SEO is probably one of the most missold marketing services. It’s not uncommon for web design agencies to sell “SEO” as an add-on service. They tack £300 on the invoice and hand you a website that they assure you is optimised for search engines. In reality, this is so rarely the case.
So, if you’re confused about what SEO is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We get that learning about sitemaps and robots files isn’t for everyone, so we’ve pulled together three of the most common SEO questions we hear from clients. Hopefully, this should help clear up some of the confusion.
1. Can’t you just fix my site so it goes to the top of Google?
Every marketing agency or freelance SEO specialist WISHES they had the magic wand that could help sites to rank or the direct line to Google to let them know about this great new site that needs to be launched to the top of the rankings. Unfortunately, any agency offering these things is a liar. Liar, liar, pants on fire.
It’s true in some cases that there are quick fixes such as turning off a site-wide NOINDEX/NOFOLLOW directive which can help to boost rankings almost immediately. If your rankings and traffic have tanked after leaving an agency, it’s worth checking if they have turned this on in revenge. Or if the site is new, the developer may have used this setting to prevent the WIP site from being indexed.
Short of these examples above, there is no quick fix to launch your site to the top of Google. After making SEO optimisations to your site, you might experience a brief surge in rankings and traffic, but then you might not. All it comes down to is whether or not your site is providing the content that Google deems to be valua.e
Think about how people use search engines?
Think about the last search you did. It was probably longer than 5 words long and it probably asked a question that you wanted to know the answer to. For example:
“what’s the best internet provider for small businesses”
“how do I generate more leads?”
“where can I find coworking spaces in Nottingham?”
Unless your site offers the answers to the questions your audience is searching for, then no amount of SEO optimisations or wizardry is going to help you. You need to work backwards from your customer personas to think about the questions they need answers to. From here, you can research the keywords and then write the content that will best engage your audience.
So, you can’t just make my site rank at #1?
Sadly, no, it’s a little more complicated than this. That said, it isn’t impossible when working with the right growth marketing strategy.
2. How much is SEO for my site?
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Many of the tasks are time-consuming and require a comprehensive knowledge of SEO in order to be successful. You could go off on your own and do an on-page SEO checklist, carry out keyword research and write some new meta titles, but this wouldn’t yield the results you’re looking for. Not to mention, it would be super time-consuming!
The issue we face with pricing is the huge disparity between the individuals who think it’s simple to work and should, therefore, be cheap, and those who appreciate the value. There’s also the issue that SEO pricing should be individual to a company.
Each company is unique, so a one-size-fits-all approach might benefit some sites, but it will penalise others.
So, it’s about £99 a month, right?
There’s no shortage of people selling the one-size-fits-all approach for £99 a month. You’ll identify them by their 3-month guarantee. It might seem great that they offer a guarantee, but often what this means is they simply scarper after 3 months.
You will have spent almost £300 on SEO and your SEO “guru” will have done very little work. They might even employ damaging practices such as spammy link building.
In this video from Google, they attempt to explain to business owners what SEO is and how it should work. Their intentions are good, but ultimately, their message is more damaging than positive. This video supports the idea that SEO should never be expensive. In reality, the price you pay depends on your existing site, the industry you operate in and how much work is required to bring your site up to scratch.
Okay, okay, how much is it then?
It’s impossible to put a figure on this, but if you’re working with a brand new site with zero traffic, you should expect to pay a fair amount. This could mean anything from £15K to £50K but again, this will all depend on your business and industry. No matter how much you pay, there’s nothing stopping your competitors from paying more.
3. How long will it take for the SEO to work?
To the casual observer, this looks like a reasonable question. As a business owner, it’s understandable that you would want to know if you’re going to be paying for SEO services for 1 month, 2 months or 6 months before you see results. It wouldn’t make good business sense to NOT ask these questions. However, answering this depends on your site and your business.
Imagine you’re living in a town with just 300 people, let’s call it Remoteville. You run the only pizzeria in Remoteville. Ranking for “pizza remoteville” isn’t going to be difficult. However, if you also sell bespoke pizza ovens to restaurants all over the world, then ranking for “bespoke pizza oven” is going to be a whole lot more difficult.
Let go of the number 1 mentality
A client recently asked us how long it would take to get to number one for all of their keywords. It sounds harsh, but the best step for this company to take is to let go of the idea that they will ever rank at #1 for every term.
Every keyword has a different level of competition. It might be easy to get to the top for some keywords. It might even be easier to hold on to these top spots. But other keywords won’t be as simple.
Focus on sustained growth
Instead of getting caught up in the positions of your keywords, focus instead on the traffic and conversions. Rankings don’t pay the bills. Traffic doesn't pay the bills. Conversions pay the bills. If you want instant results, a PPC strategy might be more appropriate, but this will incur two charges.
You will first need to pay for the PPC consultant to set up, manage and optimise your campaigns, and then you’ll also have to pay for your PPC spend. If you want sustained website growth, investing this money in SEO is a better long-term strategy. You could publish a single piece of content that brings in leads for years to come.
SEO isn’t a quick fix and you should avoid working with anyone who leads you to believe that they have all the answers. Have a little patience and you could soon be bringing high-intent traffic to your site.
I'm Paul Gordon an SEO freelancer who has spent the last 16 years helping businesses expand and grow through effective SEO strategies.