Thursday 26 September 2013

6 questions to ask a prospective SEO Company

1. Are people actually searching online for the products/services we offer?

There’s little point in investing in SEO unless you are going to see some sort of return (this can be measured in other ways than simply an increase in sales). Some industries still rely on word of mouth, rather than online search. This should be the first thing an SEO company researches.

2. What results should I expect and in what timeframe?

Asking this question will help you to gage what value can be added to your business by paying for SEO. It will also test that the firm has done their homework into your market and the competition you’re up against.

A good SEO agency should be able to predict an approximate timeframe that it will take to achieve page one positioning for each keyword you’re to be optimised for. And they should also be able to predict the approximate number of visitors your website can expect to achieve as a result of this.

Be wary of SEO agencies who promise valuable number one positioning within weeks. For competitive search terms this isn’t achievable without breaking some of Google’s rules (which, eventually, will get you de-listed or banned altogether).

SEO is a long-term game and every project differs.

3. Do you guarantee results?

SEO has a reputation for being mysterious, a ‘black art’. There’s a simple way to bust this myth: come up with the results! If an SEO company is not confident that they can do this, they shouldn’t embark on a project.

4. How have the recent Google Updates affected the SEO tactics you use?

This is an important question as the online world (Google in particular) is constantly changing. You want an SEO agency who predict and are ready for Google algorithm changes.

5. How will you report progress?

You most likely don’t want to listen to SEO jargon or look at graphs that you don’t understand. All you want to see is your website ranking rising in Google and visitor numbers increasing – can they provide you with that? Ask to see an example report and find out how often you will receive them.

6. Who will be working on my SEO project?

You’ll need a responsive, experienced and specialist team who you can meet-with regularly or call/email whenever. Ask to meet all of your team. Make sure that nothing will be internationally outsourced as this can lead to dodgy SEO practices which could get your website penalised in Google.

Keeping up with industry changes is almost a full time job in itself. So if you’re not going to get SEO from an agency who specialises only in SEO, make sure your team are all dedicated SEO specialists.

Friday 20 September 2013

Google revamps logo and search page

Yesterday the BBC published a news story about how Google has redesigned and revamped is famous homepage.

Plus a Google spokeswoman said that similar changes would now be "slowly rolled out" across all of its other products (YouTube videos, Android app Play Store etc).

We chatted to Mike Owen, MD of Violet Bick Brand Consultants, who had this to say:

"It’s great that Google are doing this, the key bit of their ‘move’ from a brand perspective is ‘preventing ‘distractions’’.

Google stands for ‘search’ - so they just focus on search. No distractions.

They can run their other brands (YouTube etc.) to deliver on the promises that they make. 

But it’s nice to see the Google search brand, that clearly has the money and awareness to broaden focus if it wants to, narrow its focus.

All great brands know this - and do this.

Google’s search product brand should get even stronger as a consequence."

So well done Google we say!

Monday 9 September 2013

Is SEO Dead?

One of our clients recently asked us, “Is SEO dead? I’ve been talking to people and reading ‘stuff’ that says it is”… which prompted me to write this post.

To a degree, traditional, old school SEO is dead yes. 

  • The days of getting as many links as possible to your website regardless of quality and relevance is dead (this method has never been ‘alive’ in our eyes).
  • The days of writing crappy content that no-one would ever read is dead.
  • The days of using exact match anchor text in your back links can now get you penalised.

I could go on and on.

Google is moving the goal posts. What used to work doesn’t anymore, and what’s more, what used to work will now get you into trouble.

Google wants to clean up its index. And so it should. Google only wants to display high quality and relevant links in the search results. Google wants its users to find what they’re looking for so they continue to use their search engine (so that Google can continue to make £££’s from AdWords PPC advertising).

SEO isn’t dead.  It's just changing shape.


It’s about knowing what Google wants. And Google wants its users to be happy. So there you go… simple… give your audience what they want and Google will be happy.

Here’s one tip on how to do this.

You must create high quality and relevant content – but what does that mean and how do you measure it?

What is good content? 


This basically means creating value to keep your audience engaged. Write content (whether it be website content, blog articles, news stories etc.) that your audience will actually spend time reading and will share with their own social network of followers and friends. Be an authority on your subject. Be opinionated. Your content should be compelling.

Good content can be measured by...

  • the number of times people link back to your website or blog
  • the number of retweets or followers you get on Twitter
  • how many people ‘circle’ you in Google+
  • how many comments your article or news story gets
  • how many people share your content within their own social network (known as word of mouth marketing)

There are many more things to consider of course. You need to know who your audience is so you can give them what they want.

What else should we think of?

It isn’t all about content. Think branding, website design, site usability/ease of use, product/service pricing, authority/respect, USP (unique selling point) and more.

But these are for another post.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Out with the Old and in with the New: Google Keyword Tool becomes Google Keyword Planner

There have been many grumblings in the world of SEO this week as Google replaced the much loved Google Keyword Tool with Google Keyword Planner. 

Google Keyword Tool is (or was) as important for SEO companies as stethoscopes are for doctors.  We used it to analyse an industry’s most valuable keywords – which form the backbone of any SEO project.

So what now? 

Well, we get on with business as normal. 

So here are four things that we like about Google Keyword Planner:

1. You can now target cities and regions.  Previously you could only ‘zoom in’ to see national search volumes (a search volume is how many times a keyword is searched for each month either nationally in the UK or globally worldwide). Now you can ‘zoom in’ to look at searches made within a city. This will help us further fine tune the keywords we target on behalf of clients, especially if they operation regionally.

2. Keyword Planner includes data across all platforms. This includes people making searches from a desktop pc, phones and tablets, rather than just searches made on a computer.

3. Quick access to historical search data. Enabling us to see trends for a search term over the previous twelve months. These trends help give us insights into how people will potentially search for any given keyword in the future.

4. You can now multiply keyword lists. This comes in handy when you have a client offering multiple services across a few different regions, as it allows you to get search data for all of the combinations of up to three lists of keywords.

There are some complaints we could make about the new tool, but that’s always the case with something new because change is uncomfortable for us humans.  

We just figure that we have to get on with it. Google Keyword Tool is gone so we must focus on getting the same deep, granular level, insights into our client’s industries with Google Keyword Planner.