SEO services can boost (or destroy) your website traffic
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a concept that’s familiar to most business people. Only a percentage of them know how it works and the way that it might impact their business.
Which of these three statements is accurate?
– SEO of your website can create hundreds of new customer enquiries. These enquiries will continue year after year, long after the initial investment. The high rankings generate a search engine authority ‘snowball effect’. This momentum enables new content and product offerings to rank on page one as well.
– The money spent on SEO is a complete waste. The first page rankings for keywords in my business are too competitive. The top results include corporations, news agencies and other unbeatable websites. How can I compete with Wikipedia, Huffington Post or CNN? I can’t. I wish that I had never bothered.
– Not only did my old SEO agency fail to increase traffic… But they completely ruined my existing rankings. I went from having search terms from page one to five, to having my website de-indexed. I then spent more money trying to fix the problem (good money after bad). In the end, I started a brand new website from scratch and had to lay off some staff as well. Don’t talk to me about SEO.
If you’ve already guessed that all three statements are correct, then that’s great. You understand the gap between common agency marketing claims and reality.
Sometimes, a simple tweak that takes half a day of work can revitalise your website. There could be some fixable technical issues. You might have a product offering on the top of page two of Google that can get boosted onto page one.
Is SEO a waste of money… For YOUR business?
Other times, you can spend a lot of money month after month and see no increase in the visitor numbers.
Another common situation is achieving an increase in traffic, without an increase in sales. This apparent puzzle is because you often need to rank for keywords with buyer intent.
For example, it might be better to have ten visitors who have typed the search term: ‘solar installers in Exeter’…
Than 1000 visitors who have typed: ‘How do solar panels work?’
Traffic for the sake of traffic can be pointless if the visitors aren’t potential customers. So, how can you know whether SEO is a waste of time or the best possible thing that you can do next for your business?
Do you spend thousands per month, and wait for a year to find out?
No, it’s much better for you to get an expert opinion. We’ll take a look at your website, its statistics, and those of your closest competitors. Then we’ll explain to you where you stand, and where possible improvements might happen.
If your competition is too fierce and catching them is cost-prohibitive, then we’ll tell you.
If there’s an easy win that takes half a day, that could create a massive boost – we’ll tell you about that too.
Some charge for this initial analysis and consultation, but we will initially consult for you, free of charge.
If you want a plain, honest and straightforward opinion, then we’ll gladly provide it. Our time is valuable, but we need to know that we’re a good fit for each other before we start to do business.
Is SEO a waste of money? It might be the best thing you could ever do for your business, or completely pointless. We’ll give our best advice on this, and explain why.
If you’re interested, then please get in touch. If you want to find out more about us, and our areas of expertise, check out our About Us page.
We can help alternative energy companies get noticed online
We’ve decided to offer online web development and digital marketing for alternative energy companies.
That could mean that our next client is a hydroelectric or wind power company. Our market fit is more likely to match to smaller companies. Technology innovators or local solar installers are more likely to find a good fit with us.
Our company has grown so far by working with small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the oil and gas industry. As the energy industry changes, we intend to change with it.
The reason for the SMB target customer is that we’re a small marketing agency. The largest energy firms tend to have in-house teams for web design and marketing.
We live in a fast-changing world, and no one knows what the future holds. We see in news and media articles that people tend to have strong polar opinions about energy.
Many people gravitate towards favouring green energy over fossil fuels. This view makes complete sense as only a fool would choose pollution over fresh air.
Hydrocarbon supporters say that alternative energy only provides a fraction of our needs. Oil and gas workers in particular face a lack of support, when they’re a valuable part of society. It can seem like if you’re for one type of energy source, you’re against the other.
Public anger against spills and pollution has demonised what’s still a valuable industry to society. At the time of writing, alternative energy couldn’t fill a gap in the event of an abandonment of fossil fuels.
Energy pragmatism and open-mindedness
In 50 years, the world is likely to be relying on solar or wind power for a much more significant percentage of its needs. Nuclear or coal with greener technology may be the best choice. (It seems unlikely now of course). Then there is cold fusion, or something not discovered or invented yet?
Instead of thinking oil=bad or wind=good, we prefer to be pragmatic. We hope that future leaders choose the best options that they have available. We understand the implications of human-induced pollution and climate change. We know that our children’s future will be affected by what we’re doing now.
There’s an ongoing debate about whether humans are causing climate change. Unless you are a climate scientist, it is better to keep an open mind. The best scientists have open minds too.
