As any Internet marketer will tell you, SEO is difficult to explain. Optimization is a complicated process, and it’s not exactly easy to put into words for someone completely unfamiliar with it — and there are a lot of unfamiliar people out there. Even with SEO’s surge in popularity over the past years, very few outside of the industry know what SEOs do on a daily basis.
The short answer is: a lot. However, that doesn’t fully answer the question. In general, SEOs work to make websites more visible and profitable online. And while that may sound vague, it’s only because SEO is impossible to fully explain in just one sentence.
For people who prefer details, these are just a few of the most important tasks an SEO performs in their day-to-day work.
Site audits are the first steps to optimization. Auditing a website tells an SEO its strengths and weaknesses so they can tailor a marketing strategy to a client’s specific business. An audit is essential since it lays the groundwork for any digital marketing strategy.
Auditing client websites
Auditing client sites gives an SEO insight about where clients have the best features and the biggest room for improvement. This raw data includes dozens of different metrics, some of which are critically important — like conversion rate — and others that help determine how to complement existing strengths — like time on page. Auditing is typically completed with a tool like CrawlerFX that creates a report (partially shown below) that SEOs can use as a starting point for creating a client’s strategy.
Auditing competing websites
Auditing the websites of a client’s biggest competitors gives an SEO priceless information, including the weaknesses of the competition. While it may seem cutthroat, observing competitors’ websites can help SEOs form more effective and targeted plans for success. This data is best used in conjunction with information about a client’s site to create a more holistic approach to an SEO strategy.
Determining how SEO fits with other strategies
Although SEO is important to Internet marketing, it can’t stand alone. Because of that, it’s important to determine how optimization fits into a client’s marketing strategy as a whole. SEOs need to take a big-picture view to create goals and objectives that can give direction to an SEO strategy.
Complementing pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
PPC is an incredibly lucrative form of advertising, and successful campaigns can yield a huge ROI for clients. A good Internet marketer knows that SEO can work in conjunction with PPC to achieve even better results. Basically, a marketer uses SEO to target keywords that a client’s competition isn’t targeting well, and then they use PPC to get a leg up on keywords that a client’s competition is targeting well. By using both methods together, a client has a better chance of sticking out at the top of search results pages.
Working with web design
Professional SEOs know web design is an integral part of a digital strategy. The design itself doesn’t necessarily market a client’s site or increase its visibility — but it does show site visitors that a client is professional, sincere, and quality. If a client’s site hasn’t been updated since 1995, it’ll lose potential customers left and right. Marketers can work together with designers to make clients’ conversion rates are as high as possible.
Researching keywords for clients’ industries gives SEOs insights into what words and phrases they can use to attract an audience that is most likely to convert into customers. Marketers research keywords using a number of different programs, like Google Adwords, which helps them determine the volume and competition of specific queries.
Discussing keywords with clients
An Internet marketer will sit down with a client to learn about the client’s current goals for their website. This meeting is an opportunity to figure out a lot about a client’s ideas, including the search terms they want to optimize for rankings. The marketer can then get a clear idea of the keywords that are important to a client’s industry as they proceed to the next step.
Keyword analysis of clients’ sites
After they’ve determined keywords, marketers will see how a client’s website ranks for certain keywords in search engine queries. If the website ranks well, the client is in good shape.
If a client’s rankings aren’t where they’d like them to be, then the SEO has a lot of work ahead of them. However, one that has experience with SEO should be able to make improvements within 4-6 months.
Keyword analysis of clients’ competition
Similarly, SEOs need to know what keywords a client’s competition is targeting so that they can better refine their strategies. If the competition has a strong hold on some major keywords, an SEO team may decide to shoot for lower-traffic terms initially to gain a foothold in a market before expanding. If the competition is performing poorly, then search engine results pages are there for the taking.
After SEOs have identified what needs to be improved, it’s time to strategize and determine how they’ll improve it. Strategies can include creating new pages, adding keywords to existing pages, or simply improving the overall quality of a site’s content, among other possibilities.
Once they decide on a strategy, a marketer can execute the specifics in a couple different ways.
Links are valuable because search engines (and audiences) read them as third-party endorsements of a site and its content. “Linkbuilding” is the process of earning quality links over time. If SEOs can get high-quality, professional websites to link back to a client’s pages, they’ll not only attract a larger audience, but their website will also show up higher in search engine results.
Linkbuilding also includes outreach, which refers to marketers contacting other site owners or popular figures in an industry and working with them to complete some part of a strategy. This technique is a great way to gain a foothold in a demographic where a client doesn’t already have influence, and its quid-pro-quo approach can create some valuable partnerships with industry players, communities, and media outlets.
Content is the substance of a page. It includes body text, images, infographics, video, interactive elements, and more. The more helpful, unique, interesting, and compelling content is, the better chance it has of showing up in search engines and converting site visitors into customers.
Establishing a presence on social media
Social media is essential to marketing, outreach, and promotion. Earning a social media following on various platforms provides an audience for all of a client’s content. Whether an SEO asks them to participate in an event, direct them to new content, or simply talk to them, the goal is to strengthen customer loyalty and relationships.
After a strategy is executed, it needs to be analyzed. Measuring and reporting the results of a strategy is just as important as the strategy itself. If a certain strategy doesn’t show the results a client wanted, that may be a signal that it needs to be changed.
However, a good Internet marketer knows that it can take up to six months to see results of an SEO campaign. Although clients can become frustrated with the amount of patience it takes, the results of a solid SEO strategy are worth the wait.
As exhausting as it may sound, experienced SEOs know that the finish line on the horizon is also the starting line for the next race. Now that a client has the results for the first strategy, it’s time for the marketer to make sure the client’s business keeps growing.
In the world of SEO, search engine algorithms constantly change, competitors improve, and consumers change their search terms. In other words, the work of an Internet marketer is never actually done. They need to constantly adjust strategies to meet new conditions and demands while creating new plans for the road ahead. In that respect, optimization is never actually “complete.”
SEO requires equal parts creativity, analysis, organization, and planning. Its nuances and subtleties could (and do) fill volumes.
Although, if you want to stick with the easy explanation, you can always just tell people that SEOs help websites show up better on search engines.
Did this post give you a better understanding of what it is that SEOs do all day? And is it what you expected? Let me know in the comments!
photo by Tom Carmony