Welcome back to Leader Talk! In episode 54 we spoke to James Norquay, the Founder of Prosperity Media.
Having specialised in SEO and online marketing for the past 20 years, James is passionate about helping companies grow their presence online. After becoming intrigued by the world of online marketing in the early 2000s, James became a self-taught expert in coding, SEO and social media strategies. He developed his own network of content websites which generated over 22 million unique visitors, which he later sold.
In this chat we speak about why SEO is important, the need to continue working on your SEO and how to select the right SEO agency.
Want to learn more? You can read or listen to our chat with James Norquay on YouTube, Spotify, Listen Notes, or Player FM. It’s also available anywhere you listen to your favourite podcasts via Buzzsprout.
Authored by James Norquay, the Founder of Prosperity Media.
As a small business owner, you may have heard of search engine optimisation (SEO) and how important it is to get people to your website and more revenue to your business. But, the reality is that not all SEO agencies are created equal. There are a few things small to medium business owners should know to get the most out of their SEO strategy. By understanding the basics and choosing the right SEO provider, you can get real value for your money.
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising your website to get more organic traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. If you’re a small to medium business owner, investing in SEO is crucial to keep up with your competitors and gain more visibility online.
In a nutshell, SEO is mainly about the content on your site, how that content is optimised for search engines, backlinks (people linking back to your site), and the technical aspects. While small business owners don’t need to focus on the technical side of SEO, it’s essential to know the basics. Firstly, you have to know which search engine you want to target. Google has around 95% of the market share in Australia so as a small business, it’s best to focus on getting those high ranks on Google.
To get online visibility, you must sign up for Google My Business and ensure everything is filled out, including the description, images, and a link to your website. It will be hard to show up on the Google results pages without this. Additionally, having a basic website is crucial in today’s world. If you’re not visible online, you almost don’t exist.
At a bare minimum, you need to rank for your company name. Otherwise, people won’t be able to find you. The worst thing that can happen is when your customers search for your business, but a competitor shows up on the results and wins that traffic instead. Content is also important for SEO. You need to create high-quality, valuable content that meets the target audience’s search intent. This includes using relevant keywords, providing useful information, and engaging with the audience.
Why is SEO so important?
As a small to medium business owner, investing time and money into SEO can seem like a risk you’re not sure is worth taking. However, investing in SEO is crucial for small businesses, especially those in industries that involve urgency, such as emergency plumbers, locksmiths, mechanics, or others. When someone needs a service quickly, the first thing they’ll do is go to Google and search for a business that can help. For any small business, especially 24-hour small businesses, search engine marketing is an important strategy to take because many of your leads will come from being at the top of the results page.
Showing up as one of the top three organic search results in Google is extremely important. The top three spots account for more than 60% of clicks, while page 1 of Google results accounts for more than 98% of all clicks. If your business or website is not optimised to show up on the first page, you will be missing a lot of leads. Many of your competitors will already be investing in SEO – some will have been mastering it for years. Don’t fall behind by putting off or ignoring SEO best practices.
Be in it for the long run
SEO is a long-term game. You might have to spend quite a bit every month, but it will pay off for many years to come. In fact, SEO is over five times more effective than paid advertising. This is because users do not trust the results that are advertisements, sponsored, or shown to them by Google. They know that companies can buy their way to the top results, so they believe ones who have made it to the top organically have earned it through their work and can be trusted more.
One of the most important things to consider is your marketing budget. An effective SEO campaign that gets you a good return on investment (ROI) could start at $2000 a month and go up from there.
The time it takes to see results from SEO will depend on how established your business is. If you’re already quite established, it could take around three months. If you’re in a more competitive market, it can take six to twelve months or even longer. SEO marketing is an ongoing strategy that you must keep investing in because if you stop, your traffic will stop and go to your competitors who are investing monthly instead. Having an SEO marketing strategy is essential if you want your business to not only survive, but also thrive.
Which SEO agency is for you?
Before enlisting an SEO agency’s help, make sure your business has the basics down. Sign up for Google My Business, ask clients for Google reviews, and create content on your website and socials that showcase your area of expertise. People are looking for information and services from experts, and providing quality content online will build your reputation as one. Keep in mind websites can still rank low despite your best efforts due to the technical side of SEO or simply because SEO best practice changes constantly and it’s hard to keep up. For this, you’ll need to get some help from SEO experts.
Not all SEO agencies are created equal. In fact, many agencies overpromise and underdeliver, leaving business owners feeling frustrated and out of pocket. When it’s time for you to hire an SEO agency, the best first step is to ask your friends in business for recommendations. SEO is virtually a must in business today, so you’re bound to get several SEO agency recommendations from other SME business owners or employees.
When contacting an agency, ask for relevant client case studies and a few phone numbers for their current clients whom you can call. Think of hiring an agency like hiring a staff member; perform background checks, call people they’re currently working for, and ask for a breakdown of what they do and how they are tracking. SEO marketing is quite an investment, especially for a small business, so never be afraid to ask questions.
Stay clear of agencies who claim they can ‘guarantee’ you the number one spot on the results page. Google actually warns in their SEO guidelines that ‘no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google’. Also, be careful of agencies who approach you directly via email or LinkedIn about helping you with SEO, as many spammers use spam email marketing methods and are not legitimate.
Furthermore, you get what you pay for with SEO. Agencies can charge as low as $200 a month for SEO, but are probably relying on automation to do most of the work, and will provide low-quality work. The number of clients they’re taking on at once will also affect their quality of work. Again, it’s important to ask how many clients the agency will be managing. Over 15 clients per month may be too many, resulting in rushed work and disappointing results. A lot of business owners get stung by a good salesman who promises a lot but never delivers.
Ask to see what exactly they are charging you for, whether it’s deliverables, per hour or other things. Get a monthly breakdown of what they have done and how they are tracking. This includes new content produced, backlinks acquired, and onsite technical changes made. If the agency does not provide a list of action points and deliverables and instead gives an automated report, that’s not a good sign. The agency may be spending ten minutes on your campaign and charging you $3,000. This is not uncommon, so be very careful.
To know which SEO agency will provide the best services for you, you will need to take the time to learn the basics of SEO. Spend an hour every month reading about SEO to understand what you’re investing in. Just like you invest in a house or in shares, you have to research and know what you’re investing in before you commit to an SEO agency.
SEO is a great long-term marketing strategy that requires constant attention. If you want to increase your visibility online, get those leads, and have a satisfying return on investment, make sure you set aside time and money to build a solid SEO strategy.