If the consensus is right, and we’re contributing to our own downfall, then we ought to stop. If the consensus is wrong, and we’re just between ice ages (etc), then one day humanity will realise, as long as we still exist.
One thing’s for sure, if we:
… Ignore the warnings and we cause our demise, then it’ll be too late.
… Decide that we’re causing it and later discover we’re wrong, there’s less downside.
There needs to be a better grip on so many environmental issues that we’re experiencing today. Global warming aside, the air pollution in so many cities is inhumane and intolerable. There are predictions that by 2050 there will be more plastic debris in the sea than fish.
Out of the Box Innovations want to work with conscientious companies and partners. Regardless of whether they’re in the traditional energy sectors or the ones of the future.
The biggest energy companies, such as Siemens or GE, are doing what they can to improve. Forward-thinking companies are looking at how they approach traditional energy. At the same time, they are innovating for the future.
We hope that in our decision to embrace a broader energy mix, we don’t alienate those who are in one camp over the other.
Abandoning oil, gas, and nuclear is not an option for the time being. Ignoring green alternatives would be foolish too.
Our typical clients are those who are looking at a better world for tomorrow. At the same time, they’re realistic about today.
If you’re reading this and you are a decision-maker inside an alternative energy company, let us help you. We can offer most aspects of online marketing and web design. Choose a partner that shares your vision and values.
(Find out whether this article is likely to be of value to you)
Before we get into how often you should post online, let’s explain the context. This article aims to help business owners who want to communicate their product or service offerings on the internet better. With online reputation management becoming increasingly important for employees, the same principles will be relevant. As individuals, we’re all CEO and Founder of our online presence, which will affect how our customers, employees, peers and bosses see us as well!
If you manage teams that create content for you, how often they post on your behalf is also very important. Finding that crucial balance between posting often enough to get noticed, of sufficient quality to be welcomed, without turning customers away is an art. This art should be mastered by you first before you can share it with your workers – and they share your message to the world.
Cutting my teeth in online marketing
I remember when I started publishing blog posts online, a dilemma was how to structure content production. As a budding internet marketer, I was keen to find out what all the online experts had to say. I understood how to communicate effectively in the ‘real world’ but somehow thought that it might be different online. After all, we don’t communicate to one person, or even five, we’re interacting potentially, with millions.
In the previous paragraph, there are at least four significant errors in judgement. Misconceptions that I still find myself falling into from time to time. By reading this article, you might be able to dodge these potential pitfalls and get focused more effectively.
Mistake #1: “… a dilemma was how to structure content production…”
If you don’t know what to say to people, then say nothing at all. If you’re unsure of what to write about, then don’t bother. If you force yourself to create content when you don’t know what to create, then the end product will be worthless.
I noticed in different online industries, that when people went ‘through the motions’, and followed a fixed structure or plan set forth by others, the result was terrible if the process were lacking in inspiration.
There’s far too much competition in the world, for second-rate content. If you don’t think that you’ve something to say or promote that will win over hearts, minds and wallets, wait until you do.
It’s not that you should avoid structure and planning, far from it. The point is that there should be no dilemma. If you have something worthwhile to share with the world, you will be bursting with ideas and enthusiasm. You’ll know what makes your offering special, and where your target audience hangs out online. You will instinctively do the right thing. If you don’t, then your idea was not sound, or you got attracted to the process, not the value that you have to offer.
Mistake #2: “… find out what all the online experts had to say…”
Most online experts will guide you through strategy, and they will often re-iterate the FAQ’s, guides and documentation that can be provided by software providers. Looking back, I wish that I had avoided all experts e-books, and just read the documentation from each online software service itself.
For example, you could buy two $99 e-books or mini-courses about email marketing and Facebook advertising. The chances are that you’ll learn better and faster getting started on the platforms, and reading the user guides provided by Facebook, MailChimp or anyone else. The manuals from the software providers will not be out of date either.
That’s not the only reason why we should often avoid experts. They’ll not be in your niche or know your clients. What works in one industry won’t work in another. You’ll get advice that leads you down the wrong path.
Another problem is that you end up spending too much time on consumption and not enough on production. It’s better to learn by doing, testing and scaling. The deeper you get into the ‘world of experts’, the further you get away from simple principles like this two step path to success:
- Find one person who will buy your product or service.
- Find ten more.
Another reason why gurus and experts can be overrated is the fact that many make their living by telling you how to make yours! They don’t walk the walk; they need a steady stream of new wannabe followers!
If you find an expert who will work for you and create the desired result, then you are paying for value exchange. The previous few paragraphs refer to ‘guru’s’ who do not do any work for you. If you want to hire someone to create a new website or run an ad campaign, then you’ll want an expert.
