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  • C Phillips
  • February 13, 2015 12:08:09 AM
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A Little About Us

A blog about SEO and social media aimed at small businesses.

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  • Alba SEO Services
  • We offer search engine optimisation services for businesses in the UK. We are an SEO agency Edinburgh, but work with businesses all over the country – not just Edinburgh. If you have a website, search engine optimisation is essential. Optimising your website to make it relevant to search engines like Google and Bing is the first step in growing your business.
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    20 SEO Tips Your Business Can Use Today

      Is your business struggling to get noticed in the search results on Google and Bing? It might be because you have never used SEO techniques or perhaps you have and never got any progress with it. Perhaps you never gave it time or you may have decided to fast track and buy links which... Read more The post 20 SEO Tips Your Business Can Use Today appeared first on Alba SEO...

     

    20 SEO TIPS

    Is your business struggling to get noticed in the search results on Google and Bing? It might be because you have never used SEO techniques or perhaps you have and never got any progress with it. Perhaps you never gave it time or you may have decided to fast track and buy links which has had a detrimental impact due to Google’s spam algorithm recognising them for what they are.

    Search engine optimisation techniques do work and in fact Google even provides good information for businesses to use here. So what can you do to help your website rank a little bit better?

    1. Ensure that if you are a local business you have a Google My Business set up. We’ve provided a lot of information about this in previous posts about GMB.
    2. Make sure that your Meta titles and Meta descriptions are unique on each page and represent what each page is about. You can find helpful information here on Moz.com.
    3. Have great content which really represents your business and what it offers. What do you do, why you do it better than any of your competitors? Don’t keyword stuff- that means don’t repeat the same phrase multiple times as it looks – and is – spammy.
    4. Make sure your contact information is visible and accurate. Does it match what it says on your Google My Business page?
    5. Do you offer goods and services which are related to well being or financial services industries? If so ensure that you write as an expert and don’t copy and paste from other sites. Show that you know what you are talking about.
    6. An About page provides a level of trust to both your customers and search engines. If people stay on your site this is good as a high bounce rate is believed to be a poor quality signal to Google.
    7. Split your services into separate pages if you can. Having one page named “Services” which lists everything you do doesn’t give search engines or users clear evidence of all the individual services that you might offer.
    8. Open a LinkedIn company page and ensure the contact information matches up with your website.
    9. Ask businesses you know whether they can link to you as back links are important for ranking.
    10. Ask your customers to review your business. Google uses reviews in the local search algorithm it is believed. These key findings from a large study on reviews is worth reading. In summary people use reviews to make decisions to buy from your business.  Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business. 
    11. Respond to your reviews – good or bad. People read responses and they act as another signal of trust to your customers that you care what people think.
    12. Add your business to local directories such as Yelp, Yell, and Freeindex as these provide a way for Google and Bing to verify your business.
    13. Use social media – at least one channel shows your customers that you are vibrant and still in business too.
    14. Make sure your website is on HTTPS (secure). This is used as a ranking signal. Most new websites will be secure but I have seen some old ones still on insecure HTTP.
    15. Make sure that your website is fast on mobile. Google ranks websites based on crawling the mobile version of the website. Since speed is a ranking factor, a slow mobile site will reduce your chances of ranking well for both mobile and desktop versions of your website.
    16. Hosting is important. This relates to speed as well as good service with backups and assistance when there is a problem. If you buy a cheap hosting package your website could be on a server which has literally hundreds of sites vying for the same resource. You may require backups if things go wrong and it is important that you have some sort of backup regime in place.
    17. If you are using WordPress as a website builder (CMS) then it is very important that updates to the theme, plugins and WordPress are undertaken in a timely fashion. Updates can improve speed, performance and security. So it is vitally important that you update. And if the updates go wrong, you may need a backup version of your website (see 16).
    18. Use structured data in your website to help Google and Bing really understand what it is you sell or provide. Without going into too much detail, this is usually something which your SEO consultant can help with. This guide can help you get to grips with it.
    19. Don’t worry if you drop one or two places after a ranking algorithm update. There are millions of “baby algorithms” that go into an overall ranking score and some of these baby algorithms may update at any time giving a slightly different score.
    20. If all this seems overwhelming- call a good SEO consultant!

