Search engine optimisation is the process of making a website rank highly on Google for keywords or search phrases that people use to find a particular product or service. Search engine optimisation (or SEO for short) is ongoing work and starts with the optimisation of the website pages and includes many activities that help Google understand the relevance, authority and trustworthiness of the content which are the main factors Google use to rank websites.

ref: SEO listed websites are the sites you will see on Google results pages down the middle of the page. They are not the banner ads you will see at the top and the right hand side of the page.

SEO is the natural (or organic) way to increase the ranking of your website by tailoring efforts to qualify your website as the most relevant in it’s field. Websites that appear in natural seo listings achieve a much higher click through rate (CTR)  than adwords banner ads and the quality of the traffic is generally much higher. Consequently, this also means that the amount of enquires you receive from a lower amount of traffic (i:e the websites conversion rate) is also very high compared to alternative methods such as Google adwords.

For new websites SEO can take 3 to 4 months of work to get significant visibility and rankings for competitive phrases can take even longer than this. In this regard it is initially a much longer process than adwords for gaining immediate traffic. The reason for this is because Google is assessing the website for it’s usefulness or relevance during it’s early stages and there are many aspects it needs to track over time before ranking them. Google does not make it’s ranking criteria explicitly clear and regularly changes the way it ranks websites every few months so efforts are needed to stay ahead of the game and keep track of when Google will be updating it’s ranking index. This is why most companies will employ an agency to do this for them.

ref: there are over 250 influencing factors that Google use to index a website

Google adwords or Google pay per click involves paying Google a fee per click on a small banner advert that can be setup in your Google account  and will appear in the Google results page. The adverts can be built inside your Google adwords account and it is possible to group your keywords into campaigns or ad groups in order to  closely monitor activity and see which keywords are performing highly. When setting up and placing an adgroup it is necessary to set a bid amount for the clicks on the ad for that keyword and this amount can vary from a few pence to a few pounds.

Adwords can be setup within minutes which means adwords is the fastest way to receive traffic to your website and put your business in front of your audience.  Google adwords also includes many tools that make it very easy to add unlimited keywords to campaigns so getting a high volume of varied traffic can be achieved quickly and with relative ease. Adwords can be useful for quickly monitoring how the website is being engaged with and understanding which pages are converting traffic to enquires. When setting up an adwords account you can add as many keywords as you like and Google offers a variety of tools for seeing the number of searches carried out on each keyword and amount of competition and bid amounts. Bid amounts can be set on each click for a keyword and you can  set both daily or campaign budgets meaning the amount you spend can be monitored.

Adwords can be expensive and can lead to a poor return on investment unless it is closely managed. There are many variables that come into play when setting up a campaign and monitoring bids and these all need to be taken account of when placing an ad and getting it ranked. It can take a lot of management time to make sure the campaigns are run effectively and money is not wasted on keywords that aren’t generating quality traffic. Adwords traffic is lower quality in general and can be around 25% as effective at generating enquires compared to traditional SEO.

We suggest around 10 – 15% of your search engine marketing budget is spent on PPC in order to generate traffic for a wider number of keywords than your website might naturally appear for. PPC can quickly bring large volumes of traffic to your website and can provide some useful insights into how to tailor your wider search engine marketing campaigns or seeing how website traffic connects with your website pages for niche phrases and keywords.

This really depends on the following factors:

  • Competition: How competitive is your market and how optimised are the other sites in your area. If there is less competition and the competitions websites are not well optimised for search then it is  likely it will take less work and budget to to get you to rank ahead of them.
  • Deliverables: How much qualified traffic do you need.
    • If you don’t require a large amount of traffic then it will not take as much effort.
    • A typical example would be a website that has a very high traffic to enquiry ratio for a business that has a very high value product. In such instances less budget would be required.
  • Speed: How quickly does this need to happen for you. Faster results require a higher initial spend but this doesn’t mean that with a higher budget you can get results in a few days as Google will want to see the results  and rankings improving gradually (naturally) over time.
  • Content assistance:  Are you are able to invest time in creating regular engaging and informative content.  Part of any good SEO agencies job will be to create compelling text, graphics, video and rich media content in order to build upon visibility online. If you are able to provide some of this on an ongoing basis this will also help to reduce costs long term.

ref:  SEO campaigns include activities onsite (the website itself) and offsite (the activites and links built offsite linking back to your site)

There are a few reasons as to why your adwords may not be appearing.

Firstly, if it is a new website then it is highly probably it has not been fully indexed by Google yet and even i if it has it is going to suffer from a low quality score because not all the pages have been indexed. Google will still use quality scores as a means of assessing whether an ad is relevant for a particular search term and so getting some website optimisation completed first is essential.

A higher website seo or relevancy score can not only help your website appear as one of the top ads it also results in you having to pay less for each click on your advert. This is why most companies are well advised to complete a full onsite SEO programme first before starting an adwords campaign.

There are many factors that Google will look at when ranking a website.

In short the core elements can be broken down into onsite elements such as website metadata (page titles, descriptions and keyword tags etc) and offsite signals such as how many other sites are linking to you and how relevant and trustworthy they are. If you have a high value link from a leading government site, industry journal or popular blog or forum then Google will see these links as a vote of confidence in what you are doing and so will begin to start ranking your website higher.

If you are also able show high website engagement as in people are staying on the pages for a while and they are sharing the pages content on channels such as social media then Google will also pick this up and start ranking the pages higher as they are clearly providing useful information.

