SEO is in one hand the most powerful online marketing tool, in another it is the most complex and in yet another the most unpredictable. Yes, we have three hands around here…
Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO for we jargon hungry boffins) is the process of making your website friendly with Google. If your website and Google are buddies, then hey presto you will get lots of people visiting your website and in turn higher sales. Jump onto www.google.com quickly and type in “Hotel Sydney” and after the AdWords ads (which occupy the top three spots) you will see the first “organic” result. Whoever sits in position number 1 is the SEO King of that particular keyword.
Now, type the most obvious thing a customer of yours would type into Google and see if you can find yourself. Here’s the rules, you can’t type in your brand name ie. ACME Kitchens. If someone already knows about you and types in your companies name in order to find you then you haven’t tapped into the market potential of Google. You need to type in what a customer would look for if they have never heard of you ie. it might be “cheap kitchen renovations” or “new kitchen makers in Brisbane”
Is your website on the front page? If not, click on the 2nd page and then the 3rd etc… until you find yourself. The truth is, if you can’t find yourself on the front page, you don’t really exist. Less that 2% of people click through to page 2 and the numbers go down even further after that.
Now, the next thing you need to do is type your name into Google and have a look at the results. Have a good laugh or perhaps be extremely horrified. Go to a psychologist for trauma counselling if necessary. What does this have to do with SEO? Well, nothing really I just thought it might be amusing. If you had a rough time with the search results please write your complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I get on the first page of Google?
In short, it’s not easy. It’s not easy at all! Ranking on the front page of Google is extremely lucrative so everyone’s jockeying for the top 10 positions. The guys who are on the front page for “hotel Sydney” are making some serious sales. Everyone else is living on the dregs, advertising on the yellow pages (remember that thing?) or sticking those paper strips to traffic lights in the hope that someone tears one off and calls them desperate for a place to stay. Jokes aside… EVERYONE Google’s EVERYTHING. When they want to buy something, odds are, they will get out their smart phone and search for generic term like “hotel Sydney” and start their research. Believe it or not, 50% of people are still searching on a computer.
Think about it, last time you needed to buy something, where did you turn? It was Google right? Everyone I speak to is Googling for things. Google used to be a brand name, now it’s a verb.
How does Google SEO work?
Google has an Algorithm. They love their Algorithm, they even give it animal names when they change it. Pandas and Penguins are very cutesy, but they can cause merry hell with your business. They should be called Crocodile and Rhinoceros, far more appropriate in my opinion.
The algorithm has over 200 factors which it uses to decide who ranks in Position 1, then 2 then 3 etc…
As if dealing with over 200 factors isn’t complicated enough, what makes SEO even more complex is that Google hides their Algorithm in a little black box at the bottom of the Mariana trench where its guarded by armour plated sea creatures that eat submarines as an Hors D’oeurves before munching down some Killer Whale steaks topped with Great White Shark Jus and Piranha encrusted Ciabatta. You think I’m exaggerating? Ok, maybe a little bit. However, they don’t tell us what the Algorithm contains and the rest of the world is trying to reverse engineer how it really works. It’s top secret.
“SEO is not a quick Fix process.”
An SEO Warning
If you are like me, you will be getting multiple spam emails per day offering you SEO services. Yes, TheOnLineCo. Gets spam suggesting we get “help” marketing our business online. Many of these spammers offer a guaranteed first page ranking or you pay nothing or some variation on the theme. They then offer to do it for $199 per month or something ridiculous.
Here’s the truth, SEO is complicated and takes many hours of complex work to complete. Only real experts can get you results, and even they are the mercy of Google who may change their algorithm, name it after some cutesy animal and screw up your ranking for a few months until they can get you back ranking again.
The only way to guarantee results is to fudge the system somehow. If you are a hotel in Sydney and I want to get you ranking on the front page, I could do it in about half an hour. I just need to pick an obscure term like “wonderful best hotel in Sydney” do a bit of optimisation and hey presto, you are on page one. There’s one (rather large) problem and that is that no one is searching for that term and they never will be. They are searching for “hotel Sydney” with the countless thousands of other people and you have just paid good money (although not much) for a result that is essentially meaningless.
The best case here is that you waste your money. I repeat, the best case. The worst case is that you get a poor operator from another part of the globe to completely ruin your website and any chance of ever ranking for anything. Yes, you may need to buy a new domain and move your website, or rebuild then start with a proper SEO company like us to get you realistic results.
How do we work?
