5 Types of SEO to Master (With or Without an Agency)

In the past, many companies could get away with managing SEO themselves, but now, this marketing field is more competitive and more complicated. It takes considerable expertise and time to do it right.

If you’re part of a company that knows a win on search engines is needed, but is trying to figure out whether to put in the time and effort to learn SEO—OR—whether to hire an SEO agency, this article was written for you!

Hiring an agency might be the best approach for you…especially since working with an SEO agency that utilizes a team-based strategy could get you the kind of results shown below:
A screenshot of SEO analytics displays results from blog views, new site visits, & overall funds generated by web conversion.

  • 1600% increase in blog entrances (63K to 1,098,958)
  • 1132% increase in page views (106K to 1.3M)
  • $873K in first-time appointments generated from blog
  • $13M generated from website conversion

Asking the Questions that Matter

What are the benefits of using an SEO agency?

How will you know if you’ve hired a reliable partner?

We want to outline the answers to these questions clearly for you so you can pick a company that has mastery in all the various types of SEO and who will be a trustworthy partner.

At the end of this article, we’ll leave you with some tough questions to ask an agency that you’re considering hiring (or one you’re currently working with), to make sure that you have vetted them properly. If they don’t have sufficient answers to these questions, we highly recommend seeking out a new SEO agency.

Benefits of Using an SEO Agency

According to Hubspot’s research, 49% of users say they use Google to discover or find a new item or product. It’s no secret that mastering SEO is an important part of any modern business’ marketing plan.

The question isn’t whether you’re going to pursue SEO, because—if you want to win with digital marketing—you’re going to have to tackle search engine optimization.

The better question should be:

Is it worth it to hire an agency to handle this incredibly important part of your marketing?

Here are some benefits of hiring a qualified agency:

  • SEO Subject matter expertise
  • Understanding of SEO-friendly web development
  • Good technical setup
  • Strategy for winning locally and nationally
  • Content marketing expertise
  • Integration of promotion, social media, and paid advertising
  • Getting backlinks for your critical content
  • Ability to re-optimize content
  • Use of analytics to measure conversion, not just rankings
  • Access to expensive software

The 5 Major Types of SEO

To get these benefits listed above, you must find an SEO agency that understands all facets and types of SEO in digital marketing.

We’ll use the remainder of this article to outline those types so that you know what you’re looking for if you do decide to hire.

Or, if you decide you’d prefer to take care of SEO yourself in-house, you’ll have a realistic expectation of what’s going to be required in order to do it right.

The five major types of SEO include:

  • Local
  • Setup
  • On page
  • Off page
  • Content based

1. All About Local SEO
The first thing you need to know is that local and traditional/organic SEO work according to different methodologies. The science is simply and fundamentally different.Local SEO is all about “pinpacks,” which are the Google map search results that always pop up showing the top three businesses that relate to a local search term. So much of local SEO is based on geography. Another important factor is the consistency of NAP: name, address, and phone number. Google reviews play a role in ranking as well.We tend to lean heavily on companies like MOZ, which have their own entire research teams that put out findings each year concerning the most critical ranking factors.
Lists of ranking factors for local SEO (generated by MOZ) are shown in two columns of text with associated pie graph images.
Think of local as a sort of “cookbook” approach to getting found online, whereas organic is very much an art and science approach.

Local is a huge opportunity for increased traffic and sales if businesses learn the methodology and cook the recipe right.

Tool Recommendation: Request a free local SEO audit!

Find out how you’re measuring up in terms of your listings. Of course, there are different types of SEO audits, but this particular report will reveal where you aren’t being found as well as where there are discrepancies in your NAP.

2. Let’s Talk SEO Setup
There’s a ton we could say about proper setup, but for purposes of this article, let’s focus on one critical factor: speed.Speed is impacted by where and how your website is hosted, among other factors. The critical first step to optimizing your website for speed—on both desktop and mobile—is to use Google’s own free assessment, the PageSpeed Insight.Tool Recommendation: Check out the Google Speed Test to see how your site is doing in this area.

The Google speed test reviews your website and makes suggestions based upon the following criteria:

  • Field Data
  • Origin Summary
    • First Content Paint (FCP)
    • First Input Delay (FID)
    • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
    • Cumulative Layout Shirt (CLS)
  • Lab Data
  • Opportunities
  • Diagnostics
  • Passed Audits

3. The Basics of On-Page SEO
What is on-page SEO? With on-page SEO, you’re going to have to do a really deep diagnosis of the technical side of your site’s pages.Most companies look at:

  • Meta tags
  • Metadata
  • The “Three kings”
    • Proper headlines
    • Proper subject lines
    • Proper slugs

But, website setup, hosting quality, schema markup, and a variety of other technical SEO factors also impact on-page SEO quality.

Tool Recommendation: Download our helpful checklist, titled 10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid During Your Next Website Redesign to make sure you’re ahead of the game when it comes to best practices for on-page optimization!

Another factor to consider is page structure. We recommend writing SEO content in “families” or clusters of content around particular keywords (and their variations), which works a lot better than having a bunch of isolated, random pages.

