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Is SEO Really a Hidden Art?

SEO isn’t all Cloak and Dagger…

SEO.. Search Engine Optimisation – an acronym and words business owners hear day in, day out and usually groan at. The common misconception seems to insinuate that this discipline is surrounded with a shroud of mystery and a side of ‘hidden art’. And let’s face it, who can blame people for thinking such thoughts? Each day, businesses are likely inundated with cold callers promising to have websites ranking on page one of Google in a matter of a few short months. For those burned in the past via such flippant analogies, the chances are that during the SEO process you were blinded by technical speak and thrown off track by Google Algorithm updates. Of course this will mean nothing to the general business owner and let’s face it, why should it? You wouldn’t assume our proficiency in your industry, so why should us as Digital Marketers expect you to with ours?

Forget algorithms (you probably already have), don’t worry about ALT tags and attributes or whether or not we are looking to place canonical tags. And anchor text? Anchors away – it doesn’t matter to you, we know this. The fold, headings, HTML links, indexed pages, javascript, nofollows and page rank. All great technical terms with plenty of meaning for us behind them but let’s face it, you are busy running a business, doing what you do best. What you need to know is how many conversions you have had. How much traffic has been to your website this month in comparison to last month and the same time last year. Where your traffic is coming from and what rankings important keywords are currently sitting in. Would this be a fair analysis?

So moving on to the question, ‘Is SEO really a hidden art’? Quite simply – no, and any digital specialist gracing your company with a cold call should be able to explain the SEO process in a manner that is clear and concise whilst describing CLEARLY that such a strategy is a long term, if not forever strategy requiring plenty of tweaks along the way. At Inner City Digital we have devised a small description of the process that should be relayed to you. Yes – there are a couple of technical terms found here but they are thoroughly explained and not used in attempt to bedazzle you with ‘fancy speak’!

Q: What is SEO?

A: Search Engine Optimisation is the art of gaining page one positions on search engines such as Google for keywords (terms people type into Google) that are important to the success of your website.

Q: Where will the traffic come from?

A: Ideally we want traffic to reach you from a whole variety of sources including niche directories, social media channels, blogs and other websites in similar industries to yourself.

Q: How can you increase my traffic?

A: Content is extremely important in the SEO process and something any good digital specialist will take into consideration very early on in the process. Website content encompasses the words used on your homepage, category pages, sub-category pages and product pages. If this is written well, is completely unique and provides value to the reader then Google will reward your website some authority within the search engine. This authority helps push individual keywords further towards page one of Google.

Q: So I just need to write some content and my website will rank well?

A: If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it! Website content is great for the search engines and helps to push you forwards but what we really need to investigate is an entire content marketing campaign. But what does this involve, we hear you muse. This is where blogging comes in.

Q: So the rumours are true. I really do need a blog?

A: Of course you do. Yes, Google loves content, but hello… so do people! We want to read interesting pieces, not just about the latest products and services but about topics related to your industry. Blogging is a great way of connecting with your audience and providing them value through knowledge and personality. Why wouldn’t you blog?

Let’s just take stock. We have covered content and blogging so far. I don’t think there’s been much technical speak and what we can surmise is that via unique wording and some decent blogging, we will interest not only the search engines by encouraging them to reward us by pushing us further towards page one for important search terms (take a breath)….. But our potential customers alike and all the while building brand awareness. So far so good?

If you receive a cold call from an SEO expert, the above mentioned are topics you can discuss with them freely and easily. No technical speak required and they should be able to answer any questions you may have.

Q: How long before I am ranking on page one for important search terms?

A: How long is a piece of string? We can sense the gasps from specialists all over the land just from our very response but come on people…. Let’s be realistic, please? Yes, we can make an informed estimate. Yes we can say it will take 3 months then blame it on an algorithm update (technical term alert) when things don’t go right, but really… what’s the point? Getting you to page one of Google for important terms depends on a whole heap of factors:

  • The age of your website
  • How often your website is updated
  • URL structure
  • Meta Data (technical term – to be continued….)
  • How old your competitors sites are
  • Blogging
  • Links to your site from other sites

Please note; the above list is not exhaustive. A good SEO expert will manage your expectations. Here at Inner City Digital for example, we NEVER make promises. We tell you what we think is achievable. You tell us you want to be on page one of Google for the term ‘Cold Pressed Juicer’ for example. You currently do not appear in the top 100 positions. We would explain to you that via the work we do, we would expect to see you on page one within a six month period. The keyword would be expected to start ranking around 80th. It may then drop back to 90 something before moving forwards again. We would see the term increase to 70 something before it dropped back to 80. It would then progress. These peaks and troughs are completely natural, telling us that Google is paying attention to the work we are doing and awarding the site worth. It becomes slightly more difficult once we creep towards 20 and the teens and this is because page one and two is where most of your competition lies. At this point we need to regroup, determine strategy, hitting it hard to ensure a page one result.

Q: Hold your ponies. You said no technical speak yet mentioned Meta Data..? What is this?

A: Ok you’re right, but we have to admit. It is difficult to speak about your niche without at least mentioning one teeny tiny technical term (check out the alliteration on that)! Meta Data – it sounds really posh and technical right? It really isn’t. Meta data denotes the following:

Page Title

– Image to show where this is found

Meta Description

– Image to show where this is found.

Simple isn’t it? Ok – so it may look simple and really, it is, but the page title is one of the most important features within an SEO campaign as it is practically the first thing Google notices about your website and takes into consideration. The words found here should represent that of the page and the keywords you wish to rank for. And that’s meta data!

We’re going to wrap this one up for now and whilst there is more to take into consideration during a cold call from an SEO expert, we will cover this in another blog. Link building. You must have heard of it, surely?

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Helen Zagrovic

Helen writes on subjects such as SEO, PPC, Social Media, Web Design and Digital Marketing as a whole. Her 13 years of industry experience means her content is of the highest quality and reputable.

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