Did you ever want to look behind the curtains in the theatre? We’re always curious what is hidden behind the brilliant performance and how all the small parts of one complex machine – actors and mechanisms – cooperate. Today, we’ll have an opportunity to visit the backstage of the SEO business and feed our minds with SEO secrets.
As time goes by, and with Google’s call for unique content, Internet has become a kind of encyclopedia, where you can find any information. Often, people inspired by the new knowledge, acquire new skills, and change their profession. No wonder, many do-it yourself SEOs, who read a lot of useful information, feel that they want to stay in this business and decide to create a SEO-company or become a SEO-freelancer. Accordingly, they start facing many questions, one of the most vital of them is: how much time should I spend on SEO? I manage different projects, how do I allocate my time for all of them?
We’ve asked Craig White (currently works as a Website Optimisation Specialist at WebOptimal.com.au), and Mark Eurlings (owner of www.opmax.nl) how an SEO-beginner should plan his/her SEO-projects management.
Craig White: WEBOPTIMAL has been providing integrated website optimisation and online marketing services for over 3 years. Client number totals about 15, across various industries including online retailing, professional services, IT, Industrials and consumer services. Over 75% are still existing clients so we’ve been able to add value to our clients over the long term.
Mark Eurlings: Opmax has been active within the SEO market for 8 years now, formerly Acquiva Internet Marketing from 2002 till 2007 and Opmax from 2007 till now. We have had 200+ clients and we are servicing 145 clients right now and we are growing. Of course there are cases we are very proud of. For Instance: African Royal Beach Hotel in Ghana. They had/have the wish to be found within Google.de, Google.co.uk and Google.com (worldwide) on specific keywords. With hard work we managed this well and their bookings are rising into the sky.
Craig White: There are several areas of challenge in general;
1. From a client management perspective it’s often a time consuming and ongoing process to educate the client on the strategic importance of what we do and how this field works optimally when integrated into their whole marketing mix. Often, SEO in particular is seen as a technical ‘bolt-on’ activity which takes place post strategy/implementation. This has the effect of undermining the value that can be gained through keyword research, which in essence is a window into the minds of the marketplace, and can also contribute to less than optimal use of the clients content and information architecture. From being found to converting more visitors into customers it’s challenging yet enormously important for SEO consultants to have a real appreciation for the clients’ marketing strategies and target markets and, in turn, to work with the client to shape those.
2. From a technical implementation perspective, I often find the sheer volume of implementation required for larger sites time consuming. If a site has various content managers and multiple workgroups contributing to the company website it’s often a challenge staying on top of the link architecture and content optimisation requirements. More complex issues include understanding elaborate site architectures and the flow of link value across the site, effective measurement and analytics practices, and converting measured data into actionable plans.
3. From a planning perspective, sites with multiple target markets can present challenges in pinpointing the appropriate target personas, then mapping the keyword and content strategies effectively across the site. The more disparate the needs and language of the target markets the more difficult the site may be to optimise effectively.
Mark Eurlings: Of course the international cases are the most challenging. The competition is enormous. We researched which link building platforms are most useful for every country or region. After that we tried to discover which platform is appreciated by Google. By using a patient and strategic link building concept we manage to score Top-10 positions. Our concept is unique by using 100% “No Cure No Pay” so customers don’t have to be bothered with high costs for no results. Opmax is patient and convinced they will succeed, even it takes several months or more. Transparency, honesty and professionalism is the philosophy of Opmax in the World of Cowboys and Angels within Search Engine Marketing.
Difficulty means: 1. Research the best keywords 2. Give an honest prediction when/if we score Top-10 3. Working hard on effective platforms.
Craig White: I take an overview of the sites general content and visual cues to determine how sophisticated the communication and conversion strategy is, then look at the information architecture of the site, followed by the usage of technical SEO elements such as appropriate use of Title and Header tags. Once I have a general overview I’ll then review the site’s current analytics data to get an understanding of organic and paid keyword drivers, important content pages, drivers of conversion activity, and potential blockages/poor performing areas of the site. I’ll also use a tool such as Google Webmaster Tools to analyse page load times and HTML issues. I use Web CEO to evaluate inbound link volume and link text.
All of this doesn’t occur in a vacuum of course, so we then need to contextualise all of the findings within the competitive landscape to provide an understanding of the scope of the project and opportunity for success.
Web CEO, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics + the multitude of keyword research tools [that are also recommended tools].
Mark Eurlings: Opmax always starts with search engine marketing research. Because we take full risk based on our NoCure-NoPay – concept we demand a fully readable website of our customers. If this isn’t the case we give proper advice to resolve those issues. If these issues are resolved then we offer an agreement. In that research we try to show the best keywords, we even show the prediction (%) we think the website will reach a Top-10 within a certain time (mostly 2 to 3 months). Based on specific website – issues and, of course, the keyword competition. We even try to resolve Google Penalty issues from the past. If we don’t succeed, there are no costs at all for our customer. So you can imagine how important the research is for the customer as well for Opmax.
