Search Engine Optimisation, commonly known as SEO, is seen to be alchemy to most people. Many businesses we speak to aren’t sure exactly what SEO is, or they see it as something that must be a quick and easy fix to increase sales.
SEO is essentially the work required to appear as high in google searches as possible for queries (‘keyword searches’) that are appropriate to you. Essentially you want to appear above your competitors and the higher you appear in google searches, the more visitor traffic you will achieve. Ultimately, this should lead to additional sales and more profit.
Your Google “ranking” is a measurable KPI and it should be consistently factored into all your marketing campaigns that you implement.
Organic vs PPC
Your ‘organic’ position refers to where you appear on google searches without paying for adverts You will of course have noticed that searches tend to bring up 3 or 4 ‘adverts’ first. These are pay-per-click (PPC) adverts, which advertisers only pay for when someone clicks on the link – the price of the advert really varies from pennies through to a few hundred pounds depending on the sector and the number of competitors there are.
Companies may enlist an agency to manage their PPC adverts, or they may enlist an agency to help with their SEO. Often, these cost can be very similar, so why pay for organic search success when you could appear higher with an advert?
Well, approximately 90% of searchers on Google are more likely to click on an organic link rather than an advert. Most believe that if a company appears near the top of an organic search they must be good(as if Google, Bing etc have officially endorsed that business) whereas anyone can effectively pay for an advert (providing it passes some standard checks).
Therefore, in 99% of cases….organic is best!
How long does SEO take to achieve results?
How long is a piece of string?! SEO work very much depends on the market, what your competitors are doing, the current state of your website and the specific keyword search terms you want to appear high in. Sometimes a few simple changes can achieve great results, however most of the time SEO is a medium-to-long-term process.
Ideally you should dedicate 3 – 6 months to SEO as thats the average period of time to create a real difference; but you should see progress (and results) along the way.
Good SEO will also benefit other areas of the business too during this time. For example, it can improve the overall user experience on your website and improve conversion rates of those already coming to your website. It can also help the success of other communication channels such as social media.
Is SEO only for large companies?
Absolutely not! Thanks to search algorithms, searchers will see local businesses come up in searches. With even a small investment (which could be cheaper than a paper advert), small businesses have seen excellent results that have increased their bottom line.
When should I implement SEO?
If you haven’t done it already, then now!
Ideally, you want to think about SEO at the point of building your website to ensure that content is optimised at the time. Of course this can be done later, but you’ll find it’s quicker (and generally cheaper) if a website designer can work with an SEO specialist at the time. Effective SEO involves a deep understanding of the business strategy to drive the right traffic, not just any traffic to your site. And of course you then need to convert the traffic into hard sales.
Should you use an agency?
It’s a bit like DIY – most people will be tempted to do some simple stuff themselves but would use an expert for anything ‘important’ or more ‘complicated’. SEO can go very badly in the wrong hands (such as getting blacklisted). Ideally you need an SEO specialist who is also an expert in other marketing disciplines and has a strong understanding of business strategy; otherwise you are wasting money. As someone smart once said, “Trust in the expertise of others”!
Expenditure drops as profit increases
Once strong results are established, SEO will gain you leads, online sales and brand awareness. SEO is a bit like running a car, once you have the final result you wanted you need to keep it ticking along. You may want an expert to continue doing this for you and less hours per month, or you may want them to give you some tips in order to keep it going yourself.