So, you’ve seen the light and worked out you need to invest some time and money into Search Engine Optimisation for your website. Be it via an agency or you’re braving it alone, you’ve made a mighty fine decision. But before you get started with your SEO strategy, there are a few things you really ought to know…
1. There are no shortcuts
In the past, it was much easier for people to ‘cheat’ at SEO and take sneaky shortcuts instead of coming up with a killer SEO strategy. Black hat tactics like paying to have link farms link to you en masse were rife and the result would be that, after buying your links, you would be ranking at the top the very next day. Even creating your own network of low-to-no value websites for the sole purpose of linking back to you was possible. Evil, sure, but possible.
But Google is a clever old thing and has worked hard to ensure that the phenomenon of shortcutting the hard work behind SEO is a thing of the past. And yes, you may come across the odd website in position 1 with a load of shoddy links but – mark my words – they won’t be there long. Us good guys will always triumph in the end!
So paying for links in an attempt to cut corners is nothing more than money down the drain in the world of SEO today. Now, you simply can’t get to page one without committing to a fully thought-out SEO strategy, having a good website and UX, creating great content, building authentic, high-quality links etcetera etceteraaa. Sorry, but we’re not even sorry.
Since there are no short cuts, then, you have to be in it for the long-run. If you’re about to embark on an SEO strategy you’ve got to understand that it’s a process that takes times. For starters, it takes a whole lot of research, data analysis and on-site changes to get a site well optimised for search engines. And even after all that hard work, you’re unlikely to jump straight to position 1 immediately. AND, even if you do shoot up the rankings straight away you’re still likely to see a lot of fluctuation during the few first months following your optimisation. So don’t be disheartened if you fall again. In the words of 90’s pop sensation, Take That, just have a little patience.
We sometimes forget that Google isn’t some kind of alien overlord who knows and controls everyone and everything. But at the end of the day, Google is just a really big and really successful business. This means that, essentially, everything Google does is to make more profit, not to help SEOs.
What’s more, just like all of us, they’ve got their competitors and that set of competitors is ever-growing (think Bing, YouTube, Yelp, Amazon etc.) So, naturally, they want to be the best at what they do. This means any changes they make are made to help their customers, not to help SEOs. And changes are being made all the time. The smallest tweak to Google’s algorithm can destroy everything we’ve worked hard on so it’s our job as SEOs to re-adapt, repair and recover as quickly as possible.
4. Content is still king – but it’s time to diversify and be outstanding
For a long time ‘Content is King’ was a pretty popular catchphrase in the industry. People were banging on about how one of the most important ranking factors was content. So people started churning out content, regurgitating copy and milling out low-quality blog posts as part of their SEO strategy to show Google that their website was loaded and up to date. Then came the call for high-quality content. ENOUGH of the masses! It’s unique, quality content that’s the key to this kingdom!
Well, guess what, things have changed again. In 2015, 4.6 billion pieces of content were being produced daily, around 92,000 new online articles posted, 83,000 blog posts published every hour. WordPress users alone produced about 35.8 million new posts each month. And that was 2 years ago now! So, while content is still definitely key (I mean look at the supply – the demand is certainly there), you now have to stand out. Remember: why did the scarecrow get a promotion? Because he was out standing in his field.
‘Quality’ content is no longer enough. The word quality just makes me think of the own-brand can of ‘quality’ baked beans that’s been sitting in my kitchen cupboard for the last year and a half. ‘Outstanding’ makes me think of the homemade spicy baked beans on sourdough toast I had at a fancy brunch spot last weekend. Come on, which would you rather digest?
It’s not just about being outstanding either. With so much content out it’s more important than ever to diversify your content if you want to stand out. I’m talking bespoke images, bespoke videos, podcasts… whatever you can think of! Dare to be different.
At the end of the day, Google just wants to give its user the best experience possible. This can terrify SEOs because this means that Google is pretty much always working to make SEOs obsolete. Now don’t panic because, in reality, SEO is still really important. Google will probably always need the help of SEOs to understand the Internet. But the point is, it’s becoming more and more important for businesses to look at digital marketing as a whole, rather than just focusing on their SEO strategy.
This means things like social media, creating amazing ads, great content marketing, video marketing etc. Even if you’ve outsourced your SEO to an agency, there’s still loads you can be doing to improve your business’s online presence and bring business to you. So why the hell wouldn’t you be doing it???
Like I said, there really are no short cuts but SEO (when done properly) can be a great thing. Just remember that SEO is just one piece of the pie; a pie that requires a few different ingredients, a little preparation and a lot of patience while it bakes. But trust us, it’s oh so worth it in the end! Short crust pie > shortcut SEO.
Click here to find out more about our SEO services. If you’d like a helping hand with your SEO strategy or have any other digital marketing needs get in touch today! We’re more than happy to help.