    The post 20 SEO Tips Your Business Can Use Today appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    Get Started with Google My Business For Beginners!

    Google My Business (GMB) began life in 2014 and has become increasingly important to both business owners and consumers. The Map which pops up after you’ve typed in a local search, works as a point of engagement and a vehicle for transactions between businesses and their local customers. GMB is particularly useful for reaching a... Read more The post Get Started with Google My Business For Beginners! appeared first on Alba SEO...

    beginners guide Google My Business

    Google My Business (GMB) began life in 2014 and has become increasingly important to both business owners and consumers. The Map which pops up after you’ve typed in a local search, works as a point of engagement and a vehicle for transactions between businesses and their local customers. GMB is particularly useful for reaching a local audience looking for services and products near to their place of work or home,

    Despite this, many businesses are still not using GMB or not using it to its full potential.  In fact nearly 40% of SME’s still do not have a GMB profile and of those that do, a fraction are using it to its full capability. In this blog, we explore 10 ways you can make the most of Google My Business, and become a household name in your local area!  Let’s dive in…

    1. Claim your listing!

    Sound obvious, but the first step to local success is to claim your GMB listing for your business. To get listed, sign in or register at www.google.com/business/. From here you can either claim a business in a category similar to yours, or us the ‘add your business’ function. Google will need to verify your business by sending you a verification code by post (mostly), from which point you can start managing your GMB account and really getting the most out of it.

    1. Complete as much as possible

    Make sure all the information you add to your listing is accurate and up to date. This includes your business name, address, hours of operation, business category and product/services information. Make sure the telephone number you display is correct and is preferably a local number. Choose the categories that best describe your business. Try to be as specific as possible – there are usually a few variations on and generic descriptions such as grocer, law firm, accountant are less likely to capture local traffic. Choosing too many categories can also be problematic and in some cases can stop your listing from showing completely. Google is continually updating the categories so be sure to check back over time and see if another category is more suitable.

    1. Become a local favourite

    Google have recently announced that they will award the top 5% of local business a ‘Local Favourite’ badge. Having this accolade will help maximize visibility for your business across Google platforms. To qualify, Google is favouring business that are best at optimising their GMB profile by keeping their information accurate and up to date and using all of its functionalities.

    1. Make use of Google posts

    Google posts are a neat function that sit at the bottom of your GMB profile, Using posts, you can add something new or interesting about your business, such as special offers or new products and services you have launched. Google will let you know when the post expires and how many people have looked at it so you can see what information works and what doesn’t. By keeping posts regularly up to date, you are not only letting your customers know what you are up to, it will help keep you visible when someone searches locally for you. There’s anecdotal evidence that they might also help with local ranking.

    1. Make full use of every character

    Make sure you use every character available to you. Remember, every sentence, word, character tells the buyer more about you. More complete descriptions will also improve your search ranking in Google. Just as you’re able to better communicate who you are to customers, you’re able to tell Google the same information and they will rank you for more search queries.

    1. Get reviews

    Another big ranking factor is to encourage customers to leave positive reviews on your GMB listing. Your star rating is also displayed on the map to searches so a high rating can also improve your click through rate. You should also ensure that you reply to all your reviews in Google to ensure that your customers know that you care.

    1. Get your shortened review link

    Google gives you the chance to create a memorable shortened review link that you can send to your customers to get reviews. This kind of shows how important Google thinks reviews are so use the link to get some good ones!

    1. Add your products to GMB

    You can add product pictures and descriptions to your GMB profile. These also show up on the panel page of Google Maps, making your business more visible. Update this information as regularly as possible to maintain your search status and get ahead of your competitors.

    1. Pictures paint a thousand words

    Business with photos receive 35% more clicks through to their website than businesses that don’t. Google wants you to add images to your GMB profile and will tell you how your images are performing compared to the competition. A recent study showed that businesses with more photos get more clicks, direction requests and views on Maps and search.

    1. Check out what’s new

    Google are always adding new features and functionality to their GMB platform as it grows in status. Be sure to go back into your dashboard regularly and see if there are any new features. Make sure you use these as soon as they come online to maximise your returns!

