As they say, knowledge is power - and this couldn't be truer than with SEO. To that end, we've compiled some of the most important SEO information to help educate and empower you - and split the topics into four sections:

1.) Onsite Optimization - includes all of the elements within your website that you directly control.

2.) Offsite Optimization - includes external elements, in particular link campaigns.

3.) SEO Proposal Tips - some general guidelines of what to look for in any SEO proposal (pricing).

4.) SEO Tools - a list of some of the actual tools we use to perform SEO services and are available to the general public.

Should you have any specific questions that aren't addressed below, please complete our General Information form and we'll get back to you promptly and make additions to this page if applicable.

Or if you're ready, jump right to our SEO Proposal, or call 905-535-0109, and we'll provide with our recommendations specific to your site and vertical.



1.) Onsite Search Engine Optimization

The following elements are the most important factors in on page SEO and are included in our SEO proposals. If you receive a proposal that doesn't include these items, be sure to find out why, and note the omission when compiling your vendor selection data.

Master Keyword List

  • Compile a list of top keywords for your products and/or services using Google Keyword Tools

  • Organize terms into groups in order of popularity

  • Limit the overall list size based on the size of your site

  • Set expectations up-front - don't expect a 10 page site to achieve top 3 for 300 keywords

  • Expect to achieve rankings for 1-3 terms per page

  • This list can be expanded on for use in Adwords or other paid search campaign

Baseline Reporting

  • Once the keyword list is built, baseline ranking reports should be run prior to any changes being made to the site

  • Reporting should also include Analytics reports - Search Engines, non-paid

  • This will establish where you were before the SEO campaign began

META Title & Descriptions

  • Titles & descriptions are normally what Google uses in the search results and has a large impact on rankings

  • Ensure every page on your site has unique title and description tags

  • Use Google Webmaster Tools to find duplicates on large sites

  • Don't go overboard on length

  • Use the Canonical tag when duplicate pages/tags can't be avoided

Content Creation & Optimization

  • Ensure your site has actual text that a BOT can crawl - avoid image text and flash text when possible

  • Ensure your content lines up with the keywords you're trying to rank for

  • Do NOT use content copied from other sites, including copied product names and descriptions

  • Make your content readable and useful to the user

  • Use the Canonical tag when duplicate pages can't be avoided

Internal Linking Structure

  • Make sure you have a consistent linking method in all your content

  • Link to related pages within the content, not just in a navigation bar

  • Use keyword rich anchor text as much as possible

Navigation Optimization

  • Make sure your site is easy to navigate and that users can't get lost or have difficulty finding important pages

  • Use a clear consistent navigation system - top, left or right

  • Avoid drop down menus - or if they must be used, add a sitemap page, or plain text links at the bottom of every page

  • Use absolute path links, not relative path links.

  • If you do use relative path links, set a base URL

  • Avoid use of deep folders such as www.yoursite.com/folder1/sub-folder1/sub-sub-folder1/page.html

  • Important pages should be no more than 1 folder deep from the root URL

  • Use keyword rich text for all links

  • Use a simple heat map tool like http://www.visualwebsiteoptimizer.com to review what and where users are clicking on

Page Name Optimization

  • Use keyword rich and search engine friendly page/file names

  • Avoid using ecommerce system default page names like: /20352.aspx?path=667d54682e0f5309125ed6faae37dfcden01

  • Use dashes not underscores

Domain Name Selection (new sites)

  • If possible, include the main keywords in the domain name



2.) Offsite Optimization

Some of the below offsite optimization elements are included in our SEO campaigns, in particular link building campaigns. Other items may or may not be included based primarily on budgetary constraints.  Every SEO proposal you receive should include some form of link building, since rankings are so closely tied to this element.  If you receive a proposal that doesn't contain a link building component, find out why.

