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SEO; what, why, how – an interview with Sleeping Giant MD Luke Quilter

Getting to grips with search marketing can be confusing. What’s the best way to optimise your website so it can be found? Should you pay for clicks to your website and what happens when you stop paying?  Search marketing can drive the traffic to your website, but how do you ensure you attract ‘profitable’ visitors and compete with other brands.

In our third interview we hear from Luke Quilter, Managing Director of Sleeping Giant Media, a specialist search marketing agency, who sheds some light onto this often confusing topic. Luke won Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2011 Kent Excellence in Business Awards (KEiBA) and Sleeping Giant Media were shortlisted for a number awards this year, both at the KEiBAs and the Kent Chamber of Commerce Business Awards where they received special mention from the chief executive of the Chamber. He is an experienced trainer and speaker on search engine optimisation, pay per click advertising, social media and business start ups.

 

Interview Transcript:

Why should brands consider search marketing?

Brands should consider search marketing for a number of reasons but I think one of the most compelling things is the fact that most of their customers are actually going online. One of the things that most people are observing at the moment is that the High Street is really falling off because people are more confident buying on line now. There is also more choice and potentially better prices to be found as well. The migration of customers online is a compelling reason to put your business online.

A lot of people are actually do it as well, so it is important to make sure that when they are looking for those products and services that they find you above your competitors; that’s really where search marketing comes in as you are able to optimise your site and make it more compliant from a search perspective so people can actually find you instead of your competitors.

How important is social media in search marketing?

Social media is really important from a search marketing perspective. It is now part of the calculation that Google uses to help rank websites within search engine results page so one of the things we’re spotting over the last 6-12 months is that the more active you are in social media, the better chance you have of ranking with a Google search engine results page. One of the recommendations we’d always put to our clients and anyone looking to do anything online is to make sure that they have got active social profiles. It shows Google and customers that you are active; that you’re still in business and still able to provide support, customer service etc. Google factors that into the algorithms and actually you will get better results through SEO because of it.

How can you measure success of a SEO project?

To measure success from an SEO project, there are a number of different things and I think is actually where some agencies fall down a bit, and potentially some clients, fall down. You can look at the traffic volume, you can look at positions in search engine results pages and they are massively important, but the fundamentals are that it has to come down to the bottom line. You have to look at what makes money and what doesn’t make you any money and subsequently do the things that make more money and get rid of the things that don’t make you any money. One of the things we do is, when you are selling a product on line, you are looking at Google analytics and how many products are being sold. Ultimately you can then start calculating back and start to work out how much you are spending, how much you are making and what the return on investment is.

It becomes a little more tricky in a B2B and potentially a service industry where you don’t have an online transaction but again, you want to be looking at the number of people who phone up, the number of people who call in and ultimately how many people purchase your service. Again, you can then see the impact that the SEO works out at.

 What’s your view on search engine humanisation?

One of the things from a search optimisation point of view, and subsequently search engine humanisation view, is that people get tied up with trying to too much to please the search engine and they actually forget there is a customer at the end of the journey. I think that ultimately the algorithm that search engines employ is to try to provide relevant results for their customers so people need to remember it is that the engines are trying to do. Don’t get caught up in trying to over-optimise the site from a search engine point of view because if you do that, you are probably likely to get found out by the search engines and have the reverse effect because of all the work you have been doing. It is important to remember that when you are optimising for the user, it is better to get five relevant people to a site and maybe three customers as opposed to getting thousands to the site which aren’t relevant and don’t convert; it is a waste of time and that’s why it’s important to monitor what you are doing and understand the data you are getting so you can optimise for your customers. All digital marketing has the same rule set that traditional marketing has – it’s always the customer. You’ve always got to understand what they are looking for and provide the information that they want and hopefully build that trust with them so that they can purchase the products or service that you offer.

Did you have a prediction for search marketing in 2013 and if so, has it come true?

There have been a number of predictions around what is going to happen this year for search marketing and social media. We made few right at the end of last year based around the changes in the algorithm from a search perspective and actually they seem to taking shape and coming true based on what we thought. SEO is much more content focused now; they’ve really reduced the value of links and that is evident from people who’ve over-optimised their site from a search engine point of view are now taking a bit of a penalty around that. What is important remember is to keep the customer in mind, keep focusing on what is it that they want and as long as you are doing that, then you have a better chance of pre-empting any future algorithm changes. Content is really, really important, providing good, fresh, unique content regularly to your site – we are seeing that have a factor within search engine rankings. Social networks – again, that is another prediction; we said it would grow within the algorithms. I think we will see more and more of Google Plus. I think it is doing a lot better in the States than in the UK at the moment but is something that is likely to continue as Google reward you for using their social media so business owners will be encouraged to use that and drag their customers with them. We are also seeing the trend in most of the markets we’re working in that more and more customers are looking as more and more people have access to the internet. We are seeing more and more people having lower barriers to purchasing things on line. Finally, I think the other thing to really focus on this year and certainly next year will be mobile. They have been talking about the year of the mobile for about five years now and I’d say that we are probably here. The reason we’re here is partly because of the iPad which is considered a mobile device which doesn’t quite qualify as a unique mobile device but it is driving people to utilise the internet on different platforms and purchase from different platforms. It’s really important that you plan anything you are doing in the next 6-12 months has to be mobile compatible to allow those people who are more comfortable with mobile devices to purchase things online and find information out about your site. If it doesn’t load on a mobile device, you need to be looking at that as a priority.

 

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