Once upon a time there was a man who promised to get the best search engine results in just two weeks, with rankings at the top of Google that everyone would click on.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is full of myths and legends – despite being a fairly young development on the World Wide Web. Promises are made for "top Google rankings in only 14 days" and from then on your business will flourish online with no further work. It's all a myth. Welcome to the reality…
"I can get you to the top of Google in a matter of days"
One thing that must be understood about SEO is that it takes time to develop good results. A large part of this it is about reviewing the content and reactions periodically.
While it isn't necessary to constantly rewrite every word on a site, it's important to keep a close eye on how customers are reacting. Any trends spotted or comments received should be fed back into the SEO process, so a site's optimisation constantly develops and evolves. SEO companies that promise a "quick-fix" and leave you to it will not provide long-lasting results.
The first step is creating a website with a mixture of great site design and exceptionally well-written content.
Previously search engines simply picked up on key words in a website. But now the content is just as important – no one wants a search engine that returns unrelated websites. The search engines work on relevancy, so although key words help a site to get noticed, the content must reflect the business – in an accurate and convincing way.
"We can make your statistics look great"
It is useless for a site to be number one on Google if, when a user clicks through, there is no relevant, engaging content to keep them there. The number of clicks you get does not always represent the number of people staying on your site and/or purchasing your products.
If a customer is left feeling cheated by the search results that took them to your page, then all you'll end up with is a bad reputation.
"For your business to survive you must be at number one"
When searching for something on the internet people localise the terms. For example, if you're redesigning an office in Harlow you wouldn't search for "interior design", you would be more likely to enter "corporate interior design Essex".
Then, when the relevant companies appear, you don't just go for the one at the top of the page. You look around like you would on the high street; see which one has the right look and feel that would suit your own personal requirements.
This gives you an idea of why it is crucial to have good content on your site. Not just a babble of key words that look good to Google.
"I've worked with numerous companies, just like yours"
Part of attracting new business is to get the personality of your company across to prospective customers. Unfortunately, one myth in the SEO world is that once an "SEO specialist" has worked in an industry sector they can make any website in that area work.
But every company is unique. You have your own individual selling points, just as your competitors do – and when they are talked about in the right way, they are what will push you ahead.
"Search engines are what get you noticed"
In the same way that a website can show the personality of a company, so can writing on a related forum or blog. If the director of a company starts chatting to people about products, services and their own opinions, readers can get a good understanding of the company and its ethics.
Tools like Facebook, Twitter and blogging sites are now more popular than email, according to Nielsen online*, who monitor internet usage around the world. This shows the drastic increase in the use of community sites. And when they're used in the correct way they can become a key marketing tool for your business.
Copywriters with experience in writing blogs can aid the progression of your online communications – expertly getting across your business qualities, but in the correct tone for specific blog or forum audiences.
Website promotion is a blend of information, services, advertisements and products – all of which are tied to a brand, a design and a statement.
How to move forward
SEO is not a specialised sector; it's a natural judgment of expectations – when all the elements are treated as a whole. At ifour we work closely with you to get a better understanding of your business, your target audiences and the personality of your company – all the things that set you apart from your competitors.
We then create a site, using SEO techniques to get the results, whilst also employing great copywriters to make the content run seamlessly and reflect your individuality.
Then, once your site is up and running, we can keep a close eye on how people are reacting to it. We'll watch AdWords campaigns weekly to monitor traffic and how people are reaching you, and we'll do a six-month review of your entire site, which enables us to help you push other approaches – like the eMail module and the use of blogs and forums.
To find out exactly how we can help, why not contact us 01892 541111 or arrange a visit to our design agency studio in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
* Nielson online research, December 2008: 25.6 million visitors to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Blogger compared with 24.2 million users logging on to Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo mail. Alex Burmaster at Nielson said: "Two years or 18 months ago most people would have come to the internet, initially, to email people. Most had not heard of social networking or blogging, but in a short space period of time it has exploded in popularity…This really is a seismic shift in how people are using the internet."