Google is wildly complex.
It’s algorithm is made up of hundreds of different criteria that work towards determining where your website will rank in it’s search engine results pages. As a small business owner, keeping on top of every single element of SEO while also keeping on top of the day to day operations of your business is going to be near impossible. Rather, it would be more beneficial for you to have a working knowledge of broad SEO tactics. To understand what SEO is, how it works, and what some of the key components are. That will enable you to make informed decisions about your SEO campaigns, and to identify if your SEO provider is achieving results.
SEO is an area of digital marketing that often gets overlooked by business owners because of it’s complexity. Unfortunately, this often leads to the business owners over-paying for campaigns that are under-performing. They don’t know what results to expect, they don’t understand a lot of the terminology, and they don’t understand what ‘success’ really looks like. They have to blindly trust their supplier, because they just don’t understand enough about SEO.
At BeKonstructive, we pride ourselves on being transparent and clear communicators. We have found a number of ways to simplify the core areas of SEO, to help our clients understand the different tactics that we are employing – and why. In our latest blog article, we’re outlining a concept called ‘Offensive vs Defensive SEO’. This concept outlines some of the SEO activities that you need to maintain your existing Google rankings (Defensive SEO) as well as some of the SEO activities that you need to be performing to actively chase down new keywords and/or better rankings for your exisiting keywords.
Spoiler Alert: A solid SEO strategy or campaign should include both ‘defensive’ and ‘offensive’ SEO tactics.
Why Small Business Owners Need to Understand SEO:
Almost all of BeKonstructive’s current SEO clients have come to us because they were unhappy with their previous provider. By the time they come to us, they’ve been paying thousands of dollars for very little return.
We’ve hear all kinds of horror stories – one client thought they were dealing with a Brisbane-based company. They had a two month free trial, and when they run out, they were locked into a 12 month contract. Well the campaign went fantastically for 3 months – then started to go downhill quickly. The client tried calling and calling and calling but couldn’t get in touch with anyone at the SEO company. Eventually, he decided to drop by their office to talk to someone in person. Imagine his surprise when he dropped by the listed address only to discover it was a mailing address only – that the company was actually based in Thailand.
Another client was being charged over $200/hr for their SEO package, but had no idea what they were actually paying for. When we reviewed their site, it was full of spam links that were going to one of their competitor’s websites. And then the final client horror story – they were paying for a company to do their SEO; but when we went into the backend of their website, we discovered that the company didn’t have access to the client’s website. How could they be doing SEO on the client’s website without ever actually logging into the website to make updates?!
What all of these horror stories have in common is that the client ‘went along with it’ for so long because they didn’t have a strong enough knowledge of SEO. They didn’t feel that they knew enough about the topic to question what they were being told. Even after they started to become suspicious that they weren’t getting results for their money, they continued on for a few months because they just weren’t confident enough in their own knowledge.
There are so many dodgy SEO providers that prey on small business owners who don’t understand SEO. SEO is a complex area of digital marketing and there are so many criteria that come into play that it is often overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
There are some broad over-arching concepts that are easy to comprehend and easy to digest. Think of this as an ‘entry to SEO’; to give you a broad understanding of some of the different activities that should be happening in your SEO package – and why. This knowledge will help you understand what is missing from your existing package, and what questions to ask your current supplier if you’re uncertain about the service you’re currently receiving.
‘Offensive’ versus ‘Defensive’ SEO Tactics:
Any easy way to get your head around all of the different factors that count towards your website ranking in Google is to think about it in terms of ‘offensive’ versus ‘defensive’.
Think of ‘defensive’ SEO tactics as day-to-day SEO activities that maintain your existing rankings. It includes things like site health (website functionality, website speed, mobile responsive etc), as well as your site navigation, optimising existing content, page formatting and internal linking.
SEO campaigns with strong defensive elements will focus heavily on regular audits, tracking your competition, and tweaking things to make sure any minor drops in existing rankings are rectified quickly. A lot of time is spent on the overall health of your website – your SEO provider will talk a lot about site speed, metadata, internal links and user experience.
Site health is a hugely important factor in SEO – your site needs to meet Google’s current best practice standards to even be considered as website that it might want to send traffic (users) to. If you’re site is slow, doesn’t perform well on mobile, or doesn’t meet current security requirements – then you won’t rank for anything.
