SEO – What do I need to know?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. As a short answer, it is the process of optimising your website so that you appear as high as possible in search results. It can also be referred to as a job title for those who work in SEO, as a process, or type of service. As SEO can be referred to as an all encompassing name, has four major categorisations and is styled differently to stand out to customers, let’s first start with the benefits of SEO. When done correctly, SEO:

  • Organically increases the amount of visitors your website receives
  • Help you rank on page 1 of a search result, locally, nationally or worldwide
  • Has the potential to create passive income in the forms of advertising, premium content and E-commerce purchases
  • Reduces the size of your marketing budget in the long run
  • Creates more time for you 
  • Can increase the amount of subscribers (depending on your platform and if combined with email marketing)
  • Give you peace of mind 
So how will SEO be presented to me?

Well, there is no one size fits all answer. There are four categorisations of SEO in terms of what type of SEO you may need, and that can vary from website to website, or the nature of your business. You may come across the following categorisations:

  • On page SEO – this refers to any optimisation that takes place on the live pages of your website that you can see, as well as back end work before a page goes live, or when it is updated. 

  • Off page SEO – this typically involves creating backlinks (a link from one website to another) with the aim of increasing your domain authority. Your domain authority (DA) is a score out of 100 that determines how trustworthy your website is, whether you are the best placed to answer a search result, as well as a few other factors. People advertising these services might refer to themselves as ‘Link builders’ or ‘Backlinks Specialists’. There is a lot that can go wrong in terms of backlinks, especially for companies advertising thousands of backlinks for very cheap. Low domain authority backlinks will do little to increase your domain authority score, and Google may penalise you if you are found to be a part of a PBN (Private blog network). A PBN is a group of websites that’s only reason for existence is to influence the DA of another website. Being found to be in one can lead to your website being excluded from search results. 

  • Technical SEO – This refers to any actions taken to improve or repair a website’s health. Because of how large a task website design is, ensuring a website ranks highly would substantially increase the price of a website. This is where Technical SEO comes in. We would conduct a website audit that looks at any potential issues created as a by product of website design. Important to know! Whilst Technical SEO on its on does not mean you will jump to page one of search results, technical errors can certainly prevent you from doing so if the Google Search Console cannot index your website. Be wary here of SEO ‘Consultants’ who offer to just produce a report for you. If you approach an SEO specialist and their ‘report’ does not contain where an issue is, we would need to conduct our own website audit anyway which can mean additional charges if not included in a retainer. We do include technical SEO in our retainers. 

  • Local SEO – These projects are a lot more straightforward. Local SEO optimises your website so that you will rank more highly in a particular area or locality. This can increase the amount of footfall you receive into your premises and awareness of your business or establishment. Local SEO projects are often described as just that.
SEO traffic - Shaffay

These are the four main categorisations but you will often see them described as different services. Some examples include:

  • National SEO – As a business we offer SEO as a ‘national service’. You can optimise your website for any country around the world that allows your website to be online in that region. This essentially means, we will help your website to rank on page 1 in a particular country, usually the UK but we do have international clients too. We cannot speak for all agencies, but for us we include on and off page SEO, as well as Technical SEO in our national SEO projects and retainers.
  • SEO audit – This is a scan of your website to see what technical errors (so Technical SEO) are present. Be careful to ask if the price includes implementation of the audit as this can lead to extra charges. 
  • Link building – Again, this refers to backlinks. Backlinks are an essential part of SEO, but they are not the only factor that determines how you reach page 1. Link building is often referred to as this because the specialist who performs this has a job title as a ‘link builder’.  
Is SEO right for me? 

Well, the question to ask yourself here is, what would being on page 1 of a search result do for my website? Because this is what should determine if SEO is right for you. If you run a Cafe in a prime location with a large amount of footfall, but you are quite happy with just the one cafe, SEO is probably not worth it. If you want to grow a chain of cafes and want to develop your brand or advertise harder to reach locations, Local SEO is right for you. On the other hand, if you run an E-commerce business or have a service based business, you are likely to have at least thousands if not millions of other websites and businesses competing for this! SEO is not a widely known about service either so this may give you the edge you need. 

