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As a (somewhat) recent college graduate, I’ve received my fair share of interrogating questions from family and friends. Ok, ok, maybe “interrogating” isn’t the right word. But when I tell people I’m a content marketing specialist, I’m often faced with, “Wait, so what do you actually do?” Don’t get me wrong, I adore my job – but it’s a hard question to tackle when majority of people I talk to have no idea what SEO is. This is when the real interrogation begins:
“So you just write blogs all day?”
“You basically just play on the computer all day.”
“How are you going to make money doing that?”
The ones that understand a bit about SEO are no better:
“So you’re a spammer.”
Now, admittedly, I’m glad for the confusion – if more people understood SEO, I would likely be out of a job. But I would like to set the record straight as to what, exactly, an SEO company – or at least one like Blue Corona – actually does.
What an SEO Company Actually Does
Recall above when I said that when I tell particularly web-savvy people that I do SEO, they accuse me of being a spammer. That’s because historically the SEO industry has, thanks to the actions of a number of malcontents over the years, been seen as designed to “trick” search engines and users in order to make a quick buck. And while there is (or at least was) a lot of money in this business model, it’s not how we like to do things, and it’s not how you should want things done.
A good SEO company will treat your site like their own. What this means, to us anyway, is that every decision we make for your website will stem from the thought process of “how can I use the money you’re paying make these numbers go up as efficiently and effectively as possible?” So at Blue Corona, before we write a single word of content or add a single link, we break down your site and look at it from every angle to determine the best strategy possible. This includes doing things like:
SITE STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
While Google and the other major search engines (who don’t really deserve mention, though I know Bing is trying really hard) stress that they want you to design your sites for users rather than search engines, let’s face it – it needs to be structured properly for the engines to read if you ever want to get those users. Things our web team looks for include:
- Robots.txt – This is the file that is used to prevent search engine crawlers from crawling and indexing pages on your website that you want hidden from public view.
- Site errors – These send signals to search engines that your site is not trustworthy and thus not worthy of being a premium listing spot. Common errors include 4XX errors, duplicate page content, duplicate title tags, missing title tags, and crawlers blocked by Robots.txt.
- Indexed status – Indexed pages have been found by search crawlers (like the spiders for Google) and deemed to have enough quality for relevant search phrases. Indexed pages will show up in search results and can drive organic traffic to your site.
- Sitemap – Your XML sitemap is a list of all the pages on a website that you want a search engine to index (not to be confused with the robots.txt which tells a search engine which pages not to index).
- Page speed – User experience is important for search engines – they know that users are impatient. This is why site speed if a factor in how well your website ranks.
- Meta elements – Duplicate title tags, meta descriptions, and site content can all negatively impact your site’s search engine rankings and click-through-rate. Ensuring your meta elements are optimized will better your chances of being found on the SERPs.
Once all the technical stuff has been taken care of, we move onto:
This is where I and the rest of the SEO team come in. By checking out the content you already have on your site, we can diagnose a number of issues related to:
- Poorly ranking content
- Duplicate content issues
- Missing pages
- And more
Ultimately, your website content is the most important thing you can have – it’s what will attract visitors and convert them to leads. So once we get an idea of the content you already have, it will help us decide how to structure our plans for your website moving forward.
Much of your SEO success takes place off your website, on review sites, industry blogs, online directories, and more. The good part about that is that if you’re really popular online or have lots of stellar reviews from past customers, it’s easy to rank really well for your treasured keywords. The bad part of that is most small home services companies aren’t that popular and many may have more negative reviews than positive, no matter how good their services are.
So once we’ve strip searched your entire website (can I say things like that? Ask Lexie. Editor’s note: Lexie says “anything goes.”), we turn our attention to what people are saying about you. This includes finding mentions of your site across the web and seeing how we can adjust them to your advantage. If we see negative reviews, we’ll show you how to respond to them and hopefully make amends with the customer. Our goal for you is to have a reputable online presence that users trust and we use the following tools to get there:
- Increases in organic traffic
- Content focused on locality
- Unique title tags and meta descriptions for each product and service area
- Consistent NAP across every listing
- Authentic reviews, marked up with schema
- Reputable directory listings
- Ensuring a mobile responsive website
- Authority building measures
You’d be surprised – little things like those listed above can make an astounding difference when you’re trying to extend your web presence online.
