Components of a Good SEO Program: SEO Foundation
There are good and effective SEO and not-so-effective and even outdated SEO techniques. Keep in mind that Googlebot and other search engine crawlers’ algorithms are constantly changing and updating. What was a good practice at one point might no longer be relevant.
For instance, you would have to use exactly matched phrases or words as your keywords and include them as they are in your content, which sometimes made texts hardly understandable to a human reader. We still occasionally see these keywords in a text while reading a not-so-well-proofread, old-school piece, and they are so out of place that might as well be in bold. However, luckily for web content readers, Google now understands nuances such as plural terms within keywords and conjugations a lot better and recognizes the user search intent.
And this is just one example of SEO approaches that no longer make sense (fortunately!). The evolution of search, on the one hand, has placed a bigger emphasis on the user, and on the other hand, has made the ranking algorithm yet harder to outsmart, leaving SEOs no other choice but to comply and prioritize content quality and expertise. Still, there is more to it than just that. So as you start designing your SEO program with your contractor, here are a few things to lay as its cornerstones.
1. Align on Business Goals and Targets
When you are interviewing candidates while searching for the right SEO agency for you and your needs, you should have a meeting with agency representatives and introduce your business plans to them or what you hope to achieve through the program that the contract will develop for you. You should have some goals or plans ready ahead of time and bring them up during this meeting. This way you can find out if your expectations are realistic and achievable (especially when defining a timeframe).
The meeting will also allow the SEO agency to understand your business, your objectives of the potential partnership, the kind of leads and customers you want to attract, what sort of competition exists within your field or area; your understanding of SEO and your overall SEO vision for your company.
We at Rampiq understand the importance of this discovery phase as it lays the groundwork for a successful partnership by allowing getting to know the business of a potential client and the vision they have in terms of an online presence. At the end of this article, we included the best questions to ask your potential SEO contractor during such a meeting, and we hope you’ll find it useful!
Keep in mind that it is advisable to note down the questions you may have ahead of time. This is so that you do not forget as the meeting is underway and take note of answers so that you can refer to them in the future.
This initial meeting should take place either in person or more commonly today, via a video or audio call online. By the end of it, you and the agency should come up with a general roadmap to improve your SEO, an understanding of the budget you’ll need, and a timeline with major milestones. But most importantly, you should have a clear idea of how SEO will support your overall business strategy.
2. A Comprehensive Initial Website Analysis and Audit
Before you jump on execution, you need to set a clear growth path for your SEO. In order to do this, your chosen contractor will need to thoroughly audit your website to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
A very important aspect that should be audited is your existing content – both on the landing pages and on the blog. Some of the questions that should be answered during this stage are:
- How visible is your content now?
- Do your pages have the right keywords?
- Do your pages have enough content?
- Do your pages have the proper structure?
This also includes analyzing your site for EEAT, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – the website qualities that are so valued by Google and are at the core of Google’s search rater guidelines.
Also, analyzing existing mentions of your brand on other websites should also complement your understanding of where your website stands in terms of an online presence.
Apart from auditing your website, it is also important to analyze those of your competitors, and also to find out where your audience ‘hangs out’ – this is where you want to build links from. It also gives an idea of how competitive your niche is and the amount of effort that needs to be invested to outrank your competition.
Depending on your overall site health score, you might need to have a more thorough technical SEO audit completed. This includes a crawl or outlook of a website in order to mimic or emulate how a web crawler, such as the Google bot, would do it. This will involve analyzing the site for technical aspects, such as redirects, internal linking, searching the site for broken links, duplicate content, and more. If your site is not yet live, or you are just in the planning stage and don’t yet have a site, then this stage should involve your SEO agency providing you with guidelines and pre- and post-launch checklists, to set your future website up for success right from the very beginning.
3. SEO Growth Plan Design
This thorough analysis should help your contractor devise a clear SEO growth plan – a set of specific marketing activities that will help your business increase organic traffic and generate leads from it. The SEO growth plan should encompass a roadmap of activities and milestones and a budget. This plan would vary largely depending on your niche and the peculiarities of your business. However, there are some indispensable elements that a good SEO program for SaaS business should have:
- A content strategy, which includes both the optimization of your existing content and a content plan for future publications;
- Link-building plan;
- Ongoing performance analysis and reporting.
4. ROI Forecasting
While working on implementing the SEO growth plan, you should have a forecast of when the efforts are going to start to pay off and what ROI you can expect from SEO. Having such a forecast sets a goal for you and your digital marketing team to work towards and helps everyone keep their eyes on the prize.
