Over the last couple of months we’ve had a lot of interest from individuals and organizations with existing websites keen to reach the Holy Grail of internet marketing, or to put it into my customers words “getting to the top of Google (…and making money from it)”. There are numerous “SEO, or Search Engine Optimization experts” out on the web and some 37 million entries in google.co.uk. Its a hot topic and now more than ever with the global downturn, businesses large and small are looking to the digital world for a cheap quick fix.
Not being the one to bite the hand that feeds, I have come to realize that a bit of gnawing actually does no harm either. What do I mean by that you ask?! Well let’s just say that in my experience a certain amount of realigning of customer expectations needs to happen when it comes to SEO. Whilst yes it is possible to get a site ranked highly in Google (and we have demonstrated this with our customers) there really is no quick fix and no cast iron guarantee either. Whilst the customers search for their elusive number ones so too do the SEOs, keen to tap into the secrets of the Google search algorithm. Sites offering immediate rankings and guaranteed results really do need to be approached with caution: a case in point is the Google Money Tree, which unlike its name has absolutely no affiliation with Google whatsoever. But still people have been duped and will continue to be when the product or company offering the service looks genuine, has a nice professional site and says all the things you are looking for. It’s marketing…dubious marketing, but it appears to work.
I have spent many hours trawling through people’s websites, looking at analytics and lines and lines of website code, and at the end of the day I cannot stress how important the content really is. Take the Alkimi site for example, it’s really simple, no flashy graphics, no “we will get you to number one” and no “25% off when you buy now” offers. But would it surprise you that in the last few months the average time on our site has gone from a couple of minutes to 10+ minutes? Why? Well content has a huge part to play, we kept our product pages as simple as possible to start with. There is no reason to put random garbage on the site just to fill up space, but there is a reason to add useful and interesting content.
The Alkimi blog and news releases are getting the big hits, and indeed are driving the calls into the business. This SEO game really shouldn’t be about just getting someone to find you, but more about getting someone to find you stay on your site and get something from it. The only way to do that is via your content. Give people what they want, give them something interesting, and rather more importantly drive them to the outcome you require. It’s the typical sales funnel just in a digital format. What makes a good sales person? Someone that can close the deal. Unfortunately too few sales people close, and likewise too few companies drive their desired outcome on their websites.
I’ve spoken with lots of startups over recent months, people looking for a brand new website and above all else I hear the same thing, people want their site created cheaply. OK so most designers can do a £200 website or less. The point is that if you aren’t technically savvy the chances are you will be lumbered with a site you can never update. By that you are automatically forfeiting the SEO benefits of blogging, news releases and updates. Technically you want to ensure a number of things when you create a site for the first time, putting the forethought in at the beginning will save you a hell of a lot later on when it comes to optimization down the line. My mind is boggled by companies that still manage to sell static brochure sites to customers looking for a cheap deal, the world really has moved on and you’d be surprised at how “cheap” a non-static, content management enabled site really can be. If you don’t believe me or if want to find out more about this CMS stuff give me a call or email me.
For those who already have sites and are looking to optimize its important to analyze carefully both the technical on site elements of the pages as well as the off site elements. In plain English that means that you need to look at technical elements such as meta tags, robots.txt files, sitemaps (the list goes on!) and off site things like inbound links from other sites. Again there is no point doing anything if the content isn’t hitting the right spot, so careful website copy writing is just as important and also works hand in hand with the analysis that takes place for technical side ie relevant keywords and page title tags etc.
I will leave this blog with a call that was made into me by another “top digital marketing” agency the other week. I picked up the phone and was told by an enthusiastic sales person they can guarantee me a place in Google. I told them that I did SEO for a living; they told me this was better than SEO and that it would give me the results I needed. I asked if this was advertising, they said no it’s not advertising but you get to the top of Google, guaranteed. “This isn’t AdWords is it?” I asked, “Yes you know about AdWords?” he replied. “Yes I do, and it is advertising, and it would require me to pay a monthly fee for to you to manage. The moment I stop paying you, my position in Google will disappear won’t it?” …Phone goes dead.
So just to clarify, getting to the colored boxes at the top and right hand side of a Google search can be done easily, but you have to pay for the privilege. Its definitely worth it for some customers but there is a difference between SEO and AdWords. SEO requires a commitment from the website owner, its a long haul but worth more in the long run than quick fix advertising. Being at the top of Google naturally with good content and by adhering to Google Search Engine Optimization [http://www.alkimi.co.uk/alkimi-services/seo/17-get-me-a-google-number-1-seo-rank] undoubtedly gives a site much more clout than via any high position due to advertising. Don’t get confused with the two though, its a common misconception and one which many AdWords resellers are happy for customers to be confused over. Another misconception is that they have to manage it for you…if money is tighter than your own time , and the cost benefit works out in your favor then I’d encourage you to manage your own AdWords campaign.
In the coming weeks I will write a little bit about the importance of on site and off site elements for those interested in a crash course in SEO. I will also point out some of the common errors and pitfalls people make when trying to get that high Google rank.? The aim of this is to at least enable you to make an informed decision when it comes to optimization and not fall into the same traps as others before you.