Search Engine Optimisation
Every day, people ask about 5.6 billion questions on Google, with an estimated 35 million searches coming from Australia. A huge portion of these searches are for products and services. Lime’s SEO services let you grab more than your fair share of results for searches relevant to your business – thereby winning traffic, customers, and the big bickies.
What is SEO?
Why is SEO important to my business?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is a discipline aimed at increasing the volume and quality of a website’s traffic through organic or unsponsored search engine results on internet search engines such as Google.
SEO is important to businesses for a variety of reasons:
- Internet search has become the primary method through which most consumers discover, access, and compare information, including information about products / services they need, and business they transact with.
- Six out of ten consumers search for information online before buying anything.
- 83% of businesses acknowledge that SEO enabled them to access new customers – meaning, businesses that do not prioritise SEO will be outperformed by their competitors.
- The majority of all online traffic is driven by search engines: organic search has about 20 times the traffic potential of paid digital marketing.
- Organic search results build greater trust and credibility with consumers than ads.
- Effective SEO improves the buying cycle by giving consumers the right information while they conduct their pre-purchase research online.
- SEO can be extremely cost-effective compared to most other forms of digital marketing.
- SEO results are generally more enduring than paid marketing and advertising results – high ranks in organic search can last months or even years, unlike paid ads which disappear as soon as a campaign ends.
Does SEO really work?
Isn’t SEO really just a bunch of superstitions and snake oil?
In general, poor results with SEO exercises have more to do with ill-conceived SEO strategies or a lack of knowhow, than the effectiveness of the method itself. Here are a few of the most common concerns we hear from businesses, and how you can help your business avoid those issues.
“There are lots of con artists out there claiming to deliver SEO results.”
Unfortunately, yes. We’re often spammed with hundreds of these emails and phone calls too. As a rule of thumb, always remember: a good SEO services provider will never cold-call or cold-mail anybody. With their performance, they have more than enough clientele through word-of-mouth referrals. If someone is calling or emailing you with SEO proposals, odds are that they’re not great providers. See the section on how to choose a good SEO provider below.
“My business friends tell me that SEO doesn’t work.”
A lot of businesses, especially SMEs, have had bad experiences with SEO (and with practitioners who don’t deliver on the tall promises they make). Part of the problem is the intrinsic value of search; for example, as early as a decade ago, a McKinsey study found that organic search generated approximately an additional $92 billion ($117 billion in 2021 money) per year for retail businesses in the US alone.
At some level, everyone recognises this potential of organic search, including the staunchest SEO skeptics. Ranking prominently in organic search is the gold of the digital marketing world. Much like the gold rush prompted practically anyone with a shovel and at least one hand to fancy themselves prospectors, the organic-search-rush today has inspired a lot of people with just a laptop and the ability to say “keyword”, to call themselves SEO experts.
The real challenge here is that identifying a good SEO practitioner can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you choose an SEO partner who’ll actually deliver results:
- Do begin with clearly defined and measurable goals. Be careful that your SEO goals are for business performance and ROI, not vanity metrics.
- Do ask your SEO services provider to explain how they’re going to accomplish those goals. But you should be wary if they try to confuse you with a lot of technical jargon, or a doomsday-list of everything wrong with your website that they claim will fix your website.
- Do clarify exactly what your provider is promising to deliver. Some unscrupulous people mislead customers into paying for high-cost PPC campaigns — where, as long as you keep paying, it’s possible to appear on top of the search results… amongst the sponsored listings. The moment your budget for the day is used up, your site’s listing will disappear. That is not SEO!
- Do ask for a Competitor Analysis report. A good provider will analyse all 10 results that are listed on page 1 for the queries you intend to target, to determine which are the top 10 sites that Google is listing for those searches. This will reveal how much effort the competitor sites have put into their SEO, and so in turn how much effort you would have to put in to convince Google to list you ahead of them. At Lime, if we determine that the competition is too intense for those queries, we will advise you accordingly – which may mean targeting different queries, or opting for other forms of marketing.
