SEO

Get our latest news about SEO and our other online marketing services. Call us at 1-888-262-6687 to inquire about your marketing needs.

Posts

1st on the List – 2019 Top Canada Web Developer

1st on the List is proud to have been named on the Design Rush List of 2019 Top Canada Web Developers.

Design Rush is a trusted B2B marketplace, an online source for advising businesses on how to find the top digital agencies, web development companies, and SEO firms.  It’s a great resource for businesses who are in need of digital marketing services because it showcases the best-of-the-best and outlines each agency’s strengths and services.

Our passion here at 1st on the List is to help get your company’s name to the top of the list on Google. Our experienced SEO experts have been doing SEO longer than Google has been around! Not many can boast that accolade! Each member of our core staff has over 10-years experience in SEO and has serviced hundreds of SEO clients across North America, in a diverse range of markets and industries.

Today, we see many digital and web agencies outsourcing their SEO efforts, which doesn’t always provide a cohesive integrated strategy. Our focus has always been SEO and that includes SEO web design and development. We love the complexity, the shifting trends, and the evolving techniques of SEO. When it comes to web design, SEO isn’t an add-on for us. It’s what we do.

Top, professional SEO firms have the skills and experience to make big strides in the digital landscape. For businesses that are seeking to start or expand their digital strategy in 2019, who you select to partner with can be as important (if not more important) than the actual strategy. This is because your SEO professional will guide and lead the strategy based on experience and trends, alongside what’s happening in your industry now and what’s predicted to be the future of search tomorrow.

The Importance of Our Design Rush Recognition

Who doesn’t like to be recognized for a job well done? While awards aren’t everything, when we get recognized for something there is an audible buzz in the office that acts as a spark of energy. It’s the proverbial pat on the back.

Our team at 1st on the List works hard every single day to ensure our clients are getting the results they deserve. The results that drive us forward. They motivate us to continue to strive for more. Our client’s words of thanks are recognitions enough…being recognized by a leading B2B marketing agency like Design Rush is just icing on the thank-you cake. It is further proof that our experience, hard work, knowledge, and results continue to propel us forward as one of the top SEO agencies and web development agencies in Canada.

Recognition feels great!

Recognition Can Fuel Business

We get a lot of business based solely on our results and referrals. Someone will call up saying, “Oh, we saw you did the website design (or SEO) for such-n-such-business. Can you get do that for us too?” Our clients also will recommend us to other businesses they know.

We also get business from our own SEO results. After all, we specialize in SEO and ranking well on the search engines is part of the process.

But, for many business owners, they require more information to make the decision. They begin to compare companies and, if you’ve ever done so yourself, you’ll quickly realize it can be like comparing apples to oranges.

That’s why we love B2B marketing agencies such as Design Rush. They make it easier for businesses to sift through the various digital firms in order to narrow down who might be the best fit for them.

How to Use the Design Rush List?

Hiring Local?

Do you need to hire a local digital agency? No. Some businesses like the ability to walk into an office for face-to-face meetings. That’s a nice perk; however, with communication tools such as Skype and screen sharing, hiring a local digital agency isn’t necessary. Local doesn’t always mean better or right for you.

Experience?

Should you select the digital agency with the most years of experience? Maybe. Experience counts for a lot. The innate knowledge that comes from having done something for a long time is invaluable. But, being able to rely on experience while staying up on the trends is even more important.

Industries Served?

Should you select a digital agency that specializes in your market? Maybe. Some digital agencies have found their niche and have honed their specialization to serve it. That means they are very well-versed in that industry. It might also mean they’re doing the SEO work for your competition. That’s not a deal breaker and in some circumstances can even be a benefit. But, just because an agency has a unique specialization doesn’t mean they are the best.

Reviews?

Should you select a digital agency based on their client reviews? Yes. Client reviews can provide a benchmark for how an agency services their clientele. Are they timely? Do they produce results? Do they communicate well? Are projects managed well? You can learn a lot about an agency based on what others who have worked with them have to say.

Results?

Should you select a digital agency based on their results? Absolutely. An agency that has an extensive results-oriented portfolio means they are properly positioned to do the same for your business.

Industry Awards?

Should you select a digital agency based on industry awards?  Maybe. Industry awards can help you narrow down which agencies are best for you. They act as a seal of approval for tried and tested services.

Ultimately, at 1st on the List, we like our results to speak for themselves. We’ve been helping businesses get to the “top of the list” since before there was even a search engine called Google. We have experience in a multitude of industries, targeting cities across North America…and the world!

This recent accolade from Design Rush is a feather in our cap. We’re proud of our team, their diligence, and their hard work. We’re proud to be among such great company on the Design Rush list of Top Canada Web Developers.

To learn more about our services, please call us toll-free at 1-888-262-6687.

For more information about Design Rush, visit their Design Rush Facebook page.

Inevitably, every client wants to know how long does SEO take to work.

Everyone wants instant gratification. We live in a time where nobody really wants to wait too long for anything. We’ve been conditioned to believe that faster often equates to better. We want instant food, instant miracles, instant success, and instant everything! But that’s not reality.

Let’s take food for instance. You can open up a can of soup, heat it up in the microwave and within seconds you can be eating your lunch. It’s delicious, quick, and provides you the sustenance you need to get through the next part of your day. Sort of. It’s also filled with salt and preservatives, and in many cases, the nutritional value can be lost or minimal.

Now, think of that homemade turkey soup you cooked right after Thanksgiving. You created a broth from the bones that you let simmer for hours in order to extract every ounce of natural flavor. You added in your fresh vegetables and herbs. It might have taken all day (not to mention the day it took to cook the actual Turkey) but the result was the perfect bowl of homemade soup that was chock-full of goodness and taste.

It took time, but it was worth it. The same can be said for Search Engine Optimization.

SEO Takes Time, But It’s Worth It

Almost every single client will ask the all-important question: how long does SEO take to work?

The industry-standard answer is 4-6 months…perhaps. You can find hundreds (or thousands) of articles on the Internet that agree with this consensus. And you can say that to every-single-client, but sometime within the first week or two, every client asks if it’s working yet.

