Right so I have a spare 20 minutes before evening tea and I thought I’ve just take a little time to jot down a quick starter guide for anyone who’s thinking of starting up in our industry or any business that is looking for a SEO company and needs to know a bit about the process. I hope it helps…
No-one is going to do any kind of marketing and spend their time/money doing anything without measuring it. You want to know where those enquiries are coming from so track them. Put this in place within your website before your start SEO. But also assess where you are now – find your baseline to track to. This will help you to compare and contrast in the future. To see what works and what doesn’t
Most SEO starter guides begin with keyword research but I started with tracking because it is the most important. Keyword research is also very important and you must never begin any kind of SEO activity without knowing your keywords, the strength or competitiveness of these keywords and search terms and how much effort you’ll need to put in to get results and what the results are likely to be. Your website should be a complete resource of information, you should be seen as an expert but you need to target “buying keywords and search terms” using landing pages or squeeze pages. These aren’t just pay per click phrases, they are important in organic SEO too. As a general rule of thumb, go for Goldilocks type search terms. What do I mean by this? Where the search volume is high enough to make it worth your effort to attempt to rank for and where the competition is pretty much medium. Your campaign will include easier keywords for quick wins and medium keywords for the longer term. All the while you’ll also be aiming for those difficult keywords as long as you know that the intention to buy will be on the high side. Now you know why keyword research is so important. It’s the basis of your whole SEO strategy and can stop you from making errors by working too hard in the wrong areas and, let’s face it, no-one has unlimited time and/or resources to through at marketing in a scatter-gun approach!
Know Thy Enemy
Who runs a business without doing market research? Why should this rule be any different when it comes to SEO? It shouldn’t! Competition or Competitor Analysis is vitally important to the success of your SEO campaign. What’s more, it should be carried out regularly. No, it isn’t just a one off start of campaign activity. It is on-going so stick to it and tweak what you’re doing as a result of this. When we quote clients a certain amount for SEO the amount is subject to re-assessment. What if a new kid on the block arrives and starts up against you? You competition will change. They might have a huge backing or amount of working capital to throw into it. SEO and the amount of effort and money needed can change as the competitive landscape changes. You need to know and be constantly aware of you position online and of those around you, their strengths. Do a SWOT analysis every few months. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
Back-links, inner linking and links to other websites
You need relevant and quality back-links to be pointing to your website from powerful and trustworthy websites. Google sees these are votes of confidence that your website is worthy. Generally speaking, the harder a back-link is to obtain, the better quality it will be. Inner linking is very important too, they help information flow. I like many of my clients to have a blog or news section where they can add fresh, new content and link to pertinent keyword rich landing pages. I like to see links to other websites. Mostly authority ones which are relevant. It helps to show that your website is for a rouge business which needs to hide and daren’t link to other websites. Add a no-follow if you’re afraid of leaking link juice but I usually keep them as follow links. Post Panda and Penguin (Google updates), anchor text variation is even more important than ever. A mixture of “Click here”, “Naked url (e.g. www.your domain.com”), keywords” is advisable to avoid over optimisation and unnatural linking penalties. Google’s Disavow tool might be able to help if you run into trouble. If you’ve had SEO work done in the past and aren’t sure if damage might have be done due to this then ask a SEO expert to look your site and it’s back-link profile over. In terms of toxic back-links (usually from website with zero page ranks or no indexed pages in Google), there are arguments to say whether or not to email webmasters to attempt to remove these. This obviously takes time which could be spent building more quality and relevant back-links. Some say that competitors can build back-links to your site so why bother but I would argue that if a quick email to the link detoxed list doesn’t take that long then it’s worth a try. Many argue that only authority websites with, say, pagerank 5 or over as immune to the effects to competitors spamming them with what is known as “negative SEO”.
I kind of cringe when a “bedroom” self-taught, inexperienced web developer has knocked together a quick website for a client. The client might have paid a few hundred pounds and the web developer might be in some way related to the decision maker. Often, code is messy and wouldn’t pass a W3C code validator and site structure leaves a lot to be desires. If the client is adamant that they’d rather not offend their family member by taking the website away from them and starting from scratch then I’ll simply throw them a on-page SEO recommendations audit which details the most important deficiencies and remedial action that the web developer can implement themselves. The web developer is happy because they usually think it’s quite cool to be working with a SEO consultant. We rarely run into the super egotistical web developer who can’t take constructive criticism but if we do we sometimes can’t work with the client if they really can’t make a decision to suit the business. Ultimately, it is business!
Main aspects of on-page SEO that we find are at error with existing websites including duplicate content which can be resolved with a htaccess redirect non-www to www or vice versa (or canonical tags if appropriate), missing H1 tags or more than one per page, absense of H2 (and H3 where appropriate), not enough text on pages, missing title, meta description tags. More complicated problems with overall site structure are very common. Missing robots.txt, sitemap.xml and html sitemap. Search friendly urls. Image alt text and hyperlink title tags. Lack of a blog or news section if applicable. We can run a simple and comprehensive on-page SEO report for you if you’re in doubt that your on-page SEO is up to scratch.
If you’re selling business-to-business then forget what people tell you about Facebook et al being business to consumer. Yes, it is on the whole but how long does it realistically take you to update social media channels and if social signals don’t play a large part in SEO rankings and direct referred traffic now then who’s to say that they won’t play more of a part in the future? I say that it’s a sound strategy to spend a little time integrating your website with social media buttons, updating your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google +, LinkedIn (ok that’s more business networking) and Pinterest channels. Add content to them often and make this a part of your strategy but not your whole strategy. It certainly won’t hurt and if you make sure that your company policy on personal Facebook accounts is clear (i.e. if you work for the company then stay within the guidelines of the company social media policy) then you shouldn’t have a problem going forward.
The 20 minutes turned into 1 hour and now I’m very hungry but I hope this blog post as provided you with some added insight and helped in some way towards helping you to achieve your online goals. As always I’m contactable here.