Everyone who’s anyone knows that SEO is dead, right? It’s all about PPC advertising when it comes to Google nowadays – and then there’s social … don’t forget about social. But SEO? Who cares, right? Wrong.
Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO for short) still blows every other channel away when considering these two simple truths.
- Nothing converts better than organic search traffic. Nothing.
- Once it’s built, SEO traffic is (effectively) free.
From here, the math’s is so simple that even a parent homeschooling in a pandemic can understand it;
- The cost of organic search traffic is lower than any other channel.
- The value of that traffic to your business is higher than any other channel.
Suppose you accept (like I do) that these two points are absolutely 100% true. Then why aren’t we all climbing over ourselves to get on board the SEO train?
Answer? The problem with SEO isn’t anything to do with the above two truths now being challenged. Because they’re not. Instead, the problem with SEO is that it has become a far more competitive space than it ever used to be.
The best way to look at SEO is like a sport. Specifically, like a marathon. You can only have one winner in any marathon, and only a few players get to stand on the podium at the end of the race. SEO is the same. Only one business can be ranked first for their chosen keywords. Only a handful of companies get to appear on page one of Google’s Search Engine Results (the SERP).
In a marathon, you need tactics, strategy, and the ability to back yourself over the long term. SEO is the same.
But winning isn’t easy. SEO is hypercompetitive. It’s challenging to become a success. It’s even more challenging to become a success on your own.
- In 2016 the internet surpassed a significant milestone of having 1 Billion websites.
- In 2021, that number is now closer to 1.9 Billion.
It’s nearly doubled in just five years, and that’s just the volume of the competition. The quality of the competition has also increased exponentially.
Any small business owner in Australia can do the best thing to help them win the SEO game is to invest in a digital marketing agency and then work with them closely to get the most out of that investment.
Here are five ways to make sure you get the very best return on that SEO investment;
1. Specify Your SEO Goals
Look at the specific range of services that the particular SEO agency is offering. Do they align with your SEO goals?
Identify specific areas of your business’s online presence that require work. For instance, if your company decides that it requires a new website, the agency should know what needs to be done. Check to make sure they’ve got loads of experience working with your site’s Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress.
2. Collect Important Information
Write a list of the things that are important to your business. Then as you’re assessing one agency against another, you can dig into things like case studies, customer reviews, online testimonials, and more to find out how you think they’ll perform against the items on that list. Google makes hundreds of changes to their search algorithm each year, so making sure they’re up to speed on the latest SEO trends is extremely important.
3. Understand the Techniques Used
The easiest way (of course) to see how your SEO agency is going is to measure the increase in organic search traffic they’re getting you. Both in terms of volume and value. But getting this type of crystal clear result from SEO takes time. Even when it’s done well, so it’s essential in the interim that you try to understand what tactics your agency is going with, how they are supposed to work, and specifically what they aim to achieve for you. If you don’t understand their explanation, ask them to simplify their answer for you. If they can’t do that, then it’s likely they don’t know themselves. The golden rule in digital is that you shouldn’t invest in anything you don’t understand or learn how to track.
Some of the top SEO metrics for tracking are:
- Leads & sales
- Bounce rate
- Website speed
- Keyword rankings
- CTR or Click-Through Rate
- Organic traffic (overall)
- Backlinks and Domain Authority
4. Be Realistic About Your Budget
Before you even start looking for a reliable SEO agency, you need to know what your overall budget is going to be. How much are you capable of spending? Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Look for specific SEO packages that fall within the budget range and that you would be comfortable sustaining over several months (not days or weeks). You should also consider the risks associated with low-cost SEO agencies based in other countries. A lot of SEO success pertains to local market knowledge.
5. Always Look for What they can Guarantee
This point isn’t what it seems to be on the surface. Sure, it’s always good to buy from a company that guarantee’s results, but unless you’re buying SEO services from Google directly, that company is not in any position to guarantee anything (like you being ranked #1 by next Thursday). Be wary of people that make such claims. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no way that any agency can 100% predict the SERPs of your website accurately. While most SEO agencies have an excellent idea of delivering optimum results, they’re not in charge of Google’s algorithm or your competitors’ websites. That’s why you need to make an effort to understand what they’re looking to do and how you can track and measure results.
Remember, SEO takes investment. So it’s up to you get the most out of it.
SEO can be one of the best investments that you can make as a small business. But it’s a hyper-competitive and fast-changing space. To win, you’re going to need some help. Choosing the right agency is critical, leveraging that relationship to ensure you get the best possible return. Collaborate and stay engaged with the process over the longer term. Remember, there is no overnight success. But if you invest consistently and work hard to leverage that investment – the equity you build in that asset can be life-changing.
Learn why cashflow is the key to small business marketing here.