Let’s boost your company’s most important keywords to the top of the search engine results
Potential customers need to be able to find your website, products, or solutions on a search engine when they are researching and making purchase decisions. By keeping your content funky-fresh and your website up to date and optimized with search engine optimization (SEO), you can increase your audience organically - without paying a dime for ad space.
When Google set up shop in 1998, thunder::tech quickly followed suit, opening its doors in 1999. For over two decades, we’ve been an internet-native, digital agency, with proven expertise, knowledge and know-how to execute successful SEO strategies and improve search engine rankings across a wide variety of middle-market companies.
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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic your website receives from search engines. It’s about attracting more people, but it’s also about attracting and converting the right people into leads for your business.
SEO is comprised of two integrated components:
Both work together to create a better experience for users on search engines when they are looking for products or services and information you have on your website.
The raison d’etre (that’s “reason for being” for all you non-francophones out there) for Google and all search engines is to provide users with the best possible, most relevant and helpful content in response to their search query.
To achieve this, search engines use bots called crawlers to scour the web and examine every page on every site - including yours. They take things like on-page content and metadata into account, along with a laundry list of other relevant ranking factors. An algorithm analyzes the information collected by the search crawlers and decides if your website best answers the searcher’s query. The search engine then displays its best results to the searcher.
There are over 200 ranking factors in Google’s algorithm alone. We know some of these factors, like page speed, backlinks and meta title, for example. But we don’t know them all since Google does not publicly release the full list (despite us asking politely multiple times) and constantly updates its algorithm.
On the average website, organic traffic makes up 53% of total site traffic, and the top 3 Google search results get 54.4% of all user clicks for a search term. It’s more important than ever that you rank at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for the right terms. If users aren’t seeing your website in their top search results, their click is going to the competition.
With so many different ranking factors at play and a limited number of popular search terms, it can be tricky to win the top spots. That’s where a good SEO strategy can make all the difference. All businesses, of any size and type, should be investing time and effort into SEO.
Your site should be fully optimized to rank as high as possible without compromising site integrity or quality of information. You want to ensure your site is the best, most relevant and trustworthy result for search terms important to your brand.
There are many benefits to investing time and effort into your company’s SEO strategy. These include:
Some would argue this is the biggest benefit of investing in SEO. You can have the coolest product in the world, but if you aren’t reaching and expanding your audience, you won’t see any sales. More site traffic means more leads means more sales means a thriving business.
Not only can you reach more users in general, you can also reach users who are already searching for keywords related to your brand and services. By targeting your site keywords to these hyper-specific and audience-centric search terms, you’re more likely to generate traffic poised to convert. Hello, high-quality leads!
Google doesn’t just plonk any old website on the first page of its search results. Its business model is built on showing high-quality, trustworthy sites to its users. By meeting Google’s ranking factors and earning a coveted spot page one, you’re proving to your audience (and potential customers) that you have what it takes to earn their trust.
Part of SEO is technical setup, including factors like page speed, content layout and site architecture. Google prioritizes websites that are user friendly on both desktop and mobile. Part of improving your SEO naturally involves improving your user experience and making your site easier to navigate.
While pay-per-click advertising can guarantee you a top spot, it comes with a hefty price tag. SEO is free and often delivers better long-term results in comparison to paid ads. With the right knowledge and use of best practices, SEO can boost your website’s visibility at no extra cost.
As much as we imagine ourselves as sharpshooters, there is no magic bullet when it comes to SEO. Anyone who guarantees they have the exact formula for success for your company is selling snake oil. But that doesn't mean SEO should be left out of your marketing strategy.
For SEO to be most effective, we must evaluate every aspect of your online presence, from content and design to structure and code. We then work to keep this information evolving as your business and your industry grow so your online presence remains a strong resource for the customers you have and the customers you want.
It’s our goal to fully understand your company’s products and services so we can choose the right keywords and techniques. As your agency partner, we want to feel like an extension of your current team with a vested interest in growing your online presence.
There are many ways we can help meet your optimization goals. Whether it’s better engagement, increases in online purchases, conversions from online traffic to in-store visits or increases in online traffic, we’re here to help you get results.
We have the support of in-house developers, designers, copywriters and social media experts ready to assist once a strategy for your website has been determined. This enables us to move forward with all optimization recommendations quickly and provide you with faster results. We can also advise your in-house team on fixes and updates that will improve the overall optimization of your site if you prefer.
Below is a list of the results-driven SEO services we can (and often do) perform for our clients. We’ll expand on each one below.
Like the foundation of your home, your website’s SEO strategy should be strong from the very beginning to save on costs down the road. Building a site from the ground up can be a huge undertaking. If SEO is not considered in this initial setup, you’re signing up for a ton of content creation while setting yourself up to lose out on organic search traffic. Trust us - you won’t want to go back and scramble to optimize your site after it’s been launched.
In some cases, especially related to coding and UX development, the site and page structure can impact SEO. Even if you go back and try to fix errors like this after launch, there’s a chance Google will always penalize you for site structure that goes against its algorithm.
That’s why SEO strategy is a part of all new website development at thunder::tech. The SEO setup service encompasses several services from this list, including keyword research, URL redirection, technical SEO and on-page optimization.
We follow a similar process for new client websites and site redesigns. First, after getting to know your company, its goals and services, we conduct initial keyword research (see next section). We then collaborate with thunder::tech’s User Experience Team on the creation of a sitemap to ensure optimization is considered from the very beginning and both teams are on the same page about the site’s key messages.
After the sitemap is finalized, our content team steps in and creates the copy and images that will populate the site. Our SEO team reviews this content and makes optimization recommendations accordingly. As the site moves into development, the SEO team installs appropriate 301 redirects and reviews for quality pre- and post-launch. No website is launched without a full quality assurance check from SEO.
A keyword is any word or set of words typed into the search engine search bar. Keywords can be one word, a phrase or a full sentence or question. For example:
These are all keywords in search of the same or similar topic. If you search it, it’s a keyword.
You may know the terms that best define your brand, but keyword research is an extremely audience-centric activity. You may call your product a “trendy hydration receptacle for the on-the-go business woman,” but most people would probably just call that a “water bottle.” If you don’t do your keyword research first, you can miss out on popular search terms related to your website.
We research keywords about your industry, product sets and company to learn the words and phrases your customers are using when searching for products and services you offer. Some agencies generate a list of general keywords and work from there, but it’s important to dig much deeper.
Keyword research requires an understanding of human speech patterns and search term trends. For example, one product may have multiple names and several potential search terms varying in popularity. Or an SEO expert may need to unearth long-form queries and terms to cater to users searching on their Alexa or Google Home devices using their voice.
This process also requires extensive knowledge of consumer behavior. A good keyword researcher will know the terms people will use to find a product or service before they even know they need it. SEO also involves generating related, or secondary, keywords that support your company’s primary keywords. For example, if “shoes” is a primary search term, secondary keywords can include “lace-up boots” or “how can I stop foot pain at work?”
Our SEO team uses digital tools like Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush to conduct a full investigation into viable keywords for your site. These tools provide critical information about a certain keyword, including search volume and difficulty, which measures on a scale from 1-100 how difficult it will be to rank for that keyword on Google given the competition.
Keyword research is the first step in building a new, SEO-friendly website, but it’s also the first step to many other services offered in an agency setting. Social media marketing, content creation and pay-per-click advertising are also rooted in finding the right keywords for your business’s online presence. It’s also a key part of regular SEO and brand refreshes.
Some websites can have thousands of pages, meaning they have thousands of URLs. If you’re cleaning up your site by removing pages or redoing your site (and sitemap), you don’t want users to land on broken links that no longer exist. Implementing 301 redirects automatically sends users who land on a broken page to an existing page of your choice.
Our SEO team will map out and install 301 redirects on a page-by-page level to ensure users are redirected to the most relevant page on the new site. For example, if a user had a page about baby toys bookmarked on your old site, we’ll make sure they are redirected to the baby toys page on your new site if they were to ever revisit that bookmark.
There are many benefits to installing 301 redirects:
Like keyword research, 301 redirects are too often overlooked on new website launches. Redirects should be fully and comprehensively mapped out and double checked in a quality audit prior to launch.
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a business for location-specific search queries. (See above: “Chicago-style pizza near me”). Search engines use an IP address on desktop and geolocation on mobile devices to answer these queries and determine which results to rank in the top spots.
