Looking through our Google Search Console data, I saw that many people search using the phrase SEO agency Aberdeen. You could pretty much replace the word Aberdeen with any UK city; for example, in our case, we see lots of demand for SEO specialists in Edinburgh and Glasgow based SEO agencies. But what are people typing these phrases into Google really looking for, and do they know what to look for in an SEO agency?
Obviously, you might say they are looking for an SEO agency in Aberdeen, but that's not what I'm, driving at; what are they really looking for? Do they really want SEO, or are they after something else, like more web-based business enquiries?
The bottom line is that most people looking for an SEO agency in Aberdeen or anywhere are looking for a better-performing website that gets found by their ideal customers in the hope it generates an enquiry. Simple? Yes and no.
Not All SEO Agencies Are The Same
Like most things in life, there's usually a world of difference between two things that look the same, and if you're buying search engine positioning services or looking for an SEO agency, this is definitely the case. Unfortunately, over the years, SEO has been plagued by bad actors who are happy to take your money but deliver very little for it. These people are usually at the bargain basement end of the spectrum and turn a coin by serially under-delivering, knowing there will be a steady stream of willing victims to replace the unhappy ones who move on. To avoid this situation, follow this advice.
SEO Is Not Hard, But It's Hard Work
Let's start by setting out what SEO actually is, and if you want more information, our What Is SEO page is useful and popular. We've also just published an episode of our digital marketing podcast that answers the 'what is SEO' question.
So what is SEO? In a nutshell, SEO is any activity that aims to improve the potential for a specific web page to be found by people typing a specific search term into a search engine such as Google™. In the example that formed the premise for this blog post, that search term is SEO agency Aberdeen, and one of the reasons we've written this post is to improve our rankings for that search term. It's a win-win situation; we improve our rankings, and you get some fantastic free help and advice.
It's Not Just Keywords, Links & Meta's
One thing to note right from the start is if you speak to an SEO agency and they use jargon instead of talking to you about getting found by your ideal customers and lead generation, the chances are you should move on. For sure, there are some jargony and techy aspects to Search Engine Optimisation, but if an agency can't communicate with you using plain English and business focussed language that you understand, then there's one of two reasons for that.
- They are trying to baffle you with science. Leave them to their bullshit and move on.
- They don't get that SEO is only a means to an end; the end is business growth. In short, they are too focused on SEO instead of the business benefits of their work.
So Tip Number 1 is, if the agency confuses you, ditch them, real experts can explain what they do using language a child could understand; anything else is a smokescreen for something sinister or simple ineptitude.
SEO Is Not A Quick Fix
Good SEO agencies, including us, lose work because they are honest with potential customers about the effort and time required to create a powerful web presence that generates leads or enquiries.
In all but a few exceptional cases, from a standing start, the time to create a successful outcome is measured in months and years and not days and weeks. Exceptions include businesses that operate in a niche where competition is low or businesses with a good website with optimisation and technical issues preventing it from performing well. But why does SEO take so long? Is it just so SEO agencies can make lots of money?
Why SEO Is Not A Quick Fix
Perhaps a better way of saying that SEO isn't quick is to say it isn't cheap. This is because you can speed things up significantly if you throw a lot of resources at your website and create a ton of decent content - because good search engine results require content and plenty of it. But what do people mean when they bang on about content whenever SEO is being discussed?
Google is a search engine, but a more accurate description might be Google is an answer engine. That's because people like you and me who use Google usually type a question into the search box. It's not always an obvious question like "how high is Mount Everest" - it's 8849m - but sometimes, like the search term we've used in this blog post, it's something like SEO agency Aberdeen.
With this search term, people are implying a question and what they type is short for something like "are there any SEO agencies in Aberdeen and if there are, please list them for me". It's your job as a business owner to answer all the questions your customers are asking by putting relevant content on it.
This could be blog content, video content, podcast content and so on, and it's worth developing an understanding of the type of content your customers prefer.
So Tip Number 2 is, if the agency doesn't talk about all the content they're going to create for your website, again, it's advisable to discount them and keep looking.
Once you understand this, the time SEO takes and, by extension, the costs involved start to make sense, and you'll find yourself wondering how SEO services costing only a couple of hundred pounds a month could ever work. But what should SEO cost? How much per month are people paying for SEO services?
What Does SEO Cost?
All things being equal, the investments businesses make in SEO is directly proportional to the results. If you bring someone in-house, expect to pay circa £40k for a mid-level SEO person, but don't expect to keep them for long. Working for one business on SEO would drive most normal people insane, which is why most businesses who want a consistent SEO effort hire an SEO agency.
If you hire an agency and task them with ensuring your website generates leads, expect to pay £2k/month at the lower end and £10k/month at the higher end.
So Tip Number 3 is to tread very carefully when buying SEO services or hiring an SEO agency that charges significantly less than £2k per month. In the SEO world, the old adage "buy cheap, buy twice" is not only true, but you could add to that "buy cheap, destroy your business web presence".
If you avoid the cheap and cheerful brigade, you will become the owner of a website that gets found by people who may want to buy what you're selling, but getting the right eyeballs on your website is only the beginning. Enter Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO.
Turning Visitors Into Customers With CRO
Where SEO puts your website into the mix by making sure it gets seen in search results, CRO is the science of getting visitors to your website, the people who click through from a Google search, to engage with you, creating an opportunity to do business.
Most credible SEO agencies will at least discuss CRO during their initial discovery work to determine if they are the right guys to help you. If they don't, it's not a deal breaker, but you need to be aware that SEO isn't just about getting traffic. SEO is about getting the right traffic and converting that traffic into a business's bottom line.
So that's it. Hiring the right SEO agency can be a powerful and sometimes transformational exercise. It will guarantee your website gets found by people interested in what you do, generating new business opportunities.
Hopefully, you now know what to look for in an SEO agency, and by avoiding the mistakes we've outlined in this blog post, you'll have a positive and mutually beneficial experience. If you've got any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch.