There are two ways to get your website to the top of Google’s search engine results page. You can pay Google via their AdWords program to appear highly (with a little button saying “Ad” next to your listing) or you can use search engine optimisation.
In this article, the MaxWeb team look at what search engine optimisation is and why it’s one of those things that can drive business owners crazy.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation is about the words and images you choose to appear on your website and how you link them altogether. It’s a comprehensive set of skills and knowledge that web designers, web architects, user experience experts, and top-of-their-game copy writers use in conjunction with each other to make sure that their clients’ websites deliver quality traffic in decent volumes.
It’s not rocket science but it might as well be. It’s ferociously complicated and competitive. Doing it right is worthwhile though because the prize can be enormous for any business that ranks highly on search results – in fact, it can be the difference between surviving and fading away to nothing.
That’s only the beginning though because…
…it’s always changing
What search engines look for constantly evolves as they tweak their algorithms to make sure that the results they deliver to searchers is of the highest quality.
Changes to search engine algorithms have made and broken businesses. They happen with regular frequency (check out this list from Search Engine Journal). A change to the algorithm in August 2017 made casualties of “category pages, pages with aggressive advertising, lower-quality/thin content, and other negative user experience elements.”
Each member of an SEO team has to not only factor in what a search engine rates of high value now but also second guess what might be further rewarded or penalised many months or years later. Hindsight is an ability none of us possess so, as you can imagine, news that Google has changed its algorithm makes web experts around the world feel a little nervous and sick until they can assess the impact (or lack of impact) the change has on their clients.
How do you please a person and a machine at the same time with your writing?
Copywriters face some of the biggest challenges with search engine optimisation. Copywriters, because of the nature of what they do, have to get to know their client and understand what makes their offering attractive to buyers. They have to balance your business needs with visitors’ need for information in such a way that a potential buyer, who may never have heard of your company, believes that it is the best out there and any purchase from you is going to be safe.
If the copywriter was only writing the piece for the reader, that would be a difficult enough task. To illustrate this – consider that you run a forklift hire and repair company – the chances are that, before working with you, your copywriter has no idea about this industry. They have to learn as much as they can accurately in as short a space of time as possible so that they can write prose that engages the reader, explains things that they may not understand, and gives them the reassurance that you have the answers to the questions they have.
But, of course, a copy writer is also writing for a machine. The machine – the search“bot” – must also understand what you’re writing about. The page itself must fit into a wider pool of information (you can see that pool on a sitemap) which has a logical construction that the bot can understand. The bot needs to know how the pages on the site relate to each other and, in many cases, it will rate the value of the information on your page by the other sites it links to.
Until quite recently, copywriters wrote prose to contain a certain density of keywords. Now, excessive keyword density is punished and, instead, Google looks for related phrases on a page rather than the number of times a keyword is mentioned.
Once the algorithm changes, the copy may have to change and this can mean a busy few weeks for a copywriter rewriting a client’s site. Sometimes the client may not see the value in re-writing the piece and resents the cost and time implications thereof, and explaining that it needs to do be done to maintain their search rankings can frequently be a difficult conversation.
SEO affects every aspect of your website
It’s not only the text on a website and the logical structure underpinning the relationships between the pages that count. There are so many other factors that are taken into consideration, including load time, the complexity (or simplicity) of navigation menus, the positioning of important text on a page across different devices, whether an “AMP” version of a page is available, the meta description, the blog tags, and more.
When the algorithm changes, your SEO team has to meet up again, carefully plan how they’re going to respond to what’s different, consult with the client, and then get on with the work.
Yes, all of this work is chargeable and we’re a website building company so this is good news for us – right? Well, yes, from a financial point of view, the work is welcome, but we’d much rather spend our billable hours with clients continuously improving and refining their web presence rather than having to retrofit their current site to achieve the same results.
It’s much more satisfying and it’s much easier to demonstrate our value to you when we’re constructing an extension to your website rather than altering it because the Building Regs have changed.
It takes time to see results and it requires continuous investment
SEO is expensive and it must be planned in from the start. It’s something you’ll spend money on every month and, in the early days, you will feel your levels of frustration rising because you’re not seeing the results you want measured by visitor numbers and sales volume.
However, it is so worth it but why? You never stop spending money on either AdWords or SEO but, in the long run, SEO works out cheaper. AdWords are good but they maybe only engage 7% of web visitors – the remaining 93% want to click on the natural results – and it’s SEO which delivers natural results.
It just so happens that the Maxweb team love SEO…
…weird, we know – after everything we’ve just mentioned.
It does have its frustrations but it’s amazing to see the difference it makes to clients. For more information about MaxWeb’s SEO service, please call us on 0151 652 4777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 in Digital Marketing.