Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical part of an online presence. It gives you visibility in search engines, which is a critical part of a comprehensive growth marketing strategy.
While it’s possible to engage in keyword research and work on linking all on your own, by and large, SEO can be a complicated activity. The worst part? When an SEO strategy isn’t done well, it can be ineffective and, at times, even harmful to your brand.
One simple solution is to work with a third-party SEO company. The question is, when is the right time to do so? Here is a quick rundown of what you want to have in place (both necessarily and ideally) before you start shopping for SEO agencies.
The Foundational Stuff
If you want a third-party partner to help with your SEO campaigns, you ideally have two key digital marketing elements in place before you contact anyone.
A Working Website
The first and most obvious item on the SEO expert checklist is a website. Without a website, there’s nothing to optimize.
You can’t just have a website in development, either. You really should have a live, functioning online presence for your brand. A quality website design gives the agency data to analyze about what’s working and what isn’t for your site. Without that, it’s all a guessing game.
Google’s SEO Analytics Tools
Along with publishing a website, you need to get your site data up and running. Once your site is live, get Google Analytics plugged in and ready to go.
Along with the basic data that Analytics provides, you also want to set up Google Search Console. This gives you deeper insights into your organic traffic data right in Google Analytics’s dashboard.
The Ideal Stuff
A website and Google’s SEO tools are critical first steps. However, if you bring an SEO consultant in with just those two things set up, you’ll still have to spend a lot of time getting everything else set up. You can shorten this process by also getting the following elements in place.
Goals in Google Analytics
Setting up Analytics is helpful. But you can go a step further. Creating goals within the program helps you track conversions and understand what is working.
Don’t worry about jumping the gun with these. These goals are easy to edit and share with a third-party agency in the future. However, getting them set up proactively helps you clarify what you’re trying to accomplish with your SEO.
The Right Personnel to Reinforce SEO Initiatives
Working with an SEO partner may take a lot of the workload off of your plate. But your team still needs to hold up their end of the process. With that in mind, make sure that you have the right people to do so before onboarding an agency.
For example, you want someone in place to implement technical website optimizations on your end. It’s also a good idea to have someone who can make onsite content changes.
This could be the same person or two people depending on your needs. You could set up a budget to outsource these responsibilities, as well. Just make sure you’re giving them some thought ahead of time so your SEO agency partner can be as effective as possible.
A Content Library (Blog)
A good SEO partner can help you start from zero content-wise, but you’ll likely get more out of the relationship if you have started the process of building up content. At the very least make sure you have a holding-place for the blog on your website.
Again, you have options here. You can launch a blog with in-house talent. You can also set aside the budget to bring on a freelancer or even develop your content plan and then see if the SEO team you choose can help you create the most important content.
It works well if you have in-house options to create that brand-focused content while the SEO agency can help with the SEO-focused content, which tends to be more educational and general, just like the SERPs like.
A Handful of Starter Keywords
Finally, try to pull together a list of a few words to help guide your initial SEO efforts. This doesn’t have to be comprehensive, but it can provide a starting point for the SEO agency that you work with.
Consider words that past customers have used to search for your services. You can also gather a list of known competitors. A good SEO company will do most of this work themselves, but having a basic list ready speeds up the process and gives the agency a starting point.
A Brief Word on Mindsets and Perspectives in SEO
The list above is a practical approach to prepping for an SEO partner. There’s another side to that coin, too: your mindset and perspective. Along with setting the stage logistically, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you’re setting the right expectations internally:
- Understand that SEO is not a magic bullet. A good SEO agency will boost your organic traffic over time. This leads to sustainable growth, but it is a slow process that is dependent on Google and requires patience.
- Remember that strategic synergy is important. SEO is essential, but the visibility that it fosters is just one aspect of a successful growth marketing strategy. You also want to invest SEO services like content strategy. Coupled with digital PR, you can boost authority and credibility, respectively.
- Stay data-driven and customer-focused. If you want your SEO to work, keep your customer at the center of every action that you take. In addition, always go to the data to guide and reinforce each decision.
If you set the right expectations, it’s much easier to have a healthy and profitable relationship with your SEO partner.
Setting the Stage for SEO Success
SEO specialists can work wonders for a brand. But they can’t meet your SEO needs with nothing.
If you want a partnership to accomplish your SEO goals, you need to invest in the right things beforehand. That way, you can rest in the fact that you’ve optimized everything and have given your SEO marketing the best chance for success.