This is a really good question that came from a customer who had some work done on his self-catering website to raise his profile in the search engines.
We are often asked to review sites that have slipped down the search engine results, and this customer was no exception.
However, the answer is one we feel will be better delivered to a wider audience.
Will I have to keep paying you to maintain our position in the search engines?
The short answer is no. The work we did for this customer increased his position in the search engines for a one-off payment, and we have told him that he can expect his listing to climb the results pages and it has been shown to do that.
The longer answer is that our approach to search engine marketing is a combination of two distinct processes
- Creating a search-friendly structural template for your content that helps you avoid bad formatting
- Training in content management which helps you create content that search engines reward.
Traditionally, SEO companies charged a monthly fee to keep your listing as high as possible.
Their process was to ‘optimise’ your existing content by emphasising keywords and adding links to your website anywhere they could. It required constant monitoring and adjustments to make this possible and it can be costly to maintain.
Penguin and Panda
These firms will cite algorithm changes called Panda and Penguin as important when actually these updates are designed to specifically target bad practices.
Our process is different.
Search engines are relying less and less on ongoing optimisation, particularly when content is templated. That means, for example, when you write your articles, the headlines, subheads, pictures and links are automatically given the search-friendly attributes that are required to keep search engine juice flowing.
You want customers not reports
We’re also very likely to highlight how your search engine position will or won’t affect your goals.
A traditional-style SEO report showing you you’ve climbed a rung on the ladder of your favourite search engine won’t necessarily correspond with an increase in sales, enquiries or other call to action.
It is our firm view that search engine marketing is one of the LAST items to address, not one of the first.
You don’t put your house on the property market until you’ve fixed all its faults, do you?
Many small businesses can’t afford hundreds of pounds a month just to get up the listings, only to find a higher placement in the search engines didn’t actually bring any more customers. More traffic yes, but did they buy anything?
Content creates value
The two processes above will not work without content of course.
This can be done by the customer or you can hire us to create it for you, or it can be a mix of the two.
That’s where we WOULD be charging an ongoing fee, but rather than tweaks and links from third parties, you’re paying for content that has real value for your customers and that can be used over and over, even offline. In other words, it creates real, long-term value for your business, not a quick fix with a limited lifespan.
We create a plan that allows you to use the assets and skills already present in your business for creating content, and then top it up with the skills you can’t.
In today’s content-driven marketplace, this mix is like gold dust. A small business cannot afford to outsource all its content creation, neither can it afford to miss out on content opportunities it cannot meet.
So when you ponder, ‘how can I get more business from a higher search engine ranking’, ask yourself, ‘do I want to pay for little tweaks, big tweaks and nothing but tweaks, or some time-honoured good value content?’ I think you know the answer to that one!