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SEO: It’s a confusing thing to buy if you’ve never done it yourself. Here’s a checklist of what you should expect when choosing an SEO provider. 

The Importance of SEO

Normally, it goes without saying, but if you aren’t listed on page one of the Google search results, you likely aren’t going to get the click or tap through, as this chart indicates.

Today, search engine optimization isn’t just about a set of easily defined steps.  While those steps are still important, effective SEO remains an art, not a science.  Your SEO vendor must be adept at analyzing data and understanding that no two organizations, or markets, are exactly alike.  And, it will remain that way until Google publishes a book with all of its ranking factors included—something that will never happen.  Until then, those in the SEO business must continually educate themselves by keeping abreast of the industry and also performing A/B and multivariate testing.

SEO: The Gift that Keeps on Giving 

The SEO Process

🔬 PHASE 1 – DISCOVERY AND RESEARCH

  • Strategy development
  • Keyword research
  • Baseline performance for search
  • Assess backlink competitive research
  • Competition analysis
  • Site construction search engine friendliness
  • Review site traffic statistics

🎯 PHASE 2 – IMPLEMENTATION

  • Identify target pages and corresponding target keywords
  • Optimize on-page copy and images.
  • Format style sheets and apply headers
  • Title Tag and meta tag construction
  • Intra-linking and external linking implementation
  • Local citations added and social media inclusion
  • Backlink and testimonial review strategy 
  • Mobile and digital speed testing and improvements

📊 PHASE 3 – ANALYSIS

  • Search engine monitoring (monthly reporting)
  • Post-optimization reports
  • Extension of services or recommendations for on-going self-initiated SEO tactics.

Our SEO Solution

In most cases, these strategies and tactics will be performed for statewide Maryland agencies.  This certainly doesn’t represent all of the work that will be done, but should be seen as a basis for the SEO efforts.  

While no business will exactly follow this model, you can expect that all of the below issues, and more, will be addressed at the end of the initial 6 month optimization SEO Solution period.

  1. Technical SEO Site Audit
    1. Robots.txt audit
    2. Sitemap audit
    3. Site architecture audit
    4. Flash or Javascript navigation
    5. Indexability – Are all pages indexed by search engines?
    6. Page authority and domain authority analysis
  2. Keyword Analysis
    1. Each page will have a targeted keyword(s) assigned
    2. Keyword cannibalism check
    3. Duplicate content issues
  3. Analysis of Your Google My Business Listing
    1. Synchronize NAP (name, address, phone)
    2. Include detailed content and images
  4. Claim Business Listing on Third Party Sites
    1. Such as BING, Yahoo, YELP, Apple Maps, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube
  5. Citations – Additional sites on the web where you can list your business.
    1. Claim additional directory listings on vertical markets in your industry.
    2. Major aggregator sites like Localeze, Infogroup, Acxiom, Factual, & Best of the Web.
    3. Better Business Bureau
    4. Regional and National industry associations
  6. Reviews and Testimonials
    1. We will develop a strategy for obtaining reviews from residents
    2. Google My Business reviews are the top priority.
  7. On-Page Content Markup
    1. On-page analysis and recommendations for inclusion of keywords and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) in your copy.
    2. Inclusion of H tags (headlines)
  8. Image Optimization
    1. Renaming of titles of images
    2. Use of alt tags beyond its intended use for the Americans with Disabilities Act
    3. Submission to Google Image Search
  9. Title & Meta Tags Analysis (html Markup)
    1. Based on keyword research, we will recommend changes to your Title Tags
    2. Meta Tags are the description of your service that appears in a Google search.  Although this does not impact search rankings, a well-written meta description can increase the likelihood of a consumer choosing your listing over others.
  10. Intra-Linking
    1. We want the Google BOT to spend a lot of time on your site.  We will accomplish that with a strong intra-linking strategy.
  11. External Linking
    1. Linking out to high authority websites is a strategy that will increase relevance and reliability by making sure your site links to other good neighborhood sites.
  12. Mobile-First, Mobile Friendly
    1. More than half of all search today is conducted on mobile and your site needs to reflect that.
    2. Moreover, Google now provides mobile-first indexing on all sites so your site is no longer ranked by its desktop version.
    3. We will run tests on the mobile friendliness of the site, including load times and then recommend changes, to optimize performance and traffic via mobile.
  13. Schema Markup & Rich Snippets
    1. Schema markup is code that you put on your website to give Google, Yahoo!, and BING additional information to give more informed results to users.
    2. Adding Schema markup to your HTML enables the search engines to show more advanced data under your overall listing.  This is known as “rich snippets” and enables the business to have multiple listings beneath the general company listing.
  14.  Link Building
    1. Link building is critical to the ultimate success of your SEO process.
    2. We will provide article writing and outreach to outside sites to build inbound links.
    3. We will also create content for your own blog or article section to act as link bait.
  15. Content Creation
    1. Production of articles, videos images, or a podcast to demonstrate your business’s relevancy and authority to the search engines.
    2. A chance to show your expertise.
    3. An opportunity to build backlinks.