Another factor to consider is that SEO is an investment, we have had clients who have seen success stories during a matter of days, others have taken months. On average, an SEO project or retainer lasts 6 – 12 months to spread the cost of what needs to be done across 3-4 categorisations. This also depends on your industry and level of competition, especially against high street brands and major online retailers. A relatively new industry can rank highly the next day if there is little to no competition online. However this may mean that the search volume (amount of customers searching for this) is quite low. In this case, creating a brand campaign on Google analytics with SEO underpinning this may be a more optimal way to create brand awareness.

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What does SEO cost?

Again there is no one size fits all answer to this, but you get what you pay for. There are three main providers that you might wish to consider.

  • Freelancers – potentially anything but lower than $100 per hour on most freelancing sites. Many freelancers charge by the hour – which can be costly if they encounter a new problem for them. 
  • Consultants – Around £300.00 on average for a website audit. 
  • Agencies – Retainers begin on average around £450-£2,000 a month. Projects may be costed at around six months of a retainer as this will be more labour exhaustive.

Bear in mind what stage of their career a freelancer, consultant or agency is at. A freelancer starting out might take longer to develop the expertise needed to identify an issue straight away and so offer a lower price to compensate you for this and get some experience. Consultants should be treated warily depending on what you are planning on doing with their information. If you are looking to implement SEO yourself and just need some directions, this can be a great move. If you are new to SEO, many fall foul of SEO consultants who do not actually do the work. Last of course are agencies. Agencies will charge more, but the outlay they have to work with is significantly higher due to sophisticated software, capacity and then your usual business running costs. Can you do SEO yourself? Absolutely! 


SEO for many can be unattainable, so it may be tempting to attempt this yourself. Some people find SEO very natural to them and can do this very successfully, others however may struggle. SEO requires a vast understanding of how a website works and how solutions may create other problems. This is why SEO strategies are developed. We are currently in the process of building a shop for SEO strategies, courses that talk you through how to do SEO and other areas of digital marketing, alongside guides for this reason. 

It is a service, paid or not, that you need to undertake. SEO’s importance in Digital Marketing underpins every other form of Digital Marketing. Try to think about the interests of companies in promoting their services i.e email marketing, content marketing, Google or Meta ads, website designers. They are all trying to make money, but you are not just paying for their service. You are paying for software and hardware costs, business utilities, whether you work at home or not. The years of experience that might actually free up your time to the point that its value results in you being able to do what you do best, manage your business. 

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If I do choose to work with an SEO, what should I ask them?

Well, if you have read this far then let us start by saying that we cater to clients globally and so we may have the capacity to assist you ourselves. That being said there are some good rules of thumb questions to ask your prospective SEO agency:

What similar businesses or clients have you worked with? SEO can require a large amount of copywriting, optimising text and headers so you need to ensure your SEO agency understands how to communicate what you do, and in your brand’s voice.

What is your proposed timeline? Every good SEO should be generating you sales or leads. SEO is also an always ongoing process as Google and other search engines make updates to the algorithm. However they should be able to advise you on an estimate of when you should be seeing results.

How will you measure our progress? Some common answers to this question will include Google Analytics for attribution, the search console, various SEO software such as SEMRush, Moz, SE Ranking or other such sites. Ensure you know if you have hired an SEO exclusively what their record is in contrast to paid advertising on social media. Of course, you could just hire ourselves to do both and more!

What do you need from me to get started? If you jump the gun before your SEO asks you this, then typically they will need administrative access to your website, Google Analytics, Search Console and business profile. 

If you would like a non obligatory conversation about what SEO can do for your business, feel free to book an appointment with us below or use our contact form.

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