Clients are excited. They’re nervous. They need to account for their spend. You’ll remind them that you ensured they’d start to see some results within 4-6 months, but at some point, they’ll begin to get impatient. It might not happen every time, but it happens enough. How long does SEO take to work will depend on a lot of variables.

Sometimes results can take a day, a year, or even more. It all depends on the goal, the key performance indicators (KPIs), the competition, the industry, and the ever-changing landscape of the Internet.

Let’s Determine What The Results Will Be!

Instead of providing the generic four-to-six months answer to the question “how long does SEO take to work,” we find it can be far more beneficial to outline what our anticipated results will be.

Key Performance Indicators – KPIs

KPIs are objective, tangible metrics that are used to measure the success of a campaign.

In the realm of SEO, there are several KPIs that can constitute successful results.

1. Growth in Organic Sessions – Tracking traffic from organic search is a measurable KPI. Growth can be slow going, as it does take time for pages and websites to make their way up the search engine results, especially in competitive industries. It is the objective that lies at the heart of any SEO campaign since more targeted traffic from the search engines is something that always excites clients.

2. Increases in Keyword Rankings – Back in the day, SEO companies would provide clients with spreadsheets outlining keyword results for targeted keywords. It was a metric the clients loved. But, with the growth of localized and individualized search results, it became more difficult to provide an accurate measure of keyword rankings. A website could be sitting at #1 for one user but #4 for someone else in a different location. Now, SEO companies might provide a more generalized average for keyword rankings.

Keyword ranking isn’t the be all, end all though. Going from number 50 to number 8 might not make a huge difference in traffic; however, going from number 8 to number 4 likely will. This is because most users will click on the first few results, but not wade too much further down the list.

3. Leads & Conversions – What good is all of this extra traffic if they are converting into leads? More and more companies are getting savvy with the results they expect to see, and leads, orders, and sales have become a valuable KPI for SEO campaigns. On average, the best results for a website come from organic traffic results. After all, this traffic is highly targeted for specific searches. If a person is searching for the best place to wash their car, it is likely to assume they are further down the path-to-purchase than a person who gets advertised to by a car-wash display ad or social media post.

4. Session Duration – Generally speaking, once you implement an SEO campaign, you will likely start to see an increase in session duration. This is because the quality of traffic is highly targeted, which means the user would likely be more genuinely interested and engaged in your website and information.

Targeted Traffic vs General Traffic

If you look at just numbers, one might think that having 10,000 visitors a day vs 5,000 visitors a day is a win. But, if the 10,000 visitors who are coming are more general in nature, is it really a win? They’re likely not spending as much time on the website, or they’re browsing without intent to purchase, contact, or convert. They take more effort to convert or bring back. So, if you can get 5,000 visitors who are specifically searching for one of your particular products or services, they’re more targeted. They’re likely more ready to convert or purchase. Those 5,000 visitors are more valuable than the 10,000 generalists.

How Long Does SEO Take to Work Depends on Tactics

Depending on the industry and the competition, an SEO professional will undertake a variety of tactics to achieve results. Think of it like growing a garden. Some plants, fruit, and vegetables take longer to bear fruit or flower than others. In addition, you can’t quite ever predict how long it will take before the tomatoes are ready to be picked.

An SEO plan that is really content-driven can take a lot of time; however, the results might come in spurts. The SEO professional will target a keyword, have a piece of content written and published, and depending on how competitive the keyword is, results may start coming within a week or longer. No one really knows how long it takes for SEO to work.  It could also take six months or more. In the meantime, with each new piece of content, site authority and ultimately results will start to build.

Budget Also Affects How Long SEO Takes to Work

Nobody wants to admit that the more you pay the better results you will get; however, budget equals time and resources.

How long does SEO take to work? Simply put, the more you put into it the more you should get out of it. Three team members spending six hours should see results faster than one team member sending two hours.

At the end of the day, SEO is not a quick-fix for a business that requires results immediately. It’s a long-term process that requires a strategy and if done properly, can provide long term results. SEO is a process where every step builds upon the one before it. Today’s results are likely built upon the effort from six months ago.

So, while you’ll likely find it takes four-to-six months to start seeing results, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many types of SEO services that can be brought into play. Instead of offering a timeline for how long does SEO take to work, it can be more beneficial to offer education on the KPIs. That way, you can start celebrating the little wins along the way.

Please call our SEO experts at 1st on the List toll-free at 1-888-262-6687 to learn more about SEO or if you still have any questions.

For additional information on this topic, visit this informative article by Search Engine Journal.

Top Advertising Agency Clutch 2019

If you’re looking to get your company’s name to the top of the list, look no further than our seasoned group of SEO experts here at 1st on the List Promotion. Each of our core staff has over a decade of experience, having serviced hundreds of SEO clients in Canada and the US in a diverse range of industries and markets. Some firms today are outsourcing their SEO efforts, but our core focus has always been SEO, with all of the its complex trends and techniques. It isn’t an afterthought for us- it’s what we live and breathe for!

With that said we are very excited to announce that Clutch has named us as a Leader in Marketing & Advertising for Canadian firms in 2019.

We take great pride in this recognition as it has always been our firm’s goal to provide the best service for our wide range of clients.  Clutch included us as a top SEO services provider based on the strength of our core business practices, our outstanding customer relations, and our overall ability to deliver results.  Clutch is a B2B reviews platform that connects service providers with their potential clients in a quick and easy manner. Clutch has added value to our firm by collecting high quality, in-depth reviews from our previous clients and displaying them on our profile.

Here’s what some experiences that our previous clients have shared with Clutch:

“They are honest and deliver.” – CEO, Door Screen Company

“They have very sound strategies and produce real results.” – CEO, Specialty Hardware Distributor

“1st on the List Promotion delivered on all fronts.” – Digital Manager, Home Care Provider

We truly appreciate all the resources Clutch has provided us which includes two features on their sister sites: The Manifest and Visual Objects.  The Manifest has listed us under their list of the top SEO agencies in Canada, increasing the likelihood that firms in need of an SEO agency will find our firm’s website.  Visual Objects is an additional resource that has added our portfolio of work to their site, further increasing our reach as a firm and improving the chances that we win more organic leads. 

