Monday, July 3, 2017 How to Survive and Thrive in the SEO Jungle Knowing which company to use to help you with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) really can feel like trying to fight your way through a jungle without knowing who is your friend, and who is a predator waiting to have you for dinner and spit out the bones before moving on to their next prey. We recently took on a new client whose previous experience with an SEO and website firm left them wounded, confused, and seriously out-of-pocket. The Situation What they did know: They were handing over $600 every month for ‘SEO Services’ They were handing over an additional $300 per month for Adwords What they didn’t know: What they were getting for their money To make matters worse, any enquiry to do with their website or SEO was met with hostility. It even got to the point where the staff had to take turns following things up because dealing with the website/SEO person was such an intimidating task. To add to the confusion the client was being inundated with spam emails from companies claiming that their website ‘was not performing as well as it could for keywords relating to their industry’. We’ve all seen those. The Solution Firstly, you should NEVER feel afraid to get in touch with your website developer or SEO provider. That should be a given. Secondly, it's important to understand that some of the jargon isn’t as daunting as it sounds. For example: ‘Keywords’ is simply the words, phrases, or questions that people type into a search engine (usually Google) to find what they are looking for. ‘Adwords’ is Google’s search-based advertising program. It generates the paid results that say ‘Ad’ which appear at the top of the page when you search for something. ‘Rank’ is how relevant Google thinks your website is in relation to what the user is searching for. The higher the ranking, the higher your website appears in the results. Then, the most important step - your SEO partner should get to know your business and who you want to reach with your marketing. SEO Strategy With the groundwork in place, you and your SEO provider can then get to work on a strategy… Keyword Research – Finding those words, phrases, and questions that people are using when looking for the products our client provides. We use industry-leading tools to identify the common keywords as well as the not-so-common ones. Optimise the Website – Clean up the website content and ensure that everything on the site is working well. Hint: When Google ranks a website, it doesn’t only look at the content. It also factors in things like site structure and navigation, loading speed, image tags, security, and more. Create an Adwords Campaign – Not all SEO involves doing an Adwords campaign. In the case of the new client in this story, they are in a highly competitive industry with a lot of searches for their type of business. We recommended starting with a modest Adwords budget targeting some of the less commonly used keywords to get them some positive results much sooner. Your SEO provider should be able to give you some advice on this. Monitor and Report – A vital part of any SEO strategy is always to carefully monitor the results, adjust where necessary, and regular communication between the consultant and the client. Key Things to Look For in an SEO Partner There are thousands of companies and people who claim to be experts in SEO. If want to find one that fits with your business and that can bring you results OR you want to review how things are going with a provider you are currently using, here are a few simple things to look for and questions to ask… Relationship A good SEO provider will take the time to listen to you and get to know your business. They understand that not all businesses fit neatly into the same box, and they don’t try to dismiss your individual questions or concerns. Are they willing to invest time getting to know your business, taking into account aspects such as your branding, marketplace, philosophy, traditional customer base, potential new customers, your competition etc.? Do they have testimonials or case studies that demonstrate good relationships with their existing clients? Even online marketing businesses, such as ours, get cold calls and emails from companies offering their SEO services. Clearly, they are just burning through their lists (or spamming) and not really looking into the businesses they are contacting. When you get cold-called, it can pay to ask a few simple questions to see if they really have done any research. For example: What does our business do and where are we located? Who do you see as our primary customers? Have you identified any potential key markets that our website is currently not targeting? You’ll soon know whether they are genuine or just playing a numbers game. Transparency Many businesses owners feel overwhelmed by the jargon and technical terms that come with services like SEO. If you’ve ever fallen into the trap of handing over your money and hoping that “whatever those guys are doing” brings some results, you’re far from alone. However, it shouldn’t be that way… Is the SEO provider willing to show you exactly what work they are doing for their fee? Can they show you how money invested for specific things such as Adwords, has been allocated? Can they show you how they arrived at their recommendations on things such as target keywords and website improvements? Can they explain the above in a way that you can follow and understand? Results and Reporting Closely linked to transparency is results and reporting. After you’ve started working together, your SEO provider should be able to report back to you in a way that lets you clearly see what you are getting for your investment. Can they provide you with tangible evidence of the results that have been achieved? Are their reports easy to understand (or designed to confuse you so you don’t ask questions out of fear of looking uninformed)? In the end, the qualities of a good SEO partner are very much the same as any reputable business – they are good at what they do and get results, they communicate openly, and they are willing to build a mutually beneficial relationship.