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SEO stands for search engine optimization. It's one component of digital marketing that's designed to help websites get found by people in search engines, such as Google. Key components of SEO include, but aren't limited to, keywords, quality content that's relevant to common searches, meta tags, backlinks, and page performance.
Keywords can include the primary search term someone is likely to use plus semantic phrases people would naturally use when talking about the topic at hand. Good SEO helps search engines, such as Google, know that a site has content that is relevant for the searcher's needs.
An SEO agency is a business that specializes in supporting strong SEO on and off websites for other brands. SEO agencies can handle a variety of tasks, including creating or hiring out content, conducting keyword research or site audits, building backlinks, enhancing site performance, or completing competitor research.
The cost of SEO depends on services and fee structure. SEO experts might charge up to $130 per hour, but clients can often save money by paying a monthly retainer. With a retainer, clients pay, on average, $500 to $5,000 or more per month to engage an agency, depending on the scope of the SEO project and the skill and experience of the SEO agency team. It’s also important to note that clients get the benefit of core services and may buy other services a la carte.
What businesses need in an SEO agency depends on their unique requirements. But some common traits to look for include:
Historically, companies would build backlinks in questionable ways. They might spam public forums with links, for example. Reputable SEO companies don't use these types of "black hat" options today, in part because Google penalizes sites that do. Some legitimate and effective ways SEO agencies build backlinks can include:
Local SEO marketing refers to SEO efforts directed specifically at searches with local intent. If someone wants to find out about the type of birds in the arctic, Google is likely to serve up the site with the best possible information. Conversely, if someone wants to find out about dentists in Dallas, Google specifically looks for sites that look like they're about local dental services in the Dallas area. Components of local SEO include:
SEO ranking refers to how high a page is listed on the search results. If someone searches "Coca Cola," for example, Coca-Cola.com is the first page in the listings. The Coca Cola website also has the next three top listings because it has such strong authority for this word. The fifth page down is the Wikipedia entry on the topic.
SEO friendly means that a site is optimized for search engines to crawl it, which is likely to lead to better page rank. Some examples of website features that are SEO friendly include:
Companies can engage in some DIY efforts to increase their rank in the search engine results. This is something many companies should consider because the majority of searcher clicks go to the top three listings. Some DIY SEO activities can include:
Businesses may want to hire professionals if they want technical SEO audits, strong keyword research, and web development to boost page rank.
Yes, SEO is effective. The search engines are set up to reward sites that have strong optimization. And since a vast majority of people start with search engines when they want to find something, companies can't afford to ignore SEO, which can be very cost-effective, too. The effort put in today can reap rewards for a website for years.