What does an SEO provider actually do?

“So you work at an SEO company? So… what is it you guys actually do?”

This is by far one of the most frequently asked questions when I tell someone what we do. Often I’ll reply with a short and sweet answer “We get companies more business and better results from search engines,” which always gets followed with “But how does that work?” I then say that SEO is basically five things:

  1. Using data to find what works
  2. Getting high-quality links
  3. Finding and/or fixing things to help Google see your website easily
  4. Creating useful (to humans) content
  5. Measuring results, adjusting strategies

SEO is Search Engine Optimisation

Although SEO could potentially mean optimising for any search engine like Amazon, TradeMe, the Apple App Store, or even (gasp!) Bing – most SEO agencies, Synapse included, refer to Google Search Engine Optimisation, and getting better organic results when talking about SEO.

For example, if you’re an Auckland roofer, and you rank number 1 for “Auckland roofer” you are going to get a lot more people contacting you inquiring about your business and what you do.

Also it’s worth pointing out what SEO is not – so following on from our “auckland roofer” analogy I have included a screenshot that shows what is and isn’t strictly SEO.

In the image here, we can see that:

  • Red is AdWords or Pay Per Click (PPC) paid adspace, it’s not the focus area for SEO, but that is a whole topic in itself.
  • Black is Google My Business or “Local SEO” it is growing in importance as more and more people look to public reviews as a source of trust – also another big topic.
  • Green is the organic results, this is where we are interested in, and will typically attract about 70% of the clicks from a search for “auckland roofer”, as opposed to the red or black section

We also have to remember that Google is a robot – well, a highly advanced machine learning algorithm. It is not a person that can look at a website and say “oh these guys look trustworthy, they should be number one!”, they have an algorithm that of aspects of your website, that will then decide where to place you on Google.

Any good SEO company takes a holistic approach, focusing on a multitude of areas that are known to influence rank, in an attempt to put the best foot forward in organic search results.

Let’s start what we do with on-page SEO here at Synapse:

“Doing” On-Page SEO

Essentially this is making changes to a website itself both technically and content-driven changes in an effort to optimise it for Google.

Google looks at hundreds of different on-page factors of a website before deciding where it should be placed in their algorithm, but we’re going to just explain a couple.

To give one example – we would look at things like a title tag;

on page seo nz

A title tag tells both viewers of a website and Google what that page is about. It’s almost always a good idea to include at least some target keywords in the title tag of a website, as its one of the first things Google will crawl when it comes to a particular page, but the title also needs to be relevant to the actual landing page.

A good SEO company would optimise this title tag in multiple ways: entice viewers to click through to your site (as its one of the first things they see when in Google when they come across your site), optimise the title tag to match a given user intent while also ensuring every page title matches the page content to deliver a good User Experience and help to avoid a high bounce-rate and avoid Google over-writing your suggested title, the title pixel length also needs to be considered to avoid truncation.

This is just one of an extremely common technical/content issue, however having someone manually checking all pages is repetitive, and of course there are powerful SEO tools such as Sitebulb & ScreamingFrog which are the most popular tools when it comes to detecting on-page & technical issues, as well as some common content issues.

An extremely common way to ensure everything gets covered in an SEO campaign involves compiling a list of easily detectable on-page & technical issues as part of an SEO audit – here are a few more things an SEO company will look for at a very basic level:

  • Page load time
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Keywords vs. on-page content
  • HTTPS
  • Meta + title tags
  • Correct HTML semantics like H1 tags
  • Content duplication issues
  • Keyword cannibalization (your own pages competing for the same keywords)

^ this is by no means an exhaustive list, and here at Synapse our SEO audits typically cover about 50 specific things.

It’s important that any good SEO agency closely not only analyzes the existing website setup, but also makes actionable recommendations using their experience to highlight what changes are the most important so you can quickly improve your on-site SEO game.

