Organic search engine optimisation/marketing is the art and science behind getting your website to rank as well as possible for key terms that are important for your business. What those key terms are will depend on your objectives and goals.
Whether embarking on your first campaign or evaluating your current approach, it can be a daunting prospect being in the hot seat vis a vis your organic SEM strategy.
Typically, people often think of SEM/SEO as a deeply technical discipline, peppered with jargon and techniques that are inaccessible to anyone without a degree in computer science. In fact, the underlying principals and the key areas of activity required are relatively simple to grasp; they just need to be unpacked.
The organic search channel (e.g. non-paid Google traffic) should be a website’s most cost effective and abundant method of acquiring website visits. Typically, we see 60 to 80% of a given website’s traffic acquired via organic search (if they’re doing it right!).
Doing well with organic search boils down to being good at three core areas of activity:
1. On-Site Technical
This is where we make sure your website can be accessed by the search engines. They need to be able to find, read and understand your website. There are also various technical aspects of your website (for instance, site speed) that directly affect your website’s ability to rank in search engines like Google. So we make sure that’s all in order as well.
2. Audience Targeting & On-Site Content
The search engines not only need to see which audiences you are targeting, but they want to see evidence of relevance and usefulness. These days, search engines are good at understanding how good a website’s content is at satisfying your visitors’ needs and intentions, and knowing if your visitors are completing tasks on your website.
3. Authority Building
A website that takes advantage of organic search is one that ranks well, and typically ranks well in Google, the dominant search engine in much of the western world. That means ranking well for important key terms.
At its core, Google still processes website rankings based on a type of democracy, which translates as external websites that say you’re good at what you do. Yes, there are a lot of other things going on in Google’s algorithms for rankings, but this is still at the centre of it all. To rank well, you need other websites to agree you’re an authority in your area of expertise and publish editorial on their website to that effect. But they’re only going to do that if they know you, so we need to make sure they do. It is as simple as that. Any on-going SEO campaign MUST have authority building built in to the plan.
A final thought on these three areas; you are only as strong as your weakest part. An effective SEO strategy NEEDS to encompass all 3 areas.
The all-important question of results and ROI. The simple answer is that SEO work does not provide an overnight fix. Technical changes made at the beginning of a campaign are designed to build a solid foundation, but it is dependent on how quickly changes can be made and what changes are required.
“In most cases, the SEO will need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.”
– Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead, Google
Once completed, the promotion of the site begins, and what we need is other websites and publications to take an interest in who you are and what you’re doing. If we can tell that story to the wider web, and some of those websites decide to tell their audiences about us, then that’s great for building attention and the kind of authority search engines take in to account.
So campaign length (in terms of increased search engine rankings and organic traffic) is really dependent on these factors:
This is where budget comes in to play. Quite simply, more budget equates to reaching a wider audience with richer ‘story collateral.’ The level of budget required to move the proverbial needle is dependent on the three factors listed above.
All SEO work that we deliver is supported by our use of Searchmetrics. Searchmetrics is a best in class, German engineered, enterprise level, international SEO platform that encompasses a whole suite of advanced SEO tools.
We ensure that we use best in class technology, and that our people are highly trained in how to use it.
In addition, we are also a qualified Searchmetrics partner.
‘Content’ is a word that has been over-used and now refers to too many things. Essentially, it is anything on-line… not particularly helpful when trying to communicate a ‘content strategy’ to your wider business. Luckily there is a relatively simple framework that allows us to disambiguate ‘content’ and hone in on what’s important.
Originally this framework was created by Google to explain what a good YouTube channel management strategy looks like. This is how it goes:
“Hero content” refers to the big, tent-pole events that are designed to provide a massive step-change to your audience growth.
“Hub content” is regular, scheduled content that provides a reason to subscribe to a channel and return on a regular basis. Episodic and formatted series work best as hub content.
