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What does an SEO agency do? Do I even need SEO services? Read on to get the answers.

As a professional Webmaster, everything I do directly or indirectly revolves around SEO. Things in the internet marketing industry change often, (algorithms, expectations, technology, etc) but one thing remains the same, almost no one outside the SEO field even knows what SEO companies do! Business owners and friends alike ask me three questions when they find out that I work in digital marketing and that I am constantly preaching SEO as a primary factor in any solid online marketing strategy:

"What Is SEO?"

“What does an SEO agency actually do?”

“Do I need SEO services for my business?”

First things first, SEO is the common abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines such as Google and Bing.

Since SEO is so necessary for any sort of online marketing success I would like to explain exactly what a SEO company (or at least one like mine) actually does.

What should an SEO company really do?

Many people don’t even understand what goes on at an SEO agency, but after reading this article hopefully they have a better idea of how much a decent SEO company or freelancer is actually doing for their clients.

Hiring a legitimate SEO agency is important to any business because over 90 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, and almost 50 percent of people click on one of the first three listings they see in the search results.

I said a “legitimate” SEO company because in the online world there are two general types of SEO: black-hat SEO and white-hat SEO. White-hat SEO gains search rankings based on actual hard work and data. Black-hat SEO involves shady methods that can get you to the top, but not for long—and these tactics are are usually damaging to your long-term presence (more on that later).

What goes into white-hat SEO? Well, there are a couple hundred factors that go into what makes a page rank high in the search results, but the ones that matter the most (and the ones white-hat SEO revolves around) are:

Services that should be included when you hire a SEO agency

The factors mentioned above are influenced by a few key SEO services, any good SEO company should at least include the following services:

Website structure analysis

Google and the other major search engines primarily want sites designed for users rather than search engines but it still needs to be structured properly for the engines to read if you ever want to get those users to begin with. Things an SEO looks for include:

Content analysis

Checking out the content you already have on your site can help to diagnose a number of issues related to:

Your website content is the most important thing you can have since it’s what will attract visitors and convert them to leads. So having an idea of the content you already have helps determine how to structure the plans for your website strategy. Performing a keyword analysis is very useful for finding good opportunities to rank higher and connect with more customers.

Off-page analysis

Much of the SEO success will actually take place off your website, on review sites, industry blogs, online directories, and more. The good news about that is that if you’re really popular online or have lots of awesome reviews from past customers, it’s easy to rank really well for your targetted keywords. The bad news however is that most small companies aren’t that popular and some may have more negative reviews than positive, no matter how good their services really are.

So, once your entire website has been audited, turn the attention to what people are saying about you. This includes finding mentions of your site across the web and seeing what can be adjusted to your advantage. If there are negative reviews, respond to them and hopefully make amends with the customer. The goal is for you to have a reputable online presence that users trust and we use the following tools to get there:

You would be surprised by how theses little things can make a difference when you’re trying to expand your web presence online.

Optimizing code and site structure:

If your site code and structure is in already good then it's likely it will only need a few minor tweaks. If your site needs more of an overhaul then an SEO team will optimize your site code and structure but more importantly, they should:

Optimizing on-page content

Content is king but when it comes to maintaining a website, it’s not just a one-off job. You can’t just create landing pages and assume that’s all there is to it. To consistently drive highly desirable organic traffic to your website, you need to constantly be creating new, meaningful content as well as regularly optimizing the existing pages on your website. A legit SEO agency will:

Optimizing off-page factors

Off-site presence is just as important as any of the on-site factors. A SEO company will work to:

Continued analysis

SEO is more than just making the previously mentioned changes to your website. Making all those changes would be pointless if the data is not analyzed. Collecting data and understanding what is means is the central component in a good SEO's workflow, throughout this process they will:

Should you hire an SEO company?

If you meet any of the following requirements listed below, then you need to hire an SEO company:

How do you find the right SEO company for your needs?

An SEO partnership is a long-term relationship, so you need to be sure of who you’re choosing. Remember the black-hat techniques mentioned earlier in this article, you are definitely going to want to avoid those at all cost.

You can certainly find promises that claim to give you some or all of these but you’ll regret it later when the results aren’t what you expected.

How to spot a black hat SEO

Red flags should go up anytime an SEO expert makes claims about getting results in X amount of time. The SEOs that give the industry a bad name use “churn and burn” practices, generally involving cheating the search engine rankings by:

In some cases these techniques do work but the problem is that Google slowly shuts them down. If you have never used black hat SEO on your website you have nothing to worry about but if you have you should strongly consider working with a reputable SEO agency that can help clean up your site so you don’t risk the chance of getting penalized by Google.

Also don't do business with someone that insists on owning the copyrights to the meta data they create, edit, or analyze. If they have this right assigned to them, they can legally bar you from using it if you choose to discontinue their services.

What to ask SEO agencies before hiring

Before hiring anyone, do a little research. If lots of people have had issues with a SEO service provider then there is cause for concern. The following questions can also be very helpful for finding a good fit for your business:

Hopefully this article will help you find the right SEO company that is a good fit with you and your organization. If you happen to be looking to hire someone for SEO then please consider Raven Web Services.

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