Mediaura has been offering Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services since our company was founded in 2003. Over the past 16 years this industry has evolved from one that involved a lot of tricks and attempts to game the system, to a much more ethical practice.
This was commonly referred to as white hat (good) vs black hat (bad) SEO. While some companies may still attempt to find shortcuts and quick fixes, the Google algorithm updates have done a fairly good job of punishing those operations. Sooner or later people figure out that the shortcuts get them nowhere in the long run.
So, what is new for search engine optimization in 2019, and why am I writing this article in the first place?
To begin, I’d like to thank you if you are an existing customer. I hope you are happy with your service and should you have any questions about your current plan or want to discuss one, please call or Email us at your convenience. If you are not a customer but want to learn a little bit about SEO or perhaps even become a new customer that’s great. We hope you find this informative.
If you stay up with Google updates, you probably know that as of the time of this article, the last major update was the June 2019 Core update. These updates are vital for providers like Mediaura, but they often don’t matter to an end user. If you ever see your ranking plummet, this is a good reference. If there is an algorithm change, hopefully your search engine optimization vendor knows about it and has planned for it or knows how to address it quickly to avoid any potential negative impacts and penalties.
So with the specific algorithm updates aside, the types of services and platforms involved with search optimization are more diverse than ever before. Here is a list of things that we leverage to improve SEO for clients:
- Website Programming (error-free)
- Website Content (Main Content)
- Markup and Schema on Your Website
- Content (Blogs, Case Studies, etc.)
- High Quality Backlinks
- Content on Third Party Websites
- Press Releases (Genuine)
- Business Listings
- Map Listings
- Social Media Profiles
SEO requires diverse skill sets.
Starting at the top we require programming adjustments, followed by original content on your website and third party websites, the generation of backlinks to your content and potentially backlinks to the content you have listed on third party websites, press releases (typically a PR function), and management of your business and map listings, and your social profiles.
These are standard practices and have been implemented for several years now. We still see business owners paying a company for SEO services, but aside from tackling maybe items 1-3 above they aren’t doing any ongoing work to improve the site rankings.
How do you know if you are one of those companies being neglected? Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I getting regular reports showing my traffic, leads/goals, search engine rank position (SERP) or similar? Depending on your business, some of these may or may not be relevant in a report. For example, if you are an E-Commerce business you may want to see how many sales you are generating from Organic channels and see if that is going up monthly or annually. If you are service based business, you may want to see how many phone calls or form submissions you are getting from organic Google searches.
- Have you ever selected or approved relevant keyword phrases for your website? Have you measured these to see if they are accurate or if they need to be updated?
- Do you or your vendor create new content for your website? If so, are you selecting focus keywords for each blog article?
- Do you measure your number of backlinks on an ongoing basis? These should generally be increasing, although it’s not uncommon to see older ones fall off the list over time, but if it’s constantly decreasing or stagnant then you may have a problem.
- Do you know how you generate business online? Most customers struggle with this simple question, but if you aren’t getting the reports it will be almost impossible. If you are getting the reports but don’t understand them then you need somebody to guide you through the process.
Not all SEO plans are equal.
There are several key indicators to determine if you are truly getting some type of SEO service. It’s important to note that not all SEO plans are equal within a given company. They are probably not any closer from company to company. If you are paying a few hundred dollars, that may not include original content creation. On the flip side, if you are paying a few thousand dollars you should be getting some content, assuming you are not in an extremely competitive market and the actual effort to promote your site is significantly harder. Each case is unique!
So, in 2019, what should you be doing? What is the right amount of SEO for your business?
It’s not uncommon to see small business plans in the $500 – $1,000 per month range for a quality SEO service. This is going to increase your leads steadily over time, but it won’t make a major splash overnight for most. It’s also not unusual to see an established business spend over $5,000 per month on SEO if they want more of a full-service solution. This would include original content, programming updates, business listings, backlinks, etc. – Everything you see in the list at the beginning of the article. From there, the pricing can go up and it can go up a lot. If you wanted to create award winning blogs from a celebrity author – imagine what that might cost? If you wanted an influencer to blog about your website and give you a backlink from a high domain authority website, that could cost a few thousand dollars alone.
Website speed and performance – does it matter?
We need at least mention two key measurements that impact SEO. One of them is how quickly your website loads in the eyes of Google. Sometimes a website might load extremely fast for an end user, but based on how it is built it could be getting slightly penalized by Google. There is always a trade-off with this unless you can achieve virtually perfect scores in both categories. The scores will depend on how the website is programmed and also on the web hosting environment.
Mobile first indexing – Your mobile website matters.
The second issue deals with mobile-friendly websites. If your website is not mobile friendly then you are probably taking a big hit on SEO right now. Google switched most websites over the past year to mobile-first indexing. That means your mobile version of the website is what they are measuring you against. If it doesn’t work or performs poorly, your entire site (desktop and mobile) are being penalized. These two things make a huge difference because Google wants to ensure that somebody visiting your website on their mobile device gets a fast and pleasant experience. If it loads slowly or is hard to use, the person will probably click away to try and find another result. Imagine if this happened all the time? The value of Google’s search results would be diminished and people might start searching with another search engine completely.
Does my website need to be secure with an SSL certificate?
Yes, in 2019 all websites should offer an SSL certificate and if possible force the browser to use HTTPS. This is a relatively easy fix, but we see many small business owners that don’t have the option available. If you are paying for SEO and you don’t have an SSL certificate, that would be red flag for me. To check, just go to your website and see if it’s using HTTPS:// in the browser. If not, try to type that in before your URL and see if you can force a secure connection. Another way is to use a third party tool like this one. If you get a warning or error page then your site doesn’t support SSL and needs to be fixed by your webmaster or hosting company.
Am I paying too much for SEO?
Since the range is all over the place, how do you know if you’re paying too much? I think the best way is to get a second opinion from a reputable search engine optimization firm. Get a complementary audit – we offer those and so do most others. See what your SEO footprint looks like and then determine if what you are paying matches up with what you see. If you are paying $150 a month for SEO, you may just be throwing money down the drain. If you are paying $5,000 a month, hopefully you see movement in the right direction, or you may be under-serviced.