The internet is a massive phenomenon. There were an estimated 644 million websites on the world wide web in March 2012 and this figure an only have grown . . . It is also estimated that numbers grow by an incredible 30 million websites per month!
The web is where we all go to find whatever information we need; the traditional paper directory has died a dead. Even the ‘silver surfer’ sectors now use computers to assist their lives. With that in mind you’d be an absolute fool not to realise you have to get on board with it to be anybody or go anywhere in business . . . but if only it were simple!
6 years ago, I attended an SEO conference and little did I know it would change the course of my business forever. I’d always been in marketing, but there was something about SEO that just excited me. I soon found that that’s what I spent the majority of my time doing and business has grown so fast that I’ve just moved into my first office space in Cambridge! Obviously, I’ve picked up a few tips along the way and I thought I’d share them with you.
Paid Ranking versus Organic
Recent research from the Nielsen group showed that only 6% of search engine users will click on what they identify as a paid advert. Google tells us that this figure is actually 25%. But if you think about your own internet use, I think people generally see sponsored adverts as less credible. We avoid the Adwords highlighted sector, especially the right hand vertical advert column. The top position in that column is estimated to receive only 4% of page clicks.
Organic optimisation is therefore necessary and making the most of the ‘long tail keyword’ for your clients will undoubtedly drive targeted traffic.
No Where to Run
SEO is a fantastic marketing discipline as it is measureable and can therefore be proven. There are no intangible results, but that does also mean that there is nowhere to run if you make mistakes.
However, SEO is a fast changing environment. You should not venture into it if you don’t enjoy constantly learning and changing your processes. It’s critical that you are on top of the game. A classic example of this is the Penguin 2 update that rolled out in May 2013. This algorithm update from Google penalises websites for poor quality back links and for overusing anchor text to manipulate ranking results. Many companies have been affected negatively by this update as previously SEO techniques had often included purchasing links and those links are still in place.
You’ll need knowledge and experience if you’re considering entering this field. Try to work within an internet marketing company if you can. Attend conferences, join SEO marketing communities and read blogs endlessly.
Concentrate on a Target Sector
Consider the market sectors you want to be involved in. What kind of clients do you want? This will make a big difference to the skills you’ll need. Small local companies and start ups will be much easier in terms of optimisation. National ecommerce clients that depend on online sales will carry a higher price tag, but with that comes the pressure for results, so you need to weight it up.
If you really want to aim high there are, of course, multi-national clients with many sites targeting different countries. Needless to say this level of optimisation, site management, analytics and PPC are extremely complicated though.
There is definitely money to be made though and if you get it right a lot of work will come in via word of mouth. My advice would be to focus your energies on getting results for your existing clients rather than constantly seeking new business. New customers will come to you as a healthy by-product of your efforts.
Don’t Mislead or Over-Sell
This will only leave you with unhappy and disappointed clients. You’ll always have competitors that make unrealistic promises. However, in reality good sustainable SEO takes time and you need to be honest with your clients about that.
Many business sectors are widely competitive. Ensure your clients understand the difficulties from the outset. Carefully provide the facts and explain them. Put it all in writing so there can be no misunderstandings in the future. Give your best time estimates – I like to give a best and worst case scenario and cover myself by explaining that I cannot be responsible for Google changes although I will do my upmost to respond to them with haste!