“Hygiene” or “help content” means your channel’s basic, always-on videos. These could include tutorials that answer the most popular search queries in your content area. It can also be product demo videos.
Coverage on third party websites. Really, that’s it. Regardless of how Google adds to and changes its increasingly complex sets of algorithms for calculating where and how it should rank webpages, at its core is still PageRank. Not the browser toolbar plug-in, actual PageRank, invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google founders) back in the 90s. PageRank is still at the core of how Google calculates website rankings, and PageRank relies on websites talking about each other. Having third party websites talk to their audiences about you, count as votes of confidence in what you are doing, what you are about and what you are publishing on-line. Without that external ‘coverage’ you will not rank for your key terms, regardless of how well optimised your website is from a technical point of view, and regardless of how good your content may be. Without authority, you’re dead in the water. So how do we go about building authority? Answer; we produce great content that tells your story, and outreach it. Simple. Well sort of. Back in yesteryear, there were a lot of shady practices going on in this area of SEO. With the advent of algorithmic solutions (from Google) like ‘Penguin’ (an automatic quality filter that Google applies to links coming from spurious websites) we have seen the effectiveness of these practices reduce to a level where it is no longer profitable to carry them out. In its place, we now have more of what Google originally intended; quality content that is covered externally by third party websites because it is high quality, relevant and so on. Hmmm… However, this utopian scenario is not exactly how it plays out. In reality there is a huge amount of content splurged on to the internet on a daily basis. The idea that your quality content will be magically found in among all the noise by relevant websites who will diligently and editorially cover what you are doing, out of the goodness in their hearts, is a little naive. To generate attention and authority, content needs to be both relevant to your target market and resonant to a broader ‘content’ audience. It needs to be crafted in a way that is ‘sticky’, and it then needs to be marketed out in a way that ensures coverage. This is what we do for our clients.
The rate of improvement (in terms of increased search engine rankings and organic traffic) depends on:
During the consultation period at the start of the campaign, we will scope out the appropriate level of activity that we believe will deliver you the results you are after. This is where budget comes in to play. Quite simply, more budget equates to reaching a wider audience with richer ‘story collateral.’
As the title suggests, this is SEO with the added twist of ‘local.’ That could seem like a throw-away remark demoting the importance of dealing with ‘local’ as its own thing. Not at all. The reality is, local SEO does rely heavily on the same fundamentals as ‘regular’ SEO, but it also has some very specific nuances that demand individual attention. Before we dive-in further, here’s what we mean by local SEO, in terms of what we are trying to optimise for (in the main) where Google rankings are concerned: Local pack in main search results Map search
This is Google’s business directory. In their own words, “Google My Business complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence on Google. The information you provide about your business can appear on Google Search, Maps, and Google+.” Barracuda can help you set this up and get it right first time – especially important if you have multiple locations.
NAP is your business name, address and phone number. Simple. What isn’t so simple is making sure all the business directories out there on the interweb are giving the same NAP details for your business as your website and Google My Business profile are (an issue that is compounded with multiple business locations). Why? Because Google still uses this information as a strong local ranking signal, and having consistency means better rankings for your business. But which directories should you prioritise? What are the primary NAP data sources that Google uses? What happens when I move premises? And what do I do about duplicate listings? Barracuda is here to help you answer these questions and help you with the processes involved.
We talk a lot about content and content strategy over here. The difference with local content is (you guessed it), it needs to be locally orientated and tailored to the precise location(s) in question. That can become tricky if we’re talking about a great many different locations for one business. How should you go about it and what should it look like, both from a search engine point of view (for rankings) and user point of view (for conversions)? Barracuda can formulate a scalable strategy that satisfies both… and implement it for you.
Reviews, reviews, reviews. Eugh. Spamable, open to trolls, time-consuming to manage, difficult to acquire. Enough already. Sadly, burying your head in the sand is not an approach you can afford to take. If you get this right, you can erect serious barriers to entry for your competition via major increases in user trust (conversions), and search engine rankings (it’s a ranking signal). So, what should your review-generation strategy be? How should you manage the process? And which review aggregator should you use? Barracuda can help you navigate through these somewhat opaque waters.