A successful SEO campaign will include a steady increase of qualified traffic through to the website over time and this will  naturally lead to more enquires for the business if this is completed effectively. An effective SEO strategy will include a full understanding of SEO best practice and some technical understanding of how the website pages are being read and understood by the search engines. The ongoing campaign will require highly useful and engaging content that is posted and linked to both on and off the website from respected authority sites that also have a high “trust” value with Google.

The web changes fast, and for the most part, SEO is changing right along with it. One of the most challenging aspects of search is keeping updated on all the changes Google makes to it’s search algorithms which it does every few months. An effective online search engine marketing campaign will closely align strategy and content with how Google prioritises content.

An example of this is when Google started giving more authority and higher rankings to sites that lead and responds well on a mobile devices.

A local search marketing campaign is one that will look to get your company visible for local search listings. You can find the local search listings underneath the Google map for any local Google search.

In order to setup your local search listing you will need to verify yours business address with Google and this can be setup within a few minutes through your Google account. Once you have registered your address Google will send you a postcard in the post that will contain a 4 digit pin. You add the pin number to your online account to verify the address. You then need to spend some time filling out a full profile for your business listing and this should include a full keyword rich description and related business information such as opening hours. Adding company photos, videos  and customer review can be a great way to maximise visibility and ranking for your local listing. Other activities such as adding your business to local business directories and adding links from other local relevant sites will help the visibility of your listing.Ensuring your local data is in the correct format and analysing & improving the website to target locally relevant key phrases is also highly advisable.

It is important to understand the risks with organic search marketing as the tactics required for success can be over-ruled by updates to the search engines (specifically Google). The result of such an update can include removal from the search engine results in the most extreme cases.  This is why most companies will decide to use an experienced agency that has a knowledge of the sector and an appreciation of how Google works.

If you are writing regular content on your blog page then this can have a positive impact on your SEO and ranking as Google will see this your website as being up to date. Remember that Googles aim is to provide the most up to date relevant and authority information near the top of any search and something that is new has more weight as it is perceived as having more relevance than an older posting.

As a general rule of thumb you want to be taking the time to add regular content to your website as a whole so that Google sees this as an active and up to date website.

The more often you update it the more often Google will come back round and crawl the website. As well as adding regular blogs you want to  be adding regular new content to the website pages too and working in new copy for the top pages you want to be ranked for.

Rich media content such as videos, podcasts and infographics are an excellent way to increase website engagement and attract links from other websites.

Google ranks video than text content alone and you are up to x 50 times more likely to appear at the top of search engines for a webpage that has videos and text than a page that simply has text content.

Every few months Google will update it’s search algorithms and when it does this it is called a Google dance, It is called a Google dance because the rankings for the websites in Google will shift positions over a period of 24 hours  and this can happen to varying degrees depending on how well your website meets the criteria of the new update to it’s search algorithm.

Google regularly reindexes all the information on the web according to the tweaks it has made to it’s algorithm.

Google has recently published it’s Search Quality Rating Program that can be found on this link. This is a lengthy document that it has produced to aid it’s internal team on how it scores websites. This is a highly valuable document and it is unprecedented for Google to publish this information and insights into how it scores and ranks websites.

Beginners’ Tutorials

  • Google’s SEO Guide
  • SEOMOZ’s SEO Guide

Free Newsletters


  • Matt Cutts SEO blog
  • Seo Book blog

Check out http://twitter.com/SEOTipsnTricks for some of my free SEO tips and tricks…

This is a very common question and the short answer is that you are unlikely to retain your rankings for a competitive keyword without consistent attention and effort to keep it on the first page.

For the most optimised websites on the internet it can take longer for them to lose their first page ranking but the bottom line is that other companies are paying for efforts to catch up with you so a regular budget should be dedicated to staying ahead of the competition.

Videos are engaging, informative, and most importantly, rewarded by Google when properly optimised. If your brand has yet to incorporate video as part of your digital strategy then you are missing a huge opportunity to get ahead. Videos that are properly optimised are up to 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google. Google can  index transcriptions and the audio in the videos too so this is a another powerful tool to add to your marketing mix. The other advantage of video is it is the most shared form of online content and if content is shares then Google picks up on this and will rank it more highly.

The best way to build an audience is to create meaningful content that your audience either finds useful or they connect with on a personal or business level.

By educating your audience using media such as videos, podcasts and presentations you will be able to truly connect with you audience in a meaningful way. If people engage with your content they will stay on the page longer, share the content, link to it from another site or bookmark it all of which are tracked by Google and will help your web pages ranking for that particular area. Education marketing though video truly is one of the best things you can to help build an audience and capture new business interest.

Each campaign is different and you will need to spend time working with your agency to assess what is realistic within any given timescale given the parameters of budget and the competition. Most new websites can take up to 4 months to start showing signifiant natural search results and it is often not as simple as increasing the budget as Google needs to see the activity on the site as natural. An effective SEO campaign will carefully spread the activity across a range of keywords and content.

Any marketing campaign needs to be closely aligned with the goals of the business and the business objectives. Unless you are doing a general awareness  campaign you should be looking to received a return on investment in terms of closed business and profit on that business at around  500 times the amount you invested. We suggest at the very minimum you track, traffic, traffic sources, keyword traffic, conversions and profit on closed  business.