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SEO Frequently Asked Questions

SEO isn’t magic, or based on secret knowledge, despite what some scammers claim. It is simply hard work and number-crunching, based on published guidelines and constant experiments into what works and what doesn’t. You can learn to do a lot of it yourself if you like – my Advanced SEO Reports will do the number-crunching for you.

Still, SEO does prompt several common questions, so here are the answers.

Local SEO

…or “What if I only trade in Cardiff – SEO is only for national and global business, isn’t it?”

Not at all – local businesses need SEO too! You may only trade in your local area, but folks still expect to find you online – and no, they won’t simply search for your name. They’ll search for the service they need, and their location – for instance, “plumber Cardiff” or “physiotherapist Newport”. If you aren’t on the first page of results, you’ve lost the sale. Local search is so important that search engines now modify results based on the searcher’s location anyway.

Keyword Confusion

…or “My name is already first in Google, so I don’t need SEO, do I?”

Well, see above. Your business name is probably fairly unique, so it’s no surprise that you’re the first result if people search for that. The trouble is, they don’t – and your position for other search phrases will be very different. Even if they did search for your name, that would just mean that they already knew you. SEO is about reaching those who don’t, in order to expand your market.

“Well, I’m first for ‘<insert search phrase here>’, so that’s enough, isn’t it?”

Is it? Maybe. If you monitor all the following, then fine:

  • How much monthly traffic you’re getting from that phrase
  • Whether that traffic converts into customers
  • Whether or not other phrases might do better

Otherwise, that’s what you need to do – and that’s what my Advanced SEO Reports are for. If you’ve just guessed at a search term though, there’s a fair chance you’re at the top because it doesn’t generate enough traffic for anyone else to be competing for it.

“So just add the keywords to my site – that won’t take long, will it?”

Well, I could – but it wouldn’t do any good. Search engines have been ignoring the “keywords” tag for over 15 years because people abused it. Whoever suggested that probably advised stuffing the page with your key phrase, too – possibly in hidden text. That can now seriously damage your search positioning. This is why you need reliable, up-to-date SEO advice, such as my Web Strategy Reviews offer.

SEO for SMEs and Micro-businesses

…or “I’m small – can I get cheap SEO?”

As a small business owner myself, I feel your pain – I do. However, the rates I publish are relatively cheap SEO. We’re talking about hours of skilled work each month and data-gathering/number-crunching tools that don’t come cheap. Larger firms often spend thousands each month on search engine optimisation. They know it’s a very effective form of marketing, and that effective marketing is defined as something that makes more money than it costs.

So, the key question for you should really be, “How many extra sales would I need each month to pay for the SEO?” Then you need to figure out which search phrases are most likely to bring in that extra trade. Guessing these often gets them wrong – you need to run some numbers. That’s what my Web Strategy Reviews are for.

Still, some small businesses operate on such tight margins that even extra sales don’t seem to justify a marketing expense. If that’s you, don’t get trapped – if your margins don’t let your business grow through marketing, it will stagnate. Would better margins let you afford marketing to get new business? Again, this is something we can cover in a Web Strategy Review.

“…but X is cheaper?”

Fine – try X. At your own risk. I can’t guarantee that your site’s performance in search engine results pages (SERPs) will be fixable after it stops working, though.

Fast and/or cheap SEO is possible – by using banned, “black hat” techniques. These services usually offer a guarantee of “first page on Google,” too. They can work for a while – but when search engines spot the breach of their Terms, they apply search penalties, or even ban sites completely. Dodgy SEO services then disappear – after all, they don’t lose anything if an ex-client’s site has been dropped by Google, right? Other tactics may include delivering fake traffic or building temporary links that “magically” disappear if you stop paying them…

Of course, most specialists won’t admit to using black hat techniques. There are some good ones who only use safe “white hat” methods, but they aren’t cheap. However, some specialists charge just as much and simply take bigger profits, so even cost isn’t a reliable indicator.

In fact, it’s hard to tell if a specialist is truly “white hat” unless you keep up with the ever-changing search engine guidelines and have the tools and skills to investigate what methods firm has actually used on a given site. I’ve even heard horror stories from experienced web techs and top digital marketers who have been taken in by “SEO specialists”.

So, how am I different? Well for a start, as a professional web designer who has been giving ongoing support to clients since 2005, it would be hard for me to simply disappear. I also have the relevant tools, skills and experience to provide white hat SEO services. So, whilst I mostly do my own SEO, I’m also in an excellent position to test other services. Over the years, I’ve done so, and now partner with the (very) few that I trust to manage the most time-consuming optimisation tasks. Basically, I took the risks so that you don’t have to.