For simplicity we break SEO down into 4 categories.
- Technical SEO
- Content SEO or Blogging
- Local SEO
- Off-Page SEO or Reputation SEO
Technical SEO Explained…
When you build a website you build it with the customer in mind. Quite rightly so! However, if Google doesn’t like your website then no customers are going to find it. So we have to walk the tight-rope of keeping real human beings happy and keeping Google happy at the same time.
Google is not a human, Google is a robot, known as Googlebot. So the Googlebot comes to your site and crawls each page looking to find out what it is your website is about, which terms you should rank for and whether your website is any good. Since, its not a human it can’t look at pictures or watch videos, it can only read text and look at the code on your website.
Technical SEO is about coding and technical issues. Your website may look perfect and people might love it, but there are a multitude of issues behind the scenes that make Google have a different opinion. It not unusual for us to find websites with 3,000+ technical issues that need fixing.
Technical SEO is a little bit like mowing the front lawn, if your lawn has been ignored for a few months and its looking pretty hairy and rough, then people are going to be reluctant to come and knock on your front door. Google is the same, they look at your website and say “Oh dear, there are some real problems here. Let’s go to the next house!” Your website doesn’t rank and your competitor does.
Technical SEO is the absolute foundation of SEO, what’s the point of having the finest China for your guests when the front garden looks like a jungle. People won’t even enter your home.
Contact us and we can help you started with Technical SEO and get your website Google Friendly.
Content SEO or Blogging Explained…
Recently a study was done of all the Energy Companies in Australia and how their websites had performed over the previous 12 months. It was found that the sites who had a blog had substantially outperformed those that didn’t. Why would this be?
- Blogs contain helpful information for customers which means an increase in traffic to you website.
- Google monitors the “freshness” of your website. If your website hasn’t been updated for 6 months then it must be less relevant than one that is updated every week.
- Blogs allow us to optimise for new keywords. Apart from the most highly trafficked keywords there will be a plethora of smaller terms that people are searching, if you have a page that is optimised for these smaller terms you will pick up a new stream of traffic.
- Blogs grow the ability to gain more traffic. Each page goes into Google’s index and shows up in search results. We have seen all of our clients grow their traffic through this simple method.
- Blog posts are highly sharable through social media. People are looking for help with things that you have expertise in. If they find it they will share. If it is shared Google notices and your rankings improve as a result.
“Everyone ‘Googles’ Everything!”
Local SEO Explained…
If you have a brick and mortar business in a particular location then people near you are searching for you. You have done it, pulled your phone from your pocket and typed “carpet cleaning [my suburb]” and perused the results.
Google shows up to seven local results in its results, if you are in the local pack of results you get phone calls. If you aren’t you don’t. Simple as that. It’s a cruel world…
Local SEO is about getting you ranked in the local pack so your phone keeps ringing. Feel free to contact us if you are a local business and we will be happy to help you.
Off-Page SEO or Reputation SEO Explained…
Last but certainly not least is Off-Page SEO. This is simple to explain but very complex to implement. Let’s suppose I walk into a room with a guitar slung across my back and tell you with great confidence that I am the best guitarist since Jimi Hendrix. Do you believe me? Probably not…
Let’s suppose we set up a page saying that we are the best hotel in Sydney and that no one has better service, cheaper prices and amazing views. Do you think Google believes you?
Now let’s suppose I walk into the room with a guitar slung across my back AND Eric Clapton next to me and he says, “Listen guys, this dude is the best guitarist since Jimi Hendrix!” Now you have to believe me right? I mean Eric Clapton is one of the all time guitaring greats. Laylaaaaa… Ahem… Excuse me…
If other websites are pointing to you and saying that you are a great hotel in Sydney then Google looks at them and says, “You know, there are a few people around that agree with this website, let’s stick them higher up the rankings and see how we go.”
Google isn’t just looking at what you say about yourself, they are also looking at what others say about you via backlinks. That is a very simple explaination of what is a very complicated procedure, but hopefully it sheds a little light on the subject.
What do I do now?
If you tried the little exercise at the top of this piece and you couldn’t find yourself on the front page, then contact us and we will do our marketing analysis to help you work out how we can best grow your business.
If you are looking for fast results, then I suggest you give us a miss, try one of the spammy SEO emails you are getting every day. Waste a few hundred dollars then contact us to fix the mess. Hey, why not? Live a little! SEO is not a quick process, it generally takes many months to get your website to perform well in the search engines and patience is required.