Mistake #3: “I understood how to communicate effectively in the ‘real world’ but somehow thought that it might be different online.”
We can communicate with bots better when we optimise our on-page SEO, and we can follow guidelines to fit in with search algorithms. When communicating with peers, bosses, employees or customers, there’s no difference at all between online and offline communications.
We should speak in the same tone, and about the same things as if our audience were sitting right across the table from us.
The main difference is that we can draft, create, edit and polish what we communicate before we hit publish. We can always be at our absolute best.
More importantly, what we publish can stay online. We will be at our best when being ‘introduced’ to strangers years from now, with no further time or effort on our part. That’s the power of the internet.
Mistake #4: “we don’t communicate to one person, or even five, we are communicating potentially, with millions…”
It seems intuitive but is entirely wrong.
While a viral post or fruitful article could be shared or seen by millions of people, if written in that tone, it won’t be.
Most people don’t want to be lectured or patronised. Something directed to millions will come across as aloof, disconnected, or even authoritarian.
Think about annual speeches or public announcements; there is a tendency for them to sound inauthentic. I don’t know about you, but when I see or hear these types of heavily spun speeches, my mind starts to wonder. I think things like “I wonder who wrote this?” “Huh, they are bound to say that, I wonder if it is true?”
Perhaps I’m a bit cynical, but that seems to be a hyper-growth market in itself right now.
The point is, there is a disconnect, and the message is not received correctly.
For those of you who came here to find out how often they should post online, and at the risk of sounding like the very guru that I’m knocking.
Since you did get all the way this far down the post,
Let’s answer it.
How often should you post online?
Let’s re-phrase the question, shall we?
How often should you talk?
If your mother is/was anything like mine, you’ll know that if you don’t have anything important/sensible/nice to say then say nothing at all.
Some gurus will say something like:
Your readers will want a routine, post three times a week, weekdays are better for traffic, and time them between 9-12 am. and 5-9pm because these will offer higher social media interaction rates. So, try Monday, Wednesday and Friday, split test between the AM and PM slot to optimise…
Talk about taking the art, pleasure and creativity out of your life. You’ll end up freaking out at 12:05 because you forgot to turn to update the split testing software and fear that you have to start the whole experiment from scratch.
Don’t be that neurotic, anal robot.
Post when you have something valuable, sensible or helpful to say. If you’ve picked a great industry to be part of, and are going to succeed, you’ll post often enough to get the job done. You’ll post about the right topics at the right time because you will be tuned in to the industry, and your audience.
The same applied to the length of a post. Twitter aside, don’t tailor the word count of an article based on a preconceived idea – especially one from a guru!
Write naturally; don’t count the words. Take as many words as needed to make your point. It could be 200, or 5000 it doesn’t matter. Never stretch a 200-word point to 1000, or a 1000 word post to 2000. What’ll happen it that you will lose your reader, either through adding fluff or filler or from allowing yourself to drop your creative standards and slip out of ‘the zone’.
If you shouldn’t pay too much attention to ‘Guru’s’, where can you learn?
I have three favourite places where I like to learn — areas where I experience the most valuable lessons and life-changing experiences.
In reverse order of importance, here they are:
1) The best Podcasts, Books, and articles from non-fiction and business sources OUTSIDE of the industry where I make my living.
That might seem counter-intuitive, and I do follow what is happening in my industry. When we read and listen to the information in subjects that we are already familiar with, we tend to hear the same things. It’s especially the case when we get to the stage of mastery; we are very likely to follow the words of those whom we share an opinion.
When we learn about new topics, we get ideas about how these principles can apply to our industry — cross-pollination of the best ideas from other areas.
If you’re one of the first people to bring a successful idea, technique or product to a new market, massive growth can occur.
2) My own mistakes, failures and experience
I’m the kind of person that seems to make every mistake possible, and always try to find the ‘hidden benefit in every failure’. It sometimes seems like I value this process so much, I’ll often make the same mistake repeatedly!
There’s no substitute for experience. You can only master a subject or skill once you have perfected it through action.
3) My Clients!
If you’re doing a lousy job, your clients will tell you. (Sometimes by cancelling). If you’ve created something that will suit their needs better, they’ll let you know that too.
If your clients aren’t saying anything, then ask them – How can I make your life easier? They’ll tell you!
By working closely with clients on their projects, you get to understand their business deeply. You get into their mind and the minds of those that work with them. You can develop an insight that other similar clients might appreciate, as you grow your business.