Although it's 2018 business owners are still confused about Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. Being a little controversial, it's also clear to us many web design agencies are equally as confused, or perhaps they just don't care, bless 'em.
So, here are THREE of the most common questions we get asked about SEO complete with answers. We hope you find them useful.
1. Can't You Just Fix My Website So It Goes To The Top Of Google?
It's common for websites to be poorly optimised and addressing this makes sense. However, it's extremely rare that a simple "fix" will make any discernible improvement. The exception might be something like a NOINDEX/NOFOLLOW directive being mistakenly left in by the developers.
This is "code" you can put into a website that basically tells the search engines to go away and ignore the site. It's sometimes used by developers to stop the development site being indexed, but to be honest there are more effective ways and it shouldn't be used for this.
So setting aside this little faux pas, if a site's not doing well in Google it's not because it's broken and needs fixing, it's usually because it hasn't got the content people are looking for and it hasn't got the sort of content people share. Let me explain.
Why do people use search engines?
The main reason people go to search engines is to ask questions and solve problems.
"what's the best smartwatch?"
"how do I clean an EGR valve?"
"What's the best guitar to learn to play the blues?"
In simple terms if your website content doesn't answer questions it's not likely to get much search engine traffic. To understand the questions you need to answer you start by developing a deep understanding of your ideal customers. In marketing speak this is called buyer persona development. Understanding the problems your ideal customers have lets you research the keywords they're using in search and the kind of content you're going to need to create to appear in the search results.
What does all this mean?
It means the "fix" you're looking for involves a strategic approach and a big content based push. Do this and you'll create a scalable and repeatable lead generation machine.
2. How Much Does SEO Cost?
I often say of SEO that it's not hard but it is hard work. By hard work I mean it's a long slog, a marathon not a sprint. This means answering the question of how much SEO costs is tricky.
The real issue with answering this question is as an agency we genuinely don't know what it's going to cost to improve a businesses Google rankings until we do some work. We need to analyse the businesses website, review their competitors, establish the keywords they need to chase and so on. It's not trivial.
It's About £99/m Right?
Of course, this is all somewhat confused by the myriad of people online who claim to have the secret sauce to Google success who will sell you it for £99/m and it "should take about 3 months".
This video from Google, that we've frequently shared before, should put paid to that argument, but it doesn't. Despite the clear evidence that securing worthwhile Google rankings is hard work people still think it's cheap, quick and easy.
I guess like many things, doing SEO properly costs serious money but the temptation to do it on the cheap is always going to attract some people. In the words of Red Adair "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." This rings true for SEO. Expensive though it might seem, what's the opportunity cost of faffing around and not improving the traffic and enquiries your website receives?
Enough Already, What Does It Cost?
In general I'd suggest moving a site from zero traffic and zero enquiries to some traffic and enquiries requires a decent budget. For us that's anything from £15k to £50k. But that's only the start, it's an ongoing process because for every dollar you spend, what's to stop the next businesses spending a dollar more.
3. How Long Will It Take To Get To Number 1 in Google?
This one's a doozie, because although it's not unreasonable for the casual observer to ask this question, it's very hard to answer.
OK, if you live in Hicksville, population 300, and you're the only Chinese restaurant in town then ranking for "Chinese restaurant Hicksville" ain't gonna be hard. But that's rarely the case.
To cite a recent example, a company we spoke to wanted us to create a one page website and for that site to attract people searching for office furniture. They simply didn't understand what they were asking for. When I showed them that they would be competing with household names with extensive well established websites they kinda got it, but not entirely.
Actually, You Will Never Be Number 1
Harsh though this may seem, for some businesses the quicker they realise they will never be at number 1 in Google for their ideal search terms the better. There's nothing wrong with lowering expectations and setting realistic goals, it's actually prudent.
What really matters is you spend your time chasing search terms you can rank for, search terms that may bring in potential customers. Eliminate the tough search terms by carrying out some quick and basic competitor analysis, pick your fights, chase the terms others are missing.
Slow And Steady Creates Long Lasting Results
I know you'll be impatient to increase traffic and leads, but SEO is not a quick fix for your lack of website traffic and enquiries. Pay Per Click is what you need if you want leads today, done right PPC can deliver very fast results. SEO doesn't, SEO is a long slow burn with, perhaps, some nice little victories along the way.
For example, the leads we get today come in from content we created last year, two years ago, five years ago! For us SEO is the gift that keeps on giving but we we put the work in, and continue to do so.
Search Engine Optimisation isn't a quick fix and it's unlikely your lack of rankings are due to your website being broken. Turning your site into a search ranking champion takes patience and if you haven't got the time to do it yourself you're going to need to create your own team or hire a digital agency. Embrace it.
If your website's not generating new business opportunities and you don't know why, request a FREE NO OBLIGATION WEBSITE REVIEW from Red Evolution.