Overall, we cannot express enough how proud we are of our team here at 1st on the List Promotion and we are very excited to continue our success throughout 2019 as a Clutch Leader in Advertising & Marketing.  

Yes, it really is possible to have too much business. Your business will have a sweet spot of success. The right number of people throughout every level of the sales funnel, all being properly serviced by the current team, is an ideal goal. Of course, for some businesses, they are looking for increased business beyond this sweet spot, and will grow their business and staff to match.

But, what happens when you simply want to maintain your current levels? Many businesses will ask to pause all marketing efforts in an effort to decrease the flow of new leads and customers. They’ll admit to being too busy and promise to re-enlist when things slow down.

Does that sound familiar?

Here’s the thing: it’s actually not in your best interest to pause your SEO efforts. Generally speaking, the SEO efforts we make today will see the benefit in six months or beyond. Plus, every monthly effort builds upon what was done before. Stopping cold turkey can have a negative effect on your SEO rankings and can be more difficult to rebound from.

So what do you do?

If your current SEO plan is working well (or too well) for your business, the best thing you can do is slow down your program, rather than stopping altogether. This way, you don’t lose the momentum you’ve built up along the way, and your future-proofing your efforts with your current work.

After all, SEO is an ongoing process and the last thing a business wants is to disappear or have all the prior hard work be for not.

There comes a time when businesses are faced with a decision as to where to allocate their online marketing spend. Often, when it comes to targeted search-based advertising, a business will be presented with the option of PPC and SEO. Which should you choose and what is the difference?

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click advertising. Generally speaking, this refers to paying for search placement ads in a search engine. You bid on keyword phrases and pay when a visitor clicks on your text-based ad.

Pay-per-click is quick to set up, and you can start benefit from this form of advertising right away.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the art and science of building a website, landing pages and content that is designed to bring targeted search-based traffic to your website based on related keywords. In other words, someone goes to Google and is searching for a business with your products or services, sees your organic search listing, clicks on it and reaches your website.

Building a stellar SEO pipeline can take a lot of work and time; however, the benefits are great.

Ideally, you should make room in your budget for both forms of advertising. Pay-per-click is great for campaigns or when you don’t have time to wait for your SEO strategy to work; however, year after year, the best, most targeted traffic is usually generated from organic search.

In other words, SEO is a long game while PPC is now. As with all your marketing efforts, you can really maximize your efforts by layering your digital efforts throughout the online marketplace.

On-Page SEO Guidelines

In this 1st on the List blog post, our 22-point SEO content checklist will highlight many of the SEO best practices and techniques for creating high-quality web content in a post-Google Panda world.

The whole purpose of Google’s Panda algorithm update was to eliminate web pages with low-quality web content and reward pages with high-quality website content. See this Google Panda Update article by Search Engine Journal for more detailed information.

We’ve all heard the term “Content is King” but is it possible to write great web content that engages the visitor and meets the criteria of the search engines? Absolutely!

Our SEO content checklist will show how your web content needs to be original, desirable, and relevant but also must meet other important quality content guidelines.

Below, we’ve compiled this SEO content writing checklist to help you create great web content that is appealing for both your visitors and for the Search Engines.

SEO Content Checklist

  1. Write with a specific purpose and audience in mind – one central theme from start to finish.
  2. Answer the reader’s most important question and help them complete a task.
  3. Be an authority on the subject – make sure your web content includes all the information your reader may be looking for about this topic.
  4. Make your web content relevant and timely.
  5. Write web content in a voice that represents your brand and keeps a consistent style of writing.
  6. Write for your audience and not your peers; stay away from industry jargon.
  7. Stay on topic; each sentence should have a purpose.
  8. Write without promoting yourself and without overt sales pitches.
  9. Link to good sources – off-site links need to be high authority websites that support the theme of your web page.
  10. Double check all your facts, stats, and sources.
  11. Organize text into sections with headers, quotes, bullet points, and so on – use plenty of white space, so that it is visually appealing.
  12. Make the content easy to scan as readers will read as little as 20% of the words on the page.
  13. Write a clear and concise Page Title to catch attention and indicate what content is about.
  14. Be sure to proofread multiple times and ask someone else to proofread once you think it’s perfect.
  15. Provide clear calls-to-action statements to encourage readers to take the next step – what do you want them to do next?
  16. Make the content easy for readers to share through Social Platforms.
  17. Organize text into thematic sections using synonyms, related terms, and supportive phrases.
  18. Write a strong Meta Title and Description that isn’t too long or short for the SERPs.
  19. Don’t overuse your primary keyword for the sake of SEO; be sure to use related terms and synonyms.
  20. Clearly define yourself as the author on the page for both readers and Search Engines to recognize.
  21. Make sure your content is 100% unique and provides unique value not found anywhere else online. Is your content adding anything new and of interest to the Internet or is it just rewriting someone else’s thoughts?
  22. Aim for a minimum of 500 (+ or -) words. Longer articles tend to do well in search so, depending on the type of content you are creating, it’s okay to strive for 1,000 words or more, but never compromise quality for quantity.

This SEO content checklist isn’t exhaustive by any means. We also recommend that you refer to Google’s guidelines for high-quality content to see how your writing measures up.

Web Content Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Below are some of their hardest questions you need to ask yourself as a web content writer:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • How much quality control is done on the web content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

About 1st on the List

1st on the List has been serving clients throughout the United States and Canada since 1997. We offer professional SEO services plus PPC and SEO web design services.

We hope this SEO content checklist has been helpful. If you need assistance writing new web content or optimizing and improving your existing web content, we can help.

Give our professional web copywriters a call toll-free at 1-888-262-6687, or fill out our quick online form to get in touch today.

Please Note: This article was originally published January 19, 2015, and has since been updated to reflect current SEO web content best practices. 

Here are some additional recent SEO Content articles:

In the late 90s and early 2000’s, it was a lot easier to choose an experienced SEO Services firm because there were not that many of them. Of course, like any industry, there were some amateurs and bad apples in the mix. The term ‘black hat seo’ stemmed from early SEO days where some individuals and businesses were looking to cheat the system, rather than figure out best practices for success.