If ‘defensive’ SEO looks at maintaining your website and ensuring that it is capable of ranking in Google, then offensive SEO tactics look at increasing the quantity and quality of traffic that your website is receiving by targeting new search terms.
An SEO campaign that focuses on offensive tactics is likely to have a very strong backlinking element, as well as new content being added to your site (usually in the form of blog articles). Your SEO provider will talk a lot about your link profile and link building, as well the freshness or newness of the content on your website.
It is important to have a strong defensive element in your SEO campaign because it allows you to target new keywords and phrases. It pulls in new users by ranking for a wider range of search terms / phrases.
SEO Campaign Warning Signs:
A solid SEO campaign needs both offensive and defensive tactics. Some common warning signs that your SEO provider isn’t doing both may include:
- They don’t touch the content on your website – they never load new blogs or update existing content
- They don’t have a login for your website
- You know that you have an old / slow / outdated website – but they never mention it or talk to you about the health of your site
- They load new content (blogs) to your website without asking for your approval or review first
- You sometimes question the relevance of the content/blogs/articles they’re loading – you don’t think your target audience will find them valuable or informative
- The articles / content is poorly written – it contains incorrect information, spelling mistakes, and maybe seems a bit ‘fluffy’ (a lot of words that don’t really say anything)
- Their reporting looks at either your monthly traffic in terms of volume OR your current keyword positions – not both (or they don’t provide reporting at all!)
If someone is charging you to look after your SEO and they are not creating any new content for you then chances are they are only looking at defensive SEO methods. And don’t get me wrong – these methods are important. Things like site speed, broken internal or external links, metadata, image alt tags, https and page formatting are all important defensive SEO measures that will assist you in maintaining your website ranking.
But that is the key term here – ‘maintaining‘ – optimising your existing content will assist you in maintaining your existing rankings. In some cases, it might be the push that your content requires to outrank your competitor. BUT – it will not increase the amount of terms that your website is ranking for.
If you wish to increase the quantity of terms that your website ranks for in Google then you need to look at ‘offensive’ or ‘attack’ SEO methods. These methods revolve around adding new content to your website (note: I said ADD not REPLACE, they are two very different terms!). New content means new optimisation opportunities, which means potential to rank for new key terms or phrases.
I have mentioned this previously, but it is this simple:
YOU CANNOT RANK ORGANICALLY FOR A SEARCH TERM IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CONTENT RELATING TO THAT SEARCH TERM ON YOUR WEBSITE!
Once you have content related to a particular search term, we can start discussing quantity and quality, but as a rule of thumb, if you have a page that lists all of your services one single dot-point list while your competitor has taken the time to give each individual service it’s own content page detailing what the service is, it is safe to say that they are going to rank above you. A little bit of effort goes a long way.
What Makes a Good SEO Strategy?
A strong SEO strategy should combine both offensive and defensive SEO methods. It should constantly be looking for new keyword opportunities and creating content in the form of blog posts or landing pages that target those new keywords, while simultaneously defending your existing keywords by tweaking metadata, optimising existing pages, building backlinks, fixing 404 errors and all of those other little details.
So next time you speak to the company that is looking after your SEO, ask them what activities they are doing to identify new keyword opportunities and what their plan is for getting you to rank for those new terms. If their answer doesn’t include some form of content creation then it may be time to find a new provider.
Similarly, if you ask them how your content compares to your competitors, or about how fast your site loads and they can’t give you a clear answer – then they may not be looking after the health of your website as well as they could be.
Can BeKonstructive Marketing Help Me with my SEO strategy?
We sure can! At BeKonstructive Marketing we work with our clients to create keyword lists that they would like to rank for and which are highly relevant to their product or service. We then plan content in the form of landing pages and blog articles for those terms and plot them on a content calendar, spreading them out over a matter of months. As we build out the content on your website to relate to your chosen terms/phrases, we routinely audit and optimise the pages, tweaking them as required to out-perform your competitors.
In addition to creating new content for your keywords, we also run monthly audits on your website to identify any health issues that might be negatively effecting your existing website rankings – things like the site speed, broken links and missing metadata. We have an allocation of time in all of our SEO packages that is dedicated to addressing these site health issues, and our monthly reporting will give your a website a health score out of 100, making it easy for you to track how we are improving month-on-month.