An Expert’s Guide to How to Get SEO Right

April 4th, 2016

An Expert’s Guide to How to Get SEO Right

When it comes to bettering your website’s search engine ranking, the importance of following good SEO practices cannot be emphasized enough. Sydney-based Andrew Raso has a similar opinion. He is the Co-Founder of Online Marketing Gurus, an award-winning global SEO agency that has collaborated with giants such as Salesforce and Coca Cola.

Thanks to Andrew’s all-encompassing experience in technical SEO, stakeholder management, and sales, he can pinpoint exactly why SEO will continue to matter in times to come and how clients can make the most of it. I spoke to him about this and couldn’t resist sharing the takeaways with you.

1. The obvious question: Will paying more and choosing a bigger agency get me more ROI on SEO?

Andrew: Of course, with increased investment comes an increase in hours spent on your campaign. Now, these hours could be spent doing a variety of different activities, whether it’s doing outreach, producing content, or even building and leveraging assets. It also depends on the competition on the industry. I do find myself having to tell customers we can’t work with them if the level of investment is just not enough to be able to be competitive in their market. You could also mention that a bigger agency usually has more credentials and ability to show results.

Further reading: Is There Such a Thing as Cheap SEO?

2. How do I decide whether SEO or PPC is better for me?

Andrew: I generally find myself saying that if you can, you should always do both. Now, of course, not all businesses have the luxury of being able to do both SEO and PPC. SEO is going to generate the best ROI in the long term and is going to deliver the lowest cost per acquisition. PPC is going to generate immediate results (most of the time). To cut a long answer short, I would recommend choosing SEO over PPC if you have investment for a minimum of 12 months.

Further reading: SEO Vs PPC: Which Is Better?

3. If they rank for “SEO company mycity,” does that mean they’re good at what they do?

Andrew: Not necessarily, and there are two reasons behind this. The city-related terms are usually not very competitive, and achieving ranking for them is not that hard. Just because they rank for a non-competitive term does not mean they can rank for a very competitive industry (such as yours). The other reason is that SEO companies are known to use deceptive tactics to rank their own websites. This could mean that they have manipulated Google’s search engine to rank them for certain phrases in the short term. However, once a Google update is released, they will no longer rank. I have seen this happen time and time again.

Further reading: Why Reputable SEO Firms Don’t Promise Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings

4. Google discourages ranking guarantees. What should I expect instead from my SEO vendor?

Andrew: If you speak to any company that offers guarantees, run for the hills.  Before they start an SEO campaign, they need to outline exactly what they will be doing for the investment every month, and you need to make sure they are delivering on these promises. Over and over again, I see SEO vendors who don’t show the work they are completing, either because it’s substandard or because they are trying to hide something.

My team shows clients absolutely everything we do—from the links we build to the content we produce—and explain why we are doing it. We have done from this from day one, and I think that’s one of the reasons we have been so successful. You should also have a dedicated team working on your campaign. All our campaigns have dedicated team members, with direct lines, Skype IDs, and other channels of communication, so you can be confident of always reaching them.

I find myself saying at the start of any campaign that if we can’t speak to the client at least once a month, unfortunately, we can’t take on the project. Further to this, here are Google’s quality guidelines. You should make sure your SEO vendor follows these instead of giving ranking guarantees.

Further reading: Don’t Get Fooled: 17 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Company

5. What would be a good length of time before I start expecting results from my SEO campaign?

Andrew: This depends on the client and industry. A number of factors affect the results you can expect, including whether the client has previously had SEO work done on the site, whether the site has been penalized, whether the client is doing other marketing work, etc., etc. There are quite a few variables that come into play when answering this question. I have had clients who have generated a significant ROI in as little as two months, and others for whom it has taken 12 months to generate an ROI. The rule of thumb is that the site should be generating traction within 4–6 months of starting a campaign. But again, this a very hard question to accurately answer.

Further reading: How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working?

6. I don’t know how to choose from one of their packages. What should I do?

Andrew: Well, firstly, there should never be packages with SEO. Every strategy we build is from the ground up and is tailored to a specific campaign. They all should have a scope of work that should be completed for that investment level based on a certain number of hours each month. If the company has shown you a few options, they need to explain to you what will work in your industry, and why you need to be spending this amount each month.

7. Should I help them with keyword research?

Andrew: To an extent—but it depends how complex your industry is. We do spend a significant amount of time understanding the scope of a client’s business before proceeding with any campaign. We ensure we speak to the client to obtain their approval, but we won’t necessarily have the client do keyword research for us. Bear in mind, we have plenty of tools that we combine in order to come up with the best terms to use for any campaign.

Further reading: The Ins and Outs of Keyword Research Success

8. My site has millions of pages. How many should I get them to optimize?

Andrew: Firstly, I would recommend targeting the most important pages with terms that you really want to rank for, as this will help to give your site a quick boost. Secondly, our team can usually write a script that can pull a list of best practices for titles tags, meta descriptions, etc., to be listed on the site, so you don’t have to do it manually (if the site is on a decent CMS).

Unfortunately, if you are going to write unique content for every page (which we highly recommend), this has to be done manually and can’t be scripted. From another perspective, it’s also important to ask whether it’s worthwhile having a million pages on a site. Each page should have unique, quality, and valuable content—and if it doesn’t, it should be removed.

Be objective, and question whether or not it’s really worth having all those pages on your site.

Further reading: How To Optimize Database-Driven B2B Websites

9. Do I need to implement all their recommendations for on-site changes, or should I listen to my developer instead?

Andrew: It depends on whether or not the SEO vendor has a developer in-house. Our team has SEO developers in-house who can implement all changes once we have been given approval from the client. We offer a fully managed service. Developers often have limitations in their SEO knowledge, or the site itself might be limited in terms of what changes can be implemented. Therefore, all decisions should be made on a case by case basis.

Further reading: On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page

10. Do I need to watch their activities closely? How would I know they’re on the right track?

Andrew: Yes, I would recommend that you do. If the company is consistently coming up with excuses, there are going to be some issues with the campaign. Make sure they are delivering what they promised you in the pre-sales process. All too often, I have seen cases where a company has said they can obtain big links and produce great content, but all the client receives is a directory listing and some content that looks like it’s been produced by someone with a poor grasp of the English language.

Further reading: How to Know if Your SEO Firm is Helping You or Hurting You

11. Can I expect the methods that worked for their other clients to work for me?

Andrew: Yes and no. The whole process of ranking a site does not differ too much—it’s actually quite straightforward. However, how a vendor does it is another story. Every campaign is different, and you need to make sure your SEO vendor is providing a solution and strategy that is tailored to your needs, and not something that has been ripped off from another campaign.

Further reading: Don’t Get Fooled: 17 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Company

It’s always great to hear more about SEO from the movers and shakers of the industry. The above information comes straight from the horse’s mouth and tells you exactly why you should seriously consider doing SEO for your website, and get it done through a reputable agency that understands the intricacies of your industry. Doing so will be highly instrumental in growing your business and taking your company to greater heights.

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