In order to be able to make such a forecast, your SEO agency will need to analyze a lot of data, which includes historical sales data, your customers’ behavior patterns, the length of your sales cycle, average sale value, your current conversion rate, as well as market trends and competitor activity. This would definitely involve conducting surveys and interviews with stakeholders on your side as this input is crucial for forecasting accuracy. You can find more details on B2B Sales Forecasting here in our step-by-step guide with a real-life example.
Having an SEO sales forecast in place will allow you to make smarter decisions when it comes to budgeting and optimizing your strategy for the maximum ROI. Keep in mind that, like every forecast predicting SEO ROI is not 100% accurate. However, it helps you to track your investment in SEO efforts or spending and will allow you to compare this to your return in revenue gained from SEO investment in the long term.
Components of a Good SEO Program: SEO Ongoing Effort
A good SEO service and program includes various components that may differ from business to business. One business can utilize certain components to maximize profits and attract leads while for another company, with its individual set of goals, those would turn out to be fruitless. It is important to craft a program that would maximize your SEO investment both short term and long term, instead of spreading your efforts thin and trying to cover all activities possible.
If your business’s goals are to reduce the bounce rate, increasing website traffic may not be a priority as you want to focus on existing traffic converting into leads and engaging with your brand in a meaningful way. Whether your business needs to utilize all the components or not, it is good to know them and keep them in mind because in the future as your business grows you can start taking advantage of them.
Below are the components of a good SEO program:
- Content creation and recycling of existing content
- Link building and off-page optimization
- Keyword research and analysis
- On-page optimization of website content
- Technical optimization of website structure and code
- Measurement and analysis of website traffic and search engine rankings
- Site health checks, continuous monitoring, and adjustments of site content
- Regular reporting on key results gained from analysis.
1. Content Creation and Recycling
Content creation involves producing high-quality, engaging content that is shareable across social media and other channels. This content should appeal to both human users and search engines. Examples of such content include blog articles, how-to guides, listicles, advertorials, as well as visual forms of content, such as infographics and videos, and also podcasts. Your content strategy should include posting this content on your own site and distributing it through other channels, such as social media, guest-blogging platforms, video hosting sites, and more.
Content recycling involves SEO experts assessing your existing content and altering it or adding to it in order to help it perform better across search engines. Aspects of content recycling include adding new keywords, finding ways to optimize the structure and the amount of text, as well as making it more helpful for the user by adding additional information and updating it with visuals.
Your SEO program may include both guidelines on content creation and recycling, and implementation of those, depending on the availability of your in-house resources and whether or not your contractor offers copywriting and content creation services. In any case, we recommend that content creators work closely with subject matter experts to make sure that the resulting content adheres to EEAT best practices and provides users with original and expert information. Ways to collaborate include interviews, surveys, and revisions.
2. Link Building and Off-Page Optimization
Link building involves building high-quality and relevant backlinks to your website from authoritative websites within your industry. This adds relevance to your site on search engines and improves SERP results. Some tactics include pitching your content to external platforms, creating profiles on business directories, collaborating with influencers and thought leaders, setting up expert profiles on Q&A, forums, social media platforms, and more.
Beware that there are ethical link-building practices and black-hat SEO techniques. While you might be tempted to take advantage of high-yield black-hat link-building, we strongly recommend against it. It is a risk that is simply not worth it – recovering from search engines’ penalties for using such techniques will take a huge amount of time and effort. Make sure that your SEO agency adheres to white-hat SEO practices only.
3. Keyword Research and Analysis
Keyword research and analysis involves identifying queries or keywords that a target audience is using within search engines to find website content relevant to their search. The purpose of this research is to select keywords to use in content optimization and to track your rankings for these keywords to measure progress.
While selecting keywords, your SEO team will take into account their relevance to your business, user intent (whether it is an informational keyword or commercial/transactional), search volume in your target location, competition, and keyword difficulty.
4. On-Page Optimization of Website Content
On-page optimization of website content involves incorporating keywords that were identified through keyword research within certain strategic locations on a website. These places include meta descriptions, title tags, image ALT text fields, headings and subheadings of the website pages, as well as the text itself.
5. Technical Optimization of Website Structure and Code
We touched upon the technical health of a website when we were discussing the audit stage of the SEO program. It is important to have the recommendations resulting from this audit implemented, this is the basis upon which the other components of a good SEO program are built.