But, even back then, many businesses had a hard time justifying if the work was worth the cost or if they had found a good company. SEO is complicated and not in the average business’ wheelhouse so it can be more difficult to understand the complexity of the results.

After all, if a business knew how to do it and had the resources to do it in-house, they wouldn’t be hiring out.

So, when it comes time to look for an SEO services firm, having a basic understanding of what’s involved and knowing the questions to ask during the interview process is key.

Recovering from a bad SEO strategy or unprofessional tricks is time consuming and costly. You can avoid this by ensuring you’re selecting an SEO Services firm that has the experience and methods to achieve success.  

Benefits of Search Engine Optimization

Traffic from organic search engine results is highly targeted. This means, when a user queries a search engine they are looking for something specific (be it an answer, information, a product or service). The goal of the search engines is to deliver the best results for the query. So, the idea is that if a visitor lands on your site from a search engine, it his highly likely they are looking for your product, service or information.

The art and science of having your website appear for related search queries is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short

A good SEO strategy places your business in a position to receive targeted visitor traffic to your website. A targeted visitor is further down the path to conversion/purchase which makes them a great target market.  

SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. It can take some time to implement; however, the results are usually long-term.

Generally, an SEO firm will recommend a long-term monthly program. A well-run and successful program is ongoing and includes a variety of items including on-page continuous optimization, content strategies, technical elements, link building and more. Analyze. Rinse. Repeat.

How is SEO Achieved?

There are a variety of tactics involved in a good SEO strategy. Often, you will see that a web designer offers ‘SEO’ under their list of services. Usually, this means they are outfitting the site with a tool designed to allow for the integration of Meta tags (strings of code read by the search engines). This is only one factor of SEO and is not a strategy or a tactic, but rather a tool.  

For the average business owner, if they’re told they’re getting ‘SEO’ they believe it, right? What many are not aware of is that there is SEO and then there is SEO. How do you tell SEO from SEO? Ah, now that’s the big question!  

A Successful SEO Plan Generally Includes:

1. Keyword & Market Research – What is the targeted web visitor searching for to find the website? What are other websites providing? Where is there room for improvement and market infiltration?

2. Content /Site Planning – User experience is everything because SEO is designed to get a visitor to a website, but what happens once they are there is equally as important. Determining the required content, order of pages, importance of items and site flow is paramount.

3. Site Navigation – A cleanly navigated website is easier for the visitor and the search engines.

4. Content – Content is king (and queen, and prince/princess/commoner, too). Again, SEO is designed to get a visitor to click on a search result. Content is what keeps and converts the visitor once they arrive on a website.

5. Clean Coding – A well-built, clean-coded website does wonders in helping a website rank.
6. Speed – Search engines factor in site speed and website load when looking at a website. Speed on mobile devices and desktop computers should be looked at.

7. U/X – User-Centered Design/Content – Some businesses design the website they want to see, or the website they like; however, well-performing websites are designed 100% for the visitor.

8. Meta Tags – Title and description tags are integrated on every page to help aid the search engines in what that page is about.

9. Page Titles– A page title is important for the search engines and the web visitor.

10. Technical SEO Items – There are a variety of technical elements that can help or hinder SEO.
11. Analytics Review – It’s important to continue to monitor campaign results, traffic, and user-flow on a website to adjust strategies and get new ideas.

12. Repeat – SEO is not a one-time affair. For long-term success, an ongoing strategy is essential.
13. Plus various other factors – There are a variety of factors that go into how well a website ranks on the search engines. From link-building to alt-tags and everything in between, a professional SEO services firm prioritizes tactics for your success.

One of the first things you will see is that there is a good deal of planning and strategy that goes into an SEO-optimized website before the build even begins. This is because it is important to build a website that is designed for the targeted web visitor. A site plan, content strategy and website that is built with SEO in mind from the ground up has the right foundation for success.

How To Choose an SEO Services Firm

With so many SEO Services firms out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the choices. Finding one who can talk the talk and walk the walk is key.

In addition, because SEO is a long game strategy, choosing the wrong firm can set you behind. But even more so, when SEO tactics are not implemented properly, or black hat tricks are used, long lasting damage can often be done to a site that takes a lot of hard work and time to overcome.

By asking these questions, a business is able to better ascertain who is reputable, and who is not.

Top 5 Questions To Ask An SEO Company

1. How Many Years Experience Do You Have (and can you show me examples and case studies of your success stories)?

Perhaps the general philosophies and tactics of SEO can be book-learned; however, actual industry experience is priceless. Through working in the industry, SEO experts can delve beyond best practices and recommendations because they have developed an innate ability to naturally assess a situation and implement a strategy that will work.

By asking this question, you’re looking for an SEO services firm that has been around for years and can provide many examples of top search engine positioning and lead generation results in a variety of industries.

2. Do You Follow Industry Best Standards and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?

Ideally, we’d like to think this is the easy question that every SEO professional would answer properly; however, there are some out there who have developed proprietary practices designed to trick the search engines. That’s your cue to run away.  Another cue? When they tell you they can rank you in a day or a week and offer ranking guarantees. If a sales pitch sounds fishy, generally, the practices put in place are too.

You should only hire a company that continues to stay up-to-date on recommended best practices and uses white-hat SEO practices.

3. How Is Your Success Measured?

Reputable SEO companies work with you to outline goals, targets and timelines. They send regular reports and updates that measure things such as keyword positioning, website traffic, visitor demographics, time on site, bounce rate and lead conversions.

It is important you know the goals of the SEO firm and that they align with your goals. What kind of traffic increase are you expecting? How many visitors per month are the targeted keywords expected to get?

4. What Keywords Can You Guarantee?
Here’s the trick question! You want to hire an SEO services firm that can look you in the eye and explain that keyword positions cannot be guaranteed. There are many companies out there touting first page positions, guaranteed! But, for what keywords? And, for how long? Organic search engine results are not something that anybody can guarantee so it’s best you work with a company that is upfront about the goals and the strategies to get there.

