Re-Designing Your Website? Here’s 7 Tips to Avoid SEO Disaster.

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So you’ve just decided to re-design your website. How exciting! You’ve got grand plans to incorporate a big beautiful hero image, shiny call-to-action buttons and a corporate video that’s been months in-the-making. “It will be glitzy, it will be glamorous, and people will love it”, you think to yourself.

But before you get all gung-ho with the aesthetics, make sure you put some thought into what’s under the hood. That’s right, I’m talking about SEO.

You see, you could spend a fortune building the world’s most glamorous hotel, complete with an infinity pool and a tennis court on the roof. But if it’s impossible to find your hotel, then your cash registers will remain empty. The same logic applies to your website.Your website could be world-class, but if little effort was invested into SEO, it will never be found. It’ll be reduced to a glorified brochure.

To avoid this fate, when putting together your redesign strategy, make sure to give discoverability and accessibility the utmost priority.

This means that the person working on your SEO should be best friends with your website designer. They should spend so much time together that they learn to finish each other’s sentences. When this happens, form and function become a package deal and your website can become an engine for business growth.

You Might Need to Hire an SEO Company: Do So With Caution

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Most companies don’t have the resources to have an employee dedicated to search engine optimization. So, the next best option is to hire an SEO company.

However, hiring a marketing company to do your SEO can be like trying to cross a field full of landmines. For every good SEO vendor you find, there are 10 terrible ones.

In his article about why SEO firms suck, Peter Gustafson outlines 10 reasons why most SEO firms will inevitably rip your company off. His most scathing comment is that many SEO firms are “blatant liars”.

To my mind, it’s not that SEO firms are inherently malicious, they’re just often incompetent. One reason for their incompetence is that “the industry changes by the week”, meaning they struggle to keep up with the times.

So how do you avoid choosing a dud? How can you be sure that you’ve hired the right SEO company? And how will you know whether they’re doing a good job?

The aim of this post is to provide you with a list of 7 expectations that you can print and hand to your SEO vendor before signing the contract. If they don’t agree to them, think twice about signing on the dotted line.

7 Expectations You Should Have for Your SEO Company

1. Sitemap expectations

  • Make sure your SEO agency thoroughly understands your business model.
    • The best way to do so is to categorize and list out each of the products and services you sell, and then to arrange meetings to describe these products and services in more depth.
  • If your current website doesn’t reflect the set-up of your business today, outline the discrepancies.
  • Work with the SEO agency to build a sitemap for your new website.
    • Neil Patel, an SEO guru, advises you to build a hierarchy for your website, with 2-7 main categories, and a balanced number of sub-categories in each category.
    • Your sitemap should have a dedicated page for each of your most important categories of products and services.

 2. Keyword Research Expectations

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  • Your SEO agency should only begin the keyword research process once the site map has been mapped out.
  • Hold a meeting and discuss the terms that you think people are typing into Google to find your home page and each product and service pages and subpages on your site map.
    • Aim to give your SEO agency 5 terms for each of these pages.
    • This will steer them in the right direction, leading to better keyword choice for your company.
  • When conducting keyword research, your SEO agency should be looking at the following criteria.
    • Keywords should be chosen based on: monthly views, seo competition (using moz.com), the relevancy of the keyword, commercial intent of the keyword and ease of writing.
    • For every keyword chosen, there should be pages on the sitemap which can naturally accommodate for that keyword (e.g. don’t target “blue hats” if there is only a landing page for “red hats”)
  • After undertaking the keyword research, ask your SEO agency if there is any way that they could improve the site map structure from an SEO standpoint.
    • For example, you may need to rename some of the pages to reflect how people search for the product or service.
    • Alternatively, you may need to create new pages to accommodate for keywords which don’t naturally fit into your website at the moment.

3. Create Website Content Briefs

  • After finalising the sitemap and allocating each keyword to a page on the sitemap, your SEO agency should create SEO content briefings.
    • This involves making a suggestion for the word count, primary keyword(s), secondary keyword(s) and the frequency of keywords, for each page on your website.
    • These content briefings will allow your copywriter to effectively SEO-optimise your website.
  • The project manager of the website should then enhance the content briefs by providing input about the desired messaging and tone of the page.

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4. SEO Audit of Website Copywriting

  • Once the website content has been written (having asked your copywriter to use SEO best practices), have your SEO firm do an audit to make sure SEO best practices have been adhered to.
  • This involves an audit of the title tags, meta descriptions, H1/H2’s, body copy, alt images, internal linking structure etc.
    • If any SEO best practices are not adhered to, have your SEO agency make the corrections.
  • The project manager of the website should do a final read-over to ensure the copy gets the companies message across in the correct manner.

 5. Content Idea Suggestions

  • Once the site is launched, your SEO agency should suggest data-driven content topics for you to write about.
    • This will require your SEO agency to do another round of keyword research, where informational, long-tail keywords that people are searching for in Google are identified.
    • Ideally these long-tail keywords are questions people are asking in an online context.
  • When you write content pieces which incorporate these long-tail keywords in their title (and elsewhere), you have a good chance of ranking on the first page of Google for that keyword.
    • In turn, this will bring more qualified traffic to your website.

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 6. Content Calendar SEO recommendations

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  • Your SEO agency should work with you to develop a content calendar, which will guide your content topics, mediums and timescales.
  • Your SEO agency should identify which keywords each piece of content will optimise for and how it will link internally to the rest of your site.
  • As each piece of content is produced, your SEO firm should perform and audit it to ensure it adheres to best practices.

 7. Monitoring and Reporting

  • Your SEO agency should provide you with monthly monitoring and reporting, using a tool such as Moz and Google Analytics.
  • They should show you how your keyword rankings changed over the course of the month, how your organic traffic figures changed, and other statistics like # of external links and your domain authority.

Have you dealt with an SEO agency before? What was your experience like?

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