If you’re reading this article then it’s highly likely that you are looking to hire an SEO company. And for the vast majority of you, it will be the first time you’ve entered the murky world of SEO so the purpose of this article is to give you an unbiased insight into the many pitfalls that exist and how to avoid them.
SEO has changed dramatically in the last few years but there are still too many SEO companies using unreliable, outdated strategies that at best don’t work, and at worst, could get your website heavily penalized by Google.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the next few minutes could be the best investment of your time that you make this year. At very least, it could save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds by helping you to avoid hiring the wrong SEO company.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve referenced Google as the search engine of choice because, quite frankly, it has by far the most significant share of all search traffic in the UK.
So grab a tea or coffee and read on…
Why Do You Think You Need an SEO Company?
Whenever we get a new enquiry about SEO, the first question we ask is why they want to hire an SEO company. Typically, we get the following response…
“We want our website to rank better so we need to hire an SEO company.”
And our response to this statement is “Why?”
It might sound a little odd asking a prospective Client why they want their website to ‘rank better’ but the reality is that most Clients aren’t focussing on what they really want to achieve, which is almost always an increase in customers. The mistake they make is assuming that SEO alone will help them to achieve that, which leads them down the wrong path.
How Most People Perceive SEO and Why They’re Usually Wrong
Let’s imagine you have a company that sells ‘Widgets’. You obviously want to sell more widgets via your website so, armed with the impression that SEO will help you to do that, you go about looking for an SEO company.
This is typically what happens…
CLIENT: “Hi, we want our website to rank better.”
SEO COMPANY: “Great – what keywords (search terms) do you want to improve?”
CLIENT: “We want to be on the first page of Google when people search for ‘Widgets’”
SEO COMPANY: “Okay, no problem – that will be £500.00 a month for 12 months.”
CLIENT: “So what do I get for that?”
SEO COMPANY: “We’ll definitely improve your ranking. We can’t guarantee to get you to page one of Google but after 12 months, we can review the campaign and if required, you simply sign another contract and we continue to improve your rank.”
CLIENT: “Excellent, how do I pay?”
Okay, this is a very simplified version of what typically happens but it isn’t far from how most businesses hire an SEO company. In the blink of an eye, the Client has spent/wasted £6,000.
The problem is that most business owners assume that SEO is like any other form of marketing – if you spend ‘X’, you can expect to improve your income by ‘Y’. Surely if your website appears on the first page of Google whenever somebody searches for ‘Widgets’, you’re bound to get more customers, right?
Hiring an SEO company this way is a recipe for failure.
The Facts About Competitive Search Terms (Keywords)
You’re probably thinking at this point that surely if you’ve committed £6,000 to a new SEO campaign and your website is going to rank on the first page of Google, you’re bound to get a ton of new customers that will more than justify your investment.
Let’s look at the reasons why this view is severely flawed.
SEO FACT ONE
Being on the first page of Google for a search term of little commercial value unless your website is ranked in the top 5. We’re pretty sure you use Google to search for products and services so ask yourself this – when was the last time you clicked a link to any website beyond the first five results on the first page of Google?
Statistics tell us that people rarely do. In fact, those first five websites tend to hoover-up 94% of the clicks for any given search. So, if you website is in position 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10, you’re going to get the scraps and nothing more. Yet the SEO company have fulfilled their obligation by getting your website on to the first page of Google.
SEO FACT TWO
Search results in Google are fluid. Let’s imagine that the SEO company over-achieves and gets your website to position one on the first page of Google. Fantastic – you’ll be coining it in for years won’t you? Sadly not.
The way Google ranks websites is controlled by a highly complex algorithm that changes on almost a daily basis. Google themselves have publicly stated that they look at over 200 individual factors to decide on which website pages they deliver when a user conducts a search. So it doesn’t take a genius to work-out that the constant and complex analysis of all these factors by Google will affect the position that any website ranks.
Beyond the frequent ‘tweaking’ of that algorithm, Google also implement a number of large-scale updates to their search results throughout the year. These updates can be highly volatile for some websites with position shifting from the position 1 to position 6, or even page 6 if they think your SEO company have been trying to beat the system by using unethical SEO methods.
If you’re in any doubt as to just how complex Google’s ranking system is, watch this video by their head of web spam, Matt Cutts. Even if you don’t watch the whole video, the first few minutes alone should at least demonstrate that SEO companies making ridiculous claims about how they can beat Google at their own game are misguided at best, or totally dishonest at worst…[x_video_embed type=”16:9″][/x_video_embed]
So let’s be clear here – no SEO company knows how Google rank websites so there is no warning or quick-fix to these updates. You could easily spend £6,000 and get that coveted position for a few months only to see Google move you to a less-favourable position after an update. Apologies for the cliché but putting all your eggs in one SEO basket is madness when you consider that neither you nor your SEO company has any control over Google’s updates or the methodology is uses to rank your website.
SEO FACT THREE
You are not the only company chasing a better rank. We’ve already identified that you really need your website to rank in the top five results to gain any extra business. This is fine if you only have four competitors in the world but unfortunately, most businesses have dozens, if not hundreds of competitors.
So let’s assume your website is ranking in the top five results – there are no doubt at least five other companies eyeing your position with envy. So what do they do? They hire an SEO company and that SEO company promises your competitor the same thing that your SEO company promised you – a page one rank.
But there’s a problem here – there are only 10 positions on the first page of Google and only five worth having. And so begins a massive bun-fight where you and your competitors throw more and more money at their SEO campaign to try and out-rank each other.
The irony is that none of you will ever achieve a stable rank as whenever you see any improvement, your competitors will up their game and you’ll drop down the rankings again. The only winners here are the SEO companies whose coffers are fuelled by their Clients obsession with rank.
Hopefully by now you can clearly see that this type of SEO strategy is severely flawed yet it doesn’t stop thousands of companies signing-up for this type of strategy every week.
Don’t be one of them.
So What’s The Alternative?
We’ve already mentioned that for most businesses, SEO is just a means to an ideal end but the reality is that if you want more customers then you need to look at a lot more than simply where your website ranks in the search engines.
Just as an example, which option would you rather have:
- OPTION 1 – to have 1,000 visitors to your website of which, 1% (10) buy from you
- OPTION 2 – to have 200 visitors to your website of which 10% (20) buy from you
Patently option 2 would be preferable for every business as it equates to double the sales of option 1. However, if you want to attain the conversion rate in option 2, SEO won’t help you – you need to look at a whole host of different factors on your website.
This is where you need the help of experts who can help you understand the way your visitors (customers) find and use your website. If you are going to spend a single penny on marketing this year then you should be investing it on developing a website that ranks for hundreds of different search terms and converts those visitors into real customers.
This is where we can help.
If you’d like to take advantage of a free consultation, simply CLICK HERE and we’ll give you a full and frank analysis of your website and ways you can improve both your visitor levels and conversions.
You got nothing to lose but an awful lot to gain.