SEO agency reputations vary wildly and it’s understandable why. This is a dark art with even darker practices (black hat, anyone?). There are lots of strategies for success, despite few of them involving the “official” approach that Google would have you adopt. People follow under the radar techniques because they work. That is, until the search giants latest round of whack-a-mole shuts those practices down. With it goes all of your hard work and investment. It isn’t uncommon for sites to drop dozens of places in search rankings overnight, with no clear knowledge of why.

For brand marketers, search often appears as the biggest opportunity they have. All that free traffic! It’s so simple, you just build backlinks / write content / do blogger outreach (delete as appropriate). Yet only a few brands in any sector are able to benefit from the prime page one positions. Given few, if any, users look outside of those top 10 positions for any search term; the marketer gets desperate. They can make some really bad decisions in their efforts to grab that number one spot.

SEO agency myths you were told – or sold!

The biggest myth is that SEO is somehow free and an easy opportunity to take advantage of. While being listed in top spot by Google is in essence free, when compared to other advertising methods, gaining that prominence is anything but cheap. Depending on your current position in the search rankings and the life cycle of your website, search engine optimisation can be a really expensive process. It’s mostly one of time to get right and within that resource you need to pay for experience and intelligence. Buying cheap isn’t buying twice with SEO, it can be buying 3-4x over to fix the damage of a cheap SEO agency.

Building backlinks is another SEO agency myth and many, reputable marketers have fallen foul of this technique. While true that Google does still value the “votes” of existing websites while ranking your content – that is a very simplified view. Obtaining (better) or buying (worse) backlinks will often give your website an instant shot in the arm. You’ll see results. You’ll be tempted to amplify the strategy. Then it will fail. With regret, few SEO agencies will report their link acquisition with full transparency and youll never quite know the problems they may be storing up in the future. What’s also worth bearing in mind is that today’s links that work, are tomorrows spam links that get you blacklisted. The nature and reputation of sites that link out changes regularly. Quality counts and you need to be able to control or influence where your brand is positioned.

Selecting an SEO agency for the first time?

Many an SEO agency advocates that your SEO work can be done from anywhere in the world. This often tempts marketers to enter cheaper international markets, particularly in Asia, where there are some genuine agencies who understand the UK market; but they are few and far between. SEO is about relevance and circles of influence, therefore genuine links that are built out by websites closer to your locality (for example, your local media outlet) carry substantial weight. With the greatest will in the world, an SEO agency some 3000 miles away will never be able to do the research to identify the link outlets that would work for you.

DNA of a good SEO strategy

A good SEO strategy has the following traits. Make sure these are on your SEO agency checklist –

Onsite Optimisation

This includes taking a fine tooth comb to your current website structure and content is the fast track to success. Before anything happens offsite, you need to deal with what’s on it and ensure that you’re putting people first. They’re your users and consumers and they must come before creating content just for machines. Content needs to make sense, be legible to the end user and made relevant to the way those consumers search and reveal their intent. When that combination is at play successfully you can fulfil more of the elements of this strategy.

Good Content

You already have some content on your site that’s going to be taken care of in step one. Next comes the new content. By amplifying your expertise across all areas of your site – which means adding high quality content, in your brand voice, substantially until all points of buyer intent have been covered. This is designed from a target list of search terms, then professionally pieced together in compelling, genuine ways that people want to read.

Once that great content and optimum website offering is in place, link building will start automatically. People will value it so significantly, your users will do it for you. This can, of course, be increased and made more efficient by sharing that quality content with relevant partners who may have an affinity for your expertise. Why the affinity? You compliment their

Transparency… and time

Any SEO agency that undertakes work and isn’t transparent about what they’re delivering isn’t worth your investment. Results might be guaranteed or linked specifically to performance but remember, just because something works in the short term, doesn’t mean it’s a healthy long term strategy. Anyone can sell £20 for £10. The faster the results, the more that red flag should be waving also. Correct optimisation and content creation does take time to allow results to mature… and it’s worth waiting for. If a more instant result is required, layering in some digital advertising can really help keep commercial results coming while your investment in SEO materialises.

The Bank – an SEO agency

The Bank employ SEO experts across the agency to support the right digital development. We don’t see it as a dark art. We see it as crystal clear. Deliver great, valuable content for your audience and people will want to digest it and return to your site. When they do – engaging with your content from  search results – Google will follow and use it’s various ranking methods to boost your listings. If you reached The Bank via search, you can see this at work already! But we’d love to show you more and how are blend of digital marketing skills can support your brand communications.