I will never forget the interesting article I read written by a guy in Australia who had built up a very large SEO business based on the model of making sure they could bring on more subscribers to their service on the front end than they lost at the other end. Absolutely nothing wrong with that business model, but they did a little work on the client’s website in month one, and then did exactly nothing from therein. If anyone finds the original article please send over the link, it was called the SEO scam or something of that nature. It was at least nine years ago now, so may be lost in the depths of search results, quite ironically!
This unfortunately is very common and has been for many years. Businesses will move between SEO companies that promise the earth, but rarely deliver, which only gives the market a bad name for those that provide a credible service. My own personal experience over the last few years is coming across a number of businesses who are paying anything up to £1000/month for an SEO service, but not getting anywhere near what was promised.
I remember login into an ecommerce website selling sports clothing where the business had been paying £750/month for an SEO service for a good seven months. This was the third SEO company they had used in as many years, and their website was still languishing in the depths of pages other than page one or even 2-10 for the most relevant of keywords. I logged into the site with them, and there was no sign of any SEO work on the site whatsoever, and essentially the company had done absolutely nothing for their monthly fee. The business owner was in shock, and I advised them to immediately cancel their contract with the SEO company. Once I explained what they should be seeing with a fully optimised website and how the process of SEO worked, anger most certainly took over. At the time, I really felt for the business owners, they had paid a small fortune for a service that wasn’t being implemented!
The SEO myth
Way back in the days before Google (amazingly not that long ago) the acronym ‘SEO’ hadn’t yet been invented, and business were paying knowledgeable web companies to submit their website every month to approximately 12 leading search engines. The likes of Ask Jeeves, Netscape and many others. This I remember was a service that cost around £75 a month for continuous monthly resubmission. Once the more sophisticated search engines like Google came into the market with algorithms that could detect certain elements of content, we subsequently saw the birth of SEO as a service, and a number of SEO specialists grew very quickly as the ‘Golden Egg’ of high ranking coincided perfectly with Broadband speeds and more people using the search engines to find products and services.
This was the time where the legitimate SEO specialists would invariably be charging a set up cost to make sure the websites structure was search engine compliant, before even embarking on an ongoing process of link building, directory submissions and keyword rich content writing. Link farming tools and services hit the market where you could build up huge amounts of inbound links, which suggested to less than sophisticated search engines (unlike today) that your website was highly relevant. It must be, because everyone is linking to it!
We then saw significant updates with algorithms that would detect and penalize websites that had excessive non-relevant inbound links, and the whole market started to back track on the work it had done previously. Black hat techniques were creeping in more and more, and even some of the largest brands we know today were being warned by search engines to adopt a more legitimate approach to gaining high ranking for their website pages. A typical technique was to have a footer full of white text on white backgrounds detailing as many relevant keywords as possible.
As the search engines algorithms became more sophisticated, the lean towards more and more relevant content coincided with a revolution in open source platforms (the leaders being WordPress, Magento, Drupal, and Joomla), all of which were developed to create technology that naturally delivered website structures that were search engine friendly, and the focus for gaining high ranking was about pure relevancy of content. Introducing a level of continuous new content to the website became the mainstay of a good SEO practice. The initial technical input to restructure a website had become less and less relevant as websites were being renewed, and the process of SEO was first to make sure the existing website content was fully optimized, and then to look at building an SEO plan around new content, gaining traction with all relevant keywords that your potential clients/customers would use to search for your products and services. Therefore, maximizing traffic potential!
That was at least five years ago, so what is still happening today?
However, even today we still see large SEO service fees being paid with not a word of new content being written. So, if the website is fully ‘SEO’d’, yes you may make some minor tweaks to improve those pages each month, but without new content being written and added regularly the opportunity to gain further ranking and traction with the search engines is negligible. Businesses are still paying huge fees without any additional content being added to their blog, case study section, testimonials, or anywhere else on their websites.
My advice is very simple! If you are paying anything above a few hundred pounds per month for SEO services, and the SEO company isn’t at least writing one piece of new content for your website for this fee, then you are certainly wasting your money. It really is that simple.
The process of SEO now is around 95% content writing, and 5% SEO, with the latter making the odd tweak to existing content following any trends or changes to monthly search statistics, and of course optimising that brand new content. This is a service which should be based on extensive keyword research to establish exactly what search terms are being used every month to find your products and services. If this isn’t reflective of your SEO marketing expenditure, my advice is to stop it now and don’t waste your valuable marketing budget. It really is that simple.
Although digital marketing has now evolved with many avenues to proactively drive traffic to your website, the reactive process of organic search is still a highly important part of the marketing mix, and every business should be focusing on continuous marginal gains to build relevance and high ranking on the search engines.
If you want to know more about how to optimize your website effectively, please get in touch!