    Final thoughts

    Google my Business is a fantastic tool to help you become visible in your local area and stay one step ahead of the competition. The secret to using it successfully is to keep your profile accurate and up to date and use every service and function that is provided for you. Good luck!

    The post Get Started with Google My Business For Beginners! appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    Why Trust Is So Important For Google Ranking

    Were you hit by the recent June 2019 Google core ranking update? I hope not.  Some of the big news agencies suffered with this update like the Dailymail.co.uk who lost 50% of their traffic overnight . This is catastrophic for some businesses and there have been lots of complaints suggesting that Google should give a... Read more The post Why Trust Is So Important For Google Ranking appeared first on Alba SEO...

    Trust signals and Google Ranking

    Were you hit by the recent June 2019 Google core ranking update? I hope not.  Some of the big news agencies suffered with this update like the Dailymail.co.uk who lost 50% of their traffic overnight . This is catastrophic for some businesses and there have been lots of complaints suggesting that Google should give a warning when a core update is to happen. Fortunately last week Google announced that they would pre-warn about future core updates.  But what can you do to prevent your website becoming the latest victim? Google doesn’t give away much information that enables a quick fix if you have been hit but it is clear from the messages coming out from Google web HQ that there are a few things to watch out for.

    John Mueller from Google has recently talked about a few things that might be important for trust (remember Google doesn’t give many specifics). Here’s what he said recently about why Google may not trust a website:

    the layout looks outdated or the authors are people that nobody knows or you have stock photo images of instead of author photos

    So Google is looking for some sort of author authenticity. And this ties in with the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that was released and then updated in 2018 to consider other trust signals like authorship in addition to the website itself. These signals are part of the much lauded and mystical  E-A-T  factors.

    Which trust factors are important for ranking in Google?

    So what factors are important? Google has put together a document to help but here are a few things that you should be aware of and which Google considers important in website content:

    • Does it have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
    • Would you give your credit card details to this website?
    • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well?
    • Are there lots of similar pages on the web saying the same thing?

    These relate to actual website content, but what else aside from content is deemed important as a trust signal in a website?

    1. Having Terms and Conditions and a Privacy Policy, (and a returns and refunds page if you are an e-commerce site)
    2. Clear and legitimate contact details
    3. Website forms which have fully functional Captcha
    4. An About page with real photos of the team
    5. The website looks like it has been updated since 2015
    6. The website is secure under HTTPS protocol
    7. Website links which aren’t broken
    8. An easy to use navigation
    9. A way to get back to the home page easily
    10. Links to social media platforms

    These are just some trust factors to consider. During out SEO audit we cover all of these and more to ensure that your website fully complies with what Google is expecting to see via trust signals. Get in touch if you want to know more.

    The post Why Trust Is So Important For Google Ranking appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    Local SEO – The Basics to Get You Started

    Are you struggling to get found on Google? Are you pulling your hair out wondering why your website is ranking in the depths of page 10 – or not even there at all? Don’t worry. Here are some things to do to help your website get found. Let’s get started with local SEO! 1.What’s it... Read more The post Local SEO – The Basics to Get You Started appeared first on Alba SEO...

    Local SEO

    Are you struggling to get found on Google? Are you pulling your hair out wondering why your website is ranking in the depths of page 10 – or not even there at all? Don’t worry. Here are some things to do to help your website get found.

    Let’s get started with local SEO!

    1.What’s it all about?

    First things first. Your website’s home page is going to be the most likely first page that Google will index and potentially show in the search results (indexing just means that Google has found it and added it to its big database). So your home page has to have some content on it that will actually tell the search engines what it is you sell or do. It needs to have the search terms that somebody might search for – so called keywords. Google is actually quite sophisticated now and is using AI to determine what words mean and how they relate to each other and what is actually a searchers intent. So in the old days, people shoved loads of keywords into a page and it worked to get the page ranking for that term. It doesn’t work like that now. In fact, doing that will make your website spammy and it probably won’t rank.

    So now that you know what you have to say on your home page content, the next thing is to make sure your Meta tags are providing the right signals too.