What “Optimizing” Means
I think I’ve made it through this whole blog post without using the word “optimize” a single time, which is astounding. I did that for a reason though – the name is tossed around by so many SEO snake oil salesmen that it seems like it’s lost all meaning. So for the purposes of a definition, here are a few examples:
OPTIMIZING CODE AND SITE STRUCTURE:
Sometimes your site code and structure is in a good place and only needs a few minor tweaks. (Let’s be real – there’s ALWAYS something else you can be doing to outperform your local competitors.) When the SEO team at Blue Corona optimizes your site code and structure – you can rest assured knowing you have experts handling the job – but more importantly, we will:
- Structure your site’s navigation so it’s easy for people to find exactly what they want
- Clean up the code in your site so it runs faster
- Eliminate errors Google picks up when it crawls
- Add an XML sitemap so Google’s crawler can quickly visit the different pages
- Add internal links to pages within your site so users can flow to the places you want them to go
OPTIMIZING ON-PAGE CONTENT
Content is king. When it comes to maintaining your website, it’s not a one and done job. You don’t just create landing pages, put them live, and that’s that. In order to consistently drive organic traffic to your website, you need to constantly be creating new content AND optimizing existing pages on your website. The SEO team at Blue Corona will:
- Remove or rewrite duplicate content
- Place keywords in your page titles to help Google rank your pages
- Add well written, keyword rich copy to underperforming landing pages
- Create new landing pages to draw in other visitors
- Add images, format text, and change colors to move more visitors to convert
OPTIMIZING OFF-PAGE FACTORS
Your off-site presence is just as important as your on-site factors – which is why we will work to:
- Find directory listings of your business online, verify them, and update them to make sure they contain accurate information
- Seek out new, valuable directories to add your site to
- Submit press releases about new services your company is offering and other newsworthy items we come across
- Discover noncompetitive blogs in industries similar to yours for whom we can write guest posts in exchange for links
Search engine optimization is more than just making these changes to your website. What’s the point of making changes if you don’t analyze the data. At Blue Corona, we track, test, tweak, repeat! #TTTR That’s our motto, and we’re sticking to it. Throughout this process we will:
- Monitor rankings, traffic, and conversions on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis
- Use the data we’ve gathered to determine the which of the above items will help your site the most
What an SEO Company Should NOT Do
When hiring an SEO company, there are some things you want to watch for and avoid. Not all SEO companies or content marketing firms live up to their promises of more traffic, better rankings (Note: rankings aren’t the real measure of success), and more leads. At Blue Corona we’ve got a team of at least three people working on each client site, trying to drive the numbers higher month after month. That’s also why we don’t guarantee things like:
- Overnight rankings
- Doubled traffic
- Instant leads
- Search engine submissions
- X amount of backlinks
- Any sort of ROI projections
If you want promises like that, you can find them – believe me. Remember how I said earlier that there was once a lot of money to be made in the more unscrupulous SEO practices? I was serious – unfortunately, the money that’s made won’t be by you!
Signs of Black Hat SEO
A red flag should go up anytime an SEO company makes certain claims or promises about results in X amount of time. The SEOs that give our industry a bad name are famed for what we call “churn and burn” practices, which often involve gaming rankings by:
- Buying a ton of links from random, crappy websites
- Using a computer program to generate hundreds of pages of garbage
- Using duplicate or scraped content
- Submitting fake press releases in order to spam links
I won’t say these things don’t work, because in some cases they do. The problem is they’re locked in a never ending cat and mouse game as Google slowly shuts them down, one by one. If you haven’t used black hat SEO tactics on your site, don’t start. But if you have, we recommend working with a trustworthy SEO company that can help clean up your website. Don’t risk the chance of getting a Google penalty.
A word of advice – do not do business with anyone that insists on retaining copyrights to any and all meta data they create, edit, or analyze for you. If they retain or have this right assigned to them, they can legally bar you from using it, or totally strip your site should you choose to leave them for another company. With Blue Corona, everything we work on throughout our relationship is yours now, and yours forever.
Improve Your Online Presence With SEO
So if you’re trying to choose the best SEO company, you have to ask yourself – how do I want to appear on the web? Do I want people to think of my company as a scam because my marketing people are a scam? Or do I want my site to be a reflection of my business? If you’re interested in the latter, contact us today.
About The Author: Katie is a content marketing specialist at Blue Corona. Outside of content creation and SEO, Katie enjoys stuffing her face with nachos, online shopping, and binge-watching Netflix.
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