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Positives SEO provides the best return on investment of any digital marketing channel and has longevity (every trace of your site does not disappear instantly if discontinued, as with paid advertising). It is always possible to increase your visibility further no matter how long you have been doing SEO, by doing things such as targeting bigger and higher search volume keywords, adding additional sections to your website, or improving upon existing on page optimisation work.
Negatives SEO is a long term approach and requires upfront investment. You will need to spend on SEO for between 3 and 6 months before you see the great return on investment it provides.
SEO is Red Cow Media’s core service and what the company’s reputation was initially built on, by offering the best SEO Manchester has to offer. With SEO currently the fastest evolving sector within digital marketing, it is essential to not only be up to date with SEO best practices but instead be ahead of the curve, and this is where our focus lies. We continually manage to outrank and outperform very large corporations with 7 figure budgets for even our local Manchester based SEO clients due to the fact that we are constantly analysing, testing and researching new and cutting edge SEO techniques, as well as applying SEO best practice in innovative ways.
We understand that SEO can often appear complex, a service that is full of endless acronyms and technical jargon that seems aimed at making anyone other than SEO professionals feel stupid and as though they need help with it. Our approach is different. Very different in fact! We aim to educate anyone we work with in the fundamentals of optimisation, as we have learnt that when clients truly understand what we are doing, they have a better grasp of our approach and of progress in the early stages of a campaign and throughout. For companies based close by (or willing to travel to our Manchester office), we offer basic courses on SEO in Manchester city centre which enables those we work with to gain a greater understanding of basic SEO principles, allowing them a greater insight into what we’re doing at each stage of the SEO process and why.
The only two reasons companies need help from an SEO agency such as Red Cow are:
- Expertise – Our founders and our team have worked within the field of SEO in Manchester’s best known agencies, in well known client-side positions and on a global scale elsewhere in the world since the very early days of the sector, and we have seen the many changes that have occurred throughout that time. Experience alone, however, doesn’t mean a lot, as we continually come in to contact with people/agencies who work as if it is still 2001 and haven’t evolved their processes, which ultimately destroys websites. Our value is in the passion we have to continually ensure we are the best SEO agency in Manchester and beyond, which means we push harder to understand ranking factors, no matter how minor they seem, and get the edge over both Google and other SEO agencies.
- Resource – To do SEO correctly is a very manual, time intensive task, with reems of content needing to be continually produced and thorough research needing to be done. This is not only for the website itself, but also for the outreach element associated with link building. SEO in general requires a significant time commitment to be able to run an effective campaign and, whilst many of our clients have the SEO understanding needed, they simply don’t have the time to execute every part of a comprehensive SEO strategy.
At Red Cow, we take a very different approach to SEO and our digital marketing work in general. We don’t see ourselves as one of the many stereotypical digital marketing agencies who ‘disprupt’ the market. We don’t have meetings in an office tree-house with a slide, nor do we talk incessantly about the success of a campaign in terms of it having ‘reached’ a certain number of people. We are competitive, we want to make you money, and we want to achieve the best results in order to do so. We provide a highly consultative, corporate level of service with results determined purely by the bottom line – return on investment.
2019 has seen some major changes in SEO and it certainly isn’t viable for everybody through an agency anymore, if you send us an enquiry the first thing we will do is research the market and inform you as to whether it is cost effective for you to start a campaign with us. If the number of people searching for a given keyword each month isn’t high enough and it wouldn’t result in a good enough return on investment for the amount you are spending with agency, then it isn’t the right thing to do. To give you a rough idea, for every 10 enquiries we receive, only around 50% would actually be viable.
Case Study - Bupa
"Red Cow Media managed the SEO implications of transitioning acquired private dental clinics in to the Bupa group with great organisation and professionalism."Irfan Rehman, Digital Marketing Manager
SEO is a formulaic process, no matter what sector a company is in, what a site sells/what services it offers, the same principles apply. The main components to SEO are technical, on-page, content, links/authority and citations. The major caveat and difference tends to lie within the process behind SEO for a site offering services compared with an e-commerce store. Whilst the overall techniques are the same, there are different focuses and different amounts of time that go in to the individual components to get the best results. Here, we’ll take a look through the process and what you can expect in more detail when you choose Red Cow Media for your SEO campaign:
- SEO Audit – Every campaign starts off with a thorough SEO audit, this delves deep in to both your website itself and the SEO elements missing. The technical section of the audit looks at the site and any elements that could be holding it back from a rankings perspective as well as conversion rate optimisation (CRO), user experience (UX) and brand appeal. The SEO element of the audit effectively comes up with the plan for the campaign ahead, we look at where we need to be, what we need to do to get there and what is wrong with the current SEO setup. This then becomes the plan for the months ahead and every report will refer back to the initial audit to show that the strategy is on track. A good audit is essential to the success of any campaign and the key is in the detail – many agencies come up with endless spreadsheets of search volumes and useless information that has barely any bearing on rankings, but it will look great. Our approach is to only focus on what matters, the things that will actively increase rankings at an expedited rate. Later on once these have been addressed we can then look to focus on the less essential bits.
