Jane Imrie

Bdaily Tech Week 2021: Digital agency Squidgy on why SEO matters to growing SMEs

As part of Bdaily’s Tech Week 2021, we spoke to the team at Newcastle-based digital agency Squidgy about how SMEs can best harness search engine optimisation (SEO) to increase their online traffic and boost their brand.

As a business owner, CEO or manager, we’d take a bet that you’ll have some understanding of SEO, or you will have at least have heard it once or twice in meetings. Until relatively recently, the term was still so new, a dark art in the marketing world, that we had to waste a big chunk of a pitch explaining it - but these days we typically find we only have to give a quick refresher.

A little while ago in a pitch, a prospect held up their hands and said they didn’t actually know what SEO really was and that honesty was so refreshing. It saved us all time and the awkward guessing game and it meant that we could really get down to business. Even if you are aware of SEO, you probably don’t fully understand just how impactful it can be in the business world and just how much power it can hold.

So call this your refresher, or even your head start. We’ve answered all the questions we’ve been asked in our digital career to get you up to speed and explain why you will want to understand SEO.

“What is SEO?“

SEO - or ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ if we’re using its Sunday name - is the marketing process of optimising a website (in a number of different ways) to ensure Google* (a search engine) has a better understanding of what you do/offer/sell.

“Why is SEO important?“

In its rawest form, SEO and/or organic traffic is a sustainable acquisition channel that if done properly is one of the most fruitful and beneficial for a brand’s website. It ultimately gets more people (and often the people you want to be in front of) on your website, helping generate leads and sales.

“Doesn’t my website just do SEO itself?“

We’ve heard this one more than once, and our answer is always the same. No, the reality is that Google doesn’t just instantly put your website in front of people when they’re browsing the internet. Sad news, we know.

An SEO strategy is something that needs to be planned and rolled out by people with serious expertise in the area. It’s essential to have a strategy that understands the online buyers, what they’re turning to the internet for, what they are searching for and which SEO tactics will help capture this interest.

“Why do you need to understand it?“

Simply having an agency, marketing manager or team who handles this all for you isn’t going to be enough. SEO requires investment.

There is no shying away from the fact that the investment is sometimes thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of pounds, that inevitably as a business owner, CEO or manager, you’ll be expected to sign off.

If you don’t truly know what SEO is, how it works or its benefits, then you won’t understand what you’re getting out of it - but let’s be honest, if this is the case you probably won’t be up for investing in it in the first place. It would almost like buying a new car on its name alone and without doing any prior research - you wouldn’t do it, would you?!

“What are the different pillars of SEO?“

There are many different aspects of SEO, and whilst we don’t want to bore you with the minutiae now, we will get you a little more clued up on some of the core pillars, so here’s a brief summary of each:

Tech - This covers how your site is built (including its platform), how Google * can crawl and index your website, how fast it is and ultimately how it performs. Here’s a little tip, if your website developers aren’t talking about SEO, then make sure you are!

Content - In simple terms, the words on the page. Okay, it’s much more refined and detailed than that, but essentially this is how Google * gains both semantic and contextual relevance about the nature of your website.

You should know that there was a time (a dark time) when the quantity of a certain keyword you wanted to rank for was enough for this - in other words just filling a webpage with a particular keyword got it ranking, even if it meant the content was absolutely nonsense.

Thankfully the days of manipulating (and cheating) rankings are long gone and we’re now moving closer and closer to an algorithm that ranks a website based on genuine performance and content quality.

Digital PR - PR in the old fashioned sense (coverage, brand awareness, getting your business’ name out there etc.) still has an important role to play in the online world, but as a part of what we now call ‘Digital PR’.

With Digital PR it’s also about securing coverage on news sites and relevant sector publications but making sure we are getting vital backlinks from them.

An important factor in Google’s algorithm is how many backlinks your website has; the more quality backlinks you can secure from reputable and high authority sites, the more value it gives your site in Google’s eyes.

These backlinks can be gained through the creation of interesting and unique stories - like those from an old school PR campaign - from which you can generate news (with your business as the source), to then outreach to journalists and webmasters for them to hopefully run on these high authority news sites.

“We’ve got other acquisition channels, why is SEO so important?“

This is another question that get asked a lot, but the easy answer is SEO can and will pay dividends for years to come.

If you’re currently running a PPC campaign there’s no denying this is a fantastic channel, and a tap that can be turned on very quickly.

However, the problem is that it will always cost you money and the second you turn that tap off, you also turn off your traffic. The same goes for other digital marketing channels like Paid Social and even traditional marketing and PR.

Long story short, SEO should be the underlying foundation of any digital marketing strategy as it can reduce your reliance on spending in other channels.

“We’re by no means saying that it shouldn’t be holistic, but if it’s done correctly it can continue to provide you traffic and customers for a very long time - which can be much better value for money. SEO. Less dark arts and more just great business sense.

  • *other search engines are available, but when was the last time someone said “just Bing it!”?

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