Ask Craig

From SEO to PPC we spoke to digital account manager Craig, to help unravel some of the mysteries of digital abbreviations and what it really means to be ‘optimised’!


  1. So, let’s start at the beginning, what is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and put simply it is a form of online marketing which looks at improving a website’s visibility in search engine results, such as on Google. The idea behind SEO is to get a website to rank as high up the search engine results as possible for a specific search term that has been typed in by the user, beating the other listings, so that website gets more clicks to it.

To do this SEO takes on many elements from Technical SEO, to On-Page and Off-Page SEO considerations, all which make up ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm.


  1. What is the difference between On-page, Off-page and Technical SEO?

When we talk about On-Page SEO we are looking at the visual aspects of the site itself, so the aim is to optimise the content that is on the page, looking at internal page linking, optimise the page headings, label up images, look at URL structures and navigation, optimise page titles, researching the keywords you are going to use, and creating captivating call to action meta descriptions.

When we talk about Off-Page SEO, we are essentially looking at actions off the website that usually help build up the authority and credibility of a site. So we look at natural links to the site, and link earning.

Finally Technical SEO looks at all the behind the scenes stuff, so we look at optimising the site architecture, duplicate content issues, page speed optimisation, canonicalisation (setting the preferred version of a page), keyword cannibalisation (making sure you aren’t targeting multiple pages with the same keyword(s)).


  1. How can SEO help my business?

Whether you have a local or nationwide business, or whether it’s a start-up or well established business, SEO can help take it to the next level and increase brand awareness and ultimately service or product sales. It all starts from keyword research – finding what kind of volume keywords associated to your product or service have. The number of people using search engines like Google is increasing year on year and the last figure I saw was that 3.5 billion searches were made on Google – DAILY! Now I know that is a global figure and it’s a very broad audience, but when you take into account that well over 80% of the UK population uses the internet now, that’s over 52 million people out there that you could be reaching.


  1. How is PPC different to SEO?

With PPC you can get instant results, where SEO can take anything from a few weeks to a few months to start seeing results from. With PPC you are essentially creating an ad with Google that will show on a desired keyword or set of keywords of your choice. PPC stands for Pay Per Click, so each time someone clicks your advert then it will cost you (the costs are calculated dependent on competition, keyword search volume, and area, alongside other factors in your control, namely quality score). The other difference with PPC is that ads will always appear above the organic SEO search results. Essentially you are paying for this service so it gets priority.

SEO and PPC go hand in hand however, and what most companies do is launch a PPC campaign to drive traffic to a site while the SEO work is underway. This helps build the foundations to a websites brand awareness.


  1. Why do my competitors appear ahead of me when I search Google?

Google works to provide the most reliable, relevant and highest quality of results back to the user. A user is searching Google for a solution to a problem, they are wanting information on a question, so its Google’s job to gather data and rank it using this process. There isn’t one single answer to this question; it could be down to a number of different elements as to why your competitor is ranking above you. Generally the quality of content could be more authoritative and help answer a user’s query better than your site, or perhaps it could be that the inbound linking profile contains much stronger links back to your competitor’s site. All in all your competition will have stronger signals.


  1. Are the links titled as ‘Ads’ on my Google search legitimate?

They sure are, and the simple way to answer this is by explaining that there are two types of results you will come across during a Google search, paid and free. The paid adverts are created through Google Ads and will show before the free listings. Google highlights these with a small “Ads” label to show the user this ad is being paid for by a company.


  1. What if everyone uses SEO? How is first position determined?

Google will always try to display the most relevant and useful results to a user and to do this they have a very complex algorithm which gets updated on a regular basis to further improve the results it serves to its users. Now, the algorithm has something like 200 plus elements to it and no one really knows what they all are. What we do know comes from testing, research and general experience.

So to answer how first position is determined, it is determined by these ranking factors such as site structure, site speed, dwell time, keyword usage, content quality, inbound links and so forth. The site sitting in first position for a specific keyword will essentially tick most of the boxes and come out with the highest score.


  1. What kind of things can Google Analytics tell me about my website?

Google Analytics can get very in-depth interims of the kind of data you can pull from it, but for the purpose of keeping things simple I will share the basics.

With Analytics you can find out which pages on your website are the most popular (highest traffic), you can find out where people are finding your website (whether its organic, paid, referring websites, or direct visits), you can also find out where in the country or in the world people are visiting your site from!

You can also find out more information on pages that aren’t working well by looking at the average session duration of a page (how long a visitor stays on it), or the bounce rate of a page (where visitors had no interaction with the page and left the site).

If you want deeper analytics you can also look at device usage which will tell you how many people are coming through to your website via mobile phones, tablets or computers, and you can even find out the ages and genders of visitors which can be instrumental to shaping future marketing campaigns.


  1. What else should I be looking out for to make sure the right people are seeing my website?

There are a whole host of marketing channels that you can look into to reach new audiences, for example, does the kind of product/service you are selling have an active audience on Facebook? With Facebook you can target to a granular level by age, gender, location, job title, interests etc. so it could be a whole new market to explore.

Another example is that if you are selling something like digital cameras and you want to showcase the quality of them, then the likes of YouTube or Vimeo to create unboxing videos, tutorials or how to walkthroughs is a great way to reach the right people and further expand your awareness/traffic.

You can then embed these videos to your website to further increase the quality of landing pages.

You could even look at heavily image driven platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest to display photos taken from the cameras (both of which offer paid solutions).

The other option that springs to mind is to create a Google Display campaign, or a remarketing campaign. These types of campaigns are cheap to run when compared to other online paid campaigns and they are a great way to get your banner ads in-front of the right people – especially using a remarketing audience list to entice people back to your site who have previously visited it but didn’t engage.


  1. How can USG make all of this happen for me?

All it takes is one phone call or one email to us. Firstly we will gather some details about your site, the industry sector you are in, whether you are looking to target a certain area of the country or target on a nationwide scale, and then of course the competition you are up against. Once we have this we can then offer a free SEO audit which will allow you to see where your site currently is, where the competition is, and what we can do for you in order to give your site a push in the right direction and see the desired results.

We also pride ourselves on being completely transparent and open with our clients, which gives them confidence in the work we do, which is why most of our clients have been with us for years.