2019 is almost over. Are you on pace to hit your sales goals? Are you likely going to come up a little short? Or are you on pace to hit your revenue targets, but your ultimate goal was to exceed them and impress leadership?
However, the sun plans to set on your organization in 2019, the new year can be your best year to date so long as you have the right SEO agency offering custom growth marketing stacks executing a strategy that makes sense for your brand, and for your customers.
Whether you are a marketing manager responsible for presenting leadership with digital marketing solutions to facilitate year-over-year growth, or you are a member of the C-Suite and you simply need some information to help you make the right decision for your company when it comes to working with an SEO agency, this article will help steer you on the right path so that you can make an educated decision or recommendation that best suits your business needs.
Is Partnering with an SEO Agency Even Your Right Approach?
Before we delve into the top four things to look for in an SEO agency as we move into 2020, let’s first question whether search engine optimization as a solo strategy is even a smart investment for your business.
SEO is the most frequently invested digital marketing strategy. But does that mean investing in SEO as a solo strategy is your best solution? Clearly, your goal isn’t just to rank, nor is it to generate more traffic to your website. Ultimately, its to increase sales. The first question you must ask yourself is this: will high rankings and an increase in organic traffic lead to enough conversions to make the investment a profitable one, and will the strategy help you achieve your business goals?
For some organizations it will, namely those with shorter sales cycles and products with low price points that buyer’s don’t tend to research. For example, if a company sells t-shirts, and a buyer goes to Google and types in “Depeche Mode T-shirts size L”, they will likely see a design they like, and buy the shirt. They aren’t likely to research where the shirts are produced, the quality of the cotton, and if they can find the same design for a few dollars less.
On the other hand, if you sell something like custom kitchens, your sales cycle is likely a few months or more, you are selling something with a higher price point, and your buyers likely do a lot of research before making a decision on who to contract with, and what materials to buy.
In this case, simply ranking on page one of Google for “custom kitchen builder” won’t convert clicks into revenue. Instead, a workflow of content needs to nurture these clicks through a buyer’s journey where they can learn more about their needs, options, and the various solutions until they are confident enough to pull the trigger and call you for an estimate.
In cases such as this, your SEO agency will likely need to offer an organic search strategy with an inbound marketing campaign, utilize various tech tools like robust CRMs and marketing automation for lead nurturing and to improve overall operations, and potentially run other traffic generation strategies along SEO like PPC and organic social media marketing.
1. Make Sure Your SEO Agency can Ensure a Healthy Platform for Search Engine Optimization
If your ability to attract high-quality organic traffic is projected to play a major role in facilitating your growth, then in order for SEO to help you attract and convert leads (whether as part of a growth marketing stack, or as a solo strategy), your website must have an SEO-friendly platform.
Based on a number of factors, this could entail hours of dev work, or require a few simple quick fixes such as adding a few plugins and restructuring URLs. Your SEO agency should include a technical audit of the site in order to detect any flaws before delving into the strategy itself. If this is something they simply don’t offer, then seek another provider.
2. SEO Should be Conducted Upon the Foundation of Understanding Buyers
When it comes to selecting keywords, optimizing web pages, writing blogs, and any number of other tasks paramount to SEO, the strategy must come from an approach founded on the understanding of how target buyers make purchasing decisions, and how target customers interact with content relevant to one’s products and services.
Look for an SEO agency that works with their client’s sales and marketing teams to create buyer personas–semi-fictional representations of actual customers. This is important because without an in-depth understanding of a brand’s customers and the steps they go through before making a purchasing decision, all efforts to attract organic traffic will be in vain.
3. Keywords Should be Buyer Focused with Less Attention to Search Volume
Too many SEO agencies focus on rankings and they chase keywords with the highest search volume. Their logic is usually such: “it’s a number’s game; if your content cna rank for keywords that get more searches, you will get a higher CTR”. But, again, your goal isn’t to just rank, or even get a higher click-through rate.
You want to convert traffic to paying customers. A broad keyword that contains zero context will attract people from far and wide who aren’t even appropriate to your buyer personas. Would you rather get 5,000 monthly clicks with 10 conversions, or 800 monthly clicks with 100 conversions?
Look for an SEO agency that takes broad keywords and gives them buyer-specific context to make them relevant and attract clicks that are more likely to convert. After all, buyers are increasingly reliant on advancements in technology that make product research accessible on mobile devices anywhere, at any time.
In addition, as smart home technology continues to advance, this approach will prove to be even more advantageous going into 2020 to help capture capture consumers posing search queries that are more reflective of their needs.
4. Pillar Pages and Content Clusters
Finally, look for an SEO agency that utilized pillar pages and content clusters in their search engine optimization strategy. Pillar pages are usually primary product or service pages containing lots of optimized textual content that covers a subject in depth.
Then, content clusters (multiple blogs) are written on the same subject while each covers a unique topic with an original title. These blogs will internally link to one another, while also linking to their respective pillar page. Then each pillar page will link to the homepage–the core of your website.
This is advantageous to help improve your content’s ability to rank for the right searchers this enabling a highly effective SEO strategy, while also improving the user experience as the linking strategy allows readers to find specific subjects to read about.
Let the SEO Agency Take the Driver’s Seat, but Give Useful Direction
In addition to these four points, when looking for an ideal SEO agency to partner with, make sure they take direction while holding space for your input. They are supposed to be the experts, so look for a provider that is confident enough to chart a course and navigate, yet work with you to maintain the best heading.
After all, nobody knows your business like you do, so when you can partner with an SEO agency that your team can comfortably work with through flawless communication, 2020 can be a profitable year for both of you.