At the same time, when the guidelines are implemented, it doesn’t mean that the technical part is over. Regularly running health score checks is important to your online visibility, and this is especially true for larger websites, e-commerce sites, and cases when multiple teams are working on the website.
6. Measurement and Analysis of Website Traffic and Search Engine Rankings
As your SEO contractor works on implementing your SEO growth plan, it keeps track of numerous SEO parameters to measure progress and course-correct if necessary.
On top of conversions and leads, these include clicks, impressions and click-through rate, user behavior metrics such as the bounce rate, session duration and how many pages users visit per session on average, amount of keywords your site ranks for in your target location and how high you rank for those.
The tools that are used for tracking these metrics include but are not limited to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Topvisor.
7. Site Health Checks, Continuous Monitoring, and Adjustment
As your SEO agency keeps track of key performance indicators, monitors the website’s technical health score, and keeps an eye out for what your competition is up to, it might be necessary to make adjustments to your SEO program – by introducing new types of content into your strategy, expanding your link-building effort to new platforms and collaborations, or advising on the use of other digital marketing channels to support your growth.
On top of that, it is necessary to keep track of updates in the Google search algorithm by preparing for upcoming rollouts, tracking the effects of released updates, and making the necessary adjustments afterward.
8. Regular Reporting on Key Results
Regular reporting on key results should be a part of the relationship between your company and the SEO agency you are working with. The SEO program should deliver value for your site and you should be able to see this in metrics – your visibility, traffic, leads, sales and overall ROI.
An important part of the reporting is comparing your actual results to the forecast. You should also have a clear idea of why certain metrics increase or decrease and why a certain KPI was met or not.
This should help you understand whether a positive outcome is scalable and whether your strategy should focus more on a specific activity.
Components of a Good SEO Program: Add-On Services
These were the most essential components of a good SEO program, but it goes without saying that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all SEO solution. Here are some of the services that your SEO agency might be able to add to your package to make it complete and to cater to the specifics of your company.
Besides optimizing existing content, creating new content, while using effective keywords and simply being competitive within the SEO market. If in the future you change your host for your domain or buy a new domain name for an URL you want to use, migration services will come in handy. Some SEO agencies offer them in addition to standard SEO services. These add- ons include:
- Local SEO
- Website migration
- In-house team training
1. Local SEO
Local SEO is vital for companies that have a physical location and that target businesses in this location. The local SEO tactics aim at allowing users to find your business locally and include creating and maintaining a Google Business profile, getting backlinks from sites in your area, and creating local content.
2. Website Migration
You might need to upgrade your site to a different platform, do a revamp, or update the domain name. While working on these changes, it is important to make sure that your site’s technical health doesn’t suffer and that the link juice is passed on properly from the old pages to the new ones.
Your SEO contractor should work in tandem with your developers and help you prepare for the migration by providing the checklists, analyzing the new site for errors both before and right after the release, and providing you with instructions on transferring the tracking codes.
3. In-house Team Training
Not all contractors might be willing to share their expertise so that you are less dependent on them, so this add-on comes as a true gem. Activities that go into this service include existing workflow reviews, workshops, and Q&A sessions. Some of the examples are GA4 basic user guide, SEO copywriting, E-E-A-T trainings, and more.
How to Ensure the Success of Your SEO Program With an Agency
Although finding the right agency for your brand may be hit or miss, once you do, you should strive to keep a good working relationship for the long haul. Before this happens, below are some things to keep in mind to make sure that you will have a successful partnership with the SEO agency you decide to hire:
- Clearly define your business goals and expectations from the onset.
- Hire an SEO agency with a proven track record of successful campaigns, preferably for businesses in your industry: research the agency and find out more about them. See who their clients are and the types of results they brought them, and compare them to other candidates.
- Allow the agency to perform a comprehensive SEO audit of your website. They will need to do this to see how your site is structured, and analyze various metrics associated with it – such as what keywords are already in use, where the traffic is coming from, and more.
- Provide access to necessary resources and data that the agency can work with, to assess your current standing better and manage your expectations about the scope of work and the timeline. This can include providing viewer access to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Having such access will allow the agency to make the discovery phase as insightful and helpful as possible and plan future work in a more precise and efficient manner. Later on, as you sign the contractor, the access will need to be upgraded, and you will likely want to grant access to your CMS too.
