My SEO FAQs

This FAQ addresses common questions and provides insights into my Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services. It covers a wide range of SEO topics, including the definition of SEO, its importance, the components of a successful strategy, and specific examples to illustrate key points. The FAQ provides practical insights and real-life examples to help you understand the complexities of SEO and how it can impact website performance.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not just a collection of random tips. It's based on my extensive professional experience and current industry standards at the time of writing. I've seen these strategies work in real-life scenarios, and they can work for you, too. Results may vary depending on circumstances, but SEO principles remain consistent and reliable.

SEO FAQs

What is SEO, and why is it important? 

In straightforward terms, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of helping a web page rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The objective is to attract the correct type of organic visitors and convince them to complete the desired action (i.e. Gain more Sales / Leads). Many people think SEO is just a quick fix and is limited to inserting keywords into content. However, SEO includes all aspects of website content (On Page SEO) and external elements such as backlinks (Off Page SEO).  

“Over 90% of searches worldwide happen on Google… …The first organic result in a search results page has an average click-through rate of 27.6%…”
Forbes.com

While many consider SEO just in terms of search engines like Google, it’s best to consider Google’s “needs and wants” and the intended visitor’s “needs and wants” as interchangeable and similar. By aligning your website with Google’s algorithms, you help ensure your site is more likely to appear higher in relevant search results, attracting more organic traffic. Google makes every effort to evaluate a website like the intended visitor would. Google does this because it wants to provide accurate search results to its users. This way, Google stays relevant and valuable to its users and can sell more advertising to website owners.

While I have seen clients gain good ongoing results year after year by setting up only a site, a Google Business Profile, and some initial offsite work, this is the exception, not the rule. SEO is generally an ongoing process that takes time and effort to see sustained and improving results. SEO is commonly considered expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The results you want to achieve will always inform the complexity and cost of the SEO strategy. 

For example, a local SEO campaign can be less expensive because fewer resources are needed to compete with fewer (just local) competitors. Local SEO campaigns are typically more effective as local businesses are more relevant to local customers. Additionally, local SEO campaigns are more straightforward and cheaper because fewer potential keywords and competitors make the campaigns easier to track and the actions easier to execute.

Can SEO help my business? 

SEO can help almost any business increase relevant website traffic, leads, and sales. 
One quick way for you to evaluate if SEO may help you is to consider the following questions:

Are you looking to attract more search engine traffic to your website?

Are you interested in improving your website’s search engine rankings?

Are you frustrated by where your competitors rank in the search engines compared with your site?

Do you want to increase the number of leads or sales generated through your site?

Do you have a website that is not mobile-friendly or secure or has slow loading times?

Do you want to improve your website’s content’s overall quality and relevance?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, investing in an SEO strategy may benefit your business.

As a freelance SEO consultant, I offer custom services; I look at your needs and advise you on how best to get the desired results.

For example, I helped Stroud Valley Windows as a one-off project in Stroud, and the owner still enjoys more ongoing leads than he needs. I did this with Local SEO and his first website. Similarly, I helped Avent Interiors Ltd in Bristol boost growth through Local SEO and Google Ads. These are just a few examples of how SEO can help businesses increase online visibility, attract traffic, and generate more leads and sales.

What are the primary components of a successful SEO strategy?

A successful SEO strategy relies on several aspects that include:

Technical SEO ensures that site visitors and search engines can easily access and view your content. It’s like the foundation of your SEO strategy. Technical SEO includes security, page speed, mobile-friendliness, structured data, and XML sitemaps. Google favours mobile-friendly websites in its algorithm. Using suitable SEO tools to track your website’s emerging issues, ranking, and traffic is also crucial.
At first glance, it may seem odd, but Google takes hacking seriously site security matters. Hacking can prevent search engine crawlers and visitors from accessing your website, impacting rankings. I recommend and implement 2-factor authentication on all hosting and website access points.

A great example of why technical SEO matters: I recall a client achieving outstanding results in the UK for various woodwork-course-related search terms. Suddenly, his leads and UK rankings dropped overnight. Since he ran courses exclusively in the UK, this was a massive problem. He called me in because he had no idea why this had happened. The solution was almost embarrassingly simple: Unknown to him, a staff member had switched his Google Search Console to target the US. Simply flipping the targeting setting back turned his results around.

