Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) is something important, but also misunderstood. If you are the average client, you get your website designed just the way you like it, and then, once the site is launched, start to consider search engines. SEO is not a ‘bolt-on’ service. If you get it right the first time, in the form of good design, clean code and quality content to start with, you are already way ahead of the game, and it is critical to be thinking about search engines before you even start developing your website.
What does it mean to be “search optimised”?
Well, it is both a simple and not-simple answer. What does it mean to “have a good marriage”?
You might “be optimised”, but there is always something you can do to improve it. There are always external challenges that can undermine your efforts. Just like you would never say “well, we have a good marriage now!” and stop – you are never “fully optimised”. You still need to work at it.
But it is all about the right foundation: SSL, clean & search engine friendly code, decent server speed, mobile friendly, a good User Experience and relevant site content. Then, and only then, should you start thinking about the Advanced “SEO” stuff and the ongoing stuff that forms the SEO package.
I think you’d be surprised how few sites we inherit that are actually even close to the Design, Code & Content baseline we need.
In most cases, we end up rebuilding the client’s website for free just so we aren’t undermining our efforts. Sigh.
It’s about the User Experience.
Google puts users first, and so should every agency you deal with.
We certainly do.
As tech progresses rapidly, if you are not an old internet dragon like me, it is easy to think of these concepts as new. They aren’t new – they’re just increasingly sophisticated.
In 2001, Google had limited ability to determine ‘relevance’: the number of links you had to your site, your content, your sitemap. Of course, because crooks are crooks, an industry was spawned trying to exploit loopholes – remnants of which you see in comment spam, dodgy backlinks and “Top 10” lists.
Since then, determining ‘relevance’ has become incredibly sophisticated, and whilst the crooks will still try to hack their way around the rules, they always end up penalised, and the foundation is the same: is this website relevant to the user?
It’s not that hard.
Agencies will try to bamboozle clients with SEO tech and jargon. It is deliberate. Jargon, by definition, is designed to exclude and make you feel stupid, and unfortunately, in many cases, it is used to gaslight a client who has paid thousands of dollars a month to see nothing in return.
Imagine you need surgery. Surgery is *technically* complex, but what do you really need to know? What is wrong, how long it’ll take, how much time off work, what it’s going to cost, and what the result will be. Do you need to know what’s under the hood? No.
Do you want to know when you’re likely to feel better? Yes.
So, here’s what you need to know about SEO:
- Potential customer searches for answers to a problem. (Keyword Research & Insights)
- You then provide them with the answers they want, quickly and easily. (Content, Sitemap, Architecture & Technical Requirements)
- While you have them there, make it usable and attractive so they want to get in touch. (Information that is relevant to their problem, and engaging enough to convert)
Keep that in mind and you’ll be sweet.