To accomplish this, you’ll want to analyze your sitemap to see how you can strategically structure content on your site for maximum SEO impact.

The approach that we use consists of something we call a “hub and spoke” content model.

We’ll cover more on this topic under point No. 5: content SEO.

A diagram shows that core content pieces are supported by supporting content in a “hub and spoke” model for SEO.

4. Off-Page SEO Info You Need to Know
This is the most difficult part about SEO because this is the type of SEO that is not entirely under your control.Off-page SEO is about establishing backlinks, which is the process of getting other sites to include links that point back to your website pages for particular keywords.IMPORTANT: It is critical to note that not all backlinks are equal.

There is a big difference between getting a backlink from a high authority site versus one with a lower domain authority.

For example, if Microsoft’s website includes a link to your site, that would be 1,000x more valuable for your off-page SEO, compared to a link from a friend’s blog.

Think of this like the “cool kids lunch table” scenario that we all know too well. When it comes to search engine rankings, you’re cool by association.
Characters from a scene in Peacock’s new “Saved By the Bell” series sit at a high school lunch table.
If backlinks are so important to off-page SEO, then, the big question becomes:

How does an SEO agency get backlink opportunities for their clients?

Although there are a number of ways to achieve these opportunities, the essential ones include:

  • Earning them by producing really quality content
  • Buying them in the form of online citations/directory listings (Note: According to Ahrefs, the average price for purchasing a link is $361.44)
  • Using press releases to distribute content
  • Doing outreach campaigns to ask webmasters of other websites to link to your content

Whether you’re working with an SEO consultant or trying your hand at off-page SEO on your own, here’s what you definitely don’t want to do:

Do not use any kind of shady process to get backlinks. You better believe that Google keeps score, and if they examine your backlink process and find it’s full of links that seem unnatural, it may consider them to be black hat tactics. And, suddenly your company will find itself in violation of Google’s “Penguin” algorithm update—and potentially with serious consequences!

Tool Recommendation: Read through Brian Dean’s (Backlinko) The Definitive Guide to White Hat SEO blog. This will give you a pretty comprehensive overview of the safest, most effective ways to utilize backlinking without being penalized.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to play nice with Google. The different types of SEO algorithms are there for a reason, and your site will be penalized if you try to beat the system.

Even if you disavowal shady links later, the violation can stick with you and negatively impact your SEO efforts for years to come.

5. The Future is Content-Based SEO
Google rewards thought leaders.Who are thought leaders? They are companies that communicate high-quality content and do so consistently. These are the sites that are committed to adding value for their visitors.In order to do this well, you have to be a proactive marketer, rather than a reactive one. We believe this is where the future of SEO will be focused.

We recommend developing an editorial calendar with predetermined topics, keywords, and types of content pieces planned in advance. This will allow you to produce content on a regular basis. This will also enable you, as the manager, to know exactly what’s going out in the next 30, 60, and 90 days.

An editorial calendar is a tool that should help you stay organized and strategic. It does not need to be entirely rigid, though. Think of it as 70% structured and 30% nimble, so that as new things come up, you can still maintain flexibility within your plan.
A computer screen displays a Google sheet containing an editorial calendar, full of content development plans.
Wondering how to get started with this kind of schedule?

Tool Recommendation: Download our editorial calendar template!

We’ve done the upfront work for you so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Which Types of SEO Will Get You the Most Bang for Your Buck?

It’s important to mention that you really need to identify which types of SEO are going to be important for your business. The different types of SEO tools require very different approaches and strategies.

If you’re interested in learning the science behind one or all of them, we’d love to talk details with you.

We’ll be upfront with you right from the beginning because the honest truth is that the SEO industry has sold clients a bill of goods.

There’s often a lot of money spent—usually on just a few big keywords and very temporary results. We help you cut through the BS to rank for sustainable keywords using a comprehensive SEO strategy.

By hiring an experienced agency, you’ll not only free yourself up to keep your marketing focus more macro, but you’ll also get access to:

  • Subject matter experts
  • Valuable software
  • Cutting-edge strategies that stay up to date with algorithm changes
  • Proper web setup
  • Trained SEO strategists
  • Access to data and the ability to read it and use it
  • Content and technical writers

An SEO agency can offer a lot of value here.

But (and this is a big BUT), you will want transparency and accountability with your SEO provider.

They should be consistently communicating about results and continually improving your SEO setup. A good agency will review your SEO analytics constantly, and will have a regular standing meeting with you to go over:

  • What content has gone out (or is going out)
  • How published content is performing
  • Which steps can be taken to improve/reoptimize

Where to Go From Here

Wondering how to find the right agency that is both knowledgeable and dependable? We’ve compiled a list of tell-tale questions that will help you vet any agency before you sign on the dotted line.

Tool Recommendation: Download our free eBook: 50 Questions to Ask Any SEO Agency Before You Hire Them.

Or, fill out this simple form to request a free consultation with our SEO team! We’d love to share some case studies and talk about how we can help you.

We’d love to understand your goals, develop a strategy for increasing your site authority, build synergy with your internal team, help you get those keywords ranking, improve your conversion, and most importantly: grow your business!