As a web developer, obviously, I recommend having a website as part of your digital marketing strategy.
As an SEO, I also wholeheartedly recommend that your website is search engine optimised (SEO) with a unique voice that is ‘on brand’.
As a digital Marketer, I sometimes feel overwhelmed doing my own marketing and I have been in digital for a lot of years. For a business owner there are so many choices but how do you choose?
What is Digital Marketing?
When someone is looking for your products or services you want them to be able to easily find your digital home and be greeted by your uniqueness.
Every business is unique in its own way with every business owner having their own style. Digital marketing is how you attract the right customer for your goods or services. If we look at how clients search; most will use a search engine. The most popular search engine is Google, with Youtube being the 2nd most popular.
You also have lots of other digital marketing options such as content marketing, social media marketing and lots of paid marketing options such as Google AdWords.
What is SEO? Other than my favourite topic lol
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is optimising a website for search engines to increase organic traffic.
Or even more simply, setting up a website in the most effective way for google (and other search engines) to process its content and show them on their search pages.
The higher a site is shown on the search page, the more likely it will be that the page is viewed.
Closer to the top on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) = More visibility, More traffic, and MORE BUSINESS.
You can read more on SEO via this google page which also gives you a link to their SEO starter guide.
SEO is Technical
Most people don’t realise that SEO is technical. It’s best to be included in the website creation stage not added after the site is created. I prefer to build sites around SEO so keyword research first, keyword map then build the site with a clear SEO plan.
SEO is not something you simply add to a site, and then away you go to page 1 on google.
SEO is neither simple nor easy. It’s estimated that there are 200+ things google looks at when ranking a page. Google gives us the best practices but well… Google also blatantly lies and makes a change a day to keep us on our toes + a couple of massive changes each year to shuffle things around a bit.
In some cases, ongoing SEO isn’t really necessary if the site is built to google guidelines.
Ongoing Competitive SEO is a lot of work
Content, Headings, Images, Brand, UX, quality of the hosting, quality of the coding, site speed, and social media signals are just some of the 200+ things that are used by search engines to rank websites.
Most SEOs (the title was given to people who do SEO) have a niche or a preferred type of SEO. I do on-page SEO and off-page but I love Technical SEO as I find it the thing that moves the needle the most.
You don’t pick your niche from a list, you learn your niche or you at least learn the parts of SEO you enjoy and those that you don’t. I read SEO research daily as does Sam and we run our own tests. We are always messing about with our test sites but we both love SEO, we are weird like that lol.
Some tests take 1 month or longer to see the results but in some cases, it’s 3 months.
I ruined one of my sites with AMP and that took over 6 weeks to recover – Never use AMP, it’s awful no matter what anyone says lol.
Many DIYers, as well as website creators and designers these days, use SAAS such as Wix, SquareSpace, Showit or Shopify. I have nothing against SAAS as they are lovely, easy-to-use platforms with gorgeous templates and you can whip up a beautiful site in a day.
I will use a SAAS platform at a client’s request and I have worked with most of them but my preference will always WordPress.org as a CMS as it’s easy for clients to update their own site and I hate limitations over what I can be created. WordPress has over 50,000 plugins you can use, that’s a lot of choices! Plus I can code so with WordPress, there isn’t a single idea that I cannot create 🙂
SAAS services often have low pay-by-the-month plans where your site is hosted with them. You can’t back up your site locally and you don’t have server access. This gives them a lot of power over your business.
I am a control freak and would hate to give control of my business to someone else.
If you are going to do your own site on one of these platforms be sure to buy your domain via a domain registration company rather than within Wix in case you get banned.
A site on your own hosting is a far safer option.
Digital Marketing Pricing
An experienced web developer or an experienced SEO will cost more than a beginner
Last year a very rude woman contacted us about a new website and was quite annoyed that our pricing is too high (We are very reasonable). She said she could get a website done by a freelancer for $300 and $200 a month for SEO services.
Whilst this is correct it doesn’t mean that the website will be a unique design, on-brand design or get to Google page 1. Maybe it will? I wish her luck.
