An Intro to SEO – Part 1

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If you have anything to do with managing a website or marketing for your business, I bet you’ve heard of SEO.

SEO (search engine optimisation) is one of the most valuable channels available to ensure the success of your website. It’s also a practice that’s notorious for technical jargon, sketchy operators and constant changes in what to do and what not to do.

So, what exactly is SEO and why is it important?

To break it down to its simplest form, SEO is any activity that helps improve your website’s organic (not paid for) search rankings. The higher your website ranks for organic search results; the more likely people are to visit your website!

page 2 of google meme

Simple, right?

Wrong.

Why is SEO so complicated?

We’ll use Google for this article, because Google is the world’s largest search engine and is pretty much responsible for the state of modern SEO.

At the end of the day, Google wants to provide the best possible experience to the end user. The end user in most cases is someone looking for a solution to a problem. Google wants to solve that problem with speed, efficiency and simplicity so that person has a positive experience and will likely turn to Google again the next time they have a problem.

So how does Google decide which website has the best quality and most relevant information for that person?

The algorithm (queue heavenly choir…)

Google has a super-secret algorithm that it uses to check and index just about every publicly available website in the world. What does it check for? Thousands and thousands of factors, covering everything from the technical structure and website content to page speed and user friendliness.

The Google search algorithm
The algorithm…

The algorithm is a closely guarded secret, but Google will occasionally give hints and tips on what people should be doing. It’s also updated quite regularly to adapt to changes in trends and technology, because Google is all about the end user.

How does Google know which websites to show people?

Have you ever noticed that little message at the top of a search results page that says something like -20,000,000,000 results in 0.50 seconds-?

This doesn’t mean that Google has just raced through 20 billion websites in half a second before deciding which ones best match your search term.

Google uses a little piece of software called a bot to scour a website from top to bottom on a regular basis, checking every aspect of the website and feeding the data into its proprietary algorithm.

It learns what kind of information is on the site, how easy the site is to use, how fast the site loads, whether it has links to other websites and thousands of other signals.

By doing this, it builds an enormous index of websites so that when a person makes a search for specific information, Google can provide a list of webpages that are more likely to contain the most relevant and highest quality information for that person.

Google is constantly updating this index by crawling just about every publicly available website in the world so it always has a fast and easy to read “map” of websites and information and can point someone in the right direction almost instantly.

Like sands through the hourglass, so is the drama of SEO

SEO is a big industry, encompassing everything from freelancers doing piecemeal work to large agencies dedicated entirely to SEO. There’s one thing that’s common to all SEO practitioners – drama.

SEO is an ever-evolving industry, simply for the fact that the way people look for information is ever-evolving. Technology, consumer behaviour, culture and trends all influence the way people look for and consume information, so Google is constantly adapting both its products (Chrome Browser, Android OS etc.) and its search algorithm.

Updates to Google’s search algorithm are infamous in the SEO industry. Whenever Google is gearing up to introduce an update, most of the time they’ll give the industry a bit of warning by announcing the new version, its name and some hints and tips about what’s changing and how best to adapt your strategy.

Some of these updates over the years have been relatively minor and haven’t required SEO professionals to adapt their strategies and practices much, if at all. On the other hand, some updates have caused absolute meltdowns and forced SEO professionals to overhaul everything.

google makes the rules simpsons gif
Google makes and enforces the rules of SEO

You might have heard about some of these updates by the cute names that Google gives them, like Penguin, Panda, Fred or Bert (their most recent update).

Some are better known by the nicknames bestowed by the industry, like the Earth shattering 2015 Mobilegeddon update, when Google shifted their search algorithm to mobile first website indexing over the traditional desktop first method.

The Dark Side

There’s another reason Google are always changing the way they rank websites: Black Hat SEO. Like any industry, there’s the good guys (white hat) and the bad guys (black hat). White hat SEO professionals play by the rules, use reliable and proven techniques and most importantly, play by Google’s rules. White hat SEO is a slow and methodical process – it’s incredibly time intensive work, but it pays off in the long run.

Blackhat SEO is the practice of improving a website’s search rankings by cheating the system or going against search engine guidelines. Through trial and error, dodgy Black Hat practitioners have figured out specific techniques that can achieve phenomenal short-term results but can earn harsh penalties if they get caught.

the dark side of seo
The dark side of SEO…

Google is focused on the end user’s experience and won’t tolerate websites that jeopardize that experience. Google doesn’t want to expose a user to a dodgy website that doesn’t contain the information they’re after or that might pose a risk to the user.

Some of these dodgy techniques include:

  • Keyword Stuffing – the practice of stuffing every part of a webpage with high value keywords. Both the visible content that a user sees and the technical content that a search engine sees are stuffed with specific keywords to try and rank highly for those terms.
  • Cloaking – the practice of presenting one lot of content to a search engine and different content to a human user
  • Link farming – using a website or a network of websites with the sole purpose of hosting outgoing links instead of content

That’s just a few techniques, but the full list is massive and there have been some quite ingenious practices invented over time to try and game Google’s algorithm.