Generally speaking, the more popular a keyword, the more competitive the keyword which means the more work and time it will take to rank. We’ve worked tirelessly for multiple years to rank a website for a very popular keyword while others can take a week or a month.

5. Am I Under Contract? What Happens if We Part Ways?
Many reputable SEO services firms are confident in their ability to establish long-term client relationships and are happy to not work within locked-in contracts. Some may require contract terms. Regardless of whether you are locked-into a relationship or not, more importantly, you need to understand what happens if you choose to part ways.

There are a variety of reasons a business may cancel or pause their SEO services. Best practices are that the business retains their content, access to their website (if with the same company) and all logins/passwords for accounts.

Trust, Integrity and General Likeability

One of the reasons a business might have difficulty selecting an SEO services firm is because they do not understand the process and therefore, find it more difficult to ascertain what to look for. Business owners regularly have to contract out services that are outside their own scope of work. When a business can build a long-term relationship with an outside vendor, there is a greater opportunity for success.

A successful relationship with an SEO services firm can be highly beneficial to a business. So, it is important you select a firm you can trust and is based on integrity. This firm and their professionals will be working hard on your account so it’s helpful if there is a good working relationship.

Selecting the least expensive company or the company with the slick sales pitch doesn’t necessarily bode well for long-term success.  

Ideally, a company that has been around, achieving successful results, for years is best suited to help your business achieve long-term success. They’ve not only seen, but experienced, search engine algorithm updates. They’ve had experience with competitive keywords, dropped rankings, and cleaning up technical code on a website. They’ve developed an innate understanding of what it takes to achieve results. They stay up-to-date on best practices and up-and-coming trends but have a solid grasp of the foundation and good, sound business.

They can speak client and programmer and act as a bridge for your company between these two, very different languages. They can delve deep into analytics to continue to strategize for best results and then provide you with key indicators in a way you can understand. They can stay up-to-date on the trends but also are not bound by the trends.

Ideally, you’re looking for a company that has a proven track record, satisfied clients and has achieved long-term successful results that go beyond positioning and into ROI and lead generation.

As a business owner, you don’t need to know how to do SEO to hire an SEO services firm. You just need to know the right questions to ask so you can ensure you’re hiring a reputable firm that has your best interests in mind.

About 1st on the List

Located just outside Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1st on the List is a boutique SEO Company that has been offering search engine optimization, pay per click, and SEO web design services since 1997.

To learn more about our services, please call us Toll Free at 1-877-562-7965 or send us an email.

SEO Web design is the partnership between web design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). More so, it is a philosophy that includes the user and lead generation within the design and planning process. Even more importantly, it is a methodology whereby SEO planning and strategy happens throughout, rather than as a post-launch activity.

If you’re looking for a new website and/or SEO strategy, seek a company that includes comprehensive SEO as part of the planning process, in addition to the design and post-launch phases.

Most commonly you will find web designers who outline SEO as a post-planning and/or post-build service. This often comes by way of an SEO plugin so metatags and titles can be optimized and content can be reviewed and graded. For others, there will be some general keyword research and SEO content edits.

SEO Web Design from reputable SEO Web Design Agencies takes an entirely different approach altogether.

This approach includes SEO throughout the entire process from planning, to coding, to design to content to post-launch. It is an approach where the entire foundation is built upon solid SEO infrastructure and knowledge designed to not only bring leads to a website, but capture and convert them.

If This is Such a Great Approach Why Aren’t All Web Designers Doing This?

SEO is hard work. It’s time consuming work. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to do it properly and quite frankly, web design is easier without taking user experience and lead generation into account.

It is an entirely different skill-set than web design, so a team approach is often needed. It would be difficult to be one person fluent in programming, coding, web design, graphic design and comprehensive SEO.

In addition, due to the time and work involved, good SEO is not suitable as a lost-leader type service, especially if you want it done properly. This means it adds to an overall budget and when web design companies are quoting for accounts, they can bring their price down by leaving it out.  Since many non SEO companies say they do SEO, a real SEO Web Design Approach when compared to basic web design can often run higher in price.

In addition, education is usually part of the sales process which also takes time and resources.

When business owners are comparing web design quotes, they may think they are comparing apples to apples. In reality, the quotes likely vary in scope regardless of SEO. Plus, comparing a basic web design with SEO web design is truly like comparing apples with, well, pineapples.

SEO Web Design – The Process

Incorporating true SEO into web design requires a process that begins in the planning stages and is a part of every aspect of the build, and beyond. This is the key element that is important for businesses to understand when comparing web design companies.

The SEO web design process has several additional steps than a regular website, and with that comes additional time, additional scope and often additional cost.

When businesses understand the process and the importance of user-experience and lead generation, the added steps and cost makes sense.

1. Planning

When following an SEO Web design process, planning is a crucial stage. SEO moves beyond basic keywords and content and incorporates user experience, lead generation, site speed, user paths, targets and goals. It is during this phase that we work with you to really understand your business, your target market, how to attract your target market and the best way to encourage them to interact with your website.

What features do you want your website to have? What are the best technologies to achieve these goals? What will things look like (figuratively and literally)? What is the user looking for?

Keyword research, competition research, industry trends, current website analytics and more all go into the planning process. It is during this phase where a thorough audit of your business, your market and your goals begins.

2. Keyword Research

Exhaustive keyword research is part of the planning process (and will continue long after the build). What is uncovered during the research phase helps lead the way for key site planning decisions, including site architecture, lead capture pages, content and more.

Keyword research helps determine the search phrases your targeted customer is using to discover websites of businesses such as yours.

Top Keywords – Top keywords are the general keyword phrases that are common among web visitors. If your business is local it will often be city +service or city +product. During the keyword research phase we determine the popularity and competitiveness of keywords and set target goals.

Long-tail Keywords – These are more specific, generally longer search phrases, used by users to find specific products/services/content from businesses such as yours. These may be questions or sub-services. Generally, these are less competitive, less popular and easier to rank for. We can’t ignore these phrases as when combined, the traffic can often amount to a strong base.

