Why SEO Shouldn’t Be A Dirty Word
Time and time again I notice people react quite negatively when the three letters S….E…O are mentioned. There seems to be a lack of trust associated with the term, when in fact it should be seen as a hugely positive addition to the marketing mix – so why does SEO have such negative connotations? In this post I hope to give readers a better understanding of SEO and offer some tips and guidance to avoid some costly SEO pitfalls.
So, let’s start at the beginning. SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of improving the position of a website on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. Why bother? Well, thousands of people are searching for information, products and services related to your business/organisation through search engines every day. To make sure you are visible to these people, your website has to be ranked within the top listings for the search query, and the higher your website is listed the better the chance of a searcher visiting your site.
Every industry is different, but as a rule, you need to be at least on the first page to attract visitors. So, if for example you are based in Clerkenwell and you want to find a local web agency, you would type into Google ‘clerkenwell web agency’ and there you see the website of a really awesome agency called Energy House Digital – you click through, like what you find and call them up about your project. OK, I may be plugging a little here, but the above example shows how a search query can and does lead to more business for those who appear at the top of the search engines, so in short: higher search ranking = higher website traffic = growth.
All pretty positive so far. So where does it fall down? Search Engines use complex algorithms to calculate where your website should appear for any given search query. Every search engines’ algorithm differs slightly, but the idea is the same, to generate RELEVANT results. With this in mind the correct way to approach SEO is to ensure that a website is relevant to the search terms and then to make sure that the search engine ‘appreciates’ it’s relevancy.
The wrong way to approach SEO is to TRICK the search engines into believing a website is relevant. Welcome to the dark, not so secret, world of black hat SEO. Black hat SEO comprises techniques that deceive the search engines into believing a website is relevant for a given search query. The unfortunate thing is you will sometimes see short term gains from black hat techniques, but in the long term you can’t outsmart a search engine and websites whose rankings are built on a foundation of black hats inevitably drop off the rankings.
So how can you avoid these SEO cowboys? As a very young industry, there are always going to be chancers who try and take advantage.
Rule 1: The first rule of SEO club is that there are no guarantees! Stay clear of anyone who claims they can guarantee you a top ranking. Obviously the end aim for any campaign is to achieve a first place position, and on the whole with a thorough campaign, it is possible, but remember for any ‘valuable’ keyword there will be others competing for it…and there is only one space at the top.
Rule 2: Spam, Spam, no thank you ma’am. On average we receive 5-10 emails a day from people we have never heard of, offering SEO services and advising that our website could be performing better on search engines. Now a little common sense would tell you that, as an SEO agency, it is unlikely we are going to need their services, but the point is there is no research being done. We often wonder what level of response these emails receive – there must be a response, as they keep coming through…day after day. In our opinion, we would question the SEO ethics from anyone who believes spamming our inbox is a legitimate form of marketing and so we recommend to never respond to SEO spam, however tempting the proposal may sound.
Rule 3: Make sure that your SEO supplier is transparent. They should be completely open about the strategy that they use and provide you with regular reports, detailing campaign metrics so that you can keep tabs of your ROI. Always find out about your suppliers link building strategy, make sure links to your website only come from relevant, genuine and respected websites. When you consider black hat techniques, guarantees without results and the use of excessive spam, it’s not surprising that the term SEO has been tarnished.
The truth is however, that SEO can achieve a phenomenal ROI and like most forms of digital marketing, SEO is 100% transparent. You can see the changes to your ranking, the increase to your search traffic and even the business generated from that traffic. As long as your supplier is as transparent and completely open with their practices and results so that you can monitor your ROI there is no reason why you should not be looking at SEO to help grow your business.
Article posted on Friday, April, 13th, 2012 at 5:13 pm
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