SEO has changed massively over the last 3-5 years.
There used to be a time when you would pick some keywords and then stuff them into as many pages as you can then…..voila!
There used to be a time when Google would release a major update to it’s algorithm twice a year. Now it’s like almost every month.
There used to be a time when you could pay someone, or an agency, who would build you 50 links per month……regardless of where those links are placed. Trust me, I’ve found links to a Quantity Surveying business from a site that sells boats in Australia. I’ve found links to a Construction Consultancy from a cosmetic surgery site. I don’t blame anyone other than the marketers of the businesses – put it down to ignorance and naivety?
There used to be a time when SEO was always about pagerank. Now it’s useless but you’ll still here agencies selling you this metric.
Then Google started updating it’s algorithm more frequently targeting sites adopting bad link building practices, sites with thin/spammy content and sites with pages that contained too much advertising (ads to text ratio).
Now you’ll hear SEO’s and agencies talking about content marketing and earned, paid and owned media and how social media will help you get to #1 in Google instantly. It’s just all got a tad bit confusing.
So here are some common questions I get asked frequently by marketers in Construction and some takeaways for you to remember and bear in mind when you approach “SEO”.
1) Will referral traffic from social sites increase our rankings?
Not directly. But let’s just think about the referring site for one second. If you are getting referral traffic from social sites then your content is obviously attracting visitors. It also increases your chances that maybe just one of those visits will enjoy, like or share your page with their social connections.
Thus, increases it’s reach and discoverability.
If this occurs, then the more likely someone else may reference your content in their content due to discovering your amazing content.
If this happens then you’ve just earned yourself a link. Well done.
So tweeting more links to your content, sharing articles in LinkedIn is only part of the jigsaw puzzle – it helps gets your content discovered. This is where a lot of construction marketers fail, they spend all their budget on creating the content, leaving nothing for promoting it. Getting it discovered.
It’ll get shared if it’s good, people will like it, pin it, bookmark it but these social signals are only a small part of search engines ranking factors. See this post on Google ranking factors. << See, I linked to this because it’s good.
2) The more I tweet my content, the better it is for SEO because they’re all links right?
No. Google isn’t that stupid.
In simple terms, Google ignores links on social sites (won’t carry any weight) because if it did, then we’d all be spamming the crap out of all social sites right?
Below tweet shows you that the link back to my website www.constructionmarketingpodcast.co.uk is ignored hence why it’s in pink.
You can download and use a browser tool called Mozbar to help you identify followed links (accepted by Google) and nofollowed links (ignored by Google) on websites you visit. If you find a relevant & quality website containing lots of followed links then think about what you can do to get your content on that site and earn yourself a link.
So, more links back to my website on Twitter = more links for SEO benefits?
Go re-read the answer to #1.
Sharing your content on social sites will help get your content discovered. Discovered by your customers, influencers, distributors, journalists, editors, agencies, bloggers and everyone else in the world. If it’s any good, it’ll get a link one day.
3) If we do PPC, it’ll help increase our rankings right?
Yes, I’ve seen it with my own eyes that organic rankings have jumped when businesses also invest in PPC (Pay Per Click advertising or Google Adwords).
It’s clever tactic which Google uses to hook you in. Think of it like this.
Using PPC is like giving your website a short term drug to improve it’s organic positions. Eventually, you will stop using PPC (withdrawal of the drug) because I can guarantee right now that you haven’t factored in PPC in your 2015 budget and then you’ll see your website move lower again.
So you panic and you kick start PPC again to get it back up again a little more.
It then becomes an addiction – you have to do PPC. You never intended to, but your site got addicted to it and now it needs it. You need it too because you want to look good right?
Before you know it, you’ve spent just as much money on PPC as you could’ve by investing in a more sustainable approach. Let alone time. Lots of wasted time and budget.
Remember, we’re not in an industry selling mobile phones, all inclusive holidays or loans – we have time to implement more sustainable strategies and less aggressive, short term tactics.
So, yes, PPC does help but don’t use it as a drug – you need to think about how it can be a part of your plan (sustainable approach) so you’re not reliant on it for traffic and conversions.
4) An agency guaranteed they can get us to #1 for search terms X,Y,Z – should I be cautious?
Yes. There are no guarantees when it comes to SEO. If anyone guarantees you anything when it comes to SEO then run. Run as far away as you can from these people.
Even if you followed every rule in the book – there are still no guarantees. Ok, if you followed every rule in the book and you had awesome optimised content, solid links back from other reputable sites and super website which people love coming back to then there’s a good chance you’d be in the top 3 position for a range of relevant terms anyway.
SEO requires testing, experimenting and measuring on a continual basis. Some pages will work better than others for whatever reason – remember there are lots of ranking factors. LOTS!!
One page could load slower than another. One gets more social shares in a shorter space of time than another. One has a high bounce rate than another and so on.
There are no guarantees. It may take 18 months before you figure out that you need to speed up your website and not try and acquire links to increase your rankings.
5) We want an SEO campaign to run for 6 months – is this something you can do?
Ok, if anyone asks me this – I run for the hills.
No not really, but what I do do is offer them a training session on SEO and content marketing to bring them up to speed and manage their expectations as well as budget.
Firstly, SEO isn’t a campaign as such.
It’s nor a project. It can be though if you have some technical things to fix first such as redirects, duplicated content etc.
Nor does SEO have an end date.
For me, SEO is a process. A process made up of small tasks which is then embedded within every stage of your content marketing process. It’s a series of technical, writing, publishing and promotion tasks.
What’s essential is that you develop an internal process or guidelines and follow this process. Set some guidelines for uploading content, optimising it, writing good phrases, linking to other content and then making your page enjoyable to read and easy to share.
Once you get into a habit of following this process it then becomes a routine – you then no longer need an external SEO agency (have you also noticed that SEO agencies are now becoming Content Marketing Agencies?).
My philosophy has always been to teach SEO – internal teams should be doing it themselves – not relying on external agencies. It’s not hard. Agencies should be helping you to create content. That’s where your budget should go.
In my opinion, the construction industry isn’t a fast moving sector online – unlike payday loans or mortgages, credit cards, flights, holidays and pop stars. Therefore, things don’t and won’t change that often. In my 10 years experience, the most I’ve seen rankings fluctuate is 5 or 6 positions. That’s it.
What’s more important is that you see search engines as an empty space – think of it as pages in Google which are accidentally sitting there – all open for disruption.
No website has given Google a legitimate reason why it deserves to be there on page 1 for whatever search term.
Hope this helps you, if you have any questions regarding SEO and things you’re not sure about then feel free to call me, tweet me, connect on LinkedIn or pop me an email.
Thank you for reading.
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I really like how you describe SEO as a process. The clickminded seo training course I completed gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to creatively start and continue the process of doing SEO. I hope it’s okay I’ve saved a copy of your process chart for extra encouragement!
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This is absolute gold Pritesh. It’s definitely not just the construction industry which vastly misunderestimates the SEO (and let’s be fair, digital marketing) processes.
I keep on referring back to no follow links on sites that are sending converting traffic and remind companies vastly important to find more of those, and the converting links in private newsletters / email marketing that aren’t easily spotted by competition.