A long, long time ago SEO was a very different place. Having decided I wanted to build a design agency, I chose the name ‘Cude Design’, ‘Cude’ being taken from my second name. Having built the website I realised I need to get customers but how do i do that?! Search enginies of course! Soon I cracked on to researching how to improve my rank on Google and delving into the world of SEO. This was back in 2011 and the SEO game was a lot different then, Google got wiser.
I won’t go into too much detail but SEO basically consists of two elements, the content on your website and what your are doing on the rest of the internet (building more content and links). I think this was pretty easy to do in 2011, having learnt the basics of SEO I then proceeded to optimise all pages of my website and then moved on to building backlinks from business directories across the UK, social bookmarking and look at services to automate backlink building. I was straying towards the dark arts but afraid of blacklisting our domain I would often do this in spurts and never went full force.
Once every year I would then come to the decision to get an SEO company on board and every time I was left dissappointed. Everytime they had to spend the first month ‘optimising’ the pages. My pages must have been optimised by different people close to 10 times, they were well and truely done!! Eventually the off-site work would begin and would seriously short. One UK based SEO company literally provided me with 20 Bitly links at the end of the month to prove they had done link building! WTF!!!
Anyways…..times have changed and we haven’t done any proactive ‘SEO’ work in around 3 years now – we also have a real good rank for our chosen keywords and have done for those 3 years.
Why we do not believe in SEO companies and their work
In the convential sense, we no longer believe in branding yourself as an SEO company. The SEO spectrum has become a lot more than adding optimised content to your website and building backlinks.
Firstly, sure your website has to have the keywords within the written content, as well as a couple of places in the backend such as Meta Title, Description and the Alt tags of images. If you are using WordPress, Yoast SEO allows you to do this very simply. While saying you need to include your keywords, if you are writing about your business, you should be including these regardless. If you aren’t including words which describe your business, your services or product, what the hell are you writing about?! It really is that simple.
Secondly, off site SEO, this is a bit more difficult to achieve. In the good ol’ days you would add your business to appropriote business directories, social bookmarking and paid for some backlinks via one source or another.
Combined with a solid marketing structure, such as blogging regurarly and being active in relevant areas on the web will really help you build backlinks. For us for example, by building a solid business with a good reputation we were approached by our hosting company to be interviewed. This happened again when People Per Hour interviewed us regarding our experience using their platform. Then along came Remoters.net. These backlinks are worth their weight in Gold and are far more valuable than outsourcing to a company who produce sub standard content and backlinks from websites with a vague relation to the market you are in.
So what do I do then? I have no idea how to optimise my website or create a marketing strategy!
OK, I hear you!! We have had plenty of experience and it is easy to say what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Check out the following items which hopefully will push you in the right direction!
Website Content and Onsite Optimisation
Firstly, I would install Google Analytics and Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools), also adding a sitemap to Google Search Console. This is relatively straight forward, just search Google or YouTube ‘How to install Google Analytics’ etc.
If you really do not know how to optimise the content for your website and would like to outsource this to a company I would recommend doing the following:
- Write down each main page of your website and include a two sentances describing what that page is.
- Produce a basic list of keywords which describe that page best. For instance for the Homepage of our website, the keywords would be the following – Web Design, WordPress, Professional, Creative etc . Include as many as you can.
- Finally, include the key areas you are covering.
Do the above for each main page of your website and then provide this to the agency you wish to outsource to. Any good agency will then provide you with their keyword research showing the search volume AND how competitive those terms are.
Tip: I have experienced agencies getting websites to the top of Google very quickly but this is often for terms with little search volume or competiton, therefore it was easy to do.
Blogging and Offsite Marketing
Writing regurarly can be daunting to some people, boring to others. If you don’t have an ample budget, it is likely any content you purchase is going to be quite generic. No one knows your business better than you, I am a firm believer you should be creating content yourself. I would set myself a target of a blog a week at 600 words minimum. Try not to only write blogs selling your services either, talk about current trends in the market you are in, recent news, upcoming changes to the industry and things the target area might find of interest to them.
Start joining relative groups on Facebook and start following users on Instagram relative to your industry. The best thing would be to start reaching out to indivduals and bringing value to the group. Remember, it isn’t about just selling your service, try to bring value!
Of course add your business to any relevant directories and register a social media account on any you deem to be relevant.
Social Proofing - Reviews, Reviews, Reviews.....!
I really believe social proofing and reviews have made a major impact on our ranking on Google. Right now we have a modest 19 reviews on Google Local but I have seen our improving rank coincide with the amount of reviews we receive. Backlinks are still being taken into considration but the reviews have defintely helped us combat against the bigger companies who have less reviews. As well as this we have a good amount of reviews on Yell and only two on Facebook….but they all count!!
Not connected to SEO as such but we also ask our clients if they would be happy to provide a video testimonial as it is great for social proofing on your business social media accounts.