If you have a business, a website, advertise an email address on it then you are probably being bombarded by unsolicited emails attempting to sell you Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your website. If I could say only one thing about Search Engine Optimisation, it is something that is achieved over time by regularly updating your published web content and other online presence to reflect what you are marketing which is not a 5-minute job. A good SEO provider isn't going to be some faceless person who e-mails you indiscriminately and if they are any good they also won't be cheap or free or commit to an outcome without doing an audit. In Australia expect to pay from $75 / hour upwards and for baseline work to take at least three (3) months to collect sufficient information to be able to measure improvement as consumers are fickle and if you aren't an online seller, may have low consumer traffic as well. The first question you need to ask yourself is this, if services are being offered for cheap or free then does the provider have a vested interest in doing a good job or are they going to do something vague and generic?
What should you look for in an SEO provider then? A good provider wouldn't promise number one search rankings or promise first page results which sounds ridiculous but the reality is that this means nothing. Search results and rankings mean nothing as you cannot know for certain what consumers will search for so you can't be on the first page for every search and so optimisation should focus on having high quality web content that adapts to search trends. What a good provider does offer is improvements to your website and content that optimises the content, searchability, speed and functionality of a site. All these factors are considered in ever evolving algorithms developed by search engine providers that focus on relevance, quality links and validity of content. All this sounds fancy but search engines want to see current content that is being shared, linked and clicked on by users so it is impossible to fudge or tamper with your rankings but you can make your content more competitive. It is also important to note that search engine providers penalise sites that attempt to fudge or tamper with their rankings which could see you disappear altogether as a penalty without any notification so avoid the temptation.
The key to finding a good SEO provider is if they talk about developing valid metrics to measure success against, developing guidelines around how to develop quality content, establishing quality link building practices and encourages web marketing expenditure that results in measurable improvements. An SEO that doesn't ask to see your website in its raw form or claims that they looked at your website online and that is enough is a sure-fire example of someone who isn't really looking to get the best result for your business. The raw website is the best source as it allows the SEO to look at the design itself and give specific punchlist items or make remedial changes directly and often drives the best outcome. Don't be surprised if an SEO asked for access to social media platforms, asks to create accounts for web based tools in your name or requests the ability to make changes yo your website in real time. A great question that should be asked is what metrics should be used to determine improvements and this should include as a minimum:
- conversion rates (a visit to your website to a sale is a conversion);
- sales enquiries; and
- web traffic.
An SEO should have an audit, a projected campaign of at least three (3) months and an ongoing strategy that should include remedial works, monitoring and adjustment of your online content. There should be in place weekly progress reporting for the first month followed by a monthly report indication what has been done, what is to be done the following month and progress outline for all agreed works. After the initial three (3) month campaign it is recommended to continue as user habits and language evolves over time that will require adjustments to web content, methodology and approach. Overtime you can expect searchability to be affected by changes in social media use habits, marketing strategies and how your business evolves. Keep in mind that Search Engine Optimisation is something you maintain rather than purchase and just because you stop doesn’t mean your competitors do.
Something else that is often not taken into account by businesses who engage SEO providers is that they cannot force third parties to respond to changes in real time. Google for example crawls sites regularly but with the sheer volume of data that must be processed it could take days or weeks for changes to be reflected which is in fact quite frustrating. For example, lets say a customer gives you your first five star review on Facebook, expect to wait to see this show up in with your search results as google doesn't necessarily update all information regularly. Another factor outside the control of businesses is when social media platforms such as pinterest crowd the search results with every language known to man making it sometimes a long process to have a noticeable impact and in some cases taking several months to gradually overtake less relevant content. Often the other issue overlooked is inconsistencies in data which can be obtained due to differing latency in processing, polling and collection which can occur between different providers often with the same information provided. A good SEO will bring this information to your attention and will provide meaningful information in it's report including when data was obtained while providing supporting information such as reports or extracts from source platforms.
Taking all this information into account how do I know if I have a good SEO provider? A simple answer is that the SEO will interact with your business in such a way that you feel confident that you are getting what you pay for. It also doesn't hurt to request references but in some cases if the SEO service is not a primary business or clients haven't given consent then this may be difficult but ask anyway. An SEO provider is a useful support service, it can result in improvements for your business but remember that SEO will not be the only marketing avenue you'll need. If you are looking for an SEO provider then look no further as ActsIntuitively can provide these services, although you could also enquire with your website designer or an IT provider as well. I hope you have liked reading this post and found this helpful in determining if SEO is right for you or sourcing an appropriate SEO provider. If you are interested in finding out more about what we can do for you then please feel free to visit our main website or contact us. Thank you for your time, for reading our blog post and it would be great if you feel the need to share or like our articles via one of our social media platforms with the @ActsIntuitively tag as applies.
Technical Services Manager
Bunbury, Western Australia
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