The difference between good and bad SEO practises within companies
By Stephen Hudson - SEO Consultant.
Having recently started working for Orantec it has become clear to me that companies use SEO in various ways and different companies feel differently about the way in which it should be implemented!
Google's power over SEO
Understanding Search Engine Optimisation is fairly straightforward, after a couple of weeks you can understand the basics and optimise content fairly quickly. However mastering SEO is a completely different process altogether. SEO is constantly changing, mainly thanks to Google’s continuous changes to the way it ranks websites. Once upon a time gaining a high ranking was as easy as farming links and stuffing keywords but now you have to be focused, organised and work within Google’s parameters. Google now favours content marketing, which means in order to rank highly you’ll need to produce regular content that is unique, optimised and written for human consumption. The content also needs to provide search engines with all the necessary information they require in order to understand the webpage.
Biggest company SEO shortfalls
Poor link-building techniques
Since joining Orantec three weeks ago, my knowledge and experience of SEO has vastly improved and I’ve learnt an awful lot of new techniques and procedures regarding SEO. While the basics of SEO haven’t drastically changed, how to implement them has. Perhaps the most poignant aspect of SEO I’ve picked up is the number of elements that will see your website take a one way ticket onto Google’s blacklist and see you grovel for Google’s forgiveness. I’ve worked for companies that saw me constantly posting on forums and blogs in order to generate links for websites, something that Google considers to be an unethical way of link building. Not only that but forum users don’t want to read hundreds of comments filled with links that direct to a website, especially if the links aren’t relevant! There is nothing wrong with posting relevant links on forums that add to the conversation, but it would be better if SEO marketers took the time to read up and explore possible linking opportunities and then produce a friendly email to ask a website for a backlink, whilst offering other services as well instead of imposing dodgy links to everyone. This will hopefully build friendships that can help both parties in the future!
If the first couple of weeks at Orantec have shown me anything it’s that duplicate content is an easy way of destroying search rankings. I’ve worked on numerous websites in the past, some good and some bad and the bad all had one thing in common, duplicate content! One of my previous roles saw me work for a company who had a group of websites that offered similar products, unfortunately they had reused a lot of content for each and their rankings suffered because of it.
Regrettably for smaller companies they are stuck in a vicious cycle; SEO is low on their priority list as they don’t want to allocate the proper funding to it, but websites that are not properly optimised will naturally struggle to make enough money to survive online. Producing unique content that people will want to read and share is key to website rankings and will eventually see a company’s reputation and profits increase!
Why Social Media is important to SEO
Over the last decade I’ve seen new technologies change the way companies work, and nothing has made getting your name out there easier than social media. Yet I’ve had numerous conversations with managers and company owners who feel social media isn’t the way to market a product. A couple of these people view social media as a waste of time and something youths use to waste away the day. This is something I strongly disagree with; I agree that social media alone isn’t going to get you anywhere but combined with good SEO, social media is a powerhouse that more companies should invest time in. Imagine this: you’ve just developed a new product and you want people to read about it, talk about it and eventually buy it. You would naturally create a page on your website that has all the right key words, headings, images, alt tags and so on. Unfortunately, unless your website already has a large audience, without social media you’d have to rely on Google indexing it. While a number of different factors can affect how quickly this is achieved it isn’t as fast as word of mouth, which is essentially what social media is. If you had social media accounts you would be able to instantly share your product with the world and if the content you produce is unique and worthwhile people are more likely to share with their friends and followers. So as you can see producing and sharing regular content that is optimised, unique and relevant will enable your business to grow and expand. However like SEO, social media takes time to generate results. You’ll need to build up a following and put in the time and effort to build relationships.
The importance of targeting the right audience
Another tool (along with SEO) designed to generate sales and traffic to a website is Google’s AdWordsPPC service. The software allows a company to generate an advert that appears on the search results depending on the keywords that are searched for. There are a number of factors that can affect how highly an advert will rank and unfortunately many companies feel that the most important is the amount of money you’re willing to pay per click on the advert. This is not true; many companies that I’ve worked with in the past throw a lot of money behind keywords that don’t necessarily generate the audience they want. For example if you’re trying to generate sales then there is no point in paying a fortune for a keyword that ranks highly and generates a lot of traffic if no one actually buys anything whilst on the website.
I’ve also worked with some companies who chose to focus on a smaller, less competitive set of keywords that cost less to target but actually generate the traffic they want. AdWords isn’t the easiest software to understand and use but once you do it comes down to this: choosing the right keywords ensures that you target the right audience, i.e. potential buyers and not just visitors. What matters is a high conversion rate more than a high click through rate.
Different companies undertake a variety of SEO procedures, some participate in unethical techniques, some may use all the practices mentioned above to boost their SEO performance and others may only choose to use one or two. Nevertheless the one thing I’ve noticed during my time in SEO is that it’s a field that is constantly changing and there are a lot more aspects to SEO than those mentioned here. Even though I’ve got experience and knowledge using SEO I’ve still got a lot to learn; SEO is a constant learning process and one that I’m very much looking forward to!