With ranking signals like ‘proximity to searcher’ coming to the fore, ‘mobile’ is front and centre of an effective local SEO strategy. In addition, Google will be switching to a ‘mobile first’ version of their index of the internet (whereas it is currently based on indexing desktop versions of web pages). This is clearly a wider SEO issue that extends beyond local SEO, but frames the importance of mobile. With more and more users accessing websites via mobile devices, are you offering an optimised mobile experience that encourages conversion and footfall? Are you poised to take advantage of mobile ranking signals that will benefit your local SEO? No? Well, Barracuda can help you with that, both from a consultancy point of view and a web development point of view. Let’s get it sorted.
A fundamental area of cross-over between local and ‘regular’ SEO, is good-old on-site technical consultancy. Not dead. More important than ever. Need to get it right. All the things that matter for on-site SEO matter for local SEO: crawlability, indexation, keyword targeting, site-speed (particularly important for mobile – see section above), website architecture, schematic mark-up on things like your NAP details, and more. This is one of the founding disciplines that Barracuda is built on. Find out more here.
This is another fundamental ‘regular’ SEO building block that crosses over as a critical, and probably the largest, ranking factor for local SEO. Yes, we need to get the other areas ticked-off and done right, but this is what’s really going to move the ranking needle (particularly in a competitive search environment). At its core, Google still processes website rankings based on a type of democracy, which translates as external websites that say you’re good at what you do. Yes, there are a lot of other things going on in Google’s algorithms for rankings, but this is still at the centre of it all. To rank well, you need other websites to agree you’re an authority in your area of expertise and publish editorial on their website to that effect. The added nuance for local SEO is, you also need to build ‘local’ authority. This is another core discipline for Barracuda and you can find out more here.
The eagle-eyed will notice that this is not ‘SEO,’ but it is an important tactic to consider for any business trying to promote itself in local search. Ads are being served in local packs within the main search results, and on the maps they link through to. Increasing your exposure to users by occupying ad spaces alongside organic results in local search, will increase brand awareness and click-through. Not a tactic to be overlooked. Barracuda’s paid team are ready to assist.
Aye? What? Here’s what it is: digitally stitched together photographs of the inside of your business premises so users can take a virtual tour before they pay you a visit. Not a local SEO ranking factor, but it will enrich your branded search result in Google, build trust with the user, and help with driving conversions and footfall. Barracuda is Google certified for carrying out this work for you. Find out more here.
YouTube ‘channels’ are the mechanism by which you can effectively manage your YouTube content to build a subscriber following and engage with your customer base. A well managed YouTube channel can broaden your reach and showcase your products and services to a new customer base, as well as encouraging existing customers to re-visit and buy. Barracuda are experienced in building and integrating channels into our clients marketing mix to drive both awareness and sales. YouTube is not just about cats… …showcasing products or introducing your brand with a ‘How to’ is now accounting for an ever increasing volume of video content and views on YouTube. Barracuda can setup and manage YouTube channels or take-over existing client channels to improve performance. We’ll dig the data to find the content model that helps you broaden your reach and drive traffic to your website. We take these learnings and regularly update and expand your content into a useable resource which enables you to reach new customers and encourage users to visit your website and buy your products or services.
Proving the relationship between your video channel and your website sales is the priority. Barracuda will create a Schedule of Work that will enable you to reach your awareness and sales goals.
The good news is, with a relatively small monthly investment increasing your presence on YouTube is proven to deliver results. There’s no getting away from it though… It does take time! At Barracuda we’ll work with you to analyse the competition and produce a schedule of work that will help you hit your KPI’s. We’ll create bespoke reports so you can monitor the up-lift over time, and we’ll add the creative flair you need to get views and sales.