Link Building Campaigns

  • Link building is a vital component of search engine optimization

  • Use a healthy mix of keyword rich link text, brand link text and URL links

  • Depending on your budget, set a percentage of your links as no-follow to keep your profile looking natural

  • Ensure links are not all coming from the same IP addresses, and that they aren't involved in network cross linking

  • Roll links out slowly, never release a large number of links quickly

  • Try to use related sites as much as possible

  • Learn more about link campaigns on our SEO Blog

Researching your current link profile

  • Start by doing a quick search on how many links your site has by using OpenSiteExplorer

  • Compare how many links you have to the sites ranking in the top 5 of Google for your target keywords

    • Note the anchor text used for your site versus the competition

    • Look for what keywords they are using for anchor text - then search Google for that term

  • This will show you key differences between your link profile and the profile of someone that's actively engaged in SEO, and will tell you what you'll need to do in order to be competitive

  • This is how we determine the appropriate level of link building for your site for your SEO Proposal

Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, etc...)

  • Create a strategic plan for how you can best leverage social media

  • Consider hiring an experienced social media company, or hiring someone in-house to help with planning and management of the campaigns

  • Run contests and other promotions specific to each channel to build excitement and loyalty

  • This will cause people to share and blog about your company and brand, creating additional links

  • At the very least, make sure you've created basic company pages for Facebook & Twitter

    • We can help with getting your company page setup for all of these channels

Email Marketing

  • Email campaigns are one of the highest performing online campaigns available to marketers (next to SEO of course)

  • Create a email marketing plan and set targets for growing your contact list

  • Leverage contests and other promotions as incentives for users to participate

  • Create a communication schedule and monitor opt outs, un-subscribes to ensure you're not over communicating

  • Costs are based on your deployment frequency and size of your subscriber list

Affiliate Program Campaign

  • Depending on what your products or services are, consider creating an affiliate program

  • Affiliate programs are one of the top performing online channels and will help increase sales and revenue

  • Commission Junction, Google and Link Share offer some of the largest networks

  • There are companies that can help manage the day to day operations of your affiliate channel

  • Typical setup cost is $4-6,000.00

  • Monthly charges are typically a percentage of the order value

Contests

  • Inexpensive way of creating brand awareness

  • Can be leveraged across multiple channels - the site itself, social media, affiliate channel, SEM and more

  • Have the potential to go viral - depending on how engaging the contest is

Partnerships

  • Find a related merchant, supplier or other business and combine products or services to create a win win scenario

Traditional Advertising (Radio, TV, Print)

  • Creates direct traffic and depending on the campaign message and distribution, can create buzz on social channels



3.) SEO Proposal Tips

Understanding SEO proposals - here are some suggested areas to pay particular attention to when reviewing SEO proposals. This will help ensure you're paying a fair price and that it's clear what deliverables will be provided.

SEO Pricing

First off, don't shop for SEO services based strictly on price, as this is a sure way to find the worst SEO company out there. Pricing should make sense based on what services are being performed, and needs to be reasonable, but don't make a final decision based on price alone.

A clear, concise pricing table of some sort should be present, that breaks SEO components out, as many SEO companies will charge based on how competitive your vertical is, how busy they are, or even based on who you are, so it's important to make sure the pricing is tied to what services are actually being completed, and that it’s clear what you’re getting. If anything is vague, ask for clarification.

Monthly SEO fees should follow the same principles. The charges need to make sense given the work that they are recommending.
It shouldn't cost hundreds of dollars for running and emailing a few basic reports. Monthly plans should include new work items - content writing, link campaign management & planning, etc... so make sure it's clear what work items will be performed each month and what the specific deliverables are.

Link building campaigns should always be part of any SEO proposal and should be priced separately from the actual SEO work items. Make sure it's clear what the cost per link is - blog links should be in the $20-30/post range and static links will be dependant on the site being used, but can range from $50/per link to over $500/link per month.  Link requirements should be based on how many links you require for your vertical - the more competitive your search terms, the more links you'll need.

Our SEO services are charged based on a hourly rate of $44.00 CAD. On average, it takes about 30 minutes per page, depending on how complex the pages are. The more complex or dynamic the page, the longer it can take.  Other elements including page structure, copywriting requirements and content management system (CMS) limitations can also impact time requirements.