We may set a phased schedule of keyword priority. This allows us to work on a variety of keyword phrases (top and long-tail) in tandem, before moving onto a different topic or priority. This is an effective way to continuously build website traffic and relevance in the marketplace.

3. Competition Research

Let’s take a look at what your competition is doing, and then do it better. By fully understand what other businesses in your sector are doing online, we can best plan how to compete in the marketplace.

Are there gaps in the marketplace where you can easily slide in?

Are there ideas we can garner from other websites?

By thoroughly analyzing the competition, we can gain a solid understanding of the market and where you best fit.

4. Site Architecture

The navigation and flow of your website is important. In a basic web design (non SEO) process this may be given to a client by a web designer or a client may ask for certain items.

With SEO web design, the key decisions for site architecture are made based on SEO and User experience.

Getting the site architecture right can involve several key decisions. After all, keywords don’t always have marketing flow. Since thus far, everything has been done based on SEO and usability, the same holds true for this phase.

The competition research, keyword research, the user and your goals outline the best navigation, page names and content.

This is where many businesses and web designers will be reminded that it is not what the business wants that matters, but rather what the user needs.

A website that speaks to the user and their needs will perform better than a website that is simply about the business.

5. The Website Build

This is where all that hard planning work starts to see the light of day. Seeing a mockup of a homepage or page layouts is fun and exciting, which is why non SEO web designers often start with this step. It gets a client excited for the project. But, with an SEO-first approach, the build cannot begin until after all the planning is finished.

There are a variety of ways to build a website, including various platforms, code languages and templates. But, for a website to perform well in the search engines, there needs to be an SEO approach to the build. Google and other search engines outline best practices for webmasters including, user experience, site speed, clean code, tags, hosting location and optimization.

From coding to design, SEO best practices should be accounted for.

6. Website Content

On the surface, writing content for a website seems like an easy task for most business owners. Many times, they know their business best and will want to take on this job. Writing content for the web is much different than writing content for a brochure or a business proposal.

With an SEO approach to web design, developing good content is essential. In addition, an ongoing content marketing plan is key for success.  

SEO website content has three main jobs. It needs to be relevant to search queries so search engines rank the pages higher. It needs to grab the reader’s attention right away. It needs to provide the information the visitor is looking for.

Let’s say we had a 4th. It needs to encourage the visitor to learn more, purchase or contact.

Generally, web content has a many headings, lists and short paragraphs. It is scanable and various typography styles will be used to make things interesting.

Content should be written to speak to the user. It needs to be quick and easy to read and should not include industry terms the user has not yet been introduced to.

Content has a big job to play on a website and it’s important this phase is done right. Well-crafted content is key to success.

7. Ongoing Reviews and Reporting

Once the website is built and launched, there’s still more to come. SEO web design undertakes the practice of regularly reviewing web analytics, running a/b testing and making updates as needed. In addition, regularly adding content helps future success.

SEO professionals relish in digging into a website’s analytics to see what is performing well and what may need a revision. In addition, user queries and intention change which is why monitoring analytics, search engine results and leads is a crucial aspect of a sound SEO strategy.

8. Site Maintenance

Regular tweaks, both programmatically and within content, will be made on an ongoing basis to ensure a website is running its best. Platforms change and have updates and upgrades so regular website maintenance helps ensure your website is performing at its peak for your visitors.

How to Incorporate SEO Into Your Web Design

SEO isn’t something that should be incorporated in silo into your web design. It should be the foundation and a part of every piece of the puzzle.

When SEO is considered at every stage of web design, it shows in the results because it shows in the build. It puts the user first and when the user comes first, they feel important and are more likely to convert.

While a strong SEO strategy can be incorporated on a pre-existing website, when you have the opportunity to build (or re-build) from scratch, you can rest-assured that your foundation is sound.

1. Hire the right SEO Web Design Firm

This is the key step when incorporating SEO into web design. Whether you are utilizing your current built or starting fresh, having the right time is essential. When SEO professionals work closely with web designs the results are better.

2. Don’t rush the process

SEO is a long-game marketing approach. The results build up slowly over time, but the long term benefit is worth the wait. It’s easy to get cold-feet while you’re waiting, but give the strategy time to take footing.

3. Don’t quit

Once you start to see results, it is tempting to quit. Keep in mind, that a well-planned SEO approach involves a content and optimization plan that is continuous. In other words, the results you will see in say six months are solidly based upon the work that is done today. If you stop, you may not see the effects of quitting immediately, but over time you will.

Our best results come from web design builds that were executed with a sound SEO strategy at the forefront. While sometimes, in a non-competitive market, SEO can be added post-build, best practices and the best opportunity for success come from a true SEO web design build.

Our success is built upon our past results. While trends and tactics may change, year over year this SEO web design build process is crucial for our top achieved results.

About 1st on the List

Located just outside Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1st on the List is a boutique SEO Company that has been offering search engine optimization, pay per click, and SEO web design services since 1997.

To learn more about our services, please call us Toll Free at 1-877-567-1341 or send us an email.

When it comes to SEO, be the tortoise.

You know Aesop’s Fable about the tortoise and the hare, right? Well, let’s recap. The story of the tortoise and the hare has a moral that ‘slow and steady wins the race’. The fable tells the tale of the hare who was often found bragging about how fast he could run. The tortoise, who took a more slow and steady approach, was tired of listening to the hare boast and so challenged him to a race. With all the animals gathered to watch, the hare boasted loud for all to hear. He couldn’t understand how the tortoise could even think he might win.

The hare ran in spurts, often stopping to take a break. He’d look behind and see the tortoise in the distance. At one point he stopped to rest and took a nap.

Meanwhile, the tortoise walked slow and steady. He never stopped. He never rested. He never took a break. He never paused to congratulate himself or to boast to all those who could hear. He just continued on his way, slow and steady

Eventually, the tortoise walked right past the hare, who was snoozing on the road. The animals cheered so loudly they eventually woke up Hare, who then realized the tortoise was in the lead. But, it was too late. By the time he began to run again, the tortoise crossed the finish line.

The moral? “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”.

So yes, when it comes to SEO, be the tortoise.

