How are your google rankings? Claire Felices interviews Stewart Dawes of Atomic Digital, one of Sydney’s leading digital marketing and social media management companies about SEO and the challenges businesses in Australia face online …
Claire: Why is SEO more important in 2013-15 than before?
Stewart: The reason why SEO is more important than ever is that people are using the internet more than ever to search for things. Whether it’s Google or Bing or Yahoo – obviously mostly Google, the fact is it’s becoming more entrenched as a way of life. Of course with the access to mobile phones now being more pervasive than ever before you’re also having people starting to use Google on their mobiles and that raises the whole spectrum of people having their websites optimised for mobile presentations as well.
So the thing is that not only is it more ingrained behavior but finally even in somewhere like Australia where businesses have been able to be complacent increasingly your competitors or most businesses competitors are now getting very active with search engine optimisation. If you don’t do it in 2013 and you start leaving things to 2014, don’t be surprised if you find it very difficult to get on the first page for any of the terms that you’re seeking to rank.
Certainly there is a bit of a case in point where if you’d started your SEO in 2008 you probably would have had to invest only a quarter of the resources to get a pretty good ranking. Certainly now you’re up against, you’re guaranteed in most industries to be up against competitors who are also getting their SEO done whether before you or also at the same time. They have ongoing SEO programs in place.
Claire: So you’re saying that an SEO program is a greater imperative at this day and time?
Stewart: Businesses need to realise that sometimes you’ve got to do some catching up as well. That it’s one thing to say, “Okay we’ll start a program now. All right we’ll commit $1000 a month or $1200 a month” but what they need to recognise is it’s all very well but you might be slowing down your take-up phase by at least six months.
So sometimes it’s better to do a ramp-up phase and blast your SEO for at least three months to get yourself into a position where you can actually catch up on the rankings because the problem is it’s all very well to be complacently be optimising one website and then you discover that during that next six months that you actually just get your first website on the move, your competitors at a different space to you and a more advanced space and they’re actually building four or five websites to compete with you and possibly keep you off the first page permanently. So I do think people need to really wake up that this is really a last chance to get aggressive around SEO and get a move on.
Claire: So SEO is not dead?
Stewart: Well, there has been a myth around the place that SEO is dead and to my mind it’s pretty clear why. It’s perpetuated by weaker SEO companies who don’t have the power. They don’t have the background of media websites that can give quality links to get a short string search ranking.
So a lot of the people who are perpetuating the myth of SEO being dead what they’re actually trying to sell you is accepting that you can only get somewhere with a long string search and of course, I’ve got plenty of cases even in the last 12 months for example a company called Future Map where I’ve got them right to the top of Google for the short string search employee programs and also if you look for writer’s courses and writer’s workshops I’ve been able to get the New South Wales Writer’s Centre right to the top as well and these are very short string – and high-search-volume searches.
It is crucial that you’re at the top for those because what’s happening now is Google is much better at identifying the location of peoples at computers and where they’re actually doing the search. So Google is better at throwing up location based searches.
Now what this means is in the old days you might of searched for say for example, digital marketing Sydney, you may have actually put the word Sydney in it but now if you’re setting in Sydney it’s funny how searches have adapted to this complacency, this ease now that local searches will be thrown up. So now you can sit in Sydney and just type in digital marketing and you will actually get a range of searches done or a range of results that are actually based around exactly where you are being in Sydney.
Now in the old days you would’ve tended to put the word Sydney or if you’re in Melbourne you might have put Melbourne but now you have that, sort of, luxury in a way of not needing to do that anymore. So more than ever it’s crucial because if you compare, for example, digital marketing Sydney there will be, if you look at “digital marketing” there’s about 12,000 searches per month whereas if you go to “digital marketing Sydney” there’s only about 100 searches per month now.
So this is a massive shift even within the SEO, the online marketing business, it doesn’t matter what industry it’s in, people are able to get much more complacent and people won’t necessarily type in “cider australia”. They’re just going to type in “cider” or they might type in “chai” or “chai latte”. They’re not going to type in “chai latte sydney” – unless of course they’re looking for a local cafe to drink it in – they want to get it in a local shop. You might even type Parramatta therefore but certainly we have to be conscious of that and so the businesses out there telling you that SEO is dead they’re looking to perpetuate a mis-truth in order to deliver up pretty weak results and get clients to accept that.
Claire: So they’re trying to justify weak results?
Stewart: Yeah, justify the weak results because they don’t have the offsite grunt of having ten or 12 media websites that obviously with Atomic Digital we’ve come out of that space of having 14 years of publishing high traffic media websites and we have those websites at our disposal.
Claire: So if you have a business inquiry for SEO just how long will it take for them to land on the first page of Google?
Stewart: Well, the background to that is again, you have some SEO businesses out there who’ll say that they’ll get you onto the first page of Google within weeks or a month or whatever. Now that can definitely happen. It can still happen for a short stream search term as well but the reason they usually say that and make that claim is that you can get somebody onto the first page of Google for pretty well any long stream search that goes around.
So the bottom line is again, the first thing we have to look at is the search volume then we have to take into account why this search volume might be relevant to the client because sometimes they may be searching for something other than what the client is offering or the client might have a term that relates a lot to school kid and university research so that wouldn’t be your target market either.
So I think, getting back to your question, there is each case is certainly different and I tend to under promise and over deliver on this and sometimes I even shock myself at how low I under promise but I’d rather that I’m surprised and happy along with the client. But I do think there’s times in a client’s life where sometimes it can be as little as six weeks or eight weeks where I’ll be literally saying to the client, I’ll say, “Celebrate your successes as they come along” and sometimes I just say to the client, “I think you should get out the champagne you’ve achieved a really high ranking for a particular term and you should enjoy.”
That’s it. You should enjoy what you have there and then, of course, work on the next term and the next term and the next term. So while it’s good to work on a range of terms at the end of the day you also have to narrow down that a client’s website will often only give a result for the one term.
So a two or three word term when you put that on your homepage that’s been identified as the most important term for a client’s business and sometimes the only way to get other rankings is to build other websites and that’s what we’re specializing in now as well is building three, four, five websites even up to ten websites now to take over Google rankings.
So, yeah, it’s going to get a lot more aggressive in the next 12 months and people need to think about the short term stress. The things they want to rank for, it’s still possible and we still go for those. You also got to do things in such a way that you don’t get your website banned.
You have to sometimes sit back and let Google settle in with a ranking that it’s given you and not overdo it otherwise sometimes these things can backfire. Which fortunately, I haven’t had a case that that’s happened yet because we’ve played it very professionally and very cautiously but I do know of clients that have got a family member to do their SEO who’ve been banned and a banned website can take six months to come back up so you certainly do have to be cautious. Yep.
Claire: So in SEO we actually talk about landing on the first page of Google. Equating that to profit wise what would be your examples for some of the business that have taken their SEO to you? What would be the profit margin from no SEO running to with SEO?
Stewart: Yeah. That’s one of the questions I actually ask potential clients at the start now. I interrogate people a bit around what percentage of their current revenue is coming from online sources. Also I try to put them in context as well if they don’t have strong rankings at all I try to say to them, what percentage of their overall revenue of their industry do they occupy because of course I’ll have some clients who say, well we’re less than one percent.
For example a potential client in the home building industry said we’re less than we’d be like .001 percent of the overall Australian home building market. I said well the potential for that then is massive for them to actually get a decent presence and to, in some cases, you can actually double, you can even quadruple your overall business just by really getting serious about having a strong web presence and a strong Google ranking presence.
At the same time I don’t want to say that’s the case for everyone and sometimes a five or ten or 15 percent growth can be hugely beneficial to a business as well. There are certain statistics in place where the researchers have shown that a number one ranking will get 15 times the amount of business as a number ten ranking.
So you can be at the bottom of the first page of Google and you will get some crumbs here and there and the occasional hot chip will come your way and you’ll gobble it up and think it’s wonderful but in fact, what you have to bare in mind is the person the competitor sitting in the number one spot or number two or number three are probably getting 15 times the returns you’re getting from SEO. So it is really important to try and push on towards the top.
And the same thing as when a client at the top of Google I say to them look if we’ve managed to get you the number one, two or three result then we need to start a second website to also try and get a second spot there because again, it might be a decreasing scale but if you’re getting 100 inquiries a month out of being at number one or two on Google then having a second site even if it comes in at number three or four you might get an extra 50 leads a month.
So, of course, it’ll diminish by half, you’ve got to recognise the same sort of people will click over a number of websites but if you get three or four websites at the top of Google you potentially have an extra 100 percent return on just having one result. So I often say to people is one ranking at the top of Google is that really enough? Are you really satisfied with that? The trend will be in 2013, in 2014 and 2015, the trend will be that competitors will be pushing really hard at the top end of Google to really try to occupy as many spaces as possible.
If you’re serious about SEO or social media for your business call Stewart Dawes directly on 1300 321 814.