Google is smart enough that it’s even gone a step further and is able to perceive searches with local intent. Searching “takeout sushi” assumes the user is likely looking to order takeout sushi that night or at some point in the near future.
Local SEO involves adding local-specific keywords to your website, keeping Google My Business pages up to date, adding appropriate NAP data and other hyper-local efforts.
For small and middle-market businesses, especially those with brick-and-mortar locations, local SEO is extremely important to marketing efforts. Users should be able to quickly understand how your service meets their inquiry and where they can go to access your offerings.
Technical SEO is the behind-the-scenes hero of your website’s rankings. It involves the more technical aspects of your site that only search crawlers see. Technical site elements are one of the first things these little bots check when deciding whether or not a site is high-quality. They include:
Technical SEO is what Google uses to crawl and index a website. But on-page SEO is related to improvements in site content and elements that both search crawlers and users see. This includes:
Often, on-page optimization happens page by page. Each site page, starting with the home page and top-level category pages, should be optimized in all elements for a specific keyword or set of keywords. Because Google’s algorithm is constantly updating, on-page SEO is an ongoing process that never truly ends. It’s what we love about it.
Backlinks are a known, proven ranking factor in Google’s algorithm and have been for years, making them a cornerstone of any SEO strategy. A backlink is a link from one website to another. To “get” a backlink for your site, another site must place a link on one of their pages that leads to a page on your website.
If another site trusts you enough to send their audience over to you, it indicates to Google that your content is noteworthy and helpful, lending to your site’s legitimacy. It’s like earning a vote of confidence from a peer. Search engine crawlers also use backlinks to move around the web. Generally speaking, the more backlinks you have from other sites the better you’ll rank on the SERP.
However, there are also varying levels of quality in backlinks. Higher quality backlinks tend to come from authoritative sites with high traffic and domain authority that relate to your site’s content. For example, a company that sells basketballs would hugely benefit from a backlink on the NBA’s website. Smaller sites with more auto generated content tend to produce lower quality backlinks that don’t shine as bright in the eyes of the Google algorithm.
The process of actively getting more backlinks for your site is called link building. There are many different ways to generate backlinks, but the outreach process is often time-consuming. The best way to generate backlinks is to continually produce thoughtful, high-quality, optimized content worth linking back to that can’t be found anywhere else on the web. That’s why we prefer the term “link earning” over link building.
Another aspect of your backlink profile is backlink protection. Because website content creators caught on to the importance of backlinks in ranking, people will often use spambots or workarounds to generate high numbers of false backlinks. Google will occasionally release tools like Panda and Penguin to remove oodles of fraudulent, low-quality backlinks, but real backlinks can get caught up in the rush.
Even if you aren’t launching a new website anytime soon, it’s always good to audit your current SEO efforts in the face of the ever-changing Google algorithm. An SEO audit is perfect for clients who’d like to improve traffic and conversions without designing and developing an entire new site.
A thunder::tech SEO audit primarily focuses on the following:
An Optimization team member will analyze these key SEO factors within your website and uncover strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. Upon completion of the audit, your Optimization Specialist will provide you with a prioritized list of recommendations to move forward. These recommendations can be implemented by thunder::tech or your in-house staff.
We recommend conducting an SEO audit annually to keep your site in tip-top shape and poised to generate new traffic.
Content marketing and SEO often go hand in hand. When creating new content for a website, writers can create strategic copy with appropriate keywords that establishes your business as an authority on a topic.
SEO can assist in writing many types of content including blogs, emails, social media posts press releases and web copy. The best SEO driven content:
The biggest challenge of SEO copywriting is often writing for humans while appeasing robot web crawlers. It’s easy to forget you’re writing helpful, interesting content for people and not a series of keywords strung together. Our copywriting professionals have years of experience in writing compelling, SEO-driven copy that entices the user to take action.
While social media is not a known ranking factor in the Google algorithm, it still plays a key role in audience building, content distribution and building brand credibility, all of which contribute to SEO.
With a solid, engaging social media presence, your community and brand will grow, leading to consistent interactions, a better brand reputation and higher search rankings. Our Social Media Team is state of the art and works closely with our SEO team to ensure we’re echoing the same keywords and brand-specific topics posted on your company’s website.