We come up with a strategy at the beginning of a campaign that models the ideal link profile we want to create based on successful competitors through our unique ‘MML’ model.
-Stephen McCance, Operations Director
- Links/Authority Strategy – At Red Cow, we put a huge emphasis on links and authority, we are constantly told that links don’t matter anymore and that link building is ‘dead’, this is simply not the case, aside from content nothing has a greater impact on your rankings that good, high quality link building. For this reason we come up with a strategy at the beginning of a campaign that models the ideal link profile we want to create based on successful competitors through our unique ‘MML’ model. This is then our baseline, this is where we need to get to, but of course you can’t rank at the top if you’re always chasing so we then aim to surpass what competitors are doing.
- Technical/On-Page Changes – Once our initial audits are completed, we should have a thorough strategy in place including keyword research, content, link, structure and additional page strategies – at this point we can then move on to implementation. First of all we look to fix any technical issues with the website that cropped up in the audit and then we move on to the on-page changes. The on-page changes are essential and set the direction for the rest of the campaign, a great deal of research, thought and discussion goes in to what keywords we wish to target and on which pages that will be. We will map out our suggestions and then discuss with the client why we have chosen them, we aim to be as qualified as possible and not go chasing large search volume keywords instead of focusing on what will actually generate sales/enquiries. There is no point in generating vast amount of traffic if it doesn’t result in an enquiry or a sale.
- Content – Once our desired keywords and new pages have been mapped out, it is time to go to work on the content, which along with links is one of the primary areas of importance within SEO. Content needs to be engaging, informative, thorough and most importantly sell the product/service being offered. Every website needs different levels of content and of course e-commerce sites don’t need anywhere near the same level as service based sites (going back to one of the initial differences between the two types of website). If we have found in the initial audit/strategy process that there is opportunity to create new pages to target different keywords to bring in more qualified traffic then it is at this point we will start writing the new content and aim to get the new pages live as soon as possible. In most cases we can write the content, create the page and have it live on the site with no need for a web developer to be involved (thanks to the likes of Magento, WordPress and Shopify making things so easy with their content management systems) but every so often there is a static HTML site or a very bespoke CMS that simply doesn’t have the capability to do it. Within our content optimisation we will optimise the page as a whole for the keywords being targeted, internal linking and so on.
- Schema/Structured Data – Perhaps one of the most important new elements of SEO in 2019, schema is a markup for your website that enable it to show ‘rich snippets’ on Google, you may have seen rich snippets whilst searching for jobs, cinema showing times, holidays or even just asking a question on Google when a box pops up with the best suggested answer. It is essential to thoroughly mark your site up to show reviews, expanded information on products and to increase your click through rate by being ‘featured’ on the results page. The issue that many companies/agencies have with schema is the difficulty of implementing it on WordPress sites at an individual page level rather than applying the same thing to every page – not only does it take a long time to individual create the optimised code for each page but it is also hard to input it to only one page. We have researched and created our own system for doing this on WordPress, Shopify and Magento.
- Reporting – This is the area that sets us apart the most from other agencies – we put a lot of focus on reporting, partly because one of the main issues in SEO is that much of the work simply isn’t visible aside form content changes, therefore it is in our interest to give you as much visibility as possible. Our reports contain a worksheet that will tell you how every hour has been spent throughout the course of the month and not only will it tell you what every hour has been spent on but it will also show you the work. Every link that has been built will be listed so that it can be reviewed, every citation that has been created, every technical change that has been made and every word that has been written. The other reason we put so much emphasis on reporting is that this is when you can see the returns on your investment, we will compare month on month, year on year and season on season to give you a full breakdown of how your site has changed. We aren’t a fan of simply putting screenshots of Google Analytics on reports and an export from keyword software, instead we also write a tailored commentary, interpret the data, comment on anything we have noticed and adapt our plans based on what is found in the reports. Once reports have been sent out and reviewed by the client we will then set up either a call or meeting to run through it and answer any questions that may have arisen from either the report itself or regarding the plans moving forward.
- What is SEO? And how does it work?
Search algorithms are incredibly complex and improve further in sophistication year on year. They are based on mathematical formulas that generate millions of search results and then present them to the user in order of relevance in a matter of milliseconds. SEO is the process of catering to these algorithms using a number of technical, link and content based techniques to achieve high search rankings for websites.
- How long does SEO take?
The age old saying ‘how long is a piece of string?’ does marginally apply here. Although there are various things that can be done to improve and monitor performance, how long SEO takes to make an impact can vary significantly from sector to sector. Things to consider include:
- The competition level of the sector
The competition of the keywords you want to target
The area you want to target (i.e. will your campaign be local to a specific area, for example Manchester, or London)
- The current state of your website and whether there are any technical errors that need to be corrected
- Whether you have had any SEO work done previously – any SEO work, whether it had a positive or negative impact, could have an impact on timescales
All of these factors, and more, have significant roles to play in both how long the SEO will take to take effect, and also how much you should be paying per month. By hiring an SEO Manchester agency you will ensure results are sped up by professionals in the SEO sector.