On-Page SEO is concerned with optimising a web page’s content to signal to Search Engines its relevance and importance to a search query. Simply speaking, this would involve creating high-quality, relevant content based on keywords your target audience is known to search for. 

For example, Google’s E-E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, with the recent addition of Experience. Google search raters use these E-E-A-T guidelines to help evaluate the performance of their various search ranking systems. Therefore, following the E-E-A-T guidelines can help improve a website’s search engine ranking, as these characteristics signal to Google that the content is high-quality and authoritative. Thus, creating content relevant to your target audience and demonstrating your expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, and experience in your industry is essential.

NB: SEO for YMYL websites, “Your Money Your Life,” refers to content that impacts a reader’s health, financial stability, safety, or well-being (e.g., medical or financial advice). YMYL sites require extra attention to E-E-A-T, because the information they provide can significantly affect a user’s life. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that the content on these websites is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy, as per Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.

Off-Page SEO includes building backlinks to a webpage from other relevant, high-quality websites. This process is also known as link building. Search engines like Google consider backlinks as ‘votes of credibility from other sites’ earned by your website or webpage. Backlinks boost your website’s authority, relevance, and trust, raising your ranking. In addition to backlinks, off-page SEO can involve social media marketing, influencer outreach, and online reputation management. These activities help to increase your website’s visibility, credibility, and popularity, which, in turn, improves your search engine ranking.

Let’s say you run a bakery website that offers various baked goods. A famous local food blogger stumbles upon your website and finds your artisan bread unique and delicious. The blogger decides to write a blog post about your bread and includes a link to your website in the post. As a result, not only does the blogger’s audience learn about and visit your bakery website, but search engines like Google also consider this link a positive endorsement of your website’s credibility. Consequently, your bakery website’s ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs) improves, making it more visible to local customers searching for bread and baked goods online. This link can then, in turn, increase website traffic and sales, thanks to the power of a link from a reputable source.

Remember, SEO works best as an ongoing process, which takes time and effort to see results. 

Please note: I only use White Hat SEO techniques, which are ethical and follow guidelines laid out by Google et al. My methods focus on creating user-first, high-quality content and providing a good user experience rather than manipulating search engine algorithms. White Hat SEO ensures long-term success and avoids potential penalties from search engines.

Black Hat SEO techniques involve practices that violate search engine terms of service. These practices include keyword stuffing, cloaking, private blog networks (PBNs), hacked content, expired domain abuse, AI and scaled content abuse, hidden text and links, and doorway pages. These techniques aim to artificially boost a site’s or page’s ranking in search engine results through unethical means. They can get your site penalised by Google or the other search engines.

Local SEO FAQs

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is a marketing strategy for increasing online visibility for local searches. It particularly benefits businesses with physical locations, such as stores or restaurants. Still, it can also help those serving specific geographic areas as well. Local SEO aims to help businesses appear in local search results, such as in Google’s Map Pack results. 

Local searches occur when a user intends to find results from websites connected to a specific region or location. They take the form of searches like “…Near Me” searches or searches where a particular area is mentioned.

“Four in five people use search engines for local queries…”
Forbes

“76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a physical place within 24 hours and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.”
Think with Google

For example, people may search for “Web Design Stroud,” “Web Designer Near Stroud,” or “SEO Near Me” to find this site. With the growth in mobile phones with internet access and voice search, local SEO has become increasingly crucial for the success of local businesses offering products or services.

Does local SEO work?

Yes, local SEO can work if you target specific geographical areas. Here are just two scenarios, although there are many more permutations.

“60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results (e.g., “click to call” option).”
Think with Google

SCENARIO 1: Your Business or Store Is Located INSIDE Your Target Geographical Location(s)
Local SEO is particularly effective if your business address is in your target location. You may want to attract customers to your business’s physical location, or you may serve an area from a particular physical location.   

EXAMPLE: Attract Customers to a Single Physical Location
“The Book Nook” is a local bookstore based in Gloucester that aims to attract book lovers, both locals and tourists and generate sales through foot traffic. To generate sales through foot traffic, The Book Nook is implementing a local SEO strategy that involves promoting events and author signings, as well as optimising website content and online business listings for keywords such as “independent bookstore Gloucester,” “children’s books Gloucester,” and “Gloucester book clubs.”

