Ignite your digital marketing

HOW TO HIRE A CREDIBLE SEO AGENCY

Posted on 8th Mar, 2017 by

Google released a document on Valentine’s day providing valuable insight into how brands should go about hiring an SEO agency, including guidelines on what to look out for and avoid when choosing and hiring an SEO specialist.

Included in this document was a video by Google’s Developer Programs Tech Lead, Maile Ohye. In the almost 12-minute video, Maile offers her advice on how to identify a legitimate SEO provider as well as what exactly constitutes ‘good’ (and bad) SEO. Curious to know which practices make the cut by Google? We’ve summarised the video below.

“An SEO’s potential is only as high as the quality of your business or website”

– Maile Ohye

GENERAL SEO HIRING PROCESS

Unfortunately, there are a number of SEO agencies out there who don’t play fair, often using illicit techniques in an attempt to manipulate search engines. These techniques, and the agencies that use them, should be avoided at all costs as Google does not easily provide ‘second chances’.

To avoid getting locked into a contract with one of ‘these’ SEO agencies, Google has provided an agenda to follow when interviewing and selecting an SEO provider. These are the steps Google recommends brands take when choosing an SEO:

STEP 1: Conduct a two-way interview – ask relevant questions to ensure they’re sincerely interested in you and the success of your business.

STEP 2: Check their references – the agency should offer you a list of clients willing to talk to you about their experience. If they can’t offer this, you should be cautious.

STEP 3: Request an audit – a good agency does their homework. Ask them to complete an audit, identifying any potential website issues and how they suggest to improve them, as well as what impact these changes are estimated to have on your digital campaign.

STEP 4: Decide if you want to hire – discuss with other decision makers within your business whether they think this agency is a good choice. Before deciding on an SEO agency, make sure all internal stakeholders are on board.

BONFIRE TIP:

You should leave your first meeting with a potential SEO agency feeling impressed and holding a proposal which indicates extensive research into both your company’s current position in the market, and your website.

ADVICE/KEY TAKEAWAYS:

In addition to the hiring process recommendations, Ohye also shared some useful insights on SEO basics as well as common misconceptions. Here are a few we found particularly agreeable and commonly find ourselves explaining to clients coming to us with limited search knowledge (or previous bad advice).

“SEO is not black magic” – SEO isn’t magic and it won’t work overnight. If an agency is promising instant rankings, avoid them, as they’re likely to be practicing bad SEO – this could cause irreversible long term damage to your domain and could greatly affect your digital standing with Google.

SEO suggestions should align with google best practices – ask the SEO to corroborate their strategy recommendations with supporting documents from Google e.g. an article from their help centre, a Googler response in their forum or a video (like this one).

Good SEO aims to improve the searchers’ entire experience – recommended changes should aim to not only create a search friendly site, but also a user-friendly site.

Quality SEOs will be genuinely invested in your business – they will be interested in learning about your business from a holistic stand point and genuinely care about your business goals, customers and other existing marketing efforts.

Good SEO takes time – allow 4 months to a year before you expect to start seeing real search results from strategy implementation. There are a lot of components in a good SEO strategy, and unfortunately no magic tricks to make them work faster.

An SEO’s potential is only as high as the quality of your business or website – investing in a user-friendly website will significantly help every SEO strategy implemented. You can’t build a home without a solid foundation.

“One of the biggest holdups to improving a website isn’t [the SEO’s] recommendation, but the business making time to implement their ideas.”

– Maile Ohye

IN SUMMARY…

The road towards finding a legitimate SEO agency is not an easy one. However, the outcome of your choice is vital to both the health of your campaign and business. These guidelines should help with the decision process and ensuring your business is left in capable hands.

You can watch the full video by Maile Ohye, titled How to Hire an SEO, here:

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SEO Trends You Need To Watch In 2017

Posted on 31st Jan, 2017 by

Which SEO trends will thrive in 2017? And more importantly, how can I stay on top of these trends for my business? These are some of the top questions circulating marketing and business minds in the new year. Here’s what the digital experts at Bonfire HQ have to say…

Below are the predicted 2017 SEO trends that our search experts believe will have the biggest impact on digital campaigns this year.

Mobile-first indexing
Statistics show that most searches occur on mobile, with more than 50% of search queries happening from mobile devices. Consequently, Google has already begun to test mobile-first indexing. There have been murmurs that Google will soon prioritise their search listing rankings based on the mobile version of content, rather than desktop.

