Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – is obviously a popular topic of discussion at GOOP Digital and every website we create must pass the uncompromising scrutiny of our Geelong SEO gurus.
If we’re not discussing SEO with our clients, then we’re discussing it among ourselves and researching to find out what changes Google has made to its algorithms, how those changes affect SEO, what works best, what doesn’t work and what SEO approaches are actually doing harm to sites’ long-term online visibility.
Ironically, it seems just about everybody is an expert when it comes to SEO and there is seemingly no end to the approaches we’re told we should be using to make websites prominent in Google searches. “Backlinks are the answer,” someone will tell us. “Directory listings work every time,” another will advise. “Paying for Google AdWords will guarantee greater organic SEO prominence,” another offers with a knowing nod.
Unfortunately, however, a lot of the SEO approaches amateur experts tell us we should be using are outdated, ineffective or simply wrong. Yes, backlinks might have been a great approach a few years ago but these days disingenuous backlinks will bring about your site’s demise quicker than you can say black hat SEO. Directories also have a place but are a long, long way from being an SEO magic bullet. As for AdWords, at GOOP Digital we’re not against you spending cash with Google if you really want to but our goal – and our reality – is that you shouldn’t have to spend to gain long-lasting Google prominence for what it is you do, where you do it.
If we were a scholarly lot and GOOP Digital required a Latin motto it might be this: Primum non nocere.
Primum non nocere. What’s it mean? First do no harm.
At GOOP Digital we’re never going to recommend any SEO practise that is going to harm a website’s prominence in Google. Our approach is always honest and upfront search engine optimisation that sticks to the latest Google guidelines. Anything that can harm a website’s valuable online prominence is not part of the equation as far as we’re concerned.
So, with that in mind, here are a few pointers our Geelong SEO gurus would suggest you consider regarding achievable organic SEO:
- Be realistic about your SEO target market.
If you’re based in Geelong and provide your services predominantly to Geelong, then – unless you offer a very unique product or service that’s not available elsewhere – there’s no genuine way you can achieve long-lasting organic Google prominence for searches in distant locations. Google’s very, very clever these days and knows where you’re based. It will invariably provide an online searcher with the details of businesses closest to the searcher’s location, not a business a hundred kilometres away. If you’re based in Geelong then your website’s going to struggle to turn up in searches in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo or wherever else. Be realistic about your target market and search returns.
- You’re probably not a giant killer.
If you have plans for an online store or a website that’s taking on leading brands, it’s unrealistic to expect you’re going to knock over the big players without a lot of work from you and your web developer. As an example, a search for “men’s clothing” returned The Iconic, Boohoo, Myer and ASOS as the top organic results. Those businesses are at the top of the results pile because they’re big names in their own right and consequently generate piles of online traffic. From Google’s perspective the sites’ popularity means they must be giving searchers what they want, and if Google has one primary goal, it’s to give searchers what they want. Ironically, it’s a sort of catch-22. Websites are popular in search results because they’re popular websites, which makes them popular in search results. Head spinning yet? The chances of a new kid on the block knocking the big guns off their search ranking perch are unlikely – not impossible, but unlikely. There’s no magic bullet, no button to push, lever to pull or switch to flick that’ll put you at the head of the SEO pack, particularly in competitive markets. You can’t realistically expect to outrank the big guns, particularly if you’re not going to commit a lot – and we mean a lot – of work and hours to your website.
- Find your niche.
If you sell a unique product or provide a distinctive service, then make your uniqueness your SEO focus. Using our previous example, if you sell only men’s blue clothing, then focus on men’s blue clothing, not men’s clothing. Don’t try to be greedy and capture everything to do with men’s clothing because all you’ll do is annoy searchers who will leave your site quickly, which in turn will increase your bounce rate which will in turn do your SEO no good at all. Your niche is men’s blue clothing, so focus your website on men’s blue clothing.
- Your website needs words, and it needs pages for those words.
Yes, a one-page parallax website filled only with pictures might look pretty but it’s also pretty useless from an organic SEO perspective. Google needs to know what it is you do, where you do it, and to do that it needs words telling the story of your business and what it provides. As well, specific keywords need to be on specific pages dedicated specifically to individual products and services. Yes, there are a lot of specifics! GOOP Digital builds websites that guide searchers to the exact information they’re looking for. If searchers want, for example, emergency plumbing in Geelong, they want to go to the emergency plumbing page of a plumber’s website, not the hot water service page. Words and a variety of pages or sections dedicated to specific products or services are crucial to organic SEO, and anybody suggesting otherwise is being misleading. This SEO stuff actually requires a lot of planning and hard work.
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly.
GOOP Digital builds responsive websites that adapt and change shape to suit whatever device the sites are viewed on. We do this for two crucial reasons – first and foremost because Google demands it, and secondly because it’s much easier for users to navigate a responsive website, which is why Google demands it. Google announced last year that websites that were not responsive or mobile friendly would not feature in the search results on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. True to its word, Google is now ignoring non-responsive sites on mobile searches.
- Long-lasting SEO requires a lot of work.
Anybody who says organic SEO is easy doesn’t know what they’re talking about. At GOOP Digital in Geelong we employ full-time SEO experts who spend at least 40 hours every week learning about and implementing SEO techniques. We’re very good at SEO but we’re also the first to admit there’s always more to learn. Search engine optimisation is ever-changing and there are no guarantees that what works today will necessarily work tomorrow. We work hard on SEO and for the best results you will also need to chip in. GOOP Digital spends more than 100 hours on even our most basic SEO websites and we’ll deliver Google prominence as part of our contractual agreement. If you follow our lead you can take your website’s online prominence even further. You will have to work with us but the results can be phenomenal.
- Be better than your rivals and don’t copy content.
Websites compete with each other for Google’s attention. GOOP Digital works on making its clients’ websites better than the sites of their rivals and more relevant to searchers. Rather than embarking on SEO shortcuts which won’t last, work on making your website unique and better than your rivals’ sites. And never, ever copy text from a rival website. Google knows when you’ve done that and will penalise you accordingly. Remember, cheats never prosper.
- First do no harm.
Remember the unofficial motto we mentioned earlier? It’s important and worth repeating again and again. Don’t harm your SEO. Your search ranking is valuable. Rankings are hard to obtain but easy to lose. Be very careful what SEO approaches you implement because if you get Google offside and lose your ranking through dodgy backlinks or keyword stuffing or whatever illegitimate approach some ill-informed self-appointed “expert” recommends, then you face an uphill battle regaining even a semblance of your previous ranking. Google provides plenty of guidelines about what to do and what not to do. Err on the side of caution and if in doubt, leave it out!
If you’d like to know more about good SEO practises then please contact GOOP Digital. Our Geelong SEO experts are happy to guide you on the path to legitimate SEO and explain techniques that work and those guaranteed to bring you undone.