    2. Meta tags are essential.

    Most Content Management Systems (CMS) will offer some way to update these important tags. So whether it is WordPress, Weebly, Wix or Squarespace etc., you will be able to update these important areas. The worst mistake it to leave them blank or with the word “Home” in it. That will tell Google nothing about your home page.

    Your Title tag should be between 50-60 characters and should explain what your website sells or does. This resource  has a lot of information about Meta Title tags.

    Similarly, Meta descriptions should be crafted well. These aren’t used for ranking but they are important in getting people to click through to your website from the search results. Again, this resource explains it well.

     

    3. Get it verified with Google

    Add your website to Google Webmaster tools.  This will help speed up Google indexing your website and can alert you to any problems it finds. Open an account with your email address.

    local SEO basics

     

    Google provides a number of ways to verify that you actually own your website.

    local SEO verify with Google

     

    Once you have verified your website, you can relax as now Google knows about your website. However, it is a good idea to submit a sitemap so Google can find your most important pages. It’s also helpful to “inspect” one of your URLS to see if Google knows about it. Sounds complicated but it isn’t and you can’t do much wrong at this level.

    4. Google My Business page.

    This one is essential. Have you opened one? It is vitally important that you do so for local SEO. It will enable your business to feature on Google Maps. It’s easy to complete. Make sure you fill it all out as much as possible.

    Google my Business page local SEO

    5. Get Listing!

    For local SEO, adding your website to the main directories such as Yelp, Yell, Thomson Local, Freeindex is very important. There are plenty more directories but by adding your website to the main ones you are providing Google with a way to check your authenticity. It’s also a good idea to open up some social profiles for your business too. Don’t forget to add your website link to these!

     

    6. Increase your local presence

    Get other businesses to link to you in order to get your presence known locally and to provide a back link to your website. If you are in a business network group, ask to get your website onto their main network hub. Ask other local businesses if they can add your website link. Do you sponsor anything locally? Like a football team or rugby team? Ask them to add you to their website as a favour.

    These will all help your website stand a better chance of getting found locally. As an SEO agency we specialise in local SEO and there are lots of tweaks that you can do to feature higher. But these pointers above will definitely help you get on track. Good luck!

    The post Local SEO – The Basics to Get You Started appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    SME Digital Marketing Trends in the UK in 2019

    A survey by Alba SEO We wanted to find out more about what SME’s thought of digital marketing (not just SEO) and so we launched a survey to find out. We posted the survey in a range of platforms where we thought we’d get the best response. This included LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and by using... Read more The post SME Digital Marketing Trends in the UK in 2019 appeared first on Alba SEO...

    SME Digital Marketing Trends in the UK

    A survey by Alba SEO

    We wanted to find out more about what SME’s thought of digital marketing (not just SEO) and so we launched a survey to find out. We posted the survey in a range of platforms where we thought we’d get the best response. This included LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and by using our network of fellow business professionals. None of our clients were used in this survey for obvious reasons. We got a good response to the survey and so we thank everyone who completed this for us. You can read the results below.

     

    1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    1.1 Introduction

    Back in November 2018, we asked over 20 UK based SMEs how they approached their digital marketing. We were particularly interested in comparing the effectiveness of digital marketing and traditional offline methods, as well as discovering the kind of returns smaller businesses are getting and if their investment was worth the spend.

    We also wanted to explore the digital marketing tools and approaches smaller businesses were using and which of these had the greatest impact. We asked business what they believed were the advantages of promoting their business online, as well as the potential drawbacks.

