RSW Agency New Business Website Series, Pt. 2: SEO, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Metadata
Welcome to the 2nd installment of our series around agency new business websites, and in this case, SEO.
In our previous edition, we covered the thought processes and design adjustments that make all the difference between a website that drives new business, and one that leaves your prospects cold. Now that we’ve talked about what your website should be in order to maximize your prospect’s engagement, let’s talk a bit about what to do with it, specifically how to help people find it.
If you’ve downloaded and read the eBook — which, excuse the plug, is something you should do, and can be found at this link — the introduction is an ode to the time before websites, in all of its word-of-mouth, billboard, and (gasp) phonebook glory.
In those days, advertising was all about exposure – getting the best spot for your billboard, and making sure that your yellow pages ad wasn’t just another listing, but a big, bold block front and center.
And now that those phonebooks are little more than doorstops and occasional home training weights, search engine optimization (SEO) has become the predominant method for making sure your agency is getting all the digital exposure it can.
We don’t claim to be the end-all-be-all source for SEO guidance — there’s a reason that an entire consulting industry has sprouted up around the idea of streamlining your SEO — but in service of building a better agency new business site, we have some introductory guidance on getting started.
So first and foremost, is SEO worth it?
If being a marketing buzzword for the last decade isn’t enough to nudge you down the path toward SEO enlightenment, here’s a few numbers for you:
Ok, so we made the last one up.
But the point stands: when people search, they’re looking for the best, the closest, and the most trusted sources.
For better or worse, Google has become the digital gatekeeper of these things, and therein lies the core of SEO: making sure your agency is among those most trusted sources on the internet.
At least, according to these guys.
First, because we field so many questions on it:
What about paid search?
It’s tempting to drop some money into making sure your page is featured in a separate section, guaranteed to be tops for certain search terms.
It’s certainly a popular route, and one that we won’t give a blanket “no” to pursuing, just know that your paid search investment is not simply cutting to the front of the SEO line.
Anecdotally, many of you likely scroll right past these boxed-off Google suggestions, and you’re not alone: 70-80% of people ignore paid search results, choosing to only click on organic search results. (Imforza)
Your consumers are more tech-savvy than you think, and the same people that trust Google to serve up the most relevant content (see: just about everyone) see those paid results as outside of that algorithmic ecosystem.
Paid search is not a waste of money, and certainly, some agencies will see more success with it than others, but it’s no substitute for sound SEO practices.
Many businesses see SEO as a race – who can overtake their rivals atop Google Results Mountain?
In actuality, most SEO practices are implemented simply in the pursuit of telling search engine “crawlers” what your site is all about, so that it’s featured in only the most relevant searches.
Not to mention telling prospects, the moment they see your page pop up, what they’re getting into with your agency.
With that being said, let’s take a look at:
Introductory steps you can take to start your journey down the SEO superhighway.
The first step is one of evaluation: what ideal terms, or keywords, should be bringing a prospect to your site?
Whether it’s “paid search,” “digital video,” or any number of marketing terms, include these keywords prominently (but organically) in content pages across the website.
As we mentioned above, the mindset for your SEO shouldn’t be “winning” the most search results, but rather making sure that you’re speaking the language of those that would be most likely to be looking for your marketing expertise.
Part of this is simply knowing who you are, knowing the sector in which you operate, and crucially, knowing what prospects in that space are looking for in an agency.
SEO at its core is about understanding customers – in other words, the same thing you do for clients on a daily basis.
Know your space, and use that as a stepping stone to find the keywords that define you.
Of course, expressing your agency’s range of expertise is hard enough to do in a 140-character Tweet, let alone a small handful of keywords.
Choose too broadly (“marketing”), and you’ll end up in plenty of searches…with the thousands of other marketing agencies in the world.
Evaluate the things that describe exactly what you do, and who you are, to create a list of keywords that are diverse both in topic and in length – yes, “keywords” can be a grouped sequence of words, so long as they are found together enough within your content (“Cincinnati marketing agency,” for example).
Once you’ve got a good sense of the keywords you’re targeting… well, you use them. A lot.
You want people to know that they’ve come to the right place for exactly the agency they’re looking for.
Use them in page content, articles, descriptions, and most importantly, use them in your metadata.
What exactly is metadata, and how does it factor into SEO?
Part of SEO is drawing eyes to your page within the search results list, but a significant portion is giving Google what you’re all about, and meta tags are a simple way to do just that.
Once implemented directly into your website’s code, these tags – particularly your meta title, found at the top of the browser window or tab, and meta description, the “blurb” describing the page in search results – allow SEO crawlers to sort you into the correct bucket of searches, essentially making sure that prospects are getting the right message at the right time for them. Sound familiar?
Think of it as your very own AI new business team.
And finally, if you want to drive better SEO, the bottom line is that you want a lot of content.
Likely more than you’re producing now.
Content page length recommendations run the gamut from a measly 300 words, all the way to a much more sizable 2000+.
In terms of page quantity, however, more is better in almost every case.
So long as those pages are relevant to your agency and your offering, they are helping to build your reputation as an authority on the subject in the eyes of Google.
If there’s a theme to these SEO basics, it’s balance.
And balanced is the right approach when implementing these keywords onto your page.
It’s ineffective (and downright shady) to simply throw an algorithmic mess into your meta description to try and win the favor of Google crawlers, just like it’s inadvisable to offer a roundabout breakdown about what your consumer wants, without no mind whatsoever to a cohesive SEO strategy.
There’s value in each, and in a post-phonebook digital word-of-mouth world, it pays to have the best internet billboard, and it pays to make sure that billboard sits right on Main Street.