Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) FAQs

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimisation, often referred to as SEO, is the process of preparing your website, or specific parts of your website to be easily found by search engines. We refer to the intial Search Engine Optimisation as 'foundation level SEO'. This is the very first part of what is an on-going Search Engine Optimisation process.

How can I save money on Search Engine Optimisation?

There are a number of ways that you can save time and money on SEO, beginning with the initial market research and keyword research. Free software is available to find out many things about the market you are in, the competitors for that market and the keywords that people are typing in to reach that market. If you have both the time and inclination to carry out this time consuming work then this is a great way to save money on Search Engine Optimisation and future keyword advertising. For full competitor analysis and in-depth market research and market analysis then you are entering into the realms of being able to make money from SEO rather than saving money on SEO! However, considering the huge advantages of being skilled at this continuously evolving art, for some smaller businesses the investment of your time in this field could be most beneficial. What ever the level of input that you choose to put into this area, you can be assured that we will give you every assistance possible, including the best free software tips and a start up guide.

How long does it take to complete SEO?

'Forever', is not usually the answer one wants to hear in response to a question like this, but there is no possible completion of SEO, other than the intial keyword research and SEO process. So, how long does it take to complete the intial SEO process? Understandably this varies enormously from client to client, and is practically impossible to answer. As a rough idea though for a business selling one product or service to a small localised geographical area, then as little as a day or two to complete the initial SEO process. For a business entering in to a geographically large and highly competetive market selling many products and/or services then this initial process could take up to a few months. The important thing to rememeber is that SEO doesnt hold up a project when integrated properly. It is an on-going process that is never complete, because the algorythms used by search engines are constantly changing.

What is on-going Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimisation is constantly changing even when it isn't evolving. This is becasue there are multiple algorythms that are used to calculate a websites position in a search engines page rankings, and varying degrees of importance are placed on these different algorythms at different times. Surely then this actually makes it harder to know what the search engines are using to calculate your websites page rank. Exactly. This is done to ensure that crafty SEOs or 'black hat' SEOs do not achieve sustainable success by using their own spiders to work out which algorythms are being used when their site is crawled by a search engine bot, and adapting the website accordingly to gain unfair advantage in the search engines rankings over competitors. However, there are also constant and far more obvious changes in SEO practices that require constant fine tuning to keep your website ahead of the pack. Forces outside of the usual SEO variations also require constant attention, such as keyword research, changes in the words and phrases people use to find you, particularly if you are planning to enter new geographical markets.

What are the main things that my site depends on to achieve a good site ranking?

Site ranking tends to be a combination of the main key areas, with varying levels of weight placed on them at different times, combined together with many other less significant factors, the significance of each of these other factors is also constantly changing. The key areas are as follows:

  • Relevant use of the TITLE tag content
  • Relevant and coherent URLs
  • Occurence of the keywords that have been typed or similiar matches within the website
  • Good accurate meta page description tags, unique to each and every page you want ranked
  • Well organised and thorough Sitemap.XML file
  • A specific Sitemap file for all of the different facets of your business, including News, Products, Blogs, maps etc.
  • Optimising images for Image Searches, both in terms of file sizes and relevant naming of images, coupled with correct use of TITLE and ALT tags, and relevant text surrounding the image
  • Sufficient content to describe a service, with enough words to allow for natural (non spammy) inclusion of keywords that you want the site to be ranked for

Link Popularity is still also a major deciding factor, how many natural links that your website has coming in from other websites. Clever link building is now far more important than mass link building, so less emphasis on how many links and more emphasis on the relevance of the incoming links, and whether the links have been paid for or not.

What other factors influence my websites page rank?

Your target audience is a huge factor. Are you targeting a local regional market, a national market or an international market? The actual keywords or keyword phrases that have been typed into a search engine, and the relevance of these keywords to your websites content. The level of competition in your particular industry, and their capacity to compete with your business online.

Can you guarantee a number 1 page rank position or atleast a first page ranking in the major search engines?