- Collaborate with the agency to develop a customized SEO strategy. Your contractor should provide you with guidance on what input is needed from your team, but most importantly, you should share information about your business specifics, niche, competition, and business goals.
- Provide the necessary input as your contractor works on implementing the strategy. This can be access to analytical systems, development resources, designers, copywriters, and subject matter experts. It is important that this does not become a roadblock and delay your SEO effort.
- Ensure that the agency provides regular updates, progress reports, and results. Actively review these reports, ask questions, and provide feedback – this is vital for your SEO partner to understand if the strategy is working well or needs adjusting.
About Rampiq’s Organic Growth Engine
Having worked with numerous B2B businesses and built success stories for our clients, we have created a battle-tested SEO program – Organic Growth Engine. This program entails all of the components described above and emphasizes the following:
- Thorough discovery and planning to hear you out and be clear on your goals.
- Your Ideal Customer Profile is at the core of the content strategy.
- Strong EEAT focus to position you as an expert.
- Solid content distribution and link-building tactics.
- Ongoing performance analysis and regular reporting on key results.
You can read more about Organic Growth Engine here or book a free call with Rampiq’s SEO to discuss how it can be applied to your business.
Benefits of Hiring an Agency For SEO
Developing and implementing an SEO program that fits the description above in-house might be a daunting task – we get it, your team already has enough on their plate. Hiring the right SEO agency will place this job in expert hands that had already done it before, for businesses like yours. This will help you make sure your company website will be visible when users search for relevant information related to what you offer and remain findable across search engines, particularly Google, thus generating traffic and leads for your business.
Here are six reasons why you should consider hiring an SEO agency:
- Improved online visibility and rankings in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo: A good SEO program will make sure users who are searching for your services online are able to actually see your website in the search results among competitors’ sites and reach you as they scroll SERPs.
- Increases website organic leads: We often see it when a site has a decent amount of traffic but the organic leads are either non-existent or trash. A good SEO program will make sure that your organic traffic actually converts to a stable source of valuable leads.
- Helps build brand awareness: You know that your team is the best and that your product or service is better than the competition. The right SEO contractor knows how to spread the word organically and position you as an expert and help you speak in the language of your target audience’s pain points.
- Increases credibility by establishing your business as an authority in its industry: Creating content for the sake of volume and posting frequency no longer works. By hiring an agency, you get the know-how on how to build and execute a content strategy that is focused on your ideal customer profile, helps establish authority on relevant topics, and supports your compliance with EEAT best practices.
- Cost-effective marketing strategies that provides long-term benefits: Whether you use SEO as a stand-alone digital marketing strategy or to work together with pay-per-click promotion, when done properly, it becomes an indispensable source of traffic and leads, allowing you to continue reaping benefits long after you started.
- SEO tactics improve your website structure and user experience: A lot of SEO activities aimed at improving your site’s health score focus on improving user experience, as UX is a very important ranking factor for search engines. This will provide the additional benefit of improving your site’s user behavior metrics and thus the quality of traffic, which has an impact on conversion rates.
How Much Do Effective SEO Services Cost in 2023?
Investing in effective SEO programs costs anywhere from $1,200 monthly as an entry-level price to $5,600 for more premium and high-end services. Prices for content creation range from $800 to $1500 per piece depending on content volume and level of research required.
A lot will depend on whether you take content creation in house or not, whether you have a developer for technical tweaks, a designer to create visuals, as well as on your goals and expectations from SEO.
How Long Does a Good SEO Program Take to Show Results?
There is no way to predict with certainty how long it will take to achieve specific SEO goals as everything is an estimation based on the website metrics, organic competitors, keyword strategy, and external factors. Below are some desired SEO results and approximately how long you can expect to see results:
- Indexation and technical issues (2-4 weeks)
- Installed analytics systems and measurement framework (2-4 weeks)
- Content rankings (several weeks to several months)
- Website traffic (several weeks to several months)
- Organic lead generation and conversion (several months to a year or more)
We have previously gone into more detail, in an article that we published about measuring SEO results, about the various factors that determine how long before you start seeing results from your SEO efforts.
As you can see, SEO could take anything from a few days to several months to show the first results. With the most recent updates to Google’s search algorithms, businesses have all the chances to start benefiting from SEO fast – when armed with the right knowledge and tools to build and implement a proper strategy.
Rampiq’s Organic Growth Engine is exactly this kind of playbook for your SEO, and we are so sure of it that we vouch to give your money back if you’re not satisfied with the results within the first 30 days.