Author: Mark Birkett - First published 10th January 2013 (Updated January 2014)
In this series of articles, we are going to demonstrate 'SEO in action' by publishing our own monthly search engine performance reports right here on this website. We'll be doing this over the full 12 months (from January to December 2013) so you can see our (hopefully steady) progress being made and exactly what steps we took along the way to better our search engine performance.
Learn how to improve your own website SEO performance
There are a number of motives behind this series of articles really, the most obvious being to demonstrate how you can make a significant improvement to your own website's performance in the larger search engines like Google. We'll be doing this with our own website as the 'test case'. After all, if we can't get our own website performing well in Google, attracting more web visitors and generating more business, why on earth would you trust us to do the same for you? So, yes, we have at least one selfish business motive.
Managing your business' digital presence matters
Our secondary motive is perhaps more socio-political. Wherever you live in the UK - and across many other Western countries too - you cannot fail to have noticed an alarming increase in boarded up town-centre shop windows. From Woolworths some years ago to Jessops, HMV and Staples over the past year, it's perfectly obvious that many UK high-street retailers simply cannot compete with their online counterparts.
And it's not just larger businesses. Many small businesses have failed to grasp the enormous shift in the way customers buy products and services too. Businesses that can adapt to the 'digitisation' of our economy will survive; those that don't won't. All need to get to grips with online marketing techniques. So we'd like to play our small part in raising awareness of the importance of 'Search Engine Optimisation' or 'SEO' right across the business community,.especially the 'start-up' businesses that the UK economy needs to cover for lost employment in the public sector.
Successful businesses can create jobs
Which leads us to our third - and perhaps somewhat altruistic - motive. We'd like to see your business survive and prosper because it's good for employment and therefore good for our wider society. If our study here helps address that wider challenge - however small the contribution - it will have been a worthwhile effort.
SEO work rarely earns 'instant' results. Unlike Pay-Per-Click Campaigns (PPC) - where a paid advert can show up on the 'Sponsored Links' in Google within 20 minutes - SEO efforts can often take some months to pay off. However, what it should demonstrate is that your SEO efforts last a lot longer than PPC.
To explain; an 'authoritative' article you publish to your website in 2014 will often yield search engine benefits years later, where people will still be linking to it from external sites. Whereas your PPC advert will only keep appearing if you keep paying for it.
That's why, in the longer term, we regard PPC as a rather wasteful and expensive option. Aside from the time you've put in, which we admit does mean some 'money' for most businesses, SEO work doesn't cost anything.
If the results of our efforts over the next 12 months come good, that's great. You'd then have every reason to get us to help you with SEO performance on your business' website. If they're poor, then you'd have every reason to run a mile when we proclaimed ourselves as 'SEO experts'.
No. And we don't claim to be omniscient on this vast topic either. In fact, we fully expect to get a little 'egg on our chin' from time to time and we expect to learn something new each day. The truth is that SEO is a very tricky business - involving hundreds of factors in any 'success stories' - and no-one can absolutely guarantee results, whatever they may tell you. That's why we will publish reports right here every month - warts and all - so that you can see us putting our 'seo expertise' exactly where our mouth is.
Bottom line, if our approach works for us, it can work for you too.
OK, but remind me...what do I get out of this?
Secondly, with our results published in a chronological order, we hope you will better understand what's needed 'SEO-wise' as far as your own business is concerned. You'll see that SEO is not an overnight process; that it requires hard data followed by effort and patience. We want to show you the type of thought processes you need to have if you want ot improve an existing website - or building a brand new one.
Thirdly, we wanted to test some of the processes Google says that their search engine results pages are driven by. So if Google doesn't play its part in this process, or if we find evidence of 'SEO cheating' that Google ought to be picking up on, then we will be showing you such cheating, and publicly challenging Google to do something about it.
Why should Google care whether its results are 'fair'?
Good question. The point is this; if Google is responsible for some 85% of the UK's search traffic, then their results pages really could make or break some businesses - perhaps even your business. And due to increasing oversight by the UK and many European governments, Google is going to come under increasing pressure to be more open about the way it orders its results over the coming years. That's because with such mighty commercial power at its fingertips, Google has an increasing moral responsibility to ensure its search results are 'fair' and 'transparent'. And in time to come, it may find it has a legal one too.
However, as you might appreciate, Google also have to keep their algorithm's precise functions pretty secret, otherwise the 'SEO cheats' out there would find ways to abuse it and thus devalue Google's results pages. All in all, as you've probably started to realise, 'SEO' is something of a cat-and-mouse game played between the 'SEO experts' and Google's 'Boffins'.
How do I know the data you show us isn't just being made up?
Fair point. We could be making all this up. So, that's why we'll happily give you complete access to our Google Analytics account if you ask us to. That way, you can track our progress yourself at any time. All you have to do is send us your email address. We'll immediately include you on the 'Users' list. As you can see below, there is no limit to the number of users we can add.
Isn't this is just an exercise to get my email address?
No. Don't worry, we won't give your email address away to anyone else. Nor will we be sending you any unwanted marketing messages. That's not what this is about. It's purely and simply so we can add you to our Google Analytics account allowing you to check what we're saying is 100% true. Fair enough?
So, this series of articles is designed to highlight how you can improve SEO rankings on your website by publishing a real 'live' case study on ours.
So let's start at the beginning. Before we can establish what any future SEO 'successes' might be, we need to know how well - or badly - our original website was performing before we did any SEO work on the new one now using the same domain at www.dalemedia.co.uk.