Good, long-lasting, SEO that wins (targeted traffic and leads) needs to be based on a solid foundation with a phased approach and process. While there might be tricks and tools out there on the market, there is no lightning-fast approach that will outpace a solid SEO campaign.

There will always be the other guys promising quick results, but generally speaking, they don’t last, if they happen at all.

SEO is built over time. And, when done as part of a long-term, phased strategy, each piece builds upon the next, while helping out the previous phases, too. This layered effect is what eventually helps a website really stick.

A Tried & True SEO Process

Solid SEO is part of an overarching long term process that incorporates research, keywords, content, link-building, technical elements and analytics. It is a continuous process that looks like a circle, rather than a straight line. In other words, once you get to what should be the finish line, once you analyze the results, it is time to start all over again.

SEO professionals who have been doing this for years, who have managed large-scale, competitive SEO campaigns through some of the search engines biggest (and most destructive for some websites) algorithm updates, have a solid, working SEO process that starts with a good foundation. They know innately what works. They have the right instincts when making decisions but they always start by ensuring they have a solid strategy in place.

Think about an SEO process like building a house. The foundation needs to be solid. The framing needs to be accurate. The interior design? Well, that’s where you can add some flare, personality and try new trends.

That’s the same with SEO. You will always need a good strategy, the right keywords, the right content and to understand your target audience. You need a well-built website that has clean code and is easy for the search engines to spider. Once you have the foundation and the framing in place, then you can begin to experiment with some of the new trends, tools and up-and-coming tactics.

But, you can’t start with the trends. You can’t start with the tools that promise to do it for you. If you don’t have a plan and a process, your SEO just won’t stick.

Market Research – Staying up-to-date on what others in the industry are doing (right, wrong and otherwise) while ensuring you have a complete understanding of your current target audience is an important part of the ongoing SEO process.

Technical Audit – How your website is set-up, if it is hosted properly, and its speed can play a big part in SEO success. It’s important to conduct a website and hosting analysis to address key areas in your website’s programming and set up that could be affecting how a search engine finds, spiders, rates and ranks your website. There are over 200 factors in search engine algorithms and technical set-up plays a big role. It is important to regularly evaluate, discover and resolve any potential issues.

Keyword Research – How will a visitor find your website? When potential website visitors head online looking for a product, service or information they enter a search query into a search engine. SEO professionals have the tools and knowledge to uncover the most popular searched queries that match your products, services and information. We look at keyword relevancy, keyword volume and keyword competition to determine the best keyword phrases to optimize for. Keyword research can also uncover new related business avenues and content ideas, too. How people search changes over time so it is important to conduct keyword research on a regular basis.

Site Planning – The structure and flow of navigation, pages, and content is a large part of SEO. The search engine needs to be able to easily navigate to every page on the website; but even more so, the visitor needs to easily find what he or she is looking for. Creating sections, related page within sections and a content hierarchy can help with a website’s ranking and usability.

Content Development – Ongoing regular content updates and development is good for SEO and your website’s visitors. Your market research and keyword research will help guide your content development. Whether you are making ongoing changes and updates to static pages on your website, or you’re focused on an ongoing blog calendar, ensuring your content matches what your targeted visitors are looking for is good SEO practice.

Website Optimization Your website’s ranking is dependent upon how well your website is optimized, both from a front end (on-page) and back-end (code) perspective. On-page optimization involves what the visitor can see and experience. This includes titles, headings, and content to support the target keywords. This also includes user experience, optimized navigation, cross-linking and clear calls-to-action. The back end optimization involves meta tags, image optimization, load times, code optimization, simplifying source code, page caching and so much more.

Link Acquisition – In the old days, SEO companies developed sound practices that involved submitting websites to related directories. This practice is no longer considered a best practice. Now, a more natural link profile is what the search engines are looking for. The search engines see links to a website as a vote of confidence and so, link acquisition helps to improve your website’s authority. Building natural links is key and this is done by having share-worthy content and building relationships with related businesses.

Website Analytics – Being able to collect and analyze your website data is key to improving upon your successes and making edits on what might need fixing. Analytics data can help you understand your target audience while monitoring your key performance indicators (KPI). Most SEO professionals rely on Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. By delving deep into the data, you can uncover potential issues and address them for the benefit of your website’s performance.

Rinse & Repeat – Once you’ve analyzed your data, you’re ready to start all over again, with your next phase of keywords and content. This is what is known as a phased approach to SEO.

What is a Phased Approach to SEO?

SEO is based on what is known as a maturity model. You cannot do everything at once, but rather you have to focus on your SEO in terms of themes while applying the process above (ensuring you have the strategy, the planning, and the implementation in place)

Crawlability – Your content needs to be able to be found and spidered by search engines, so that the site can be naturally indexed. Whether you’ve launched a new website, new piece of content or had site downtime, this is something that cannot be ignored.

Top Keywords & Content – Ideally, you will set your top keyword goals and then strategize, plan and build your website & content to match. Generally, you might select your top ten most popular keyword phrases. Usually these will be more competitive and general, but will offer big rewards when you succeed.

Imagine you are an oceanfront resort in Victoria called The Shell Oceanfront Resort. Your top keywords would likely be a combination of:

Victoria Resort, Victoria hotel, Victoria accommodations, Place to stay in Victoria, top hotels in Victoria, resorts near Victoria, hotel packages Victoria, The Shell Victoria, The Shell Oceanfront, The Shell Oceanfront Resort Victoria, Vancouver Island Resorts etc.

Secondary Keywords & Content – Your secondary keywords are more targeted and more specific to sections of your website, rather than your website as a whole.

Using our same example of The Shell Oceanfront Resort in Victoria, the secondary keywords might be:

Resort and spa Victoria, Victoria vacation packages, Couples package Victoria resort, Victoria wedding venue, Victoria restaurant, things to do in Victoria, family vacation packages Victoria, top attractions in Victoria etc.

Long Tail Keywords & Content – Long-tail keywords might be the equivalent of low-hanging fruit. Generally, they are not as competitive but they are highly targeted. This means, when combined, they have big potential to really boost your traffic and conversions.

