T he best way I could think of starting this post is by giving my own definition of search engine optimization. SEO in short is a process in which an individual like myself ensures that certain elements can be found on and “around” a company’s website which would enable Google or Bing to classify the website as useful and worthy to their customers. When a website is seen as useful to these search engines they will be higher up on the search results, this is known as “earned”, “natural” or “organic results”. These elements are for example well written articles containing keywords for which the company is trying to rank, for example SEO in Pretoria, or setting up a Google my business page for the company to help them achieve a higher rank on search engines. If you don’t understand this concept at first it would maybe be helpful if you looked at Wikipedia’s definitions and explanations.
A question I get quite often is how do you know which elements do search engines prefer that will help you rank? The short answer – you don’t. The long answer – seeing that we are not employees at Google or Bing we will never know their algorithms, their set of rules that they follow to classify a website as useful. The only thing we can do is to try a variety of activities and see which delivered the best results in terms of page authority and page rank. With time we have developed quite an effective strategy that seems to work, but we can never get to comfortable with one strategy seeing that search engines continually update their algorithms to deliver better content to their users.
Let’s get to the actual tips and tricks mentioned in the title.
My first tip is on how to choose someone to do your search engine optimization in South Africa.
When considering who to appoint as your specialist I believe the most important thing is references. The self-proclaimed “specialist” should be able to produce proof as to what he/she is able to do. I know some startup companies, like us, don’t have loads of references to show and impress our clientele but the few we have should be ample proof, but if that’s not enough we will make bets with our clients that they will get all their money back plus keep everything we have done if we can not fulfill our promises. Make sure you do business with a company that is willing to put their profits on the line to back their claims.
Now this is more of an opinion with tip-ish overtones
Don’t let a *@?>(!* web designer tell you that they are specialists in SEO. I see this is a growing trend in South Africa: everyday a new web designer claims that they know a lot about SEO when in fact they have only watched one or two videos on YouTube. The best way to determine if someone knows what they are talking about is to get a second and third opinion and compare the facts stated and the figures shown. A professional would be able to provide calculated figures to support his/her claims. Another way to determine the authenticity is to note the way in which the “specialist” approaches the meeting with their clients. Do they ask for information about your business similar to that which can be found on our Discovery Form page? If they don’t bother to even obtain that basic information it is not possible that they are true professionals.
Now let’s get down to the real important stuff – THE MONEY
I get this question about each and every day – how much will your SEO service cost? The answer: I don’t know – yet! To be able to give you a quote on how much it will cost, I would first have to know a lot more about your company. I would have to know in which industry you are and then determine how stiff the competition is to know what would need to be done to get you to the top. I would have to know how many of the SEO elements have been touched and how many needs to be added. I would need to know how large your website is/or needs to be in order to service your client base and so forth. So please have mercy on your SEO specialist we don’t know everything from the beginning.
With SEO SLOW = FAST
Another thing that bothers people is the time that it takes to get a page to the top of the search results. The average time for a site to rank to the first page on Google is roughly six months. Yes, there are some cases in which an established domain and website with already a few good aspects in terms of SEO elements have been moved to the first page in as little as three months, but there are also cases in which a new website will take up to a year to reach the first page. An established site serves as a good head start.
The reason for this huge amount of time is because search engines need time to process: the information contained on the website, the “signals” pointing to the website, social accounts linked with the site and much more. Another reason why this can’t be done faster is because it won’t look natural. Sure you can create thousands of backlinks that link to your site in a matter of a week’s time, but that would look awfully suspicious and spammy to Google and Bing and you will be penalized, being prohibited to rank further for a predetermined time depending on the severity, until they gather more information.
Opinion bombardment time again
Don’t cheap out on your SEO and marketing. Yes, search engine optimization in South Africa is on the more expensive side of marketing but it is well worth it. The return on investment of SEO is incredible, it is in upwards of 15% with some companies reaching 50-60%. Show me another (legal) investment with these returns and I would eat my own hat. Marketing is essential for a company to get new clients and keep current clients interested. I see this more often than not where small businesses have great staff, great products and excellent service but they struggle to make ends meet. Why? They don’t market their company! When you ask them what they are doing to advertise they often tell you that they hand out flyers at the robot and run a Facebook page. Those flyers just end up in the trash and Facebook, without the correct management, doesn’t always reach your desired clientele. Digital marketing done right will almost in all cases improve their business a lot, but they refrain from doing it because the initial investment looks intimidating.