What is Search Engine Marketing & How Does SEO Stand Out?
SEM (search engine marketing) is as alive today as it was at the inception of the public rushing to the internet in the mid-to-late 1990’s. It’s incredibly important for businesses that wish to be found by prospective buyers, clients and patients.
There are three main types of SEM that come to mind immediately when people think of Google:
- PPC (pay-per-click) marketing,
- Local Maps, and
- SEO (search engine optimization) the ‘free’ organic marketing.
PPC displays your site’s text ad at the top of a desired search or at that bottom (preferably the first page). Additionally, it will stream your ad out to partner sites who get paid for displaying your ad on their sites. It is the fastest and most expensive way to get your business listed on that first page of search results.
Local Maps displays your local business on a map when performing a search that is clearly intended for local area businesses. Not all search results will show the ‘Local Map’ area on the page. We have many clients who are local marketing but not every search result they want to appear will display the local map section. Therefore, focusing only on local maps marketing creates low benefits for local businesses. If you are a national business or an eCommerce site with no local address, you’ll have little to no chance of ranking (even little if you choose to use the dishonest route of purchasing a P.O. Box at a local mailing store and call it a ‘suite’).
SEO displays any of your sites’ pages listed in the actual search results that have been optimized as relevant to that search. This means that instead of one ad display or one local address listing in a maps area (if it shows at all), your site has multiple opportunities to display ANY of your site’s pages or blog posts. Depending on how large your website is, including your blog, you could rank for every single keyword that your prospective target audience is searching.
In 2019, Does SEO Matter?
Yes, of course it does. But you don’t have to take my word for it. WordStream’s February, 7, 2019 post titled, “27 Google Search Statistics You Should Know in 2019” added some real-world statistics (sources cited) that prove that search is not dead and site rank is still a priority.
Just a few statistics from the post:
Other statistics from around the web for 2019 also highlight the importance of SEO. (Taken from a December 2018 post titled, “60+ Mind-Blowing Search Engine Optimization Stats” by Search Engine Journal.)
- 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search, 10 percent from paid search, 5 percent for social, and 34 percent from all other sources.
- Over 40 percent of revenue is captured by organic traffic.
- 73 billion: The estimated number of phone calls that will be generated from mobile search alone by the end of 2018.
- 21 percent of searches lead to more than one click on Google’s results.
- 1 billion+: How many people use Google search every month.
- 40-60 billion: The estimated number of searches happening on Google in the U.S. each month.
- Approximately 20: The number of times SEO has more traffic opportunity than PPC on both mobile and desktop.
- 45 percent of all companies say content marketing is ‘highly integrated’ with their SEO strategy.
SEO – Do It Yourself or Hire an Agency?
Can you do SEO on your own? Yes, of course you can. In fact, you can go to BackLinko’s wonderful blog posts titled, “Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2019)” and get to work.
Algorithm changes to Google. Moz.com notes that on average Google will have 500-600 changes in its algorithm annually. Many times, when you check your site’s rankings, you can have a temporary drop while these updates happen. Often, you as the business owner, will be unaware of any changes while agencies like Webmaster For Hire, stay on top of them. We pay attention to industry experts, search signal changes and monthly reports that go to our clients. As SEM specialists, we have a different perspective than most business owners will have.
For this reason, it is beneficial to work with an agency that stays up-to-date with algorithm changes and, with market shifts, keeping in mind what works best for you to do in-house and what works best for you to outsource. For instance, social media marketing is a perfect example of when marketing is done best in-house. SEO is always best done by those who’s business it is to stay current.
What is the Process that an SEO Agency Uses for Best Practices?
Any SEO agency should be using the following practices when working with you to optimize your business’ visibility in the search engines:
- Goals – what are your desired outcomes? Branding, lead generation, both? Who is your target niche?
- Site Audit – where are you at now?
- Competitive Analysis – what are your competitors doing and how are they ranking?
- Keyword Research – even though SEO is more about context and intent, you still need to rank for appropriate target words and phrases to appear in search engine results when someone types in a search box or verbally asks a question with their device. Otherwise, they aren’t likely to find you.
- Implementation – change onsite optimization and off-site listings.
