From speaking to people in my day to day job the perception of search engine optimisation (SEO) is that it is only for the big players – companies with huge ecommerce website – well that isn't true, SEO can help any business grow.
Most companies have now accepted that they need an online presence in some form, the benefits are obvious to all, but does just having a website really do anything for you? It’s kind of like have a shop down a back alley with no signs pointing to it – those customers that know of you will come and find it but new customers will be few and far between. When your business is online, this is where SEO comes in.
Real example -
When you are looking for something to eat in a new city what is the first thing you do? Do some Google research! If search for ‘Restaurants in Durham’ (as shown below) – most people will have a quick scan of the results page, click on one or two they like the look of then either get the address and pop in or get the phone number and book a table. If you are Fat Buddha, El Coto or the other restaurants listed then you have a great chance of getting those new visitors through your doors...
If you haven’t done any SEO this is where you are missing out – your great restaurant in Durham isn’t listed on the results page and as the visitors are new to the city they have never heard of you therefore they will visit the city and never know you existed (and what great food they missed out on!).
So what exactly is SEO?
Just like a librarian has a system to find you a book when you ask them for it, search engines have a system to find the most relative websites when you type in a search. Search engines look through every website and webpage to find out what their content is and how that websites fits within the World Wide Web. SEO is the process of making your website easy for the search engines to find by giving them all the signals they need which fit within their system.
Normally SEO is split into two board sections:
1) on-page optimisation (making the necessary changes to your website so that search engines can identify what it is your company offers)
2) off-page optimisation (ensuring that your website has enough authority with search engines so that it is displayed highly on the list of search results for those products or services).
How will it benefit me?
That’s quite simple really. As search engines can easily find your website and match it to customers searching for your products and services you will get more visitors, but not just more visitors – really targeted visitors that have already shown an interest in the products or services you supply. The more qualified customers that visit your site looking for the things you supply, the more enquiries and sales you will get.
SEO is an investment – long after your pay per click budget has ran out or your magazine adverting campaign has ended your company will still be shown in search results thus achieving your business goals.
Can I do it myself?
Just like any skill if you spend the time researching and practicing it you would able to pick up the basics and get some benefit from it. Small companies with small websites might find that with a month’s research and a little help from friends (that tech savvy nephew) you can get the basics in place and will get an increase in traffic from it.
If you want to try SEO yourself here are the three most important factors to look into:
- The title of each website page should reflect your content and what your target audience will be searching for (think of them like the title of a book)
- A link from one website to another is seen as a vote or recommendation in the search engines eyes, so websites with a lot of ‘recommendations’ appear higher in the results
- The words on your website page should indicate to search engines what your content is related to just like your website title
When not to try it yourself
Well… if you have something to lose or you have great ambition! If you are a larger company or have major growth plans you need to rank highly for competitive keywords and a lot of keywords – this is where a company that know what they are doing and have proven results would get a better ROI, and here's why...
If you have a large website or are already doing ok online it is not worth risking it on DIY SEO. As much as there is good advice out there on SEO there is a lot of bad stuff too and if you listen to the wrong people or make a change without fully understanding it you could set yourself further backwards than when you started.
Likewise for those of you with huge online ambitions an SEO expert is always going to be best - after all the three factors mentioned above are only some of the key ones out over 200+ factors of search engines algorithms (the process which decide which results show up for a search) and these algorithms change daily (Google did over 600 updates last year alone).
Good luck with your SEO journey, I am certain it will bring great success to your company with it. If you need any more advice please feel free to get in touch.