SEO has always been something of a blessing and a curse for business owners. On one hand, it has the power to transform your profits and raise your profile online if you get it right. And at the same time, it can be costly, confusing and time-consuming if you get it wrong.
If you’ve noticed recently that your usual efforts aren’t working as efficiently, results are slower to come or your ranking has dropped, it’s not all in your head. SEO is becoming more complex and challenging than ever before – and here’s why.
What is SEO, and why do you need it?
Firstly for those unfamiliar with SEO we’ll share a quick recap on what it is, and how it works. Short for Search Engine Optimisation, SEO is the discipline of priming a site to rank as highly as possible for relevant keywords. Essentially good SEO ensures your ideal customers can easily find you, leading to a steady stream of organic traffic (and sales).
SEO sounds deceptively simple – but it’s anything but. It involves the consistent application of a variety of techniques over time in order to work. Add to this the way in which Google’s focus and guidelines are ever-changing, and it becomes very difficult to appreciate what needs to be done and why in order to stay on top of your competitors online.
Some key SEO techniques you may already be familiar with include:
- Keyword research and targeting: Identifying keywords, determining how easy or difficult it is to rank for them then incorporating them throughout your site.
- Backlinks and link building: Incorporating links to external sites, some of which are reciprocated indicating authority to Google (bonus points if these come from an established site such as a news outlet).
- Meta tags: Snippets of text or code often not visible to website users which helps Google to ‘read’ your site’s content.
- Image optimisation: Ensuring images remain high quality without slowing load times – with a format and size which maximises user engagement.
- Content – Often overlooked, content is crucial when it comes to SEO. In the old days it was sufficient to cram a load of keywords into your content – the then-basic Google algorithm picked this up and rewarded those who employed this tactic a higher ranking. But now Google is wise to these tricks – which ultimately don’t indicate whether a site is relevant or engaging to visitors. Invest in good quality content, and it’ll pay dividends.
How long does SEO take to work?
Another million-dollar-question – and of course a valid one, since you need to know how long it’ll take to see ROI and how much you have to spend. The tricky thing with this is that it’s never possible to say exactly how long it’ll take for you to see the results you want. Naturally this makes business owners nervous, especially when you’re handing over large chunks of money.
The thing to bear in mind is that without good SEO, your brand will quickly become invisible online. You need SEO, and you can bet your bottom dollar your competitors are investing in it, too. Time and again we’ve had clients tell us a rival company (who they feel offers an inferior product or service) are ranking above them and taking a huge chunk of their trade. That’s the issue – from a client or consumer perspective it’s not always about who has the best offering, but who shouts the loudest.
Worried about budget? A good SEO company will be happy to work with you and your budget to try and find a solution that doesn’t require overspending, within reason of course (you should expect to spend a minimum of £1000 per month for decent SEO support). If you’re working with a lower budget, it’ll take longer to see results, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage in an SEO campaign at all.
SEO developments in recent years
One issue we’re seeing now is that companies are approaching and measuring ROI using outdated parameters of SEO success and working by these old standards, then wondering why they aren’t seeing results doing the same things they’ve always done – or very quickly losing their ranking. That’s because contemporary SEO is less about being ‘top of the page’ and instead becoming all about user experience.
Increasingly Google is implementing a strategy which focuses on user experience. The priority has shifted from identifying user needs using keywords alone, to taking into account other aspects which make search more relevant and enjoyable. User experiences are also becoming increasingly personalised – to fulfil this need algorithms are becoming more and more sophisticated and complex. Bearing this in mind, the way we look at SEO needs to adapt as Google does.
The problem most companies have is that Google is moving so rapidly – the algorithm is constantly advancing and evolving, and they can’t keep up. They’re also one of the most secretive companies on earth, so SEO experts need to stay abreast of these developments and adapt quickly to ensure their clients are still ahead of the game.
That’s why it’s crucial to have expert support for your SEO – because even if you have an interest in it and an understanding of how it works, you need to be an SEO professional by your side to keep up with these changes.
Can I do SEO myself?
Once upon a time it was possible to take care of some SEO requirements on your site yourself, with some basic knowledge. Anyone with a bit of WordPress know-how, an SEO plug-in and a chunk of time to dedicate could go through the site adding meta descriptions, alt tags and links. You could even have a go at creating content and adding keywords to it, if you had some basic writing skills. That’s not so much the case now. In fact, it’s more important than ever before to enlist the support of an SEO agency to support you with raising your profile online.
That’s because good SEO agencies make it a priority to stay on top of Google’s ever-changing algorithm – it’s their job to do so, after all. They know what to do and how to do it – and they’ll keep on top of your SEO on a regular basis to ensure it’s working well for you.
Our SEO team is constantly analysing and assessing client SEO activity, re-evaluating what’s required based on their changing needs and Google updates. This ensures that instead of making reactive changes when traffic slumps or rankings drop, we’re responding intelligently to ensure we consistently maximise your online presence whilst minimising the risk of losing ground to competitor sites in the process.