    1.2 Key findings

    • SMEs prefer online: nearly 80% of SMEs are doing all their marketing online with only 14% using offline methods. 10% did a bit of both. 71% of business owners we asked said that online marketing was essential to the success of their business. Only 19% didn’t believe it was
    • Better ROI is the main draw: Our survey suggests smaller businesses are using digital marketing because they get a good return on their investment (over 70% agree with this). As a proportion of total annual revenue, just over a quarter of  SMEs (28%) said online marketing contributed between 30% and 50% of their annual income, while 10% said it contributed up to 100%. The average spend on marketing ranged from £500-£5000 a year for smaller businesses, with the vast majority spent on online methods;
    • Social media is king: The most popular online marketing method for smaller businesses is social media, with over 80% of respondents using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to market their businesses. SEO is also increasingly popular, with 60% using optimisation methods, followed by Content Marketing (52%), E-mail Marketing (47%), Social Media Advertising (42%) Search Engine Marketing (33%);
    • SEO gets results: SEO produced the best results according to a third of small businesses, followed by Social Media Marketing (19%) and Content/In-bound Marketing. The least effective forms of digital marketing are Search Engine Marketing which includes Pay-Per-Click and Google Adwords, Social Media Advertising and E-mail marketing;
    • DIY all the way: 62% of SMEs do their own digital marketing with only 14% outsourcing it. 24% did a bit of both;
    • Digital marketing is cost effective:  When compared to traditional marketing, nearly 50% of SME’s chose digital marketing because it is less expensive. 38% said they saw quicker results and 38% said they were able to be more targeted. 33% said they felt they had more control over their marketing and 19% said it was easier to measure success;
    • Time factor is a challenge: Some companies found Digital Marketing challenging. 48% said they felt it was too time consuming. 20% said they struggled to keep up with the speed of technological change and the myriad of tools required to do digital marketing effectively and measure success. 14% were not sure if it was actually helping the business. Digital Marketing Jargon and the security risk were other factors and a small minority (5%) felt it was too extensive.

    1.3 Conclusions

    The proliferation of online channels to market has opened up a host of opportunities for smaller businesses. Digital marketing has not only made ‘marketing’ more affordable, it is delivering a more substantial return on investment, as well as opening up new international markets that were once out of reach.

    Of course this isn’t unique to small companies. The digital marketing space has grown exponentially for businesses and organisations of all sizes, as consumers and stakeholders continue to seek information, products and services online. However, the online effect has been particularly beneficial to SMEs, because it has enabled smaller businesses to compete with larger competitors on a relatively level playing field.

    Social media has become the king of internet marketing – it is cheap, relatively easy to pick up and opens up a unique two way channel of communication between supplier and consumer. However, according to the businesses we asked, when it comes to getting the best bang for your buck, SEO delivers. Though trickier to master, SEO is a must have in the marketing tool box for businesses wishing to improve their online visibility and boost their search ranking. Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but does require a degree of long term maintenance.

    The beauty of digital marketing for many smaller companies is you can do the basics yourself, not only the activities, but also setting your own Key Performance Indicators and measuring  success – this level of control and self-determination is a real draw for businesses of all sizes and this sentiment is clearly reflected by the people who took our survey.

    However, our research also revealed some obvious drawbacks. Some of our respondents were worried about the time commitment required. The internet’s insatiable appetite for new content puts a time burden on many smaller companies who do not have the time resource. The sophistication of the digital marketing toolbox and the speed at which these techniques and tools are evolving, is also a concern for SME’s who struggle to keep up with the pace of change.

    Despite these difficulties, in 2019 we will see digital marketing continue to grow. Mobile will take centre stage as the preferred channel to market for many consumer facing businesses, and we will no doubt see leading social media channels offer a more sophisticated marketing toolbox for the promotion of products and services through their channels. For smaller businesses, automation will help negate the time resource issue, with a host of new tools and widgets to help managers deliver sophisticated campaigns while keeping their marketing channels filled with regular, engaging content.

    2. KEY FINDINGS

    1. What does your business do?

    SME’s from a variety of sectors took our survey. These included:

    • Software development
    • Publishing
    • Marketing
    • Furniture manufacturers
    • Design studios
    • Management Consultancies
    • Property Management
    • Travel & Tourism

    2. Do you sell products/services through your website?

    • Yes (47%)
    • No (42%)
    • Other (10%)

    3. Do you do most of your marketing online or offline?

    • Online (76%)
    • Offline (14%)
    • Both equally (10%)

    4. If you do online marketing, what activities do you focus on?

    • Search Engine Optimisation (62%)
    • Search Engine Marketing (33%)
    • Social Media Marketing (81%)
    • Social Media Advertising (42%)
    • Content/In-bound marketing (53%)
    • E-mail Marketing (48%)

    5. What forms of online marketing has been most successful?

    • Search Engine Optimisation (33%)
    • Search Engine Marketing (5%)
    • Social Media Marketing (19%)
    • Social Media Advertising (5%)
    • Content/In-bound marketing (19%)
    • E-mail Marketing (10%)

