First and foremost, SEO can help grow your business. It can help increase the number of customers you are getting to your website over time, and can help you become increasingly seen as a market leader in your segment.
What can SEO do for me?
In order to achieve this, our SEO team do a number of different things. The basic cycle is one of researching, developing, and then testing the results. Over time the cycle of these steps creates a website tailored specifically to your business, that is performing well online, and is generating an increasing amount of good enquiries:
Initially, a research phase might be to get a new business a foot in the door in Google rankings. What niches can you fill that are not already being bombarded by competitors, for example. As your website develops strength and rankings, research will start to seek ways in which you can solidify and grow the market share of niches, and will also work towards some bigger, more popular terms.
We quite often hear things like “Well I want to go for those big profitable terms straight away”, but you need to understand how much money and time you need need to get there. All your competitors want the same thing and they may have been gunning for them for a lot longer, and are paying a lot more to keep them.
Once a research phase is complete it may be decided that one of a few different things are needed to keep the organic growth of your website going. These things might include new content, backlinks, refinement of existing content, or other specific improvements.
There’s no point just creating stuff willy nilly, as without focus there’s no point. Sometimes people new to this think that if they just add to their blog occasionally then that will be enough. Maybe, but what keywords did you use? is the post contributing the the industry conversation that you want to be part of, or is it just a fluff piece that will rank for all the wrong terms?
This is the key to the whole process. It may well be fine to research what your site needs, and to then develop the right sort of content, additions, or refinements, but what were the actual results? Did it work?
Google do not release a lot of information about their algorithm so it is up to SEO managers to make sure that the trajectory of your rankings is generally upward and that the strategies are working.
The rough and tumble of SEO is in the jostling for places, in accordance with the myriad requirements (over 200 things) of Google’s algorithm.
In a nutshell, SEO refines your website (and your online presence to some extent), in a way that increases your website’s visibility to potential customers.
Think about it. You need a new pair of shoes. If you are like most people these days the first thing you do is search Google for ‘going out shoes’, ‘work shoes’, ‘best sneaker prices’ or something along those lines.
The list of websites that appear as a result are all businesses vying for your dollar. In order to appear in that list those businesses have done one or a number of things consistently to appear there (depending where they appear on the page). This doesn’t just happen automatically for them. They have to work at it, and they have to keep working at it if they want to keep appearing there.
The reason is simple: Competition.
Different industries, different services and different products all have different levels of competition. For example, every plumber wants to appear when someone types in “I need an emergency plumber right now”. Plumbers are clambering all over each other to get those calls! If a plumber at the top of the search results relaxes and says, “I don’t need to do SEO anymore – I’m at the top of the list”, then lo and behold, shortly after they stop working on their online presence, all their competition who are still working hard to top the list will just push past them, and eventually, like Caesar resting on his laurels, they will fall behind.
As it has always been in business competition, it’s basically dog eat dog.
A journey – not a destination
We sometimes compare SEO to running in a marathon. Like a marathon, it’s all about the race, not necessarily about the finish. Also, in an SEO marathon, your competition may have started running years before you have. In other words, they have a massive head start. In order to catch them you need to be running faster (ie doing more SEO) than them, for an extended period of time. In addition, if and when you overtake them, they will see you pass them, and may up their game to reclaim the lead.
The lead, in this case, is appearing in the top spots on Google’s search results for any particular keyword combination that people use to search for your products and services etc.
What are keywords?
There are thousands, probably millions of keyword combinations. These are the combinations of words that people use when they search for something in Google. Here are a few that relate to web design:
- Search engine optimisation consultant
- Paid search company
- SEO Consultants Sydney
- Website developers Sydney
See how these word combinations are all quite different, yet relate to the same industry? While there is a lot more to SEO than just keywords, they are usually one of the baselines for a page to start ranking well.
In order to incorporate the right keywords (wisely – there’s no point spending resources on keywords that wont return a result), you need to know what keywords are being used for your industry, and what niches you can fill to get you started. In the beginning, it’s almost like finding the right cracks in the competition’s armour that you can move into.
Is my SEO strategy working?
Professional SEO campaigns generally require a team effort. Unfortunately, the nature of online work is that a lot of the hard work gets done behind the scenes and so the effort that goes in can be invisible. If you are building a house, on the other hand, you can see the walls going up, the extra storey that took months to complete, the swimming pool that barely gets used, and the new washing machine that blends in to the kitchen counter. These are all in your face. In SEO you don’t see the weeks of negotiation to get a blog posted on a more prominent website that contains a single link to your site (which would raise your ranking by a huge amount), and you don’t see the hours and days scanning data for the best keyword combinations to expand your reach. It can be easy to not see the effort that goes in, but at the end of the day when your phone starts to ring more and more frequently, and you can see in our reports this is reflected by the increasing numbers of visitors to your site, you’ll know the strategy is working.
It can. Just like you can do mechanical work on your own car, you can work on the SEO for your website. All the tools are right there online. Of course, like a backyard mechanic trying to improve a race car, your SEO campaign will probably be one of the slowest on the track, and better qualified, more resourced, more experienced SEO managers will run rings around you – and occasionally one of your wheels may fall off, but sure. Do it yourself. Why not? Just keep in mind who you are ‘racing’ against: organisations with trained dedicated staff with accumulatively decades of experience.
vs black hat SEO
There are 2 basic ways of getting SEO performed on your website, and to understand them you need to have some understanding of the way that Google’s search algorithm has evolved over the years.
The short version is that a lot of what was once ok to help your SEO, is now not ok.
Backyard SEO (read: DIY SEO) is quite often of the black hat variety. What this means is taking your friend’s advice and using deprecated, largely old fashioned methods to try and trick the Google algorithm into giving a higher rank than might be due. This includes keyword stuffing, spammy backlinks, plagiarism, cloaked pages, phishing, hacking, and many many other. Doing so will get your website blacklisted from Google, or heavily penalised. This is turn means you can say goodbye to the usefulness of the website and and probably the domain name for all eternity.
The reason people are attracted to black hat SEO is that it usually appears cheap and the advertising makes bold promises: “Rank number 1 within 2 months”, “First page guaranteed”. Anything along those lines may well do well for the first month or so, but will likely destroy your domain name once Google gets wind of what’s happened. In addition, competitors of your business can also report a website to Google if they think the SEO is dubious, so be warned.
TLDR: Black hat SEO: There are no shortcuts or cheats. Don’t do it.
White hat SEO, on the other hand (sometimes called Ethical SEO), concentrates on quality, integrity and on providing value services to the humans who use the internet. The Google algorithm has evolved through many iterations over the years, and has gotten cleverer and cleverer, and this is likely to continue. Google (and people just generally) want the internet to be honest, trustworthy, open and a celebration of all the most positive things that humanity is capable of. You want your kids to be able to get online and not have to run a risk of them having their identities swiped, their computers infected, bombarded with inappropriate advertising, or approached inappropriately. In needs to be safe.
TLDR: Is your SEO trying to trick the Google algorithm (black hat), or is it trying to make the world a better place (white hat)?
We’ve been lucky enough to work with clients from all over Australia and internationally. Given the nature of our business, in these cases we work remotely. However, if you are in Sydney, there’s nothing nicer than meeting face-to-face.