SEO: It's Not a Dark Art
In this day and age, when an online presence is an essential part of being in business, an increasing number of people are earning a living by selling SEO services. For the uninitiated, that’s Search Engine Optimisation – or in layman’s terms, tweaking the content and code ("meta data”) of your site, and promoting it on other sites, in ways that increase your chances of getting found on Google and other search engines.
It wasn’t that long ago that SEO was a bit of a dark art – not many people understood it, and those who did could achieve impressive gains by putting their knowledge into practise. These days, your website needs to have basic SEO in place to stand a chance in the world of search. Don’t worry though – in many cases your website may take care of your SEO for you out of the box (which is the case for Umbraco sites), and if not, you can usually install a plugin that does it for you. What I’m trying to say is: you can get the basics right all by yourself with minimal effort.
However, if you plan to take a DIY approach, you should probably study up on what SEO is and does. I generally point my clients to this guide, and then get them to ask me any questions they have (or going forward, remind them of things they may have forgotten!).
This all begs the question: how are people making careers of SEO, if people are able to easily do it themselves?
In the past, basic knowledge of SEO could achieve big gains, whereas these days you need to be really, really good to get a competitive edge. Use that, combined with a decent budget to pay off Google to bump you up the listings by means of ads, and you can make your way to the top. It would be wrong to say this is all there is to it – in reality no-one knows exactly how search engines’ algorithms work, and there’s a lot more to do in addition to getting your meta data right and paying for ads – content is another key factor, along with backlinks and numerous other contributors.
In a nutshell, there are two things SEO professionals get paid for:
- Doing the basics that you can do for yourself quickly and easily;
- Adding serious value delivering expertise.
I think what often happens is business owners, marketing managers, people responsible for their businesses’ website simply haven’t been made aware that SEO isn’t a dark art, and that you don’t need to invest a whole lot of time or money to get the basics right. Last month I managed to bump a page from the fourth page of Google results to the fourth position of the first page… and all it took was 2 minutes of thinking followed by a quick CMS update. With a little bit of knowledge, you can cut down your spend on SEO without compromising your visibility on search, and save that budget to use where it can really make a difference.