- Don’t trust websites with top lists of SEO agencies, like “best SEO agency in Australia”. A lot of the websites with such lists invest vast sums of money in their own SEO to rank high for those search terms, and they often sell the positions on their lists to anyone willing to pay. But given the scarcity of good SEO practitioners, many of the best providers are booked to capacity through word-of-mouth referrals alone, and have no need to invest in such tactics — which means it’s often the shady companies that end up on those lists.
- Don’t believe “magic recipe” claims. Be wary of anybody who claims they have some secret sauce that will get you to rank #1 on Google.
“It can take a very long time to rank high on Google.”
This is sometimes true, but not always. Often, ranking high on Google is a matter of discovering the right topics for your business goals (which isn’t always as obvious as it seems) and crafting the right content. We’ve had customers who’ve found their SEO goals fulfilled as soon as Google indexed their sites – it all depends on your industry and your objectives.
“SEO is a long-drawn project, with a high cost at the end.”
As explained above, depending on your industry and your goals, achieving certain milestones doesn’t necessarily take very long.
More importantly, having a good SEO partner (who actually delivers) takes the stress out of SEO, at which point, it’s better to measure whether the result is worth it, than just to measure how long it takes. A good SEO services provider will help you determine at the outset whether the return-on-investment makes sense for your business.
“SEO requires a lot of my involvement.”
Not necessarily. We believe that you understand your business better than anyone else, so it makes sense to gain insights from you on your business’s strengths and challenges. But we also intimately understand the demands of running a business. Our briefing process is highly streamlined to be as time efficient as possible, and we always do our own meticulous research, so we can work fairly independently.
That said, you should be suspicious of any SEO practitioner who says that your inputs are not required at all; at the very least, they’re overpromising.
“I think that my money is better spent on advertising or social media, rather than SEO.”
Paid advertising certainly plays an important role in digital marketing. However, a multi-pronged approach that combines push and pull marketing is often superior to a strategy that is overly reliant on any one technique (learn more about this on our SMM and SEM pages). Our experienced planners can help you allocate your budget for the most optimal marketing strategy.
It’s also worth noting that even with paid advertising, Google may not list you at the top of the sponsored links – even if your bid is the highest. To decide the position of each ad, Google uses a ‘quality score’, which factors the quality of your website and landing page, among other things. Consequently, a good SEO strategy also improves the performance of your paid digital marketing (including social media campaigns) with compelling content that helps convert customers.
“I just don’t understand SEO. I’ve heard all the explanations, but I just don’t get it.”
SEO doesn’t have to be overly complicated. At its essence, it’s a method of demonstrating to Google that your website is relevant to certain searches. Growing the site’s popularity over time will help gain credibility points with Google that your site ought to be ranked high, as so many people are visiting it, and other websites are linking to it.
That said, we realise that the finer points of SEO execution can seem complicated, which is why we’ve provided some (we hope) helpful resources on this page to simplify the subject. If you still find it confusing, don’t worry – understanding SEO is our job. We ensure that we take care of every step, and we provide lucid progress reports with measurable easy-to-understand metrics, every month.
How does SEO work?
Search engine optimisation achieves the goals of increasing the quantity and quality of a website’s traffic primarily through three practices:
1. On-page SEO
Focused on creating the type of content that:
- builds your credibility / expertise and is relevant to your business’s audience (information they would find useful and valuable, even if it isn’t necessarily directly connected to your products / services)
- enough of your business’s audiences are searching for (i.e., there is enough “search interest” or “search volume” for that topic), AND
- is crafted to be the most helpful resource for your audience for a specific search query (rather than something that is identical or similar to other resources that are already available)
Ensuring that your website is configured in such a way as to allow search engine “spiders” / “bots” (these are automatic software robots that search engines use to inspect websites) to properly “crawl” your site (i.e., discover content on your site) and “index” that content (i.e., store information about your site on their database) is also an important part of on-page SEO, although it is sometimes classified as technical SEO.
