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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

11 strategies to elevate business search engine rankings

Here’s how you’ll reap the benefits of hiring an SEO or marketing firm to improve your company’s digital presence.

11 strategies to elevate business search engine rankings
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

When it comes to a company’s ability to rank the highest on the internet and get the attention of new customers, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for branding a business. If you are considering how your company might benefit from partnering with an SEO or marketing firm that has the potential to boost your underperforming KPIs, you’ll need to set clear goals up front about everything your business needs if you want the agency to live up to your short- and long-term expectations.

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Here are 11 tips, courtesy of Fast Company Executive Board members, to help executive leaders receive a better return on their investment.

1. EVALUATE YOUR KPIs.

It is really key to make sure you have the right KPIs that pertain to the business outcomes you are looking to support. Ensuring that you focus on core web vitals, growth in non-branded organic sessions, and growth in relevant root domains that link to you are three great places to start. – Blake DeCola, Brado

2. BE CLEAR ABOUT EXPECTATIONS.

Set crystal clear expectations that all parties agree to. When business leaders unilaterally define certain expectations and goals, they will more times than not fail to reach them. But by getting buy-in from a marketing or SEO firm and reaching a consensus on the expectations together, suddenly you gain the all-important element of accountability. – Lance Tyson, Tyson Group

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3. FOCUS ON BECOMING MOBILE-FRIENDLY.

Some key points for leaders to remember when working with SEO or marketing firms is to make sure any changes made are mobile-friendly. Search engines pay a lot of attention to how a business ranks in mobile-friendliness. Second, when deploying ads, ensure that the personas the agency targets in ads are also getting a personalized treatment on your site. This leads to tremendous improvement in conversions. – Abhimanu Kumar, CausalFunnel

4. CREATE AN UPDATED METRICS  DASHBOARD.

It all comes down to setting clear expectations on what the KPIs are that you are looking to improve. Once those are agreed upon, then you should have the marketing firm build a dashboard with the current metrics and update the progress weekly or monthly. This will create transparency and allow you to see if efforts are working. – Andrew Miller, Agorapulse

5. IMPLEMENT YOUTUBE STRATEGIES.

Ensure YouTube is part of the strategy, and if it isn’t, seek out a partner that is able to help you find the right influencers and content creators to have relevant videos about your brand and product. The long tail search value of content will ensure performance KPIs are not only hit but also exceeded over time. If you see where Google is headed, it is a visually optimized experience with videos or images. – Jessica Thorpe, gen.video

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6. SET BENCHMARKS.

Whenever we look to improve on existing KPIs to see if there was any marked improvement, we always start with benchmarking. Once we know where we are today, if we can see improvement tomorrow from that baseline, then we know we have a firm that is worth their weight in gold. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

7. EDUCATE YOURSELF FIRST.

There is an abundance of information out there to educate yourself on the fundamentals. Invest time to understand, ask questions when reports are not clear, and ultimately challenge the KPIs that are being tracked. Ensure they are in fact key performance indicators, not just impressive numbers. – Liza Streiff, Knopman Marks Financial Training

8. OFFER BONUS INCENTIVES.

I’m a believer in structures where everyone shares in the success. It’s why I love companies that offer bonus incentives for every level of employee. I’m also a fan of agency financial relationships with incentive-based structures. Aligning your agency fee to bonuses for hitting measured targets is a great way to make sure everyone is as motivated to achieve your KPIs as you are.

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Barry Fiske, Merkle

9. CAPTURE CURRENT DATA PERFORMANCE LEVELS.

Prepare a very strong brief that captures data on current performance for what is working, what is not working, and why. Explain what your qualitative and quantitative goals are and why you believe they are achievable. Be specific on where you need the SEO agency’s help and why. Carefully screen the firm and check multiple references. Assess them as you would assess a new hire. – Amy Radin, Pragmatic Innovation Partners LLC

10. CHECK OUT GOOGLE SEARCH FEATURES. 

Google offers a feature that allows search campaigns to add or exclude specific zip codes to ensure you can target specific areas or restrict places where you don’t have a physical footprint. For compliance reasons, and to ensure discrimination doesn’t happen, this feature cannot be used for housing, employment, or credit offers. – Chad Engelgau, Acxiom

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11. CHECK YOUR SITE SPEED. 

Ensure that your site speed is running at or above a “B” grade level at all times. This is table stakes. – Meagan Bowman, STOPWATCH

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