For more information on SEO pricing methods, read our Facebook post on the most common methods of charging for SEO services (Facebook login required).  Complete our SEO Proposal request form for specific pricing on your SEO campaign.

Transparency

A great example of lack of transparency is with link campaigns. Many clients have shown us what other SEO companies have provided with respect to link building, and the lack of detail is astounding. SEO companies are vague on purpose, so demand specifics on how many links you’ll be receiving each month, the URL of the linking site and the anchor text used.

SEO work items - any onsite optimization work items they're recommending should be clearly listed in the proposal, so you know exactly what they'll be doing.

Reporting - what reports you receive each month to know how the campaign is performing is also very important. They should include common reports such as Analytic organic traffic reports, conversion reports, as well as ranking reports showing month over month performance. This will allow you to instantly see if the campaign is performing or not.

SEO Key Components

Make sure that any proposal you’re considering contains all of the items in the onsite and offsite optimization sections above - if it doesn't, find out why, make a note that they overlooked the item(s), and continue requesting proposals from other companies.

Ask questions if something doesn't make sense, or isn't clear.

 

Time Frames

While it is can be difficult to know exactly how long it will take to start seeing improvements in your search engine rankings, any competent SEO company should be able to give you some general time frames.  For example, with Google you can normally see an increase in rankings after 2-7 days after making on page changes (HTML, copy, etc...), and for link campaigns, it typically takes between 1-3 weeks for the links to be recognized and seeing a bump in rankings for the target term.

You should never see a proposal that says - Please allow 2-3 months for improvements to be seen - and if you do, move on.

While it's not uncommon to request a minimum commitment from clients (we request 3 months), so that enough time is allowed to really make a significant difference, improvements from onsite optimization and link building can be seen very quickly these days, and an honest, competent SEO company should be telling you this. If they aren't, don't use them.



4.) SEO and SEM Tools

While it may not be practical for you to have to learn all of these tools – this list gives you the option to get to know them if you desire to. The first three tools below are the ones that you must absolutely take the time to get to know.


Google Analytics

All main traffic source areas, but in particular search engines – being able to quickly compare month over month, year over year, as well as dive into what terms are actually bring visitors to the site will help you see value in your SEO campaign.

Tracking areas – Google Analytics provide two types of tracking mechanisms. 1.) Goals and 2.) Event Tracking. Goals are used for basic tracking – contact forms, product order confirmations, etc… whereas Event Tracking is much more robust and can be configured to track pretty much any action on your site, from clicking links, to watching videos. You absolutely MUST have tracking setup as this is what allows you to see performance, without it all business decisions are being made completely blind, which for obvious reasons, isn't a good thing.

Open Site Explorer

This one’s going to show you how your site compares to other sites (or on its own), with respect to it’s link profile. It’s absolutely paramount that you have the basic understanding of what a link profile is and how your site stacks up against your competitors. Especially since link building requires the lion’s share of the SEO budget.  The key metric to look at is Total External Links, as this measures how many external sites are linking to yours. This makes it easy to look at sites in the top 5 of Google and see how many links they have as a rough guideline as to how many links you’ll need to have to reach the same or higher ranking.

Google Webmaster Tools

This tool provides great insights into potential problem areas of your site – issues like duplicate META tags, server errors and more can be found here. Make sure you have it setup and get to know your way around.

Web CEO (or manual search engine ranking reports)

Whether you’re spending $300 per month, or $25,000 per month on SEO, you’ll want to know where you’re ranking for the terms you’re spending money on.  You need to be able to track performance and see at a glance how your rankings are performing. Web CEO makes it easy to track large keyword lists, and multiple domains. Manual ranking reports aren't practical unless you have a keyword list of 30 or less.



Have a tool you use that you'd like to share? Email us and we'll add it to the list.

Ready to request an SEO Proposal? Fill out our short SEO Proposal request form and we'll review all the particulars surrounding your site and vertical and provide you with details on work items, time frames and pricing within 2 hours Monday - Friday.

home | seo services | adwords services | ranking examples | seo tools | about us | United Kingdom Version