Issue 5: Help Me Understand SEO Part 1
How To Position Your Business For Growth.
Everything Is Connected
You’ve made it to Issue 5. Thanks for sticking around. Today I’d like to share my experiences in SEO, one of the most valuable topics in growing your business.
Having published articles on SearchEngineLand, and rank in the top 5% out of 1.2 million people on LinkedIn for SEO, even after nearly 20 years I’m still learning every day. This newsletter is written with non-experts in mind, so relax! We all grow as we learn.
Making Complex Ideas Simple (Is A Lost Art)
Let’s start with a brief recap of what frustrates most people who reach out to us.
SEO has been making the internet ugly for over 20 years. There, I said it.
Self-appointed search engine optimisation “experts” with no formal qualifications - and even fewer people skills - stuffing unnecessary keywords and paragraphs onto pages that were never designed to host them.
Rarely if ever talking about the things you actually give a damn about, namely your commercial outcomes.
All of which leads to business owners and senior staff looking at each other during meetings with the look that says, “are they making all this SEO gibberish up? Because it sounds made up.”
People have phoned me and said ‘Andrew I’ve just come out of a long SEO meeting and I have no idea what they were on about. Can you help?’
Combined with off brand, low quality link building, courtesy of untargeted mass outreach, and it’s easy to see why SEO has struggled over the years.
You’d have to be crazy to trust your average SEO expert, right? Well…
Perception wasn’t the only failure.
Measuring SEO With A Free Tool… Designed To Sell PPC Value
SEO’s biggest challenge has been communicating real-world business value.
If people don’t see the value, they won’t pay for a service.
In sport we notice who scores the goals but we can easily miss all the hard work to supply the opportunities to score. Organic website traffic is often the greatest website user journey assistant, or winger.
If only it was easier to measure assists (and the pass that led to the assist!) instead of focusing on goals…
Which brings us to how we measure digital marketing and especially the value of SEO.
What we see by default in the free analytics platform, Google Analytics, means the value of your organic visitors can be partially hidden using the DIRECT channel.
As if anyone types a full website address into the URL bar these days.
And as far as the ad world is concerned, investing in owning SEO ‘real estate’ search results in Google detracts from what you could be renting in ad space.
That’s why Google pays Apple up to $15 BILLION DOLLARS to dominate search.
Those predictive query suggestions you see on your smartphone are not just for your benefit.
You’re being directed either to ads at the top of a Google page, or the brand site directly. That’s one way to influence marketing budgets.
As a defensive moat for its ad business, Google Analytics has been successful in diverting the minds of marketers towards PPC, while making it unreasonably complex to accurately see what the hell is going on in other channels.
The Big Idea For Business Owners & Marketers
If you don’t have a lot of advertising money to spend, renting instead of owning your search results will restrict how you can scale new customer growth.
As marketers and business owners, we must not forget that any click earned organically will scale at a much lower cost than ad clicks.
We call this the law of inefficient click-throughs. Or the law of shitty click-throughs if you want to be slightly rude about it. That’s also way more memorable to… remember.
Coined by famous entrepreneurial investor Andrew Chen, it’s a great way to remember why ads don’t scale as cheaply as organic traffic.
Here’s an example.
SEO value: 1 page of content x 1,000 visits to 10,000 visits has the same cost.
PPC value: 1 page of content x 1,000 ad visits to 10,000 ad visits sees a big increase in cost as visit volume increases.
The less people know who you are, the more ad money is required to tell your story to new people.
Yes it sounds obvious when you spell it out but lots of start-ups sink the majority of their spend into PPC ads and then panic when they run out of funding.
For local business especially, SEO can be a path to getting maximum value out of your marketing budget. Local organic search results offer a sustainable advantage.
So What Has Changed?
If you’ve read up to this point then you’re doing awesomely well (awesomely is a word, right?). This stuff isn’t the most sexy or exciting topic in marketing.
It can be a game changer for growth if you understand the core value SEO has to offer as the glue that sticks all your visitor user journeys together.
As I’ve been imaging myself in your shoes, I wonder how easy it is to throw your arms up in the air, just like the song, and tell yourself this is all over your head.
Which is why I’m splitting this topic into parts.
This PART 1 or first slice of cake is to lay the groundwork for our big ideas together.
We have covered why we understand your frustration if you’ve had dodgy experiences with SEO experts in the past.
We’ve covered why measuring the value of your marketing investment feels impossible unless you focus solely on end goals (but not passes or assists as any good team will do).
All of this stuff is hard to navigate. We get it.
In the next newsletter we are going to talk about the impact on local business caused by Google’s switch in focus from being a mobile-first company to AI-first.
Why should you care about that you ask?
Because we can’t stop time or change from happening. Even big businesses like Kodak and Nokia fell down in the face of change.
Your business - and how it is perceived by others - needs to adapt to change or your competitors will eat your lunch. That applies whether you’re a lawyer, cosmetic dentist, IT disposal firm, boutique hotel, iGaming brand, retail store, or any other number of businesses and services.
Planting A Seed For Next Week
So let’s plant a seed for next week and allow it to take root.
Here’s the single most important book to understanding SEO in 2022 that non-tech people should be able to read and follow. It’s called… ***drumroll***
“Entity SEO, moving search from strings to things”, written by industry legend Dixon Jones.
The most important word there is THINGS.
Things in context is becoming really important to Google.
Example: Glasgow Prestwick Airport is not in Glasgow. It’s in Prestwick!
They added Glasgow to the start of the name to help travellers better understand where Prestwick is. That’s misleading if you’re a nerdy librarian like Google that needs all things contextual to make sense and be accurate.
So next time we’re going to take a look at more examples of what we mean by all this.
The power of your company as a measurable thing in the eyes of Google, is what we will call “Entity SEO”.
For you and your business this change in how SEO works presents a fantastic opportunity to become more visible for the products and services you provide in your region.
You should now be way more excited than I suspect you are so don’t worry, I’m going to be super excited for you on your behalf.
We’ll pick it up again next week. I appreciate your time.
Thousands of trees planted in Glasgow to create Clyde Climate Forest - LINK
13 of the best small businesses in Edinburgh to support this Small Businesses Saturday - LINK
Aberdeen children’s charity appeals for public support to bring Christmas magic to local children - LINK
V&A Dundee Festive gift range revealed - LINK
CCL (North) champions safe IT asset disposal and recycling from its North Ayrshire base - LINK
How To Immediately Improve Your Writing Skills - LINK
Legal Nerds: Cutting-edge essay on Privacy Litigation and Real Time Ad Bidding - LINK
Life is Good: The Power of Optimism [Video, Bert Jacobs] - LINK
How to turn product data into top-performing PPC campaigns [Video, Optmyzr] - LINK
How to know what you really want [Video, Big Think] - LINK
Check in on yourself: Wellbeing Assessment Tool from SAMH - LINK
Google: A Mix Of Positive & Negative Reviews More Trustworthy - LINK
Apple shoots its festive ad entirely on iPhone - LINK
There’s always a lot to keep up with over the course of any year, and with that in mind here’s a handy timeline of local SEO changes that happened this past year.
ProTip: click the tweet’s headline link to visit the article, save the timeline image to your device and then print it off for reference. Bonus points if you stick it somewhere you will see it daily.
Local businesses that action small incremental SEO changes every day, even if it’s just updating your Google My Business content and images, will reap the rewards.
Until next time - good luck!
Andrew @ Big Pond
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