all the pages would be sparkling clean and your site navigation would be perfect. However, ideal worlds are rare and so spend some time to make sure that the redirects you have on your site aren’t negatively impacting your site. To find out if your site has redirects, you can use a tool called Screaming Frog which shows you every indexed page of your website and each page information, including whether it’s a redirect.
The Crawl Budget is the number of your website’s pages that Google’s little robots index during a given timeframe. Simply put, if Google doesn’t crawl your page then it’s not going to rank for anything. If your site is small, then the crawl budget is not a huge issue, but if you have many pages – especially if you run an e-commerce site – then you want to make sure that the right pages are being crawled. There are ways in which you can ensure this happens.
Firstly you can speed up your site’s page speed. This not only helps the user experience, but it means that it increases Google’s crawl rate and therefore more pages get crawled.
Another way to use those internal links we spoke about well so that Google can zip through your site using those pathways.
Avoid orphan pages, which are pages that have no links to or from them. It’s wise to avoid these because Google struggles to find them, so it will eat into your crawl time budget looking for them.
When you give your business to a multichannel marketing agency you are working with a group of talented individuals that understand every aspect of marketing, and how each of these channels can impact your brand. By implementing more than one aspect of digital marketing, you build your marketing brand on multiple fronts.
Your SEO Executive is your partner in the race for the top spot. By working with you and using their expertise and knowledge they can battle Google and your competitors to drive traffic and increase leads to your site. They talk to you and advise, whilst running your SEO campaign, often in tandem with Social Media and PPC.
If you want to find out more please get in touch!