There is an understandably common perception about search engine optimisation (SEO), that it is about making a website appear “at the top” of Google. Yes, obviously that would also mean Bing as well, but the majority view is that getting to the top of Google is what matters.
This is one of the biggest reasons for a misunderstanding between an SEO “deliverer” and an SEO customer – it is not only about climbing up the search results. SEO is also about STAYING in the search results.
SEO is sometimes about just keeping up
One oft forgotten fact is that, while your website is sitting there unloved, unfed, ageing, your competitors’ websites are having new content added to them, being promoted on social media and having things added to them that bring in more traffic. They are giving the search engines lots of reasons to keep re-indexing new content. If you are doing nothing while your competitors are active, you might drop back.
SEO is sometimes about protecting against change
Google and Bing change all the time. The way the algorithms work this month may mean you appear beautifully at the top of the results for all your favourite keywords, but next month a paradigm shift could mean you become persona non grata. Real, true, honest SEO will be helping you match Google’s ideal scenario – where a website is useful to an end user and relevant to a search term. Good SEO advice will help you ensure your website meets this criteria rather than focusing on short term tricks that game whatever works on Google this month.
SEO must be a collaborative process
If you believe SEO is something you buy, where you just leave your experts to get on with delivering you positions, think again. You can’t hire someone to decorate your house then go on holiday and not give him the keys – you can’t hire someone to do SEO and then not be involved in the process. There are SEO companies that will tell you they can get you better rank without doing much to your site – they will be doing a lot of link building. The problem with link building is that it is fluff. It is gaming Google and perhaps one day all those links will be ignored by Google and therefore your ranks will disappear (see our various posts about Penguin here and here).
Good SEO should continue beyond the search result
Why do you need SEO? To get a better position on Google? Why do you need a better position on Google? To get more traffic? Presumably you want more traffic to get more customers. I try hard to reinforce the idea with clients that the key metric with SEO is whether you are getting more business. It’s not necessarily about getting one keyword up from page two to page one, it may be about getting a lot of new traffic from keywords you didn’t benefit from before, because you created a whole load of new content. It may be about improving landing pages to boost retention, or getting Google to point to better pages that work better for conversion, instead of your home page.
In short, if you want to compare SEO agencies, consider how much they will want to engage with you and talk about your whole business compared with those who just say they can get on with it without you being involved.