Content Marketing
2016 highlighted the importance of quality website content for digital campaigns. In 2017, we believe this will be taken a step further. No longer will it be enough to merely produce content, but in a highly competitive market, businesses will need a structured content marketing strategy in place to ensure they can compete. It’s also predicted that with the rise in mobile searches, content will shift away from lengthy pieces and favour quality over quantity. Businesses are anticipated to adopt ‘dense’ content strategies; providing useful information in the most efficient possible format.

Algorithmic Machine Learning (AI)
Algorithmic machine learning was first introduced by Google’s RankBrain in 2015. We anticipate another update like this in the near future, some of which may go beyond the scope of search to encompass other digital areas (i.e. data collection and interpretation).

Voice search
We expect voice search to continue gaining traction in 2017. With platforms like Google Home and others of the like we believe this marks the beginning of a revolution inspired by voice search. This will cause a shift in traditional keyword discovery, meaning SEO agencies and businesses alike will need to be prepared to see more contextual, natural search phrases increasing in search volume.

Accelerated Mobile Pages
As Google begins to prioritise mobile, we expect to see a rise in Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is a Google initiative to speed up mobile browsing, by building web pages for static content that render fast. It is an open-source slim HTML coding standard that when implemented, allows web pages on mobile phones to load instantly and ultimately improves the user experience. Google has already started favouring pages that have made the coding changes to optimize their mobile pages with AMP.

What Next?
It seems 2017 is heading in a direction where the reliance on technology will soon be stronger than ever before, for both consumers and marketers. It is imperative that marketers recognise this as soon as possible, and shift their strategies accordingly. Collaborating with technology providers is heavily encouraged, as it’ll allow businesses to gain an advantage over their competitors. To stay ahead in 2017, we believe it’s imperative that SEO marketers and business owners keep a close eye on these trends and are prepared to adopt strategic changes when necessary.

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Sink or Swim: The Modern Marketing Strategy

Posted on 9th Aug, 2016 by

A summary of the digital dilemma and its effect on the way businesses are operating today.

The Digital Dilemma
Whether you’re a start-up or an established brand, every business owner will be required to make an important decision in the course of their business venture; to go digital or not to go digital. In today’s day and age, businesses cannot turn away from the fact that this binary decision will determine the livelihood and the future of the brand itself. Thankfully, there is a middle ground more commonly known to those in the industry as the ‘modern marketing strategy’.

A smart business owner will understand that both internal and external marketing factors play a role in individual business success. According to research and consulting company, Strategy Analytics, spending for digital advertising in the Asia Pacific region has increased over the past year by 18.2% – that’s an estimated total of AU$78.4 billion.

This poses the ultimate question: if a majority of businesses are competing in the digital market, why isn’t your business? Furthermore, how do we, as business owners compete against others who seem to be employing the same traditional marketing strategy? The modern marketing strategy attempts to explain this.

The Modern Marketing Strategy
Ever heard of the saying ‘don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’? The modern marketing strategy explores this notion. Although there are many theories surrounding this, our experience here at Bonfire is what drives the thought behind this strategy.

Time and time again we see businesses come to us seeking SEO and other online digital services who understand the importance of digital for a competitive business strategy, however this is not always the case. The modern marketing strategy explains the need for the integration between traditional marketing efforts, digital marketing efforts and all other areas of the business including marketing goals and product mix. Each marketing component should work cohesively in order to play off each other’s strengths and enhance the overall business strategy. If one element were to change, it’s integral for the other elements to adapt. For example, if the business decided to rebrand, this should filter through to all digital efforts as well as traditional marketing efforts.

However, for many businesses today who don’t necessarily have the resources to fund their own marketing department, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent strategy. This is where outsourcing comes into play – not to a cheap, offshore “agency” – but to an established digital agency who knows exactly what it means to have a strong digital campaign and has the skills to seamlessly integrate these into the overall marketing strategy.

With many markets facing over-saturation and with a large number of businesses struggling to penetrate or compete at a profitable level, employing an effective modern marketing strategy is almost essential for survival.

In today’s complex world, businesses can either sink or swim. With this in mind, digital agencies have now become the buoys of the modern business world, giving rise to a new era in marketing: The Digital Era.

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