    6. How much do you spend a year on marketing as a whole?

    • 500-1000 (38%)
    • 1000-5000 (38%)
    • 5000-10000 (5%)
    • More than 10K (14%)

    7. How much do you spend a year on digital marketing?

    • Less than 500 (24%)
    • 500-1000 (33%)
    • 1000-5000 (33%)
    • 5000-10000 (5%)
    • More than 10K (5%)

    8. Do you do your own online marketing or do you do it yourself?

    • We do it ourselves (62%)
    • We outsource it (14%)
    • A bit of both (23.81%)

    9. Is online marketing essential for the success of your business?

    • Yes (71%)
    • No (19%)
    • Other (10%)

    10. Are you seeing a good return on your investment from your online marketing?

    • Yes (71%)
    • No (24%)
    • Other (5%)

    11. As a proportion of your total annual revenue, how much does online marketing contribute?

    • Less than 5%
    • 5-10%
    • 10-20%
    • 20-30%
    • 30-40%
    • 40-50%
    • 50-60%
    • 60-70%
    • 70-80%
    • 80-90%
    • 90-100%

    12. What do you find most challenging about online marketing?

    • It’s too expensive (5%)
    • I don’t have time to do it properly (48%)
    • Too much jargon (5%)
    • It’s too complex (14%)
    • I can’t tell if its helping my business (14%)
    • The technology is moving too fast (19%)
    • Too much of a security risk (10%)
    • Other (19%)

    13. What are the main benefits of online marketing?

    • It’s less expensive than traditional marketing (47%)
    • It’s less time consuming (14%)
    • It gives me more control (33%)
    • I get results quicker (38%)
    • I can be more targeted with my marketing messages (38%)
    • It’s easier to measure success (19%)
    • Other (5%)

    The post SME Digital Marketing Trends in the UK in 2019 appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    What is an SEO Campaign?

      Leading on from my previous blog post about “Why your website needs an SEO Audit”, I wanted to discuss the SEO campaign part of ranking.  To rank successfully your website needs to be relevant and also authoritative. That’s what will separate good websites from not so good ones. What does being authoritative mean? To... Read more The post What is an SEO Campaign? appeared first on Alba SEO...

     

    What is an SEO Campaign?

    Leading on from my previous blog post about “Why your website needs an SEO Audit”, I wanted to discuss the SEO campaign part of ranking.  To rank successfully your website needs to be relevant and also authoritative. That’s what will separate good websites from not so good ones.

    What does being authoritative mean?

    To be authoritative, your website needs to be considered worthy to have web links pointed at it (backlinks). For example, if the BBC thought that my website was relevant to a story they were running (I wish!) then they might link to my website. Voila! You have a great backlink. And because it comes from a very well trusted site – the BBC- then this backlink infers trust and authority and Google will add this inference into its consideration of where my website should rank.

    So backlinks are important then?

    Yes backlinks are considered to be one of the primary ranking signals. There is believed to be over 200 ranking signals but links are number one. Google has loads of patents about links so we know that they are important. And a website can rank quite rapidly by the accumulation of links if the website itself is of good quality.

    Great let’s speed this up and buy links then!

    In the olden days of SEO this was a tactic which worked. Buying hundreds of links would have a positive effect on a website ranking. But not anymore. Buying links is against Google guidelines. Furthermore, the rate at which a website accrues links is a signal to Google about the spammyness of the links. Naturally a website would get links one or two at a time perhaps unless it ran an advertising campaign and the brand went viral. So buying a bulk load of links is not going to work and will only damage your website’s reputation.

    So what makes an SEO campaign then?

    Primarily it is a campaign to build links to a website since we know these are important. This happens after an SEO audit. These links can come from places like directories, local business sites, sponsorships, accredited bodies etc. But we also know that other things are important too like new content such as blogs. Great blogs can be syndicated this and can in turn earn links.  All this takes time and that is why an SEO campaign should be run for at least 6-12 months to see real benefit.

    If you have any questions about SEO campaigns or SEO in general, get in touch and we would be happy to help.

    The post What is an SEO Campaign? appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


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