Search Engine Optimisation

This section aims to answer some of your questions about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You can skip to answers on key questions here:

Why use SEO?

The holy grail for most businesses in terms of online presence is the number one slot in the natural results on Google for the search terms that are most relevant to their business. Very few are able to achieve this, but for those that can, the rewards can be huge. Having achieved an acceptable result on the natural (as opposed to 'paid') search results, the traffic to to your website is free. Of course it isn't free, the work to get you there may have cost thousands of pounds and the chances are that if you stop that process once you reach the top, others will overtake you. So the expense is likely to continue, you are just paying for it in a different way to PPC - the alternative.

Many would argue that there is more value in a high natural presence than a paid listing, as people pay more attention to these. In some cases SEO will be more cost effective than PPC in the longer term (though not always) and it should always form part of your long term strategy if results justify the cost.

When should you start your SEO?

Most people would say when the website is being built and there are certainly some aspects of SEO (such as the format of the site itself) that need to be addressed at the outset. However, the keyword strategy behind your SEO should not be implemented too early. Given that the number of keywords you can effectively optimise any page of your website for is limited to some degree, getting the keyword strategy right is vital. If this is done when the site is being built, what are you basing that strategy on? In most cases, the keywords you think are most important and perhaps stats from a keyword tool to tell you which terms have the highest search volume. That's not the way to determine the most effective keywords for your business. That can only be achieved by driving traffic from all likely keywords to your website, tracking and analysing the results and determining which keywords produce sales/enquiries, rather than volume traffic. Luckily, this can be done using PPC almost instantly, giving you a solid basis for longer term SEO. The other reason to delay major commitment to SEO until you have trialled with PPC is equally important. Until you have driven traffic to your site in sufficient numbers, you don't know if your website is capable of turning visitors into business. Harsh as it may sound, until you have proved you can do that, embarking on a long term SEO strategy is a bit of a waste of budget.

Who does what?

Your web designer will usually be responsible for much of the 'on site' elements of SEO, such as creating the site in a search engine friendly format, adding meta titles and meta descriptions to each page, etc. In some cases, they may employ someone with a marketing background to work on the non technical side of Internet Marketing. We work with a number of web designers to fill this gap. In addition to work carried out on the website, there is other work to be done externally, such as link building and directory submission, without which the on site work will achieve little. An assumption that everything is being done that needs to be done is often dangerous and any business owner needs to be very clear about who is doing what during the SEO process.

How much

How long is a piece of string? It depends on what the starting point is, from a new website to an established site that is having a makeover and needs some further SEO work. The number of keywords you need to optimise for will be a factor. The type of business will make link building and directory submission easier for some than for others. Blogging and use of Social Media can help with SEO, but do you see them as an SEO expense or a valuable channel in their own right, with their own budget, that happens to contribute to SEO?

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