So, I’m pissed off again. I’m going to apologise in advance, because I’m about to get very annoyed.
The reason I’m going to get very annoyed is because I’m still seeing these web designers saying that they’re including SEO (search engine optimisation) in their packages – as though SEO is something that you can just drop into a website, plug it in, and then it’s all good.
I’ve talked about this before on a podcast, where designers advertise their website package by saying it includes SEO, which gives people completely the wrong impression. They think SEO is something that can just … be included. The number of times I’ve had conversations with people who think that a website they’ve had built includes SEO, as though it’s a switch you can flip, is staggering.
SEO isn’t just something that you include with a website. It’s not a button you press, and then suddenly your website has SEO – it doesn’t work like that. I’ve tried to put this into words before, and I think I’ve probably failed due to the complexities of what SEO actually is, and why it isn’t something that a web designer can just “include”. I’m going to try and make this as clear as I possibly can, and apologies if I get angry – but when a web designer says that they’re building you a website that includes SEO, what they really mean is they are ripping you off, and talking absolute horsesh*t.
The only thing that website designers can include, and what all websites SHOULD include, as a bare minimum, is for it to be search engine friendly. It should be built in a way that search engines can index; so, for example, it may include things like search engine-friendly URLs, and your H1 tags. It should also be fast loading, with text, and not too many images. This is the absolute minimum that developers should be providing you with, to ensure you show up on a search engine in the first place.
I wrote an article today for a page on our own website, and I went through some of the things that SEO includes, which I’m trying to think of now off the top of my head.
What does SEO actually involve?
First of all, you need to think of your ideal target client. You need to work out who they are, what they need, where they are right now, what kind of problems they have, and what solution they’re searching for. You need to know who you’re aiming at before you do anything else.
Then, there’s your keyword research. Now you know what problems they’ve got, and you know what they need from you, you need to figure out which keywords to use. So, what search terms are your ideal clients putting into Google? What is the search volume for these; how many people are looking for them, how competitive are they? Are they keywords with intent to purchase, or are they just information gathering keywords?
Then, you’d look at your competitors – what are your competitors doing? Do a full analysis on their website. Analyse their content structure, what content they’re writing, how often they’re creating content, and what landing pages they have. How are they getting their inquiries? Do they have a contact form, a quote form? Do they use lead magnets?
Then, you do a full link analysis on your own website. What links have you got coming in, and how many of those links are what’s called toxic links? Are they bad links from poor directories – did you employ someone to do SEO in the past that paid for load of links from really poor-quality websites? If you did, you need to get rid of these, because you’re going to struggle with the rankings otherwise.
Then, you would look at your content strategy yourself. What should you be writing about? Create a full strategy on the type of content you’re going to do, breaking it down into Infinite different levels of content that you’re going to structure over the next 6 months, over the next 12 months, maybe even over the next 24 months. This is the content that people are going to come in on, and it needs to be written again for your ideal target client, and with their needs in mind so that they resonate with you. Your content is not written for you, remember.
Then, you would look at the technical SEO on the website. Do you have any issues that are stopping your website from being ranked? Do you have issues with page speed; do you have issues with 404 errors on the website, so that pages are disappearing? Do you have a problem with your link structure on your website, so that you’ve got pages that are not being linked properly? Are you channelling the right links into the pages that you want to be ranking?
Then, you’d look at the actual keyword rankings and the traffic that you’re getting on your website, to see where you’re ranking, and where your competitors are ranking. How can you improve this? The people coming through to the website – what are they actually doing when they get there? Are they doing what you want them to do, or are they disappearing off? Are they following through the paths that you want them to follow?
Then, you would look at the value of the inquiries you’re getting. Is it the right kind of inquiries, is it the right kind of people, is it the sort of business that you want to be getting?
Then, you would look at the conversions. Why are people not inquiring with you? How can you improve that – what minor tweaks can you make to make that better, to get a better return on your investment?
Then, you would go back through and do all of this again, and again, and again. You’d need to keep on improving, keep on tweaking, keep on making those changes. I’ve not even mentioned Google’s updates yet – I’ve not even mentioned the fact that Google makes changes to its algorithm update several times PER DAY. In 2021, it had 5,000 changes made to its algorithm throughout the course of the year. How are you supposed to keep on top of those sort of things?
Well, you need to keep on top of those things, because something that works today might not work tomorrow. You need to know all of this, but let’s not forget that when web designers put their websites live, they say it includes SEO. Does it boll*cks.
SEO isn’t a magic button you can press
So, please remember, when you are talking to a web designer: if they tell you that the websites they build include SEO – they don’t. They haven’t got the faintest clue of what SEO is. It is far more complicated than something that you can just sprinkle onto a website – that you can click a button on, and it’s going to magically happen. It requires an ongoing process, where you need to keep refining, changing and reviewing, again and again, to get the most out of your website.
Now, I’m going to go away and lie down in a dark room. Thank you very much for listening, I’ve been Darren, this has been The Engaging Marketeer, and hopefully, if I’ve not put you off, I’ll see you on the next episode.
About your host:
Darren has worked within digital marketing since the last century, and was the first in-house web designer for video games retailer GAME in the UK, known as Electronics Boutique in the States. After co-founding his own agency, Engage Web, in 2009, Darren has worked with clients around the world, including Australia, Canada and the USA.
Engaging Marketeer: https://engagingmarketeer.com
Engage Web: https://www.engageweb.co.uk