This blog needs to come with a warning sign: “Danger! Quicksand!” I’ll be honest: I thought at first that this post would be simple. That was a rookie error: I don’t want to put you off, but it wound up just a little bit technical!
Building websites is all well and good – but once you have one, how do people find it? Ensuring that your website actually has visitors should be an integral part of the service provided to you by any web developer – what’s the point of having one if no one ever sees it? To avoid this dilemma, you need good Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.
Emily’s written before about the budget concerns of clients, and we understand them. If all the technical quicksand in this blog post has a plus side, though, it’s that it acts as proof, if you need it, that SEO is both essential and not for amateurs. Anyway, I’ll try to keep things straightforward – and I promise I’ll get to the return on investment eventually!
The key concept is relatively simple: SEO is not just about getting you onto page one of Google with brute force. It’s about trying to put some science behind our efforts, using as much data as we can possibly gather about your business and your audience, so that we optimise your website in as appropriate – and future-proof – a way as possible.
Let me explain a bit. The first thing we do is ask our customers to complete an SEO questionnaire to identify which keywords and phrases they would like Google to associate with their site – in other words, which search terms users will need to type into a search engine in order to find them.
Our job begins in refining that initial list: using our knowledge of how Google works – and how users search – we’ll amend it by removing key phrases which are too general, or ones too far removed from what the client actually does. We’ll then put the resulting list of keywords through a Google tool which will assess them in a variety of ways.
Most importantly, we want to discover which keywords and phrases similar to those we have already selected are the ones people are actually typing into their search engine. Once we know this, we’ll have a list of the most appropriate keywords and phrases that people are using to searching for that business – not just the ones we think people might type to find our client, but the ones we know they are actually using.
For example, a business might consider ‘air conditioning’ to be their most important key phrase. But our assessment process might suggest that ‘air conditioning units’, ‘domestic air conditioning’, or ‘portable air conditioning’ might secure them a greater number of better qualified leads. Once we’ve consulted with the client, we’ll have a final selection of keywords and be able to identify where their site currently sits in the rankings for those phrases.
SEO can be a long game. Let’s say that for ‘portable air conditioning’ our client is ranked on the third page of Google (which receives on average just 2.42% of the click-throughs from any given search term – the first page receives around two thirds); we might decide that this key phrase could be a ‘quick win’ – in other words, we could, with proper SEO, get the client to pole position for this phrase in about twelve months.
Often good ‘quick wins’ are geographically specific phrases: ‘air conditioning birmingham’, for instance. The reasons for this are obvious – they pre-qualify your leads and reduce the number of potential competitors for that phrase. The good news is that we can identify exactly how many searches for a particular phrase there are per month; we can do this for a geographical phrase as easily as for a generic one. So we can find out the total searches in the UK, or just the West Midlands, or just Birmingham.
This ability gives us real power: we know that if a client achieves the number one position in Google, they will get an average click-through rate of traffic to your site of thirty per cent. So if there are a hundred searches for ‘air conditioning birmingham’ (there are in fact 90 – but 100 makes the maths easier!), then typically thirty of those would be directed to your website.
This last stage is the one at which we need to start making assumptions – and of course we do this in conjunction with our clients (the Image+ model is at every stage based around conversation). In other words, of those thirty people who just clicked through to your site, how many might place an order? Let’s be conservative and say 10% – the client would get three orders per month.
And, just like I promised, here’s the bit about return on investment: if the average margin of an order is £500, then getting to number one on Google for ‘air conditioning Birmingham’ just earned our client a return of £1,500 per month.
To reiterate, spending £500 a month on SEO could be returning £1000 per month – for just one keyword phrase! Not only can you really not afford to have a website without SEO – you can afford the help it takes to navigate all that technical quicksand I walked into in writing this post. So maybe we didn’t need that warning sign after all …