I read an article that said my favourite SEO expert charges $25,000 for a consultation if he takes you as a client his retainer is $10,000 a month. The work his team does on a site costs extra.
A $ 99-a-month package will not yield the same results as a $ 10,000-a-month spend with a top SEO company.
Brand name companies you see on page 1 may be spending over $100k a year to be there. Some would be spending $1million+ annually.
But being page 1, position 1 would create millions in revenue for some companies so SEO offers a very good return on their investment.
SEO has a fantastic ROI if you have the right Digital Marketing Agency.
Some businesses have gone out of business due to their lack of ongoing Digital Marketing Strategy
Minx Digital offers Web solutions; Escort Marketing, SEO services, Business development & strategy + lots of other things
We can’t say yes to working with everyone
A few times every week, I receive email enquiries from all over the world requesting SEO quotes.
But before I can quote, I need to do some checks. The results of these checks determine if the project is worth discussing or if it’s best I say No.
If you haven’t seen the backend of a site before, there’s a lot going on.
Even a simple, clean, well-built website can have endless options, settings and features. Coding aside, the combinations that a developer chooses all add up to create what you see on your screen.
Technical SEO is critical for success
Site build and performance are much more important than the prettiness of a website. The pretty is the easy bit
If a site shows bad performance in one of my checks, it means I would need to go into the backend of the site and fix the build or possibly offend a developer with a long list of changes.
Developers often hate Technical SEOs as we may show them up for being a bit shite at development. It’s awkward, so I choose not to take on these clients.
Many people choose a Web Designer based on the look of previous sites they have built and shown in their portfolio. They like a shade of pink or a font choice and that’s the web designer they go with.
Generally, a graphic designer is not a website developer. Some skilled people can do both, but do not assume someone is good at both.
Designers make things visually pretty but as they are not SEO they often lack the technical skills to make the site function and performance equally well.
If you desire a specific and unique design and also want the best possible website for SEO and conversions, working with a graphic designer and developer is your best bet.
For great SEO results, you really need a Website Developer with technical know-how
Google can’t see the beautiful colours or how gorgeous your logo is, Google looks at your content, site structure, backlinks and technical stuff like site speed and code quality.
A Developer can build you anything you want on a site, in whichever style you like.
An SEO who is also a developer will have the technical skills and know-how to create whatever ideas you may have and showcase them to Google.
Experienced Developers can often help mould your ideas into an even better vision than you had on your own.
When considering who use to build your website I would recommend going with a developer who has SEO skills or a technical SEO who is also a developer, like Me 🙂
A team of 2 or more people, including an SEO and a Developer also works and may even be faster due to the dual approach. Like Me & Sam 🙂
If you want someone to draw you a logo then go to a designer for that, but for the website creation, you want someone who has superior tech skills.
Anyways I digress, an email today asking for an SEO quote reminded me I need to finish this blog, which I started weeks ago haha
Digital Marketing strategy, websites & SEO are my work and also my passion.
My Digital Marketing and Website development experience started before the invention of Facebook… Back in the olden days when you needed a phone line to dial up to use the internet and darn was it slow!
My IT interest started with an Apple 2C, and I went on to use DOS and Linux and Windows 2.0. Don’t look so surprised, Yes I am that old haha
As the saying goes – Knowledge is power!
So many of the blog topics I write are on things I think need to be discussed, or dissected in more honest detail.
I have always, and still do, endeavoured to provide information that educates and empowers others.
I have had excellent success with my own digital agency brands (Minx is my most recent, not my first), SEO and websites internationally due to my skill set, persistence, experience and passion for web solutions, online brands & my great love, SEO 🙂
But don’t be fooled; my skill set and experience have not stopped me from being on the receiving end of an expensive dud.
I estimate at least 80% of business owners I know (myself included) have been ripped off by a digital marketing company at some point 🙁
Even I with my old lady wisdom have been caught by flashy sales pitches selling me the world but only really providing large headaches and tears.
