What Does A Custom SEO Strategy Look Like?
If cookie-cutter SEO packages worked, companies buying them would see a steady growth in SEO-generated leads, month after month, year after year. This, however, is rarely the case, because for SEO to work, on-site and off-site activities must: a) strengthen weak areas, b) capitalize on strong ones, and c) take advantage of competitive opportunities. Since every company has different strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, a custom strategy is the only path to success. Here is how you can tell if you are getting a custom SEO strategy:
Discovery that discovers strategic priorities
The “discovery” phase of a cookie-cutter SEO program usually consists of an automated review of your website, which points out various SEO weaknesses such as a low number of inbound links, and compares your ranking position to competitors for various search terms — with your company usually coming up short.
This type of data is readily available on the Web for little or no cost; beware of companies that charge hundreds of dollars for this “service.” Furthermore, ranking data is not even close to being absolute, since Google now customizes search engine results based on a user’s location, search history and other factors.
With a truly custom SEO strategy, the SEO agency will actually talk to you, asking questions to help it craft a keyword strategy consistent with your business objectives and for the purpose of generating leads.
Questions you should be hearing during the discovery phase include:
- What are your most important products and services? What do you want to sell?
- What are the most popular products and services you sell, regardless of their importance to your business?
- What motivates prospects to buy your products and services?
- What deters prospects from buying your products and services?
- Who are your major competitors?
Your answers provide a strong starting point for keyword research, enabling the SEO agency to zero in on search terms that are relevant to what you want to sell. The agency will then evaluate search volume (and other factors) for targeted terms and analyze your competitors to see where your best opportunities for wins are. In the end, you will be presented with a keyword strategy detailing search terms to optimize for — keywords with the highest probability of conversion.
You should stay involved
Collaboration, then, is the key marker of a custom SEO strategy. An SEO agency shouldn’t just dump the keyword strategy in your lap and say, “Let’s go.” Instead, an agency should ask for your feedback and input after it has finished its preliminary strategy. Why?
- Because you have deep knowledge of your industry and will be able to spot targeted keywords that prospects wouldn’t actually use.
- For the same reason, you will be aware of technical keyword phrases for products, services and applications outsiders wouldn’t be familiar with.
Incidentally, collaboration does not end with signoff on the keyword strategy. Most SEO campaigns have a heavy emphasis on on-site and off-site content creation. Your input will be invaluable in helping the agency create blog posts and articles that are useful to prospects. Cookie-cutter content, like cookie-cutter strategies, is watered-down, generic and unlikely to generate any positive outcome.
SEO, as they say, is art and science. An agency can handle most of the science on its own, but without your collaboration, the canvas won’t look very pretty.