I have to write a blog post.
So, because I’m a good content marketer and I know how to link my content to the calendar dates – no matter how tenuous that link may be – I’m naturally going to give you a ‘Scary SEO Facts for Halloween’ blog post.
The trouble is, that whilst you can find loads of such posts already online, they’re not actually that easy to write. Or at least, not without massive caveats.
And you know why that is? It’s because SEO is not a fact based discipline. And that makes it very hard to write a blog about the SEO facts!
OK, I need to give even that statement a caveat.
Of course SEO is, to some extent, a fact based discipline. SEO is built on algorithms, algorithms are built on facts; ‘you do this, and this will happen’. However, it’s often not that simple, not least because Google, quite naturally, isn’t going to tell us exactly what their algorithms do or don’t look for, or act on. Plus the algorithms that run search engines are so unbelievably complex, that you can’t just say ‘write a blog post every week and your website will rank top’.
It just doesn’t work like that.
And because of that, SEO is nuanced. We don’t really know what the facts are. We know, from experience, what works and what doesn’t. We know we can take certain actions and predict certain outcomes, and a lot of the time we will be in the right ball park. But we make no guarantees, on anything.
However, now I’ve given you that massive caveat, I’m going to give you what I believe are the five scariest SEO (almost) facts I know. Or think I know.
There are no facts in SEO.
The first rule of Fight Club, is that you don’t talk about Fight Club.
It’s scary because it’s true; none of us have the definitive SEO answer. We’re not trying to rip you off or lie to you or con you out of your money for a dark art. We’re just doing our best based on what we’ve learned and what our experience has taught us will work.
We’re playing a game with algorithms and a mega multinational corporation that’s trying to take over the world. What’s going to happen is anyone’s guess.
Most people, looking for a business, will look online first.
I’m not going to give you definitive statistics because, as we all know, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. You could find a million different statistics out there for all of these points. I’ll just talk generally instead.
A lot of people have smart phones these days. Not a lot of people have a copy of The Yellow Pages these days. Not a lot of businesses have a physical presence any more, or, if they do, they’re not on the High Street, where local businesses used to be.
If someone is looking for a business, a product or a service, they are most likely to look for it online first.
I know I do, when I need anything from a hairdresser, a chemist, someone to fix my boiler, some new clothes, my weekly shop, school uniform for my son, straw for my horses, a solicitor…whatever I need, I Google it to find out where the nearest place is that I can get the thing I need. If I can order it online, even better.
Whatever business you’re in, whether you’re in a service industry or retail, people will be searching online for a business like yours. And if you’re not there, they’ll be going to your competitors and buying from them instead.
Most people never get past page 1 of the SERPs.
The SERPs are the search engine results pages. It’s what you’re presented with after you’ve put a search query into Google.
Again, think about your own behaviour; do you ever scroll past page one of the result’s page? I never do.
If I haven’t found what I wanted in the first three or four websites I’m presented with (which rarely happens any more, but that’s another story!) I do a different search and try again. If a website hasn’t come up on page one, I’m never going to find it.
Again, if your website is not coming up on page one for whatever your customers are searching for, then your competitor’s websites are, and they’re getting all that business that should have been yours instead of you.
Most people ignore paid search ads.
It’s true. Businesses spend a fortune on paid ads, be they PPC, retargeting or something else, and they do bring in results. They must, otherwise no one would be doing them.
However, all the evidence suggests that the vast majority of people who use search engines scroll straight past the paid ads at the top of the SERPs and go for the organic results instead.
This is also something that I do all the time. I never click on paid ads – deep down, I think, I probably don’t trust them, and that instinct has often proved me right in the past.
For e.g., the other month, I was searching for ‘horse box hire near me’. A load of paid ads came up, and I clicked on a few of them just for ease and speed. Not one of the paid ads I clicked on was either near me or did horse box hire. They were miles away, or they sold horse boxes, but they weren’t close or had boxes for hire. What they did have, was the money and the marketing nous to target some related keywords. But they weren’t what I was looking for, so my doubt in paid ads was reinforced.
Most people operate like this. Hence, whilst paid search can be a very valid pillar in your marketing strategy, and whilst it certainly has its place in SEO, you should never rely on it at the expense of your organic SEO.
You have just a few seconds to make a connection via your website.
Again, there’s no hard and fast rule here; you could count bounce rate, you could count drop off rate, you can refer to pogo sticking, but the long and short of it is that you have a very short time to make a good impression with your website.
If you don’t make that good impression in the first few seconds, there are plenty more websites out there on the internet that will do; people are just going to click off yours and go to the next one on the list.
I am possibly the most impatient person in the world when it comes to using websites; if I can’t find what I want instantly – if the design is old, if the content doesn’t tell me what I want to know instantly – I’m not sticking around to work it out. I’m going to the next website where I’m going to get what I want quickly and easily.
And I am not alone; practically every other internet user is the same. I’ll bet you’re even the same too?
So think about your website, think about how you would use it and what you would want, then implement it. Most of the changes aren’t hard to make but, once again, if you’re not providing that easy service, someone else will be and they’ll be getting all your customers instead of you.
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So there we go; facts or no facts, SEO can certainly be a scary business. Especially when you combine the above with the fact (possibly the one fact I can give you!) that SEO is not instant. If you want to be totally bossing it in the coming years, you need to start now.
Because you can bet your bottom dollar that your competitors are. And that’s possibly the scariest SEO fact I can give you.
If you’d like to know more, why not have a no-strings conversation with us? You can contact us directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 0161 706 0012.