Last Updated on August 5, 2020
Not all online marketing agencies are created equal. Actually, that statement really applies to all marketing agencies – both traditional and digital. Recently I had an interesting discussion with a prospect. This company had been searching for months; they wanted an agency to redesign their website built on a solid SEO foundation.
What struck me was the confusing terminology many SEO practitioners used when trying to woo him. Things like “proprietary process” and “patent pending.” The truth of the matter is that no one has cracked Google’s algorithmic code. We can make best guesses, but no one actually knows. So, agencies use multiple tools to cross-check optimization, maximizing their efforts and hedging bets. Now, that takes expertise.
Another trick in their pricing was a “guarantee.” Guaranteeing results for an unbelievably low price. Now, I love a good deal. So I suggested that he look under the hood so to speak. The pricing was for a cookie-cutter approach (outsourced offshore) and used Grey Hat techniques to guarantee those results. If you’ve read our blog before, you know where we stand on that issue. Grey Hat is a time bomb waiting to happen as many violate ethics — using techniques that intend to deceive search engines and searchers. At the center of the implosion is your brand when search engines change their algorithm to close loopholes or penalize abusers.
So if you’re looking for an online marketing agency to update or create your online presence (aka website), we recommend the following components:
Stable Content Management System
Choose a Content Management System that you have access and can easily update. You want to avoid a propriety system, one that won’t hold you hostage should you change agencies or decide to bring your website management in-house. We highly recommend WordPress because it:
- Is open source, non-proprietary and free system. There are no shortage of developers/coders who can work on the platform. A wide variety of themes (that affect the look and feel) are available, should you can choose a look and feel that best matches your business. Regardless of theme, your site is built upon WordPress’ solid and scalable structure.
- Has a wide variety of functionality (e.g., shopping carts, forms) that can be easily added
- Provides a slight SEO boost (about 5%)
- Supports a rich community, including forums and tutorials to help learn and utilize the system
Not all keywords will generate qualified traffic to your website. It’s relatively easy for a SEO agency to get you ranked #1 for 3 or 4 keywords, especially if there is low competition. The question you need to ask if the value of those keywords to your customer’s buying behavior. General or high level keywords are typically educational: a searcher is looking to educate themselves on the topic and is not close to making a purchase. Long tail keywords, ones that are more specific indicate a consumer is closer to making a buying decision. We recommend that your keyword research include the following:
- Geographically relevant search phrases – some terms are regional. For example in NY attorneys handle real estate transactions.
- Cultural nuances – in digging into keywords knowledge of idioms and slang terms are used in search term variations
- Trends – optimizing content on a dying keyword doesn’t make sense, so you’ll need to ensure keyword trends are at least steady or on the uptick
- Opposition to Benefit Analytics – calculate the relative competition as its benefit (potential web traffic, placement in the buying cycle)
Careful of Black Box Approach
Terms like “proprietary system” means they probably aren’t going to share their methodology. How do you know it’s based upon best industry practices? Remember, it’s your business’ brand and rankings on the line. When Google cracks down techniques like buying links, be prepared for a drop in SEO rankings. A black box approach is a tactic meant to hold your data or website hostage. Is that the key to a long-term relationship? Look at what truly differentiates an online marketing agency’s service.
System Back Ups & Security Measures
Websites need to be backed up regularly. WordPress issues system updates to their core system. They do this to add functionality as well as to foil hackers. Choose an online marketing agency that has process in place to keep your website up to date, configured with security measures, and is backed-up so you can recover from any unexpected catastrophes. Should an event occur, it’s a matter of reloading the most current version of the site. Ask your agency about their procedures and response times.