Google however is constantly investigating new methods of black hat SEO and updating its algorithm accordingly. If you get caught cheating, Google will penalise you and bury your website deep in the SERPs (search engine results pages), which depending on your business, can have a disastrous impact.

If you do get penalised (you’ll know for sure if you get a message in your Google Search Console account), you’ll have to go about fixing whatever issues Google identified with your site. Don’t take this lightly! In Google’s eyes, you’ve broken the law and must atone for your sins. Fix whatever Google has told you you’re doing wrong, triple check that your fix actually addresses the problem and submit a Reconsideration Request in the Manual Actions Report of your Search Console account (you will only see the Reconsider Request option if you have been penalised).

Some people are willing to risk it for the biscuit, some people are happy to toe the line, but for many businesses and SEO professionals, it’s just not worth it.


This is part 1 of our Intro to SEO series – check the Intro to SEO – Part 2 here. If you have any questions about SEO for your website (or SEO in general), please leave us a message from the form below, give us a call on 0409 111 776 or drop in to our office and say hi!

You can also run a FREE website SEO audit on your website to see check what state your SEO is in.

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Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is an umbrella term used to describe any activity that uses search engines to promote your website and/or business. The two main components of SEM are PPC advertising (pay-per-click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

PPC Advertising is the practice of running paid ads on a publisher’s network to drive traffic to a website – you’re essentially paying for people to visit your website.

PPS involves targeting specific keywords or phrases or even targeting a topic, so that when someone visits Google and searches the keyword you’re targeting, your advertisement can appear and you will be charged if that person clicks on your ad.

Prices can vary wildly depending on how many businesses are targeting that specific keyword, but if you pay $5 for someone to click on your ad and visit your website and that person purchases a product worth $100, that’s a pretty great return!

When PPC is done right, it can achieve sensational results for your business.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is all about organic traffic, or traffic that you haven’t paid for.

Organic traffic is the art of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website from people making search queries in search engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo.

Organic Traffic is incredibly valuable to the success of your website and your business. People that find your website through a search engine are more valuable as those people are specifically searching for something related to your business. They’re already actively engaging with what you have to offer when they reach your website.

SEO covers a wide range of work but focuses on two areas – on page optimisation and off page optimisation.

On Page Optimisation involves making sure your website is easy to use, is well designed, has plenty of fresh, relevant content and adheres to technical specifications that search engines like to see.

Off Page Optimisation involves work done outside of your website that improves your search rankings. This can include building links from other websites to your website, social media activity & engagement as well as local SEO.

SEO can be a bit overwhelming, but is definitely worth it if you want your website to be achieving the best possible results. Lion & Lamb will work closely with you to understand your business and product or service offering to ensure that we are driving the highest quality traffic to your website.

EMAIL MARKETING

Email marketing is one of the most valuable and effective tools in your marketing toolbox. It’s cheap, can reach large audiences and provides valuable data about content that works and content that doesn’t. You might associate email marketing with all the spam in your inbox, but a well-crafted email campaign shouldn’t feel like spam at all.

A great email marketing campaign can:

improve customer relationships – email marketing relies on people having given their email address to you in return for news, updates, events or any other pertinent information about your business that a customer or client may find valuable. When you send out a thoughtful email with an exciting update, your customers know that you’re thinking about them.

Promote your knowledge – chances are that if you’re a small business owner, you’re an expert in your field. Not every email needs to be selling something – you can give your customers some insight on a product or a trend from the perspective of an expert and further engage your customers.

Gather valuable information – depending on the program you use to send your business email campaigns, you should have access to a treasure trove of information about how many people opened the email, how long they had the email open, what content was received better, what subject lines work better, what factors sent people to your website or even what factors led to a purchase.

With this information, you can constantly improve your campaigns for better results.

If you’re interested in running an email marketing campaign, get in touch for a chat! We’ll sit down with you to work out what you want to promote and how to go about it. We can then design a stunning email campaign for you that reaches your customers, says the right thing and gets results!

BRANDING

Branding is a mixture of strategy, marketing, design and communication.

A well-designed and executed brand is so much more than a logo and a style guide; it tells a story about your business- who you are, what you do and how you do it. Your branding should dictate how and where you talk to your customers and how a customer should feel after interacting with you.

A weak brand means a business is already playing catch up with the competition.

Every business needs a strong brand to ensure the best possible public perception of who you are and what you do. A strong, unique brand is important for:

Standing out from the crowd – why be another boring corporate copy when you can be unique? An exceptional brand is a steppingstone to exceptional results.

Brand awareness and recognition – a unique and memorable brand stays in a customer’s head. If they have a great first interaction with your business, the next time they’re in need of your product or service, they’ll think of you!

Telling your brand story – your brand helps give potential customers an idea what to expect to expect from your business overall as well as your products or service. Cheap brand, cheap company. Fantastic brand, amazing products and service!