EXAMPLE: Attract Customers to Multiple Physical Locations
“Mane Street Salons” is a hair salon with multiple locations in Cheltenham and Stroud. The business’s goal is to attract new clients in these two locations. To achieve this, they plan to implement a local SEO strategy by creating separate Google Business Profiles for each salon, featuring specific addresses and service details. Additionally, they aim to develop location pages on the main website with unique content for each branch.

SCENARIO 2: Your Business or Store Is Located OUTSIDE of Your Target Geographical Location(s)
You can also implement geo pages to target locations where you don’t have a physical business address. 

EXAMPLE: Attract Customers to a Single Physical Location with Multiple Service Area Locations
To increase inquiries for tree removal and trimming services across Gloucester and Worcester, “Mighty Oaks Tree Service,” based in Cheltenham, plans to implement a local SEO strategy beyond its physical location. This strategy involves creating separate geo pages targeting specific services in “Gloucester” and “Worcester.” Additionally, the business is considering highlighting the service areas in its Google My Business profile. Mighty Oaks Tree Service aims to engage with the local community in each county and create helpful location-specific content for each geo page.

My work for Avent Interiors Ltd, which offers office fit-out services, compromises a single physical location business (in Bristol). The company also targets other service areas (Swindon, Cheltenham, Bath, Gloucester, etc.). 

Is local SEO right for my business?

Here are some businesses that would significantly benefit from local SEO:

46% of all Google searches are local”
Forbes

Retail: 
Independent shops, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, butchers, hair salons, beauty salons, and clothing stores. 

Professional Services: 
Plumbers, builders, electricians, cleaners, gardeners, decorators, personal trainers, dog walkers, and childminders. 

Hospitality: 
Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs. 

Leisure and Entertainment: 
Gyms, yoga studios, dance studios, sports clubs, cinemas, museums, and activity centres. 

If you are still not sure, here’s a flowchart to help you answer this question:

Question 1: Is your business a local brick-and-mortar establishment (and/or) does it serve specific geographic areas? 
Yes: Go to Question 2
No: Local SEO may not be appropriate considering national SEO strategies.

Question 2: Do potential customers search for local businesses like yours online?
Yes: Go to Question 3
No: Local SEO may not be appropriate considering national SEO strategies.

Question 3: Is your target audience likely to use mobile devices to search for businesses?
Yes: Go to Question 4
No: Local SEO may not be appropriate considering national SEO strategies.

Question 4: Is your business looking to increase local visibility, foot traffic, leads, or your customer base?
Yes: Go to Question 5
No: Local SEO may not be appropriate considering national SEO strategies.

Question 5: Is your business willing to invest time and resources in helping create location-specific content for local searches?
Yes: Go to Outcome
No: Local SEO may not be appropriate considering national SEO strategies.

Outcome:
If you answered “Yes” to all or most of the above, Local SEO is likely a beneficial strategy for your business. Local SEO will likely enhance local visibility and attract nearby customers.

Suppose you answered “No” to any of the above. In that case, Local SEO may not be the primary focus of your business, considering national SEO strategies.

My SEO Services FAQs

How much do your SEO services cost? 

I charge £40 per hour for my time. 

Local SEO is my bread and butter; my services start at just £100 PCM.

The cost of my SEO services depends on your website and business goals. Generally, SEO work falls into two categories:

Ongoing Retainer Packages: A monthly fee for continuing SEO activities tailored to your website. Monthly retainers most suit businesses looking for long-term SEO growth.

One-Time Projects: This is a fixed fee for specific SEO tasks, such as a technical SEO audit or competitor analysis, for businesses wanting to address specific SEO needs.

I offer a free consultation to discuss individual needs and projected costs.

Should I hire an SEO agency or an SEO consultant?

Hiring a freelance SEO has many benefits, including cost-effectiveness, customisation, flexibility, and faster turnaround times. Contrary to popular belief, SEO doesn’t have to break the bank. With a freelance SEO consultant, you can get custom, accountable service at a fraction of the cost of an SEO agency. 

You may be concerned that SEO consultants typically work alone, so they can only sometimes upscale their services and then only if they bring in third-party providers. Indeed, working with an individual consultant may mean asking your team to write and provide content. Most smaller businesses prefer this approach. If you involve your team in SEO tasks, they get hands-on experience. Plus, having your team involved in SEO tasks also has a cost-benefit. It can help your team become more knowledgeable and efficient with SEO in the long run. It can also help you save money on outsourcing, allowing you to complete tasks faster and ensure consistent and accurate site content.