Doing Off-Page Work

Off-page SEO is rather different to that of on page. One of the most important parts of SEO is the links that point to your website. I like to think of it like this;

If Gordon Ramsay came up to you in the middle of Queen street and said “you have to go to this amazing café down the road, the food there is simply amazing” vs if a random stranger said “you have to go to this amazing café down the road, the food there is simply amazing” whose opinion are you going to trust more?

Gordon Ramsay of course! Google works in a similar way. If Google saw that a domain name blog linked out to Discount Domains they are going to think; “hmm if this very popular domain blog thinks that Discount Domains is a good enough website that they link out to it, then people searching for “domain names NZ” might find it valuable too, we should put it up in the rankings!

We build high-quality links, from relevant websites that Google loves to your site. We do this in a large variety of ways, such as;

Link Acquisition

More often than not website owners put very minimal effort into building back-links. While over the years other ranking factors have grown in importance, in 2018 a strong back-link profile is almost always a way to gain an advantage over competitors. We’ve listed off two common (modern) strategies that don’t involve.

Content Outreach

Guest posting is a highly used technique in act of reaching out to other websites within your industry, the pitch is that you offer to write some stunning content for them to put on their blog, and in exchange they a link back to your website.

This is a fantastic strategy for several reasons;

  1. If you come accross legitimately, and have a genuine, well thought-out proposal, the owner of the website is more than likely to respond and hopefully say yes to your offer, you’re giving them free content after all!
  2. You can pick up some very high-quality links because you’re doing the site editor a favor.
  3. With the right skill, process and systems, this can be scaled to build links while at the same time creating genuinely useful content to benefit others

For example, let’s say you were in the accounting business. We would find 10 guest posts for you monthly, for example sites like this;

https://www.tmnz.co.nz/blog/write-for-us/

This website has 608 links pointing to it, a very good number, and could be relevant to anyone in the accounting sphere. We would then create a very high-quality piece of content that was relevant to your business, and reach out to the owner of the website!

Broken links

Another potentially scaleable strategy used to build legitimate links is to find websites that already have outbound hyperlinks that point to old-domains, old-web-pages or reference articles or blogs that no longer exist.

It’s possible to build a process around reaching out to a given website owner who has a broken link and ponying up with some even better content on your website to reference, surprisingly often they’ll be glad to send a link your way, but again, it all depends on how genuine your offer is, how you come across and can be a highly manual process without a good idea of what you’re doing.

Writing 10x content

It’s a bit of a trope, but I’ll say it anyway. By creating stellar content that is “10x better” than your competition, you can help to serve an intent, that people constantly use and/or search for and promote that content.

If you play your cards right, or just great at creating and promoting great content, then you can net a lot of natural back-links from people linking to your website.

 

Reporting + Measurement

Reporting is an important part of any SEO campaign, you want to know that the SEO work you’re paying for, is actually doing something!

Any good SEO should at the bare minimum send you a keyword rankings report each month. This sort of report looks like this;

SEO report nz

It tells you what keywords have moved up and down in Google over the past 30 days of SEO work done.

SEO agencies should really be detailing every piece of work we do, whether it be link building, outreach, or any recommendations we make to your site, transparency is key.

For example, at Synapse, in a typical SEO campaign, we will send you a monthly traffic report that would look something like this;

website traffic report nz

Its easy to say your improving the rank of a keyword with SEO, but if that doesn’t turn into traffic on your website it means absolutely nothing.

Companies offering SEO services are a-dime-a-dozen in New Zealand, just typing in SEO into the companies office yields over 1000+ results, and searching for “SEO NZ” in Google itself brings up about 650k results. So it’s a big playing field.

Many companies rely on these SEO or marketing agencies to drive traffic to their website to in turn generate new customers and clients. But what is it they’re doing to your website?

Hopefully, that gives you a better indication of what an SEO provider actually does for your business! If you interested in hearing more about us a Synapse completing some SEO work for you, feel free to connect with us.

About the author

Matt is an SEO Account Manager at Synapse. He's been working to help small and large New Zealand businesses dominate their search marketing for over 4 years. With rankings in his veins, he’s the guy you want running your search campaigns!

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