In 2012, I had a UK web company create a new website for a business I owned. I needed a bespoke and complex CMS as I had staff in 2 offices, most with very limited web experience. I could have created the CMS I wanted myself, but I chose to outsource to someone who told me they had the perfect team and they sounded like they knew what they were doing….
I was so busy with my own work I simply did not have the time I needed to get the job done in the timeframe it was required.
Just quietly, I also hate designing for myself as I procrastinate and waste a lot of time fiddling with things that frankly, I should just leave the f*ck alone! lol
The company seemed proficient but they turned out to be the biggest headache!
They sold me a dream, which became a nightmare
The company had a London office with a great salesman but they had the work done overseas. I ended up dealing with a guy in India who had both, bad English and very few design skills.
It was extremely frustrating and time-consuming and in the end, I paid a hell of a lot more than my original quote
The site was poorly coded and working with the company ongoing was terrible!
They wouldn’t let me do anything to the site myself, I was not allowed to host it myself. If I wanted a simple change they would charge me a fortune.
They were constantly ripping me off!
They gave me a very limited user profile for my WordPress blog and when I asked them to update the blog to the latest version I was told it would cost me $400aud to press the update button!.
They had some problems with their hosting and they needed to move it, they tried to give me a bill for $2000aud?? They were moving their hosting so it should not have been a charge for me. I had a monthly maintenance plan on the site FFS so they just trying to rip me off!
So finally, I told them to F9ck right off and redid the site myself. I rage-built that website in a few days haha.
It was really cool with a bespoke CMS and I just rebuilt what I had already designed and had them build but with some tweaks of things I found staff didn’t like on their build.
I have 1 other company built for me and they were great, similar way to how I work.
I was allowed to host it myself & play with any part of the site I wished under the provision of ‘if you break it, you fix it or you have to pay to get it fixed’ which suits me fine as I can code.
Digital Marketing Scams
There are so many scammers and sh*t talkers in Digital Marketing, web development, web design and SEO.
These days it’s easier than ever to sell digital services and pretend to be an expert.
I see many newbies these days joining Facebook groups and selling services they don’t know anything about. They come into the SEO groups or join community forums and ask the most insanely basic questions yet are charging $1000+ a month to unsuspecting customers.
Competitive SEOs are often not great at sales, we like analysis and data rather than being skilled at manipulating people and idle chit-chat.
I need to make it clear, my grievance is not with legitimate digital marketing services, with skill sets that are chargeable and fair.
Some companies seem to think that delivering a $3000 website that doesn’t work is completely acceptable.
Let me tell you now. It’s not! It’s not OK! $3000 is a lot of money!
Recently, I have worked on a few sites created by website companies that promote in Australia. Let’s not even talk about some of the sites I have fixed that came from marketplaces such as Upwork, freelancer and Fiverr.
2 of my friends asked me to look at their sites as they thought they were a bit slow (YES they were appallingly slow!)
I was shocked when I logged in and saw both dashboards of these WordPress sites. They were utter sh*te!
One was such rubbish! If I had to score out of 10, I would say 1 for technical skills, and 4 for design skills. They had used a random ThemeForest Template, over 20 plugins + custom code so my mate couldn’t update the content herself. ThemeForest is fine if you are a beginner and DIY but rotten if you are paying a supposed professional $3000!
The other website was pretty with a custom design but a 4-year-old white listed random theme. My mate designed it and she has great taste! Technically it was 3/10, the site cost her $2500, was slow as a snail & had 37 plugins… Yikes!
A few months back a new client came to me for help with her site. Her “website” was essentially a landing page with a video and she had spent $4500 so far…
Technically it was alright, it was fast but so basic. The fonts were U-G-L-Y and the design was dated, not on-brand for her business whatsoever. She had told me the web developer did what he thought and she didn’t like it.
I have worked in digital for a long time and worked with some super smart nerds so I knew I was “technically proficient” but I thought that other developers were like me, they gave a sh*t about quality and performance.
I am slightly OCD I guess, I love learning how to do new things or do things better.
I am obsessed with SEO and to rank high these days you need to care about the technical build & hosting quality etc.