- The competition level of the sector
- Why should I invest in SEO?
It’s a widely published statistic that over 80% of users don’t even progress onto the second results page when performing searches. If you have invested in a lovely website for your business, then chances are you want the 80+% of people who use the first page of search results to see it. It all comes down to market share. Businesses that dominate the first page of results using a comprehensive digital marketing strategy get more exposure to potential customers than those further down in the rankings. An investment in SEO ensures that you are ahead of the game and are getting your business in front of more people. If you’re an offline business and have no trouble with footfall, its still worth increasing your online visibility for purposes such as reputation management and brand awareness. In short, SEO can be useful for the vast majority of businesses, it just depends on the strategy. As the number 1 SEO Agency in Manchester Red Cow Media can ensure your returns from your SEO investment are as good as possible, no matter the nature of your business.
- Will SEO get me more website traffic?
Many think that the sole purpose of SEO is to get improved rankings. This may come as a shock, but that’s not necessarily the primary purpose, and it certainly shouldn’t be the only aim of an SEO campaign. SEO is, of course, about improving search rankings but, more importantly, it’s about ranking for key phrases that people are searching for. Similarly to having a beautiful site that nobody can see, ranking for phrases that nobody is looking for is also pointless. This is where the website traffic comes in. When SEO is done properly, increased traffic should follow on as a natural byproduct of improved rankings. If people are searching for the phrases you are being optimised for then the flow of visits and traffic to your website should increase.
- My site has dropped down the Google rankings. How can I fix it?
We get asked this one a lot! If your website was previously ranking successfully for some great phrases, and then those rankings suddenly start to drop, it can have a significant impact on your business, especially if its based primarily online. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question as there are likely a number of factors at play, and even more possible reasons. The most common causes include competitors investing more in optimisation, lack of content output, link factors or something on the website itself that is impacted by fundamental Google changes. The best thing to do as a starting point is get an impartial assessment or audit of your site from a reputable SEO company to determine the most likely cause.
- My website has a manual penalty in Webmaster Tools, what do I do?
Don’t panic! Depending on the extent of the damage, manual penalties can often be recoverable if you follow the correct recovery processes. The most likely cause of a manual penalty in Webmaster Tools is your back link profile. With the advancements of search algorithms in relation to links within the past couple of years, many companies have been hit with manual penalties as a result of work done previously that were geared to manipulate the system. The process that’s followed to get them removed is relatively formulaic, but will vary slightly depending on what’s actually gone wrong. We’d always suggest obtaining expert advice to resolve a manual penalty issue.
- Why has my website disappeared from Google?
This is a tough one! There are so many factors involved in SEO these days that there are multiple possible reasons, and it could even be a combination of causes. The key thing to consider initially would be to look at the timing of the ‘disappearance’. Was there a recent algorithm update that could have affected your site? Were any changes made to the website or content around the same time? Has your website or hosting gone down at any point? Have you ever engaged in any untoward link building activity? These are just a few of the questions that would need to be answered before determining the cause of your website disappearing from Google. The most common cause of rankings dropping suddenly is the link profile. In the majority of cases, we are able to identify the cause and put in place an action plan to rectify what has gone wrong. Sometimes the ramifications of choosing a bad Manchester SEO agency are huge, making the wrong choice and opting for an SEO agency who engage in bad practices can lead to potentially horrendous results if Google penalties are applied.
- Should I do SEO or PPC? Surely PPC is a better investment?
This depends entirely on what it is that you’re trying to achieve and the timescale you have for generating results. We would always advise an integrated search marketing campaign that incorporates a number of aspects of search, rather than solely SEO or PPC individually. An integrated approach allows complementary search marketing services to work together hand in hand, which generates the best results and return on investment. If you’re restricted to a specific budget and would prefer to invest in one or the other, there are benefits to either, and it would really depend on your goals. SEO is much more sustainable long-term, but it does take longer to generate results. PPC and other forms of paid search are almost instantaneous, but once it is switched off, it’s gone. SEO is ultimately a much more worthwhile investment in the long-term for sustainability and ongoing cost vs return.
- Should I focus on local, national or international SEO?
Choosing what reach to go for with your SEO campaign depends entirely on the nature of your business. If you have a physical presence, for example a shop, restaurant or bar, in a designated area such as Manchester, London or Birmingham, and you’re looking to increase footfall, then a local SEO campaign would be perfect. If your business is based online, or trades nationally or internationally, then you’ll need a more robust national or international SEO campaign to target either the UK market or all of the countries that are relevant to your business.
- Can you find me partnerships with other companies in Manchester?
As part of building up your SEO in Manchester, we reach out to a range of relevant companies who may be interested in linking to your website. As a natural byproduct of this SEO related activity, we are often able to find partnerships that you may not have been aware of previously, and these can then take root offline as well as online, providing benefits to your business that go beyond SEO itself.