Back to our example – some examples of long-tail keywords for the Shell Oceanfront Resort in Victoria might be – deep sea fishing packages in Victoria, luxury vacation accommodations Victoria, Victoria weather in spring, pet-friendly resorts in Victoria, spring discount for resort in Victoria, where to stay in Victoria BC, discounts on accommodations in Victoria BC, the top things to do in summer in Victoria BC, Victoria BC tourist attractions for families, Victoria BC tourist attractions for couples etc.

Content Promotion – Once you have a content piece in place on your website, it’s time to promote that piece of content. You might do this through social media channels, link-building, your email newsletter etc.

For instance, in our Victoria resort example, you might encourage others in the local tourism industry to link to a blog post on Victoria BC tourist attractions.

Search Engine Optimization is A Continuous Cycle – Not A Get Rich Quick Scheme

Regardless of the number of poorly written spam emails you may receive that tell you they can guarantee instant results, SEO is not a quick marketing tactic. There are no tricks to get ahead. There is no substitution for experience, knowledge and a sound strategy and process.

There is no replacing hard work, experience and industry knowledge. While there are a lot of good tools designed to help SEO professionals do it faster and better, they don’t replace the experienced SEO professional. They do not replace the fact that SEO is continuous. That, once you reach the finish line, you have a whole new race to begin.

SEO is a continuous cycle where once you reach the proverbial finish line, it’s time to start all over again with a different segment of your audience, a different grouping of keywords or back to the basics with your top keywords. The Internet and the Search engines are always changing. There is always new competition. There is no room for a pause or a break.

When you implement a phased approach to your content, your keywords and your overall SEO strategy you will be generating new rankings and results overtime. Each time you begin the process again with a new target, piece of content or keyword in mind, you are building upon what was done before. The great thing is that there are hundreds of factors in the algorithms. So, as you work on your long-tail keywords for instance, that hard work is actually helping your top keywords, too.

There might always be people who believe they can do it better and faster. But, when it comes to SEO, be the tortoise. Slow and steady really does win the race.

Whenever someone asks me “What do you do?” it really is a loaded question because understanding what I do requires just a little understanding of SEO and how SEO works.

More often than not I find myself answering like this, “I work for a local Internet Marketing company that specializes in Search Engine Optimization”. Then I follow it up with “Essentially, it’s like an advertising company for websites.”

I am always prepared to get a puzzled face that may recognize the term ‘SEO’ but not have any clue as to what SEO is, what it means or how it works. I must also be prepared to explain in more detail exactly what is SEO. This is usually how the conversation might play out:

Me: The whole point of SEO or Search Engine Optimization, is to improve your web pages and make sure that they meet and adhere to the search engine guidelines so that your website can be found at the top search engine results pages (SERPs).

Person: But how does SEO work? What does it mean to “optimize your site”?

Me: What search engine optimization does is …

“Improve your web pages and make them better, more useful
and more effective for everyone including the people who visit your site
and for the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.”

In other words, search engine optimization helps both the search engines and the visitors.

Person: Oh, you mean like you get the website at the top of the page?

Me: Yes but it’s a little more complicated than just “getting” it there. Websites don’t just magically appear at the top by following a secret formula or paying a fee to Google. There’s much more to it …

Most times, they’ve heard enough but sometimes the person is intrigued and wants to hear more. The rest of the conversation might be summarized below.

Understanding How SEO Helps the Search Engines

Search engine optimization works by making sure your web pages meet the search engine guidelines and become more relevant. SEO helps the search engines to:

  • Find your web pages easier
  • Review your web pages faster
  • Better understand what your website is all about
  • So they can Index your web pages properly (add your pages to their database)
  • Rate your web pages more favorably
  • And list your web pages near the top of the search engine results so people can find you easier

In summary, search engine optimization works to help your web pages:

  1. Be Found
  2. Be Understood
  3. Be Indexed
  4. Be Rated Properly
  5. And Be Visible to people who are searching

Understanding How SEO Helps Your Visitors

Optimizing your web pages to make them as good as possible will help your website perform better in the search engines, which in turn, puts you in front of the very people who are searching for what you have to offer.

Search engine optimization works to help visitors find your website faster and easier plus your website will:

  • Be more relevant for the terms people use to find your website
  • Be easier to navigate
  • Help visitors find what they came looking for faster
  • Help visitors make better decisions (sooner) about what you have to offer
  • Help convert visitors into customers

In summary, search engine optimization will help visitors to:

  1. Find your site faster
  2. Understand your offerings
  3. Make better decisions about what they want
  4. Convert sooner

Understanding How Search Engine Optimization Works

While you may not know how to do SEO, there are many ways to optimize your web pages to make them as good as possible for searchers and for the search engines.

During search engine optimization, improvement changes can be made to any of the following (plus much more) to help improve your web pages and your page performance.

So in answer to the question, “How does SEO work?” here are some of the many places SEO helps to make improvements to your website:

  • Web Page Content
    – Body Text Content
    – Keyword Usage
    – Page Titles
    – Sub-Headings
    – Link Text
    – Images
    – Meta Data (Meta Titles, Descriptions, Alt Text)
    – Content Management Systems (CMS)
    – E-commerce Systems (shopping carts)
  • Source Code
  • In-Bound Linking
  • Page Loading Times
  • Image Sizing
  • Site Structure/Architecture
  • Site Navigation
  • Social Media/Videos
  • Server Setup
  • Hosting
  • Performance Analytics

Learn More About How Search Engine Optimization Works

By the end of the conversation I usually like to look at the big picture again; In marketing, the primary goal is to get your message out to as many potential customers as possible so they will buy your product or services.

Online marketing can be very powerful because no other marketing medium has the potential to reach as many potential customers 24/7 as do the search engines. And search engines like Google simply want to give their searchers the best, most relevant pages that they think will match what is being searched for.

The purpose of doing search engine optimization then, is to try and do just that: Provide the best, most relevant pages for the keyword term that was searched on.

Still looking for more answers? Visit our detailed explanation of “What is Search Engine Optimization” or contact our Search Engine Optimization Consultants.