Okay, so I’ll try and describe the general process because obviously there are many factors involved. But in a nutshell this is how I explain SEO to the clients. I think it was the CEO or the CTO of Google, he was under investigation in the States about search results. And he was actually quoted as saying that there are over 200 factors involved in SEO, maybe more. And on any given month, and there are different weightings towards different factors. So there are a lot of elements involved and some factors have a higher weighting.
So what if I had to break that down? Simply, I would say, I break it into four constituents of the pie. You’ve got on-site, which is everything involved with the server, the website, the content, everything that you see that constitutes the web experience for the user.
And then you’ve got two parts to our site, you’ve got link building, or inbound links, which are ideally focused on links that are relevant, authoritative. The relevancy, authority, quality, low-level links- Google’s too wise to that these days. And we’ve always done things white hat anyway, we’ve always focused on quality, quantity, relevancy over quantity of links. And you really want a diverse profile as well. So that’s part two.
Part three, I think there is some impact of social media. It’s debatable how much because I do think that Google is clever enough to understand popular brands and it wants to rank brands that are perceived online through indicators as being popular and authoritative. And it uses social media metrics like followers, engagements, click-throughs. If you’re plugged into analytics, it can see what traffic you’re spending and receiving as well.
And, then the final part, which I think a lot of agencies maybe don’t get involved with when they’re tasked with traffic generation is Usability Metrics. So actually trying to actively analyze bounce rate, average time on site, the user experience.
And obviously, that relates because although I’m an SEO guy at heart, I also do pay per click. I think a lot of what Google recommends for SEO is for usability, which in turn is geared towards a better AdWords experience, especially on-site. So, why wouldn’t Google want a fast website or mobile responsiveness, if it pushes you to do that for SEO, and then later you do AdWords? Google knows that. They know, a fast mobile responsive site is not going to turn off mobile users. Therefore, you’re going to potentially convert higher and you’re going to carry on spending on AdWords.
I suppose that the cynical part of me thinks a lot of what Google wants for SEO actually ties back to AdWords and getting people’s site performing better by doing X, Y, and Z, which it knows will appeal to the end-user. But I think overall, a lot of the changes Google has brought in around those four areas. They usually do result in the best brands or the best sites having top positions.
So when we explain this to our customers, I always say, Google doesn’t have a real-world sense of view. So if you had 200 physical stores, and you launched a site tomorrow, Google doesn’t know that unless you have all the indicators in place to show it you’re a big brand. But equally a small brand with only one store could actually rank very well and do very well online. Because Google only has this digital world view and doesn’t have the real world view of how big, big, or small you are.
So we’ve been able to get clients to meet those criteria. And actually they’ve ranked substantially higher than some really big established businesses in the real world, or traditional big businesses. Some clients that are only turning over tens or hundreds of thousands are overtaking other companies’ websites that are turning over millions. So I think it’s a great opportunity.
And just to add to the process side of it, we tend to tell the customers that it’s really a 12-month minimum investment if you’re serious about it. Months one and two are where we’re going to do the keyword research really thoroughly and we’re going to try and implement a lot on-site because that’s a quicker win.
And then once you get into from months three to 12, that’s when you do a lot of your recurring work like content marketing, blog, content generation, content on key phrase density adjustments, and link building.
So a lot of the ongoing work falls under content and link building largely. Because if you can do a lot of the technical groundwork in month one and two and you’ve got the foundations, which means you can just spend a solid 10 months on the stuff that needs to be recurring, rather than trying to do everything all at once in one in one go. Because sometimes you just don’t have the physical time. You’ve got to partition the technical part. It works well to get that out of the way first in month one or two, and then going to the regular SEO for the remaining year.
That approach also from our side, if the client gives us 12 months. As you know, the changes that you make in months one on two sometimes don’t come into fruition until months six to 12. Because of the algorithm, Google isn’t always quick to reward, it’s a slow burn process. So we almost need a year to be able to show the metrics and traction shifting in a positive direction. Sometimes if they’re in a really competitive industry, we’ve actually said to people that you need to look at this as a two or three-year strategy to get rankings for some of these big terms. We try to do a benchmark ranking check early on, so we can see where they’re already positioned and where. And if they’re on page two, for some big terms, those are potentially quick wins and we don’t have to work as hard for it.
So, it’s also understanding benchmarking and where the land lies. We try not to look too much at competitors in terms of where they rank because it’s almost irrelevant where your competitors are ranking. You need to focus on what you’re doing and doing that consistently right.
The only part we will look at competitors is for backlinks. We have paid licensed tools that understand the link relationships between websites. And we could compare their website with, say, 10 other competitors and see where the matches are where they don’t have a link already. Those are some highlights they need to be trying to go after.
So for example, you’re at a site selling mobile phones, and five of your competitors have got a link off a leading mobile phone blog. We need to do some outreach there. And we need to try and go after that blog because there’s a reason why they’re top-five and you’re not. And so that that’s kind of a general approach. That’s one side of the coin, to look at where are the gaps compared to the leading guys and where do we need to engineer some links quickly to try and plug those gaps.