On the design side of things though, I had never considered myself to be particularly amazing and I was fine with that. It turns out, I’m actually better than I thought! Haha.
Being a technical SEO means things like site speed & UX are important to me
I prioritise and see the value in anything that is a ranking factor.
There is little point in having a website if search engines won’t index it and/or it doesn’t even rank for your own name!
Let’s have a change of pace…
A snippet of history
Many moons ago, I started my corporate career in IT. At the time, the internet wasn’t really a thing lol there was no wifi. It was only dial-up! (many of you may not know what that is lol)
This IT/Website/computer thing has been a part of my life and career for a very long while.
I have a degree and other certifications in IT, I have taught IT courses and I regularly do workshops for my clients at their premises and love teaching people tech stuff 1-on-1.
A lot of what I know was learnt from taking the time to do personal daily study, as well as throwing myself at life and getting first-hand experience.
I learn a lot by listening to others in the industry too. I personally have zero interest in social media. The best social media teachers for me have been people I have mentored, they know all the apps & the cool stuff
I am not a know it. I do not know everything, and definitely consider myself to still be a student.
30 years of IT knowledge packed into my brain does help make learning easier though.
What that 30-year-old brain encyclopaedia does, is show me and help me understand exactly what I don’t know.
I then know where to go or what to do to find the answers, data or information.
For success in SEO, you want both technical SEO and UX experience
This means that although I fiddle, it’s got a purpose in a way (or so I tell myself lol).
Being on Page 1 of Google means work.
I outsource content (or have clients give me their content) as writing 1 blog post takes me forever. As an analytical/maths brain person, I struggle with writing that is readable to others. I write & re-write some sentences way too many times.
I have worked on a vast number of digital marketing, web development & SEO projects. Some big, some small, some have been successful and others have not but that’s often down to the management of the business, not digital marketing.
I have to say, SEO is the one thing that I just cannot get enough of!
As someone who offers Digital Marketing, Web Development SEO solutions, I believe you have to have a passion for it to be successful at it.
Why? Because it’s F8cking hard to do. Even harder to do well.
Google uses an algorithm to decide how search results are chosen and organised in what order, to be shown on Google Search Engines.
The problem is, Google doesn’t tell us what the things are that it is looking for.
I see a lot of blogs on SEO on web designers’ websites. Some of it is stupid, some out of date, often trying to confuse people so they believe they need to pay $10,000 a month for SEO. These are sales pitches! They are designed to charm you, while they make money off your believing their BS.
No competitive SEO would create with Wix or SquareSpace, most SEOs use WordPress as it’s usable for clients and has the technical abilities we need to rank your website top of organic search.
If you are skimming this blog, read this bit 🙂
I know this is pretty much another language for most people and you may be feeling pressured to sign up with designers or developers to scrape something together and whack online.
Try not to stress, the information is out there! It just needs to be explained again by someone with a different teaching style. In the meantime, spend on the following first or only.
Things I suggest paying for
A proper technical design – Your site will not show up on google unless it’s well put together behind the scenes.
Website Maintenance – if you are going to have a WordPress site it is smart to pay for ongoing maintenance to save yourself headaches. Shall we look after your site?
SEO – you can have the prettiest site in town but the only people who may ever see it are your friends & Twitter followers, your site needs SEO to sing!
Checks you should do
I would suggest checking the site performance of designers/developers’ sites before you employ them.
You don’t need to know much, just look for a good score. A’s high percentages and green signals.
If testing the designer/developer’s own site doesn’t give you faith in their skill, go elsewhere!
This is essentially where they should be “leading by example”, and using skills. If their own site is a C-, will they be bothered to make your site better than their own? Do you want to be a C- kinda brand?
Site Speed is important
Ideally, a website should load fast, under 3s if possible. If a site takes 10s or longer you will have lost more than half your visitors.
Sorry, the blog is so long but I had a lot to say haha.
I really got my rant on with this blog hahaha so it’s gigantic. I am cutting it into 2 parts, the next part is ‘demystifying Website packages’
I hope you found my blog on Digital Marketing helpful.
Until next time