- Content Creation – your SEO agency should create your text content and infographics. This content may not be advanced writing for your industry, instead it should be designed to reach your desired goals for corporate branding or leads (or both). Many agencies tell their clients to write their blog posts themselves. Here’s the thing: if you knew how to do that, you’d already be doing it. Time is valuable and writing content is time-consuming.
- Monitor & Track Rankings – your agency should be reading the reports each month and monitoring what traffic is coming your way. When they notice there is traffic that are not in line with your goals, they should adjust your plan accordingly.
- Reporting – if you only get a Google report and it’s not easy-to-read or easily understood as a layperson, you’re with the wrong agency. We feel that it’s important to create transparency and make it easy for our clients to know what we’re doing for them. We create “less fancy, but easy to understand” reports for our clients. Monthly reported numbers with tabs of prior years, helps our clients (and us) to know their search ebbs and flows. Additionally, we include a monthly overview with our review of traffic monitoring. Nothing is hidden.
How much is SEO per Month?
You can find pricing all over the place from $500 to $6,000 monthly. First and foremost, never pay more than you can gain as return on your investment within a month.
Our 2019 Webmaster For Hire packages for SEO range from $1,500 to $4,500 per month. Our packages include writing and infographic creation. Our clients provide 100% approval before the content goes out.
Why do SEO Agencies NOT Guarantee Results?
I always tell people that if an agency guarantees first-page results – run and run fast. Google changes their algorithm so often that rankings just cannot be guaranteed. Additionally, with billions of sites in Google and more added daily, you have continual new competitors to beat out. This doesn’t mean that difficult is impossible.
We always aim for the first page and are excited for the “Sweet Spot” of rankings – within the first three pages. We had one client after a year’s contract ask about their keyword rankings. Of the twenty keywords that we were focused on all but five were on the first page. Of the five that were not, they were ALL in or near the ‘Sweet Spot’ of the first three pages. Now here’s the amazing thing, those five words:
- Phrase one of five: had 731,000,000 sites to beat out and it dropped 32 positions between the previous month’s report and the current month. That previous month, they were on page 1, position 7. This means their listing hit a temporary drop, which is common (as previously stated).
- Phrase two of five: had 1,800,000 sites to beat out and they were on the bottom of the 2nd page. It dropped 2 positions.
- Phrase three of five: had 83,000,000 sites to beat out and their listing was in the second spot on the 1st page under the maps within a day of seeing the rankings report. Again, temporary bounces happen.
- Phrase four of five: had 112,000,000 sites to beat out and dropped 3 positions. Their listing was in the first spot on the 3rd page.
- Phrase five of five: had 10,500,000 sites to beat out and dropped 8 positions. Their listing was in the 3rd spot on the 2nd page.
I received their concern about only 15 of the 20 preferred keyword rankings being on the first page a day after I had spoken with a prospective client who was told that difficult to rank keywords were “impossible”. I informed him that ‘difficult doesn’t mean impossible.” True it takes longer for keywords with more sites to beat out to get top rankings, but it’s not impossible. The email I received where the client was concerned about their rankings was the ‘real world’ proof that I needed to show him that a keyword phrase with over 731-million sites to beat out had been on the first page after a year with only a drop since the previous month’s report. Because we had all the monthly reports handy for this client, it made it very easy to read the real-world results of the client’s traffic while providing proof that difficult keywords are possible to rank in the sweet spot.
What does Google say about hiring SEO Firms that offer guarantees? They warn against consultants or agencies that offer any guarantee for rankings.
Why Should You Sign a One-Year Contract for Hiring an SEO Company?
As illustrated in the previous point, you can saw that the world of SEO has gotten very competitive. You have tens of millions, hundreds of millions and sometimes even billions of sites to beat out to get listed in the ‘sweet spot’. It can take any where from 6-months, 8-months and up to a year to get your site ranked. Without the right budget, fast approvals of content, and consistent attention, there are many phrases where rankings just won’t happen.
If we have a one-year contract and, prompt attention to content approvals from clients, our agency can consistently monitor our clients’ rankings, site traffic and content and, provide amazing results. The contract gives us the necessary time to produce those results.
The Bottom Line:
SEO is not dead. Organic rankings still provide results. SEO strategies should be part of your company or practice’s marketing budget and plan. Hiring an SEO agency will free up your time to do other marketing, get results, and have someone else focus on algorithm changes.