Freelance consultants are preferable if your budget is tight and you need a bespoke, personal, more accountable service. 

What is the typical timeline for seeing SEO results?

It’s essential to be honest and set realistic expectations. When implemented as advised, SEO should show you results within months (faster for smaller projects). However, ongoing work is generally required to retain and improve these results. The work required (and the time needed) depends on your available time, budget, competition, industry, and goals.

I have worked with companies like Stroud Valley Windows, which only needed a web design and initial work. Years later, the owner, Wayne, still enjoys good lead levels with no further SEO input. I have also worked with others in more competitive industries, requiring ongoing effort and monthly reporting.

What level of input will I have in the SEO process? 

Operating collaboratively with you (the client) is essential for the best results; this promotes trust and ensures we are all working towards the same goals.

I will work with you however you wish (unless it’s detrimental to your results, budget, or goals). 

Here is what you can expect from my services:

Direct Communication: Open communication, quicker feedback loops, and tailoring of the strategy based on your input.

Understanding Your Needs: I spend time understanding your specific business goals and target audience, which leads to a more personalised SEO strategy.

Adapting to Changes: I can adjust tactics and strategies based on the latest trends and changing needs quicker than an agency with entrenched processes.

Flexible Schedules: I can arrange meetings and calls to fit your schedule, addressing your thoughts and concerns.

How will you keep me informed about my SEO progress? 

So, what kind of communication and reporting can you expect from me? Again, the answer largely depends on your needs and preferences and the needs of your project. My reports are clear, easy to understand, and focused on the metrics relevant to your business goals. I use jargon-free reporting where possible to avoid overwhelming you with techno babble. 

Typically, the reports include an overview (written by myself) to suggest project-specific best-value actions and our next steps supported by the following:

Technical SEO Audits
I use a range of software to crawl, discover, and categorise emerging technical SEO errors or areas for improvement. I explain each issue’s potential severity and impact on SEO performance and provide clear recommendations for fixing each issue. 

Site Ranking & Competitor Ranking Reports
Track how and where your site appears in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This report answers the question: How well does your site rank under each of your target keywords in your target search engines? It also shows how you rank compared to your top five competitors. I highlight potential concerns and suggest strategies to improve keyword rankings and surpass competitors. 

Local SEO Marketing Report
To include Google My Business (GMB) Performance, Local Search Ranking Progress, Review Management, and Local Citations Analysis. I highlight potential concerns and opportunities and suggest strategies to improve keyword rankings and surpass competitors. 

Tracking agreed success metrics. Setting and measuring goals, such as keyword rankings, leads, conversions, or sales, is essential. 

The report frequency is usually monthly, but depending on your needs, the frequency and type of report can be changed to quarterly or even weekly updates.

I also offer follow-up video calls, phone calls, and emails to discuss progress and answer your

Why choose Stroud Valley SEO?

Based in the Stroud District, my name is Justin March, and I run Stroud Valley SEO. I am a freelance SEO Consultant, meaning you get a custom service focused on your unique goals. My approach keeps your costs down and allows you direct access to me. You don’t have to talk to a project manager who regards you as just another client.    

I have spent almost 30 years in the SEO industry, working for companies like Avent Interiors Ltd and Premier Mezzanines Ltd. I have also been a Marketing Director, setting up and running companies like Quench Water Systems Ltd (now sold to Eden Springs UK Ltd.) and WaterCoolers Direct.com Ltd. 

This start gave me a valuable perspective that continues to enhance my SEO services. This unique perspective equips me to enhance my SEO strategy by creating websites that rank well and offer a positive user experience, ultimately leading to improved conversion rates and business growth.

Justin March - Owner Stroud Valley SEO
Owner Stroud Valley SEO
Justin March is a highly skilled freelance SEO and web designer with human-computer and user interface design expertise. He has achieved position 1 rankings in Google for tricky key phrases like "Survey Software" and "Water Coolers". Justin has worked as a marketing director and shareholder at Quench Water Systems Ltd. and WaterCoolers Direct.com Ltd. Justin now designs, markets and maintains websites for numerous Startups and SMEs in the Stroud and Bristol areas.