We use the Control Site Quality and Link Popularity tool of Web CEO. Next to it we use our own formula to give an accurate score.
Craig White: My view is that the greatest determinant of the SEO strategy is the not the site type but the client site’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within their competitive landscape. After all, the client is competing for position relative to the other organisations (and online assets) in the same space. Some industries are simply more competitive and sophisticated than others, requiring a smarter strategy to compete.
The basics of keyword research, efficient site architecture and information design, as well as persuasive content and visual cues apply to any online marketing channel, irrespective of website type.
Mark Eurlings: Mostly we use : Press Releases Online, Social Bookmarking sites, our own article – network, blogs…but mainly we write hundreds of articles (proper style) and place them online (no double content). The pace of article writing is moderate. So we don’t write articles in a short period of time. This is to prevent over-optimisation for our customers.
Craig White: There’s no short answer to this question. Again, the basics are paramount. The depth and breadth of the project thereafter is largely a factor of the client’s current position within their competitive landscape. Each client, each industry, presents different challenges and opportunities.
Mark Eurlings: There are three components. (Actually 4, but not proven)
1. Indexation – component. Does the website and pages exist in the Google Index and is it readable for Google. How often do Googlebots visit the website. (Opmax Research)
2. Content/Text Component. Of course we set the 7 best meta’s to help Google even more to understand every webpage. If there isn’t any content for a certain keyword we ask our customers to create it.
3. Popularity component. The hard work lies of course within the link building. Tons of articles will be written and placed on platforms we think are relevant and important within the vision of Google.
4. We did some math and for an average keyword trying to reach a top-10 we predict 16 effective hours. If this keyword target has been reached we expect another 5 effective hours to stay in the Top-10. For reaching Top-5, Top-3 or numero uno the work is enormous. We hope the authority component will do the trick.
Craig White: Not in any order;
- Complexity of site architecture.
- Volume of site content and content changes (e.g. an online retailer with a product catalogue that changes frequently may require constant content optimisation).
- The degree to which the content requires re-writing for both SEO and conversion rate optimization.
- The degree to which the client manages ongoing content marketing and development.
- The degree to which the website requires re-design (although this is not strictly an SEO element our experience is that clients don’t want higher rankings, they want more opportunity for business, either via lead generation, brand awareness, pure sales etc. So, SEO is not an island and requires a multi-faceted approach to adding ongoing value to clients).
Mark Eurlings: We have differences if it is local (regional and national = Dutch) and international. We don’t have any difference with easy or hard keywords. Google can be so mysterious sometimes that the easy
If a client is longer than 6 months within Opmax the client can choose for Opmax Traffic. We cut the regular costs and implement pay per click. Very handy if the volume of visitors is disappointing for the standard cost Opmax asks. For webshop we offer Opmax Traffic as well. Webshops aren’t interested in many keywords but heavy traffic. Webshops have to choose at least 50 keywords and we start optimising. If a visitor comes via that keyword, the customer pays € 0,30. This is based on Google Analytics.
Craig White: I would read these publications;
And read these blogs;
Most of the Clickz.com experts columns
….to get started….!
The basics of optimization – keyword research, site structure optimization, valuable content, link building – can be applied to any project taken. As for specific optimization strategy, it often depends on the type of site, competition in the niche and targeted markets. After you choose the right approach, take care to maintain your activity. Patience and transparency are important – educate your clients, keep them aware of what you are doing.
Professional SEO analytic tools are a good help in many cases: when you make a preliminary site analysis, monitor the site’s availability, check rankings or track visitors. Keep track of the latest news in the industry – this will help you keep on the crest of the wave. By spending your time wisely, it’s possible to achieve great results in a short time.
Mark Eurlings is the commercial director of Opmax.nl, search engine optimisation company in the Netherlands offering organic SEO, research SEO, redesign, copywriting, blogging
Web CEO Metrics
Here we are sharing the generalized numbers from our HitLens Web Analytics service. It covers 300,000+ websites from all over the world.
The global search engines share stands still: in June 2010, same as in May and April, Google referred 82 % of all visitors compared to the year 2009 when this number was 78%. Yahoo and Bing keep the equal 7% point. Regional search engines share totalled 4%.
Global Search Engines (%)
You can see how visitors are being referred to websites.
While links referred 20% visitors in June 2010, search engines are still the best visitor referrer (they referred 47% of all traffic in June 2010). The bookmarking share was 22%, and the share of search marketers who use paid advertising was 6% of all visitors in June.
Visitor Referrers (%)