This is perhaps the most powerful yet common statement on the state of SEO, why it’s important and why so many people get it wrong:
“SEO isn’t what most people think it is and it’s in a phase where the field is evolving rapidly. It’s not about keywords or even rankings. It’s about traffic.”
Game changer. Mind blown.
Not for us, of course. Understanding how search works is one of the reasons Brand Labs works and is able to leverage some of the most talented people in the business to ensure it is on the cutting edge of all things eCommerce.
What SEO is Not
First off, it’s not dead (and never really dies given the rapidity of changes in the search engine universe). It’s constantly growing, maturing and making itself smarter. Search is increasingly driven by AI. A large part of today’s SEO is based on informing the artificial intelligence used by search engines. Another thing, Organic SEO and paid advertising are cousins. They can work together but are technically mutually exclusive. Spending money on one doesn’t directly affect how search engines display the other. Strong paid placements can complement the presence of organic search rankings or other search enhancements (even click campaigns now have a direct impact on how Google perceives content at a URL).
SEO is search engine marketing (SEM). Though SEO falls under the umbrella of SEM, they’re not interchangeable. SEM relates more to paid strategy and SEO costs nothing (unless done incorrectly and it can quite literally cost you everything). That’s why when it’s done correctly, change will be “organic.”
SEO is also not a quick fix. Perhaps when it was all about the keywords and rankings it could be implemented quickly and inexpensively, but today’s SEO is not your Gen Yer’s SEO. SEO has always been a marathon rather than a sprint. Good SEO firms have insisted on 9–12 month minimum contracts since the dawn of the practice. Black hat or link-building techniques tend to be one-and-done solutions, but the benefits are often short-lived and repercussions long-lasting.
And lastly, SEO is not just about Google! Google is, by far, the largest and most commonly used search engine but different search tools are used by different communities for a variety of reasons. Many larger websites rely on in-site search to help fulfill site-users’ needs. Furthermore, with the advent of different search engines, especially those specifically designed to protect privacy and tracking like DuckDuckGo, taking a single search engine-specific approach to SEO is errant.
What SEO is and Auditing Yours
In the words of Brand Labs’ head of SEO, Jim Hedger, “Good SEO exists to enhance and clarify other people’s experiences.”
Good SEO is a consistent collection of best practices; white hat practices, like creating excellent content on a regular basis, performing effective on-site SEO, and building trusted links; and cross-platform continuity and security. Good SEO is about constantly updating websites and their content in order to help search engines find and make that content visible.
And the best way to ensure all of the above is through an SEO Audit, which is the process of analyzing how well content from a website is performing in search and planning how to help that content do better. It’s the first step to creating an implementation plan with measurable results. And like information, what comes out is only as good as what goes in.
What to Expect From an SEO Audit
First off, Brand Labs doesn’t offer a one-and-done checkbox audit solution. Each SEO Audit is tailored to the needs, goals, and technical specifics of each client. Since content is continually added and removed from a site, audits should occur on a regular basis. While not as exhaustive as the initial audit, checking in a few times a year keeps businesses on top (literally and figuratively). During the course of our engagements, analytic and technical audits are performed several times to gauge and improve website performance.
The initial audit, however, is comprehensive. It covers both structural and content components that affect SEO visibility while providing a holistic view of what is truly happening in your site’s current state. It can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to analyze and uncover SEO opportunities on your website, and Brand Labs keeps your team in the loop through weekly check-ins.
Brand Labs analyzes basic technical SEO “table stakes” such as sitemaps, server errors, and metadata that cover off-on accessibility, indexation, and optimization. Our experts analyze hundreds of different SEO elements across the technical, on-page and server log, providing recommendations that are easy to understand, actionable, and provide a clear path to completion that balance impact with effort and costs.
With a clear roadmap, we give businesses the ability to connect the dots on how SEO issues are affecting their online priorities, goals and revenues. It has become so technical and specific, it takes a team to implement the findings of the audit and Brand Labs’ team is getting really good at it. Our dev teams are fast and accurate and, more to the point, they understand why we’re doing (and sometimes redoing) the work. We think this makes a difference in an overall tech-team. We get it and it really affects the outcomes.
If you’ve never had an SEO audit, or it’s been a while since SEO improvements have been made to your site, a Brand Labs SEO Audit could be the difference between just making it and hitting it out of the park. Let’s see if you’re reaching your business’s full potential.
Contact us to see what your site is saying – and what it’s not.