5 Steps to Turn Your SEO Service Provider into Your BFF


SEO is one of those items that needs to be at the top of every marketer’s To Do list—but rarely is.

Developing an SEO strategy, researching keywords, analyzing rankings, and constantly monitoring search engine algorithm changes is a full-time job. Most marketers don’t have the bandwidth for it, so it’s a smart move to hire an SEO service provider and who can guide you through the ongoing effort.

At Refactored, we bring that guidance through our dedicated digital partner, Pico Digital, a firm that brings extensive experience to the science of digital marketing. Our two organizations are great—even passionate—about dealing with data and demonstrating results.

But even more important, we understand that SEO isn't a standalone strategy. It's critical to have a holistic view of how SEO integrates with your paid digital strategy and your overall website and content marketing program. You pay for a high level of skill and technical expertise, but you also need to actively work with your provider to integrate SEO into the fabric of your organization.

To make that happen, we recommend starting with these steps.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Get started on the right foot with your provider by talking about your business goals. Not what keyword ranking you want, but the actual goal.

  • Do you need more people to see your website and its messages?

  • Do you need more people to take action/convert on your site?

  • Do you need more qualified opportunities for sales people to pursue?

Then talk about what the agency can do to help you reach those goals. At Refactored, we can leverage our in-house expertise and partners to do almost anything for our clients as long as we have realistic timetables and concrete goals.

Goal-setting can be aided by getting a technical SEO audit and goal assessment that examines not just where your keyword rankings are now, but puts technical information into the greater context of your business objectives.

2. Listen to the Advice You Get

Remember, your SEO service provider is an important part of your team and you both want to reach your objectives. At a minimum, most SEO firms will provide a regular report about SEO activities, changes, and recommendations.
At Refactored, we dig into that report, then go further. For example, we set up a live, regular meeting with our clients to review SEO reporting together. This helps us learn:

  • what trends are happening;

  • how keyword ranking and strategy is working or changing;

  • how to incorporate your strategy into social posts and digital collateral;

  • and how we'll want to update key pages and content on your site to improve your results.

Take the opportunity to get recommendations in a setting where you can actively ask questions. That dissection of information is essential so that together we can track your program's progress over time and make adjustments to keep you on course.

3. Take Time to Learn from the SEO Team

Your SEO provider can be a valuable source of guidance for not just improving your site as it is now, but incorporating an SEO mindset into your organization. I recommend inviting your content producers to your regular SEO meetings and engaging them in conversations and training sessions with the SEO firm.
Content producers are any writers and subject matter experts inside and outside marketing who are creating collateral, emails, nurturing programs, website content, landing pages, blogs, and articles. They may know a lot or just a little about keyword strategy, but it’s important to get them involved in listening and understanding the reasoning behind what the SEO provider is doing.
Then, help those content producers find ways to integrate the SEO strategy into their writing process so that new content is already optimized and the strategy becomes natural, organic—and more effective.
One helpful method that I recommend is creating a library of shared documents that your teams can access. For example, I share online documents with Pico where they post recommended SEO optimizations for each client, which we review before implementing. Those documents are a place to keep a running history of changes, post responses, and help provide a clear path for future strategies. They become a repository for keyword recommendations to bring into new content as it's created. And they help me keep the client's higher-level goals in mind as I work with other content producers in their organizations.

4. Help the SEO Service Provider Learn About You

That said—don’t be afraid to push back when recommendations don’t quite jive.

The intersection between brand (identity and voice), SEO, and user experience is a very important sweet spot to find. Preserving brand identity while simultaneously creating dynamic SEO wins doesn’t always happen easily; I work closely with our clients and Pico to make that happen.
For example, sometimes keywords show up in research and look like they’d be great to add to your site—but they have NOTHING to do with your business. Or the SEO team might suggest inappropriate or inaccurate uses of terms in the context of your site.
Understand that they are not making random suggestions—they are diligently searching for new opportunities. Respond to those suggestions in a helpful way. Take time to have conversations that will help the SEO team learn about your business and the ways you use the terms that are important to your site users.

5. Do the Work

This is possibly the most challenging part: Take time to make the changes your provider recommends.
Your SEO team may recommend updating site pages, adding keywords to headers, changing page metadata, revising content…all work that takes time. But it needs to be done if you want to get the greatest possible benefit from your SEO investment.

If needed, designate an SEO contact in your office (or within your marketing agency) who will commit to spending a few hours a month working on recommended SEO changes in your site. You’ll be rewarded when you can see how those changes work and move your program forward.

A Little Give and Take Goes a Long Way

For most companies, working with an outside SEO provider is a positive step. It’s a relief to hand off the time-consuming, technical tasks associated with SEO strategy and analysis.
A productive, communicative partnership gives your SEO team the ability to operate quickly, in a lean fashion, and implement solutions on the fly. Creating a successful organic result takes time and diligence—between content creation, revisions, and technical developments—to make an impact. SEO strategy differs for every client and every campaign. Collaboration is essential.

Spotlight on Success

At Refactored we have fully integrated SEO-thinking throughout our process so that key learnings are pushed into every portion of the marketing effort. Clients, digital teams, strategists, and content developers all participate in a fully aligned process that creates gravity for the brand and delivers the results they demand.

InfinityQS—With InfinityQS, our SEO-driven content program and a strong focus on technical SEO improvements have created a 44.42% increase in unique organic sessions (website traffic) in just 5 months. With an average CPC at $5.59, this 5 months of organic traffic is valued at $278,857. The increase in organic traffic is valued at $123,868.

Borax—During the redevelopment of Borax.com’s new agricultural site, our SEO strategy helped to unearth hundreds of pages of content that had been previously inaccessible by Google and generated a 40.6% increase in unique organic sessions (website traffic) in just 3 months. They are now generating a steady increase in organic growth to the tune of 18.5% over the last 3 months by focusing on specific and achievable goals.

Ready to begin your journey?

When you foster a balanced, communicative relationship, you’ll be able to see ongoing benefits as your company grows and changes. Get started today with a free technical SEO audit and goal assessment and see where you can find new opportunities to reach your most challenging business objectives.

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