In the early days of SEO, getting a page 1 ranking was relatively easy. Put up a website, create a few pages, stuff them with keywords and a few days later, a position on page 1 of Google’s search results page awaits you.
But, that was then and this is 2019.
Whilst the available number of organic positions on page 1 has stayed at 10, you now have 000’s of more competitors, websites and companies offering and promising to get you to page 1.
A short history of everything SEO
Amongst the thousands of SEO’s that have come and gone, a small breed of SEO companies and agencies have stuck around, those that truly know how to deliver safe, sustainable rankings that won’t crumble in the light of big algorithm changes and those that not only talk the talk, but walk the walk too.
Flow20 in London is one such company.
Established in 2008, Flow20 is one such agency.
Small in size (team of 5) compared to some of their main competitors, Flow20’s clients roster includes some of the UK’s largest and well known companies and their Pay Per Lead service has been one of the biggest differentiating factor that is helping them grow at double digits now.
What to consider before deciding to invest in SEO
Speak to any business that has had a professional SEO campaign run in the past and there’s a good chance some half of them will complain that SEO didn’t deliver a positive ROI for them.
We caught up with Flow20’s founder Shirish Agarwal to ask him his views.
SEO was the #1 tool for every digital marketer and businesses swore by it. So, what happened?
There are a few reasons really and at the forefront, its that (not surprisingly) Google is trying to increase the click-share to its ads over the organic results.
About 3 years ago, Google removed the ads on the right and instead, increased the number of ads on top from 3 to 4.
Then we had the proliferation of the local results. What started off as a test first and then to only show up for local brick-and-mortar stores, local results now show up for some 80% of search queries.
All of this and several other smaller changes have resulted in the click-through rates to organic results steadily declining for the past 3-4 years which means that a page 1 listing by no means guarantees traffic and leads/sales.
What are the biggest challenges facing small companies when it comes to SEO?
A drop in CTR doesn’t mean its game over.
It just means that how you evaluate as to whether you should invest in SEO, what to expect, how long to invest for and other important questions will need to be answered in a different way than before.
For example, the rise in the number of companies vying for page 1 means that competition for your target keywords is now more than it was a few years ago.
This means the resources you will have to put in have to be more too but many businesses don’t take this into account when carrying out a cost-benefit analysis.
Focusing on what works
“With SEO as with most other things in life, the 80/20 rule applies here” says Shirish.
The #1 key in making SEO work for you is to go after the right set of keywords.
And the operative word here is “right”.
Whilst there may be hundreds of keywords relevant to your business, going after the ones with mega volumes and millions of searches each month is likely not going to be feasible for a small business. At best, it may take you several months to get anywhere with those keywords which means having put in several months of resources during this time without seeing a return.
At worse, you simply may not ever get to page 1 for those searches, period.
Instead, focus on the “low hanging fruit” keywords the ones with lower volumes but those that are super relevant.
Forget vanity metrics like number of visitors and searches and start thinking in terms of conversions.
The number of searches of a keyword is irrelevant if it doesn’t convert into a lead or sale but a low search volume keyword that does convert can do wonders for your business over the long run.
Second, think about what happens once the visitors arrives at your website. Your website should be doing everything it can to help convert that visitors into a buyer.
Finally, think long term and think in terms of brand, not SEO.
The objective of SEO isn’t to get you to page 1. Its to supply your business with a fresh set of leads day in day out but how you then take care of your prospect from enquiry to sale to delivering value and results is up to you and how good your business is here will impact your SEO’s overall ROI.
What other advice would you give to businesses in the market for SEO?
One of the biggest issues I see with clients is expecting to rank in a flash.
SEO is a long-term game and you should allow a few months at the very least to see its full impact.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that you should avoid companies that promise to get you results in a week or a month as that simply isn’t going to happen and any company that tells you so isn’t being honest.
Of course, it helps to choose a SEO company that have page 1 rankings for their very own target keywords (and I’m pleased to tell you that you will find our own Flow20 website on page 1 UK for keywords such as online marketing agency, digital marketing agency, SEO company Brixton and several more!).
In terms of the quality of leads, after referrals, SEO often outperforms every other lead source including PPC as most users hold the organic rankings in higher regard than paid ones.
However, to any business that’s on the fence of whether to invest in SEO or not, my final piece of advice will be to say that it can definitely work for you but you need to start with a well thought out strategy, have well optimized landing pages and be patient for the results.
As the updated version of the old-age saying goes, good things come to whose who wait….and, invest in SEO.