SEO Specifications

SEO work is never done. There is always something else that can be done to enhance your rankings, but as a means of judging your provider’s efforts, and your ultimate success, the agency may provide the following on a monthly basis:

  • Monthly Reporting
  • Keyword Finder
  • Keyword Mapping
  • Phone Tracking 
  • Conversion Optimization Reporting 
  • Title Tags
  • Meta Tags
  • Keyword Density Optimization
  • Image optimization
  • Index Check
  • Google Search Console Install
  • Google Analytics Check
  • Backlink Anchor Text Reporting
  • Schema.org 
  • Canonicalization of domain(s)
  • 404 Error checking
  • Robots.txt install
  • Sitemap
  • Web page copy editing
  • H tags (Headlines)
  • Onsite blog posts
  • Remote article posts
  • Social media shares

Monthly Reporting

Much of the SEO work is done behind the scenes so you may never actually see all of the work that is being performed. That’s why monthly reporting becomes so critical. Your SEO provider should set a date each month to share what they have done and what they plan to do in the coming month. By doing this, the agency will gain valuable feedback from you during these meetings so that it can continually enhance its work and your results. 

🌐 ONLINE TOOLS

Many SEO marketing services are delivered via online marketing platforms. It is best when you can log in to a dashboard at any time to check the status of your campaigns and review your current metrics. With an online reporting system, you’ll be able to get unique insights across all of your online marketing campaigns.

📞 CALL AND LEAD TRACKING  

Your marketing dashboard should include a fully integrated lead and phone tracking tool. Such software helps enable you to track the most important metrics from rankings to repeat customers.

Statement Of Work

Please note that SEO is a long-term play.  Do not expect significant immediate results.  When done right, SEO will pay off in the end. Be patient.

There are no participation trophies with SEO. While you may see a slight uptick after the first month, you will likely see a retreat in your search engine rankings in months 2 and 3 until you start to see a rebound in months 4-6. By month 6, you should be seeing some significantly improved rankings.

Proper search engine optimization is an arduous process. It takes a lot of labor. The more pages that need optimization, the more effort it will take. There are no shortcuts when it comes to SEO.

While there is never a one-size fits all solution for SEO, here’s some sample packages that Purplegator offers to some of its customers. 

SEO Starter Package

  • https SSL certification & installation
  • Technical site audit
  • Keyword analysis
  • Google My Business setup/enhancement
  • Title Tags & Meta Tags
  • Intra-Linking
  • External Linking
  • Mobile friendly analysis
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console

SEO Silver Package

  • https SSL certification & installation
  • Technical site audit
  • Keyword analysis
  • Google My Business setup/enhancement
  • Title Tags & Meta Tags
  • Intra-Linking
  • External Linking
  • Mobile friendly analysis
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Competitor Analysis
  • On page content markup
  • H tags
  • Image Optimization
  • Reviews & Testimonials
  • Consistent NAP
  • External Link Building
  • Content Creation

SEO Gold Package

  • https SSL certification & installation
  • Technical site audit
  • Keyword analysis
  • Google My Business setup/enhancement
  • Title Tags & Meta Tags
  • Intra-Linking
  • External Linking
  • Mobile friendly analysis
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Competitor Analysis
  • H tags
  • Image Optimization
  • Reviews & Testimonials
  • Consistent NAP
  • External Link Building
  • Content Creation
  • On page content markup
  • Social media posting
  • Navigation enhancements
  • Listings third party sites
  • Citations
  • Schema markup
  • External link building – large
  • Content creation – large
  • Featured articles
  • Call & lead tracking

Return on Investment (ROI)

In the end, it’s all about the money. With your assistance, our goal is to calculate what the value of an additional website visit means to your bottom line.

(Additional Visits x Conversion Rate) x Average Lifetime Sale Value – SEO Investment = SEO ROI

About the Author

Bob Bentz is president of mobile-first marketing agency, Purplegator. He is also the author of Relevance Raises Response: How to Engage and Acquire with Mobile Marketing. Bentz is an adjunct professor at West Virginia University. He hopes that one day everybody in the mobile marketing industry will call them “taps” instead of clicks. He has been providing search engine optimization since working on three very successful online custom ringtone sites back in 2002.