No. That is impossible to guarantee in 2010, and has been for a long time, despite many SEO 'specialists' continuing to guarantee exactly that. There are just far too many a number of factors that no human has sufficient control over for that to be possible for any period of time. It is possible, by illegal means, to ascertain the very things that a page is crawled and ranked on, but that will only get you so far for so long, before inevitably you get found out and severely punished. Some businesses are penalised even when it is done by an SEO company without their knowledge. Your domain name is your identity, if that gets tarnished, your business gets tarnished. If people are guaranteeing these kinds of results, challenge them to sustain this for one year before paying them. You may just see that guarantee suddenly become unavailable. When you hand your website to somebody to act on your behalf, you are basically handing them your online reputation. This may be swallowed for now if your business survives perfectly well without an online presence. Yet which ever way you view it now, the future will almost certainly require a web presence, and unless you change your business name or URL, then you will pay for any illegal or 'black hat' SEO tricks potentially for life, whether or not you were responsible. This one thing is understandably often not known to a business. So, when SEO companies are promising you the earth for £10 per month, it is natural for a company to assume that they have very little to lose. The reality is that, the unsuspecting business will not only very likely be in effect throwing what is still £10 per month down the drain, but they are potentially destroying any future chances that their business has to compete in the search engines. We guarantee you every chance of competing online against your competitors. Yet we have no control over whether or not your competitors have employed good SEO companies to compete against you. Fortunately for the time being atleast there is still usually plenty of room with in most fields to make an impact in most markets.

If you design my website, can another company do the SEO?

Yes. If this is your choice then it is better made before the website is started. This way we can liase and work alongside the company during the initial 'foundation level SEO' to avoid further costs for you in future. It also gives us ample opportunity to make sure that they are doing what they should be doing for your business.
Our business is comprised of individual departments who sustain themselves, we do not need to cojole you into using all of our own departments to do everything that you need, or try to scare you into believing reasons why you shouldnt have other companies involved, or the usual 'too many cooks spoil the broth' etc. We are used to integrating big projects with sometimes multiple companies being involved. If the companies involved are good, well organised and communicate properly with one another, then there is never a problem. Obvioulsy we would hope that you do choose us to do the on-going SEO and all other Online solutions that your business needs. If we said that we didnt then we would be lying. We would also advise you on using us because we know us, and we know that we do a good job, and we also know, more importantly, that our departments work seemlessly together. We are however also aware that many companies will offer SEO services for less money than we are prepared to offer our own SEO services for, so we are not offended if you choose another, or bullish about you only using us.

I have seen SEO services that are very cheap, and they come with guarantees of high rankings, how do I know who to choose?

I would like to say some, but sadly many SEO companies take advantage of your businesses desire to grow and understandable lack of SEO knowledge. They promise you all kinds of things at very low prices. The old adage: 'people believe what they want to believe' is equally true with Search Engine Optimisation.
We guarantee, that they cannot guarantee, sustainably high page results without knowing your industry or intended market, unless they are practising SEO practices that are not only frowned upon, but ruthlessly punished when discovered. Search engines are businesses themselves, so do not expect sympathy or any special favours if you have been deleted from their records for things done even without your knowledge. When you have handed your website to someone, you have handed them your business name and reputation. Although it is not always what a customer likes to hear, we tell the truth. We have no say in how your competitors conduct their own online business, or who they employ to compete against us. Reality bites hard, and if you are in a highly competetive industry with many competitors employing people who are doing all of the correct SEO practices and promoting their online businesses in the right manner, then we will face a torrid time in achieving first page rankings, especially for a new business or new business domain. If you are offering a localised service then your chances are much higher, and if your competitors are competing against you with poorly made websites ( Luckily there are still millions of these ), then yes you can expect very good search engine rankings within a matter of weeks without much effort atall. Every business is diferent and as a result will often require different SEO solutions and/or face different levels of competition. In short, for any SEO company to offer a generic fixed fee for a generic service, 'and' a guarantee, without knowing anything about your particular business or market is just absolutely ridiculous. BEWARE of fixed fee packages, and ask yourself how can they offer a fixed fee? They are either putting a big mark up on that fee to cover all eventualities, which is still better than the alternative, which is that they can guarantee it because they know exactly how to get your business to rank number1, thus using illegal practices and software to achieve the otherwise impossible.

If you are so good at SEO, why are you not ranked higher up in the search engines?