2. Off-page SEO
Aimed at improving your website’s rankings in “SERPs” (i.e., search engine results pages), through a variety of measures, including:
- link building
- unlinked mentions
- guest blogging
- social media marketing
- influencer marketing
3. Technical SEO
Covers measures related to your website and server’s code and technical configuration that influence SERP rankings, such as:
- SSL implementation
- Responsive pages
- Page speed
- Optimised images
- FCP and LCP
How do search engine rankings work?
How can I improve my website’s search engine rankings?
For every query, Google checks its index for pages most closely related to that specific query, and then displays results for that query in an order that they believe will most likely solve the user’s query. This order of results is referred to in SEO parlance as “ranking”.
Google determines ranking based on its algorithm – a proprietary formula. While the minute details of this algorithm are closely guarded secrets, it is well-known that there are over 200 parameters that are factored by this algorithm. The top four factors that influence a page’s Google search ranking are:
The relevance of a page to a specific query is simply a measure of how closely / precisely the content on that page matches the search intent behind that specific query. For searches that are location-related (such as a search for a nearby restaurant, for example), distance is also a factor determining relevance.
Short for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Expertise is a measure of how knowledgeable a search engine perceives your website / page / business to be on a particular topic.
Authoritativeness is a measure of the degree to which other experts on the topic acknowledge or agree with your information, which search engines often infer from the quantity and quality of links to your website from other places on the internet.
Trustworthiness is a measure of how much users trust your website or brand, as inferred by Google from ratings and sentiment analysis of user reviews about your business / website, on social media and the public web.
3. User engagement metrics
Engagement metrics relate to how users interact with pages from your site relative to other pages in the SERPs, for a specific query. Google uses these as indicators to infer the quality or usefulness of the content on your site, and these include parameters such as:
- Click-throughs: The percentage of clicks that pages from your site receive, relative to clicks that other pages receive, for the SERPs of a specific query.
- Pogo-sticking: How often users click through to a result from your site, and then return to the SERP to click through to another site, for a specific query.
- Time on page: the length of time users spend on your page before leaving it.
- Bounce rate: the percentage of sessions on your website where users view only one page, and leave your site without clicking on anything else on your site.
An important thing to note about engagement metrics is that they are heavily influenced by the quality of content on a page: the relevance and catchiness of a headline, the usefulness of the content, the ease-of-use of the site’s design and navigation, and so on.
Why should I choose Lime’s SEO services for my business?
As you can gather from the answers above, effective SEO requires combining:
- strong business analysis to set the appropriate goals for your business needs,
- deep know-how of search, to determine what your audience is searching for and which queries will yield the best return on investment,
- exceptional communication skills to craft persuasive content that outranks your competitors’ content, AND
- web expertise, to ensure your site’s SERP rankings aren’t constrained by technical factors.
This is precisely the blend of science and art that most frequently wins us praise from our customers. Here are just a few other reasons why Lime is a great choice for your SEO needs:
Unbiased advice. At Lime, we prefer to underpromise and overdeliver. If we believe that we aren’t a good fit for your needs, we’ll talk ourselves out of the job, because we’re here for the long run – we know the customers come back only if we give them advice they can trust.
Proudly Australian. We’ve been headquartered in Melbourne since 2000. We prefer to keep things here in Australia, so we don’t outsource to questionable overseas contractors, unlike many other providers.
Proven expertise. We’ve designed, built, and managed websites of all scales and sizes for clients in almost every conceivable industry. When it comes to SEO, we know what works and what doesn’t – and if we believe that a client goal or expectation cannot be fulfilled, we tell them early on.
360-degree holistic approach. Lime is much more than just an SEO agency; our in-house expertise includes marketing communication, web design, and consumer psychology. This lets us integrate your SEO campaign with the rest of your business’s marketing efforts, to deliver multiplied results.