Over the years, I’ve dabbled in search engine optimisation (SEO) and have had some reasonably good results. Nevertheless, I no longer personally do any serious SEO work for my clients. I still offer the service – but I get a true expert to do the actual work.
The reason is, search engine optimisation is becoming much more difficult. And it will get much, much harder to get a web page to rank on page one of Google.
When I started in the web business in 2003, the number of sites competing for each search term was fewer and it was much easier to get to the top of Google. I had some great early successes and started to get a swelled head, thinking I was an SEO guru. The truth is, it was partly fluke and partly the fact that it was much easier back then.
Today, there are so many web pages that it’s a truly daunting task to get a website onto page one of Google for any competitive search term. It can be done, but it takes a lot more time and effort – and skill – than it did seven years ago.
A lot of SEO practitioners are finding it harder and harder to satisfy their clients’ ranking requests. There is growing client dissatisfaction with SEO results, and it will only get worse.
The harsh reality is, to do SEO properly today in any market where there is any serious competition, requires a substantial budget. Most small businesses gasp in horror at the prices now being charged by the top SEO companies – but they just don’t realise the amount of time and effort that’s required to get a top Google ranking today.
Only the very best SEO practitioners can ever attain a top 10 result for a meaningful keyword – and they have to charge a hefty price to do so.
What this means for small businesses on the web
First, it’s no longer good enough to simply ask your web designer to “do some SEO” on your website. There are some basic on-page factors that any web designer can (and should) do to give the site a fighting chance if the market is not too competitive. But beyond that, there are no magic tricks any more.
What this means is that advertising on the web is no longer “free” – in the sense that you can’t just put up a website today and expect people to find you, without having to pay anything more for advertising. Those days are gone. And it will only get worse. It will cost much more to make money on the web, just like in a “real business”.
So, if you are serious about getting your website ranked at the top of Google, it’s going to require a true SEO expert and it’s going to cost you a substantial amount of money.
And how do you find a true SEO expert?
Well, here is the acid test. It’s quite simple. If the SEO practitioner is not well ranked on Google for terms such as ‘search engine optimisation’, ‘search engine ranking’, ‘SEO’ etc…, then they probably can’t get you into the top results either. On the other hand, if they are well ranked themselves, it shows they know what they are doing and will probably do the same for you (given time and money).
The moral. Choose your SEO company carefully, be patient, and plan on the expense.