You are right to ask this, considering the fact that we are actually putting ourselves forward as the company you should employ to optimise your website. The competition for page rank in any highly competetive industry is fierce enough, so I am sure you can imagine, competition for page rank amoungst the people who do this for a living is about as fierce as competition can get.
An SEO companies own page rank is understandably seen by the unknowing as the most powerful endorsement of them all. What better evidence can there possibly be of an SEOs ability to achieve high page rankings than their own websites high page rank. Surely I am adding more weight to this by saying how competetive it is. In some ways I am yes. Any web design or SEO company who achieve these results is very impressive. Yet it is not necessarily impressive for the best reasons. We too have held very high page rank for certain keywords in the major search engines. We continued to attain these figures and kept fighting to get higher too. However, with more and more competition arriving hourly, brand new SEO companies with no reputation or advertising budget to earn business by any other means, this level of competition began to become fierce to the point of no return, where Web Design and SEO companies were all fighting each other on a daily basis to score slightly higher on the next set of algorythms that were used to rate our efforts. If you didnt have any work to do, then this was fine, but for companies who had business coming in, this was becoming a more time consuming occupation than the actual work itself. A time came when we needed to face a huge decision, and, like some of our other competitors we chose what would have been unthinkable only a few years before. To sacrifice the highest search engine rankings possible for the sake of our actual website itself. Each of our clients who also face a highly competetive industry are given the same choice. Do you want to make a website for search engines, or for your actual customers? If you want to write content for your customers, then you will not quickly score higher than others writing content for search engines. For some industries, the choice is that simple. There is of course a balance that needs to be struck whichever route you choose. If you are ranking highly in the search engines, then yes you will most probably get more traffic. Yet how much of that traffic is actually going to be interested in anything that you have to sell or say when they arrive at a page with infinate ramblings on the same subject just using different keywords to say basically the same thing. Or multiple pages on the same subject with slightly different locations in the header to make sure they are seen as localised businesses in as many areas as possible. The other extreme is that you write amazing content offering great services or products, aimed at your customers. Sure, the ones who arrive may buy what you are offering, however that would not usually be sufficient if only 2 people found your website each year. It is a balancing act, and depending on your industry and your type of business, the scale of this will vary enormously. Sometimes it is still possible to achieve both, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do that. The more we recognised how competitors above us were achieving these awe inspiring results, the more and more we looked for alternatives to avoid this growing madness.
Adwords was born and we found our way out. This is not to say that we have ignored all of our SEO practices, on the contrary, we still adopt them, and believe 100% that it is still worth every business adopting them, but only ever to the point of that balance. We will never stray away from that. With the launch of new search engines, and vast improvements to existing ones, we are now beginning to see some of the long over due punishments being dished out to some of the SEO black hat artists, and we remain confident that things will keep on improving to the point where good quality websites and good reputations alone achieve good page rankings. Until that day, then we will only work towards what we perceive to be an acceptable balance, because, it is after all our own reputation we consider, not just your businesses reputation.
Do not get too distracted by a businesses page rank, especially when it comes to highly competetive industries. However strange it sounds, many of the best SEO companies that we compete with every day have no actual specialised SEO techniques on their own websites. It makes little sense until you realise that in some industries that no matter what you do, if enough people want that same business but do not worry about establishing a reputation, then you will always be playing second fiddle to them in the search engines, no matter how much time and money you spend on SEO services. Fact.
It is worth also mentioning that search engines are now beginning to personalise data, meaning that people signed in to say a google account, will have search queries calculated via a number of things outside of any SEOs control. Their own personal information, age, interests, location, previous web surfing habits. This still does not mean that you shouldnt optimise your website sufficiently, but what it does mean is that the power of SEOs to impact page rank is deliberately being diminished. Although we are SEOs ourselves, we believe that this a massive step in the right direction, and one that will eventually favour the legitimate SEOs.

What is an Online Business Directory?

That used to be a very easy question to answer. In theory, it should be a comprehensive directory of good quality businesses, precisely checked and categorised by humans. It should also include a very accurate and fast search facility.
So, what went wrong?
The substancial weight given to the relationship between the number of incoming links a website had and the page rank earned as a result. Until only very recently, this weight was not weighed on its actual true merit, but merely by the sheer volume of incoming links a site had. Predictably, thousands of new directories were born and businesses were bending over backwards to pay money for links which seemed like a fair exchange for a higher pagerank. This has now been resolved to a point, but still not enough to prevent even more directories springing up, still hellbent on taking advantage of unsuspecting businesses desire for maximum linkage. If you pay for links, then these links should not have any impact whatsoever on page rank. This action should be carried out by the directories themselves, done by adding what is known as a no-follow tag.

How do I know which Directory to register my business with?

Fortunately there are also plenty of reputable directories who began for the right reasons and have remained as such. Without name dropping, the usual household names are safe, and in many cases can be a great way to increase traffic, and even a great place to advertise your business. There are also masses of directories that focus on specific industries, and there are also more localised directories. We offer a bespoke guide, specific to your business, finding the best directories that gives you the best head start. We can also act on your behalf and register your business in all of the relevant and worthwhie directories.