When we put new websites live, we get asked a lot of questions about when the site will be picked up by Google and things around SEO. Maybe through bad experiences, being oversold in the past and a little misunderstanding of how SEO works, we come across a lot of unrealistic expectations.
As a digital agency, we do our absolute best to set expectations and clarify how SEO works. We thought we’d collate the most common misconceptions about SEO and let you know what to expect when your new website goes live.
#1 SEO is easy and it’s standalone
We’re bombarded daily (yes, even a digital agency) by emails promising first page rankings and the top spot on Google at laughable prices. It’s given the industry a pretty bad rap and probably one of the reasons that we’re lead to believe that SEO is easy and that it happens in some sort of vacuum.
With Google’s RankBrain (basically it’s an algorithm to help filter the most relevant search results), there’s a strong move towards quality over quantity. Understanding how SEO works together with things like content, page speed, user experience and mobile first is more important. Not only that but paid campaigns and your use of social media all work together as part of the bigger SEO picture. It’s more of an ecosystem and that isn’t going to be nurtured at $150 a month by some random person on the other side of the world.
#2 We want to rank for “insurance”
The idea that a website can rank for such general search terms and actually improve search volume is a huge mistake. When we work on SEO we keep it focussed, working on a handful of terms or keyword phrases at a time.
We’ll explain. We’ve worked with a wide variety of clients over the years and one of them specialised in window repair. With a business like this, it isn’t always about ranking where there are huge volumes of people competing for a general term such as ‘Glass repair’. They specialised in ‘Pilkington Planar glass repair’ so, whilst the search volume may not have been as high, it meant this specific term would bring the right clients to their business.
We recommend focussing on long tail search terms that will bring the right customers rather than optimising for broad terms that will bring empty results.
#3 Just SEO my site
We often get asked to “just SEO my site”. It’s not something you can do once and leave it to get on with it. The ongoing nurturing and investment in technical improvements is a long-term strategy. It’s important to set realistic, achievable targets and it definitely requires some patience.
SEO can take four to six months to start showing visible results. So if you have a slow period or a seasonal product, you need to be thinking of this well in advance or take advantage of PPC advertising if you want instant results.
#4 We just need backlinks
Sure, you can jump onto Fiverr.com and grab 1,000 backlinks (for a fiver). Warning, this could be hugely damaging to your website! Bad and poor quality backlinks will need to be cleaned up and you may even have to start over again on a new domain name.
Content and links will still be the foundation of SEO in 2018. However, I would sooner have a backlink from a high ranking website such as the guest blog we wrote for Jeff Bullas than have 1,000 poor backlinks.
#5 It’s been a week, why isn’t my site on the first page of Google?
One of the most common false expectations that clients have about SEO is expecting their new website to be on the first page of Google off the bat. We’ll say it again, SEO takes time. There are so many factors that go into and affect SEO it’s a little bit like a game of whack a mole. A site needs to be indexed, needs to be fed well (regular content), social media, great user design, it needs to be fast and it needs quality backlinks. These are just some of the factors at play to get ranked higher on Google.
Once all those elements are on the playing field, you need to keep them moving and maintain your rankings. And you can bet your bottom dollar that once you’re at the top of Google, your competitors will be quickly on your heels doing what they can to knock you off the top spot.
You need to be realistic about what keywords you’re going to try and rank for on Google. We’ll paint you a picture. Imagine you’re a successful BBQ style restaurant in Birmingham and you want to rank on the first page for “BBQ restaurant Birmingham”. If only it were that simple, right? When you press the big red button for your site going live, your site won’t shoot to the top of Google straight away.
You need to put the work in to increase your rankings. Aside from the internal work you can do for your site by publishing relevant content, updating your content regularly, Metadata, having links in your text and using alt tags; there is one other major thing you can do. Check out what your competitors are up to and who your online competitors are. “BBQ restaurant Birmingham” has a lot of competition!
There are a whole host of restaurants that have spent years getting themselves to the first page of Google. Then there are the likes of TripAdvisor and Groupon that have a huge amount of content that’s regularly updated because of the nature of their websites which helps their rankings. With these having high authority on Google, don’t expect to overtake them.
#6 SEO, it’s a team sport?
That’s right. We’ve often been hired to “SEO a site” and be left to get on with it but, it’s a team sport. Clients who think of it this way enjoy the highest success with us. You see we need stories, content, to expand the website and without being inside your business that’s hard to do without help. Often our clients have unique knowledge about their industry, products and customers – this is the magic that helps us to create great content. SEO is more about quality than quantity than it’s ever been.
Relevant and valuable content is key. Google wants to see in-depth content that’s at least 2,000 words long and contains the focus keyword but also the LSI keywords (words and phrases strongly associated with your page topic). Once we have the bones from you, the valuable insights we can go on to expand and create content that’s optimised and includes imagery, links and metadata.
- If you hire an SEO agency, be prepared to put in the work to help create relevant and valuable content with your knowledge and expertise. It’s a collaboration.
- If another company is offering you a million backlinks for the price of a cup of coffee, run away. You get what you pay for.
- If you’re in a hurry to get traffic and sales, use PPC and see results overnight. You can always use that insight to find the right keywords to optimise down the line.
- Have a little patience.