SEO Maintenance Contracts
SEO Maintenance Contracts are an integral part of optimizing a website for search engines and maintaining search engine rankings. Unless you intend to do it all yourself, you will need an SEO maintenance contract to keep someone with advanced SEO expertise involved in contributing to the content and technical strategy for your website.
Who needs SEO maintenance contracts?
Website SEO is not for the faint of heart, which is why an SEO maintenance contract is so important for most website owners. Search engine optimization requires an intimate knowledge of search engine policies and behavior: of what works and what doesn’t. Some website owners are capable of keeping up with changing technologies and SEO techniques, but most are not.
Real estate agents are experts at real estate issues; web developers and SEO professionals are expert in search engine optimization issues. If your core business is not website development and SEO, you probably need an SEO maintenance contract with an experienced professional.
SEO tasks to include in a maintenance contract
There are a number of important SEO tasks that should be included in the average SEO maintenance contract:
- Technical SEO evaluation
- Home page copywriting and editing
- Article copywriting and editing
- External link building
- Internal link building
- Social bookmarking
- Search engine PR
First, no SEO services should be contracted long term without obtaining a technical evaluation of the website itself, including the content management system (if any) and other platform related issues. Based on this evaluation, it may be a waste of resources to invest in SEO services on a website platform if it is not search engine friendly in the first place. That would be like buying ice cream without having a working freezer to put it in when you get home.
A technical SEO evaluation should include a close look at these key issues and more:
Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs
URLs should look like this:
No Flash navigation
Search engines do not follow Flash links reliably, and do not index them well. If you turn off Flash in your browser preferences, and your website navigation menus disappear, you may have a problem with crawlability.
No Flash “splash” page
Your home page is the most important page of your website, and should have content on it in order to rank well. If the first page of your site opens up to a fancy slideshow that says “Skip Intro,” you can bet that search engines are devaluing the content on your website because it’s nowhere to be found on your home page. You can also bet that you’re losing human readers who are not interested in looking for the fine print to “Skip Intro.”
If your site is static HTML, did the designer make proper use of H1 tags around the headings of articles? If not, you’re giving away valuable search engine ranking. Similarly, if your content management system does not automatically put your content titles into H1 tags, consider changing content management systems. Unless you intend to become an SEO expert yourself, most website owners should have a content management system that does the routine SEO tasks for them automatically.
Matching Title tags
Similarly, your content management system (CMS) should automatically put the title of articles into the Title tag, matching the content of the H1 tag. This is the ultimate way to make sure Google knows what the content of the page is about. Consider Google’s index to be like one big recipe card file. If you titled all of your recipes “Recipe,” you wouldn’t be able to flip through them and easily distinguish chicken recipe from the brownie recipe. It’s the same with Google. The more cues you give them about what your page is about, the easier it will be for them to accurately index it.
Home page copy writing and editing
A good SEO consultant must be a decent writer. Since your home page is the most important page of your site, and since text content is what search engines are helping users search for, it makes sense that good copy writing is a valuable part of SEO maintenance. Don’t underestimate the value of copy writing for both SEO and marketing effectiveness. The written word has the power to move people into action. A good grasp of the written word along with technical SEO prowess makes a powerful combination for a website.
The services of a good copywriter is something worth investing in, because it will bring in search engine traffic and convert your traffic to leads and sales for years to come.
Article copy writing and editing
In order to succeed in getting ranked well on the search engines, you a regular part of any SEO maintenance contract should be article copy writing and editing. Your content is the most valuable asset on your website. It’s not the graphic design that has longevity and keeps people coming back; it’s the information they find and come back to visit after visit.
Every article you write, or have written for you, is another source of search engine traffic and sales for years to come.