When I began working at Webspec Design as the SEO Strategist, it was up to me and a coworker to determine the initial pathway we would take running SEO campaigns.
I dove in head first, trying to learn everything I could about SEO and how to do it. I talked to my coworker, who had just about as much experience as I did, I delved into Search Engine Journal and a couple of other blogs, and, at first, I just had to act like I knew what I was doing.
Since then I have researched daily, explored where Google was headed with their search algorithm and worked through the major changes that came with the Hummingbird and Panda Updates. We’ve built up a solid base of satisfied clients who see major results from the ongoing work we do.
Over the last 18 months, I have learned quite a bit about SEO and what is important, what works, what doesn’t, and when to say no to taking on a new client.
SEO Should be Done at Your Agency
At Webspec Design, we get calls almost every day asking us if we would like to outsource our SEO services to them for just $1 and hour. Tempting, right? While these offers can seem attractive to the companies who are in the business just for the money, this isn’t a good option for a company that wants to maintain a level of transparency with their clients.
Our SEO department thrives and continues to grow our business based on the fact that we make the changes to the site, we keep our clients informed, and we meet with our clients in person on a monthly basis to learn more about what is going on currently in their company.
We genuinely care about where they want to grow, and these monthly meetings help build solid relationships with our clients and reassures them their website and digital marketing efforts are in safe hands.
Do Your Research
In SEO, it is imperative to keep up with what is happening in search. What updates are being made to algorithms? What are new techniques industry leaders have found helpful in running their own campaigns? What tactics are your clients’ competitors using on their sites?
These are important things to pay attention to so you can stay ahead of the next update and show your clients you have the experience and knowledge to run their campaign.
SEO Title Tags, Descriptions, Keywords, and Alt Tags Still Matter
While we all know Google considers page titles important and uses well-constructed descriptions to learn about the page, but many believe keywords don’t matter. Based upon in-house testing, I can tell you they do indeed matter, at least a little bit. I have had campaigns where I changed the page keywords to what is currently being searched most according to Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool and the rankings increase dramatically the next week without us touching anything else on the site. Content matters, but keywords are still in the equation for Google.
We have also found keyword / key phrase focused image alt tags and title tags have increased our clients’ rankings in Google Images greatly. Having 10 images ranked in the first three lines of images for their focus keywords has not only improved the traffic to their site, but also the amount of contact requests made.
Also, despite the fact that Google doesn’t put as much emphasis on the description and keywords, both Bing and Yahoo still seem to rely fairly heavily on them as part of their algorithm. Any good SEO agency shouldn’t ignore the other search engines just because Google has a more advanced algorithm.
Homepage Content is Extremely Important
You’ve probably heard time and time again that content is king, but homepage content rules over all. I had a law firm client whose site was having a hard time ranking for their practice areas because there was no content on their homepage. There was an image and that was it. After working with them to formulate the perfect paragraphs and keyword focused h1 and h2 tags to highlight specific areas and services, they saw their rankings jump from beyond the fifth page to the first page in a little less than two weeks.
Google reads the homepage to learn about your company, so be sure to include lots of quality information about the service or product you offer on the homepage of your site. A good way to incorporate more content on a homepage without disrupting the design is to create a content slider much like a photo rotator. All of the content in the slider is read by Google as residing on the homepage, so this is a great feature for when you are tight on space. Another way to save space on a page but still incorporate a lot of content is to use expandable “read more” links.
Both of these help you place great homepage content while keeping the current user experience intact.
Navigation Matters—A Lot
Where your menu is located on the page isn’t nearly as important as how it is set up. The order of the menu items, their labels and the pages contained in them are supposed to help your users – not confuse them. Besides helping your users, Google is reading these tabs too to learn about who you are as a company and what you do.
Recently, I had a client who wasn’t using the top menu on their site in the best way possible and I had an idea that their rankings and contact requests were poor because of it. The old tabs looked something like this:
I sat down with my team and we went through each tab and developed a much easier way to filter users to where they want to go. We looked at the site as if we were trying to figure out how they could accommodate our dining needs as well as our catering needs. To make the site more user and search engine friendly, we created new tabs and new pages to fill the menu and the result was amazing. Our clients went from not even ranking in the top 50 for catering words in our area to being in the top 3 or top 10 for many of them. The new menu looked more like this: