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Why Your SEO Needs to Be a Long-Term Investment

SEO is easily misunderstood by businesses, who think it's something they only need with a new website, or something that can be turned off and on like a tap. With clickbait blog posts and random spam emails flooding your inbox on a daily basis, it can be hard to know what exactly SEO means for your business.

The right kind of SEO comes down to creating a web experience that excites users, as well as informs them about what it is that you do. Modern SEO incorporates a range of digital disciplines such as UX (user-experience), digital marketing, copywriting, and branding.

If you want to make the most of your online presence, you need to adopt  a holistic all-in view, rather than a reactive piecemeal one — this is the best way to manage budgets, resources, and time. 

Invest in SEO for the long-term

SEO optimisation, link building, and digital PR should be part of a long-term business strategy — adhoc campaigns and low budget SEO won't do you much good, and may even put your site at risk. Here is why long-term SEO is better for your business.

Customer experience matters

Your customers online need to trust you — they need to feel that you understand their needs, and that you're listening to them. A poorly written website that smacks of keyword stuffing and spammy content isn't going to improve your customer experience — it may even burn customer bridges altogether.

Low-budget SEO methods like shoving a tonne of keywords into every available page title, heading, and paragraph will devalue your brand. A site that's so full of keywords that it's fit to burst will make a frenetic and poor impression on people.

When users are mentally ranking websites and choosing where to spend their money, they will be reading your web copy and searching for user benefits, as well as scanning for trust signals like social proof (some examples here). It's important that you put your best foot forward and focus on answering your customers' questions, not pleasing search engine bots with keyword stuffing.

High quality web copy that's crafted around your core keyword themes doesn't always come cheap — but it's worth it. If you can manage to pull off a site that reads well, builds a relationship with your customer, and ranks well for relevant keywords, you will be in a strong position.

Cheap SEO isn’t worth it

Before the days of the first Google algorithms, there were certain SEO practices that were  cheap, but effective. From low-quality syndicated content to keyword stuffing, there were a lot of dodgy practices about.

Now that search engines have matured, these old practices have become increasingly risky and obsolete — some practices can even attract search engine censure in the form of penalties.

Responding to emails about cheap SEO contracts is not a good idea — you will probably be palmed off to offshore providers who won’t be invested in your business and its longevity; they'll be using risky tactics out of sync with the current UK search market. Take any offers of SEO glory with a pinch of salt, and always clarify exactly what you're paying for if you do sign up with an agency (minus the jargon).

Your rankings are a delicate and complex matter that are best handled by experts; or at least not messed about with by amateurs. If you can't afford to hire a good SEO agency, you can lean on the advice given by an impartial SEO consultant, or learn how to do some of the basics yourself. There are a lot of SEO tools and plugins that allow businesses to (easily) do some SEO tasks in-house.

Content is a long-term game

A good SEO strategy relies on high-quality content (either produced in-house, or outsourced to external writers).

Updating your own domain with fresh content and getting your brand out there in the form of guest posts is absolutely essential to a well-run SEO operation — you simply cannot skimp on content.

To get tangible results from content marketing, like leads and referrals, can take a long time. The issue with content production is that many businesses know they need to do it, some even get pretty good at doing it, but many give up due to difficulty or lack of patience. Stick with it!

Outsourcing content? There will always be a period of orientation during which writers and agencies are getting used to your industry — work with them. Make sure you give people sufficient access and information to be able to go out there and be thought-leaders on your behalf. If you are creating all your content in-house, make sure that teams have enough time to devote to content, and that there is a clear workflow in place. Use cloud software like Google drive to speed up editing and version control.

You need to be constantly learning and innovating with your content — investing in video, getting involved on social, and mixing it up with media placements. Content doesn't stay still for long, and neither should you. (At the same time, investing in some evergreen content that your audience are going to always appreciate is also a good idea).

Strategy means longevity

One of the main reasons for advocating long-term SEO is that without a proper strategy, it can be almost impossible to get any real SEO results. Any provider who claims they can 'sort out your rankings' with no prior knowledge of the niche or industry you work in, are probably lying.

The key to great SEO is data mining and the ability to really understand the business and its long-term goals — building out a coherent keyword and SEO strategy takes time.

Strategic SEO is all about taking a 360-degree approach.

Recognise that how you build your website and what you say online are going to impact your customer service team, your sales pipeline, and pretty much every other aspect of your business. In order to make the most of digital, you may need to make some changes to how you manage your offline operations too. 

It’s about your UX and your brand

SEO isn't just about chasing after empty rankings, it's about creating a compelling and unique voice for your brand. SEO is also about improving website usability and implementing best practices when it comes to website security — a site that's optimised for SEO, should also have a good UX (user-experience) that converts visitors into customers.

If you are selling physical products or services through your site, you need to ensure that usability takes centre-stage. A well-optimised product category isn't going to do you any favours if the checkout process is a nightmare or page load times are trailing. Whether you build a store yourself, hire a professional web team, or decide to go for a hybrid option, carefully consider the UX and SEO implications of your web build (and carefully consider how to best deal with freelance developers). Opting for the wrong option can put you on a SEO back foot from day one.

SEO can be your lifeline

People can be dismissive of SEO, seeing it as a bunch of cheap tricks, but it's actually a very sound business investment. Despite the algorithms changing, the core message of building user-friendly websites that deliver unique and engaging copy hasn’t changed. Unlike pay-per-click advertising, SEO can bring you leads for free and can become a core part of your overall digital strategy — as long as you give it a fair chance.

SEO isn’t something that every single brand and website will need — but anyone who is looking to up their digital game and make the most out of their online business, should definitely consider it. Don’t get caught up in the hype, or drawn in by cheap tricks — make a commitment to quality SEO instead!

Friday, 23rd June 2017

Written by Gareth Simpson

Gareth is an SEO pro with over a decade in the industry. Now based in Bristol, his specialisms are blogger outreach and content. You’ll find him at his desk, drinking green tea and working on his latest campaign.

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