The world of search engine optimization can be a peculiar place for anyone not closely involved in it. Seriously, who cares that my headers are the wrong size? Does it matter that link is a nofollow (whatever that is)? Basically, why does my website need SEO?
One of the most common themes I’ve heard in my relatively short time as an SEO is: my site doesn’t get that many hits, but I’m not that bothered.
How bizarre does that sound? You’ve gone to the effort of buying a domain name, paying for hosting, and handing over a load of money for somebody to build you a website, but because the billions of people using the internet haven’t kicked down your virtual doors, you’ve decided that it’s not worth the hassle after all.
Of course it is!
Word Of Mouth On The Moon
“I get loads of work through word of mouth!” I hear you bellow. I’m not doubting it for a second, but just consider all the word of mouth recommendations that you’re missing out on; it genuinely could add up to thousands of pounds worth of missed opportunities.
The difference between ranking No.1 on Google for a particular keyword (as it’s sunny outside, let’s say Gardeners In Manchester) and No. 100 is astronomical. Almost literally, if you’ll allow me to tease out this analogy over the next couple of paragraphs.
The website sitting pretty at the top of the rankings is raking in more hits, and – in theory at least – getting more leads and sales than any of its competitors. It’s like having a shop in the best location in town with a fantastic window display and a bouncy castle with Harry Styles doing somersaults on it.
By the time you get to 100th, or even 50th place, potential customers simply won’t find you. You might as well be operating out of a battered shed on the Moon which only opens on Wednesday afternoons. Ignoring the fact that that’d be quite a PR coup in itself and that you’d no doubt get the occasional passing Clanger, in essence, you don’t exist.
Each new customer you gain on the internet is another person who is willing to tell all their friends, and that could be particularly lucrative for our Mancunian gardeners over the summer.
This is where SEO comes in.
The ‘SEO Is Expensive’ Myth
Contrary to popular belief, search engine optimization doesn’t have to be convoluted or expensive. There are some eye-wateringly pricey options out there, but those are generally reserved for large websites with thousands of pages, rather than the typical 5-page virtual presence which most small businesses quite rightly opt for.
SEO is a reasonably logical process. If a title tag is altered to be more keyword, customer, and search engine friendly, it will likely see your site move gently forward. Blend in the myriad of other tags and content tweaks which can be made, along with internal and external links, citation submissions and social media work, and you’ve got a good base for propelling your site into the upper echelons of the results.
Why Not Just Do It Yourself?
You can do, the basic stuff honestly isn’t all that tricky. That said, it does take a fair amount of time to wrap your head around it, and with the pace of change in the world of SEO, getting your advice from an outdated source could be lethal to your page.
SEO changed forever, and for the better, in 2011 when Google introduced their Panda algorithm update. The days of writing for search engines instead of customers were numbered, and sites with the same phrase repeated ad nauseum were banished to history’s electronic dustbin. If you were to follow all the tips from a 2004 SEO article on how to optimize your home page (shudder!), it could very well have the opposite effect nowadays.
I think it’s time for another analogy. You might be half decent at baking at home, but you probably wouldn’t make your sister’s wedding cake.