Encouraging your whole business – a fun and lively brand can help motivate staff and other internal stakeholders. Give your people something to be excited about!

Generating more business – word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools for any business. A customer that’s enjoyed your brand and had a positive experience with your business is far more likely to recommend you to friends or family, so give them a reason to pass on the good word!

A great brand should give your business, your staff and your customers direction and value. When we work with a business to develop their brand, we don’t just play around with a logo and a font and send you away. We sit down with you and work to understand your business, your products or service and what sets you apart from the others.

You’re proud of your business and what you do – make sure others can see that!

GRAPHIC DESIGN

A stunning piece of graphic design is not only a joy to look at, it can be the main factor in making a sale or signing up a new customer.

Like branding, graphic design says a lot about your business. Good graphic design isn’t just about creating a pretty picture; graphic design is communication. Graphic design is how you exhibit your business, your products or your services to your target market.

To earn a new customer, the customer needs to be interested in your product, right? So how do you create that interest? You make it look good!

Graphic design encompasses anything from internal company communications to product catalogues; online advertisements to business cards.

If something can be created, graphic design can be used to make it look amazing.

Lion & Lamb has a passion for good design as that’s where our business started.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is a complex beast and can be difficult to get right. There are always new social media platforms appearing and existing platforms fading away into obscurity. One social media channel may be a great way to reach one demographic, but terrible for another demographic. There are so many platforms, so many methods to engage with, constant changes in trends, usage and content.

How do you keep on top of everything?

Don’t worry about it! We live and breathe social media and are always up to date on what’s trending, how to reach the right audience and how to craft the perfect message for them.

Social media is a powerful tool to engage with existing and potential customers. It can be so helpful to:

  • Create valuable dialogue between your business and exiting or potential customers (i.e. customer service, support etc.)
  • Promote brand awareness
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Improve conversion rates both on and offline

We work with you to identify your key objectives, which channels to use and how to pull it all off. We’ll then push the button and you can sit back and watch the results roll in.

STRATEGY

Marketing strategy is a vital part of the success of any business and is all too often overlooked. Everyone has a general idea of what marketing is and the benefits it can provide for a business, but a well-defined marketing strategy is worth its weight in gold.

We will sit down with you and go through EVERYTHING! We’ll pepper you with questions to make sure that we understand every aspect of your business because, as they say, knowledge is power.

A great marketing strategy takes into account your business, your product and/or services, your target market, your competitors, your budget; pretty much everything that might impact your business and your ability to earn new business.

Because no two businesses are the same, a marketing strategy works best when it’s customized to your business. When we have every scrap of data and information we can possibly find, we’ll start with three important steps:

  1. What makes your business awesome?
  2. How do we let people know about your awesome business
  3. How to we persuade people to choose your business

We’ll work through these 3 steps with you before developing a comprehensive marketing strategy outlining what marketing channels you should be using, how you should be using them and a timeline to wrap it all up.

You’re free to use this plan however you wish. We can partner with you as your external marketing team and manage the whole plan, we can implement parts of it or you can take the plan and use it yourself!

If you’re not sure about something or you have some thoughts on how to improve the strategy, we’re a phone call away. Even better, drop by for a coffee and a chat! We’ll never understand your business or your industry as deeply as you do, so your input is vital.

Our success depends on your success, so we’re dedicated to perfecting a marketing strategy that works for you.

WEBSITES

A website can be the most valuable asset of your business. A well designed and built website can:

  • Help you reach new customers – a website is an extension of your business and a well-designed website can reach and earn your business new customers that might never have known about you without you needing to lift a finger! A professionally designed website also adds credibility to your business and helps build trust between you and potential customers.

  • Build your brand – a well-designed website can act as an incredibly powerful sales tool for your business. By displaying your product or service offering the right way, your website is effectively marketing your business to people 24/7, 365 days a year.

    People can interact with your business in their own way and time, while you can sit back and watch cheap, qualified leads fall into your business.

  • Gather important information – everyone is online these days. Whether they’re on their phone, tablet, computer, smart speaker or even in their car, the internet is a part of our lives.

    With so many people spending so much time online, a website can help capture valuable information about current trends, what people do online and most importantly, how they interact with your website. Imagine being able to track someone around a store and know how they feel, what they think about different products and whether they will buy something or not. Sounds amazing, right?

  • Share the right information – a website is such a powerful informational resource. If your business depends on sharing important information with existing or potential customers, a website is vital.

    You can share product or service tips, allow customers to leave reviews, share news about new products or an exciting industry event; the options are limitless and the benefits for your customers, your business and your brand are incredible.

  • It cuts costs – A well designed website can sell directly to customers; it can provide essential information to help a potential customer make up their mind; it’s a perfect platform to advertise your business and once it’s up and running, it’s yours to do with as you please.

    Customer service, sales, advertising and so much more all from your website means fewer overheads for other parts of your business.