Because optimization never truly ends, we offer ongoing SEO growth as a retainer service encompassing several factors discussed above. The ongoing SEO growth service comes after the completion of a new website redesign or SEO audit. Depending on the strategy determined during the SEO audit or setup, the following tactics will typically be used to reach your goals:
Again, because optimization is ongoing, it’s important to consistently report out on progress and adjust course. Once ongoing SEO tactics are determined, we set up the appropriate tracking mechanisms to evaluate performance and develop monthly reports. These reports monitor key performance indicators and goals over time to help identify trends and opportunities for improvement.
We are strong advocates of actionable analytics, which means we believe in reporting only the metrics that lead to tangible business decisions. This helps everyone involved to stay focused on the correct analytic insights and not get lost in the sea of pretty graphs and numbers that web analytics provide.
We specialize in SEO services for middle-market businesses seeking to improve their search engine results page rankings. Our Optimization team has decades of combined experience conducting SEO audits, building new sites and improving SEO efforts for businesses in the manufacturing, food, automotive, tourism, professional services, education and consumer products industries.
SEO can be a complicated topic filled with buzzwords and back-end technicalities. Our team is committed to polishing our expertise while staying on top of the latest trends and algorithm shifts. However, we’re also well-versed in communicating our work and recommendations to clients with varying knowledge of SEO. When you work with thunder::tech’s SEO team, you’re working with a full-service, integrated marketing agency partner. We’ve had cutting-edge digital in our DNA since Google was just shy of a year old.
Does website speed and usability impact SEO?
Yes. Page speed and user experience are known ranking factors in the Google algorithm. Google uses metrics it calls “core web vitals” to measure these factors. You can learn more about core web vitals on our blog.
How long does SEO take?
Short answer: It depends.
The more time and effort you invest into your SEO efforts, the more results you’ll see. But you definitely won’t see drastic results overnight. Unlike Santa Claus, Google’s search crawlers can’t visit every website in one night and can take up to a month to index your content after it’s been optimized or added to your site. It takes time for a website to perform well and earn its spot at the top of the SERP.
With a solid strategy, especially one outsourced to a professional agency partner, noticeable improvements in site traffic, rankings and conversions can be seen in around 3-6 months. Some strategies that have fewer dedicated resources and/or higher competition can take a bit longer and require 6-12 months to see solid progress. For example, it’s easier to rank for “pest control near me” than “pest control.”
The good thing about well-executed SEO strategies is that they tend to age well. The longer you cultivate them consistently, the more success you’ll see in the years to come.
Do I need different SEO strategies for different search engines?
Yes. While Google remains the kingpin for the majority of our clients, smaller search engines like Bing, Yahoo!, Ecosia and DuckDuckGo shouldn’t be ignored. Because these search engines are less sophisticated than Google’s complex algorithm, they often require extra attention to things like meta keywords, which Google has specifically said it does not use in its rankings.
The strategy you use to rank for other search engines depends on a number of factors. Our Optimization team can help sus out what’s worth your time for the biggest payoff.
Can I do SEO myself?
Sure! Like any marketing topic, there are tons of free resources on SEO and how to properly optimize your website. However, just like the time we fixed our own car and lost two hubcaps and a muffler on the highway, it’s usually a better idea to leave it to the professionals if you want the best chance of success.
Can you optimize Google My Business listings?
Absolutely. Googly My Business plays a key role in supporting Local SEO. Your Google My Business page should be maintained regularly and include keywords and phrases echoed on your website.
Does blogging help with SEO?
If done correctly, the answer is yes. Blogging is a great way to create new content, but only if it’s done in tandem with SEO. Blogs should be valuable and created with ranking factors in mind, but should also cater to the human audience who will ultimately be reading them.
Is SEO better than paid advertising (PPC)?
Neither one is necessarily “better” as both tactics have their pros and cons.
SEO, or organic search marketing, does not cost money to execute. Your ranking SEO-driven content is also available and visible 24/7, never turned off. SEO can also be more cost-efficient in the long term, but it takes months to years of time and effort to build up a good SEO strategy and ongoing growth.
Every time a user clicks on your PPC ad, you’re charged money for that visit to your site. Ads are also not permanent and will usually eventually be turned off. However, ads take very little time investment to earn website traffic compared to organic content.
We would argue a good marketing strategy uses both wisely. Getting that balance right is an art you may want to outsource to the experts.