In September 2020 Peak District SEO founder Phil Gregory was a featured guest on the Creative Cuppa Podcast.
Creative Cuppa is a podcast set up and run by Gareth Davies. The podcast speaks to all manner of creatives throughout the UK, commenting on what drives them forward and picking out some of the highlights of their career.
After the whole Covid19 Crisis, Phil said he felt particularly pleased to have a little more exposure online. Despite being busy and managing to keep working throughout the crisis. A little bit of extra and longlasting publicity always helps.
Creative Cuppa – Episode 25 – Phil Gregory SEO
Gareth Davies: When I visited your website, peakdistrictseo.co.uk, it looks really lovely, really inviting. That’s what SEO is about as well, being really visible as a website. Could you explain to those of us who see it as a mystical art, what SEO really is?
Phil Gregory: Well, I will try to do it in a nutshell.
In a nutshell, SEO is optimising websites, for search ie Google. You know, there are many ways to get your website found. You could pay for Google ads and drive traffic directly to your website, or you could run some ads on Social media or be very present on Social Media and hope people find your website from that.
What I focus on is Organic Search, and that just means natural search. So people come to Google or their search engine of choice, and they type in a query for the thing that they are looking for. So it might be GARDEN DESIGNER, MACCLESFIELD and if you are a Garden Designer in Macclesfield, you will want your website to come up in the first page of results, but then so do all the other local Garden designers too.
GD: So, I suppose in that instance, it would be brilliant if you called your company MACCLESFIELD GARDEN DESIGN LTD?
PG: That’s a really good point actually, a few years ago, that was the perfect way to get your website found, but Google kinda cottoned on to that. Because what was happening was Entrepreneurs who had a little bit of money to buy, were buying up all the domains for every niche, such as GARDEN GARDEN DESIGN MACCLESFIELD, Buxton, Manchester, Stockport..even though they weren’t based in those areas, and Google saw that as being unfair, so they have curtailed the benefits of doing that now.
GD: Ah, that’s interesting, so, SEO making your website visible…
On the website you say, “Not only will we fix your broken sites but we will also help you to develop content”, which I guess is what I’m most interested in today. Placing ads and scale your online visibility.
Creating content is the most relevant to the creative side I guess, creating things.
How do you go about developing content? I suppose it differs from client to client, does it?
PG: Yeah, of course, it does. It really depends on the clients budget as to what is actually possible. Let’s take for instance a startup company, who haven’t been going long, and they want to get a web presence, so developing content for them is relatively simple, because they don’t have a huge budget.
Either we go and we take photographs to illustrate what it is they do, their staff, their people, their process. I’m a certified copyrighter, even though I don’t push that side of myself too much; and we marry the two together. So we wax lyrical about the business and we try to illustrate it with good photos and content, video and maybe some Social media gimmicks.
For a company who has more budget, obviously, the world is your oyster. So I then tend to hire in other professionals. So, I might hire somebody like EatSleepthink to come and do the Graphic Design or Logos, or I might hire a copywriter or a videographer to actually fulfil the needs of the client and promote their eCommerce business.
So that’s what creating content means, (is about) it’s filling the gap to match the search query of my client’s users if that makes sense?
GD: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. I don’t think it can be downplayed about how much time that actually takes for people who think, Oh I could just do that on my own, its only a few posts. You know the consistency required and the creativity required to try and engage the audience, it takes a long time that, doesn’t it? Even just lining up posts, scheduling posts to go out, that takes a long time as well.
PG: Yeah, I think you are right, I try to always have a very candid conversation with my clients, about being realistic.
It’s all about budget, the more budget you have the faster the juggernaut will roll. If you’re in a startup then you have to be realistic and appreciate that getting going could take up to a year before the leads and traffic starts to roll in. Simply because you have no presence, you are competing against more established competitors.
I always say let’s park our EGOs, that’s really key to success on the web, business owners, SEO guys like myself and web developers, that’s 3 big egos, floating around, and sometimes bumping into each other and clashing.
For us to get success, we really have to park our egos at the door and follow the money. What I mean by that is, making sure we do proper research, it’s not about what YOU think your customers want. Look at the data. What are my customers searching for? Who are my exact competitors, and how are they be beating me? That data will allow you to market directly to your audience.
GD: There are some honest truths in there aren’t there?
PG: There are. Very often business owners think, “I KNOW my customers search for this phrase”, but when you check the data and look back you were completely, way off the mark, and so many business owners are shocked when they see that.
GD: So do you have to have some really difficult conversations, with business owners? Do you have to say, your products aren’t working, or your audience arent looking for this type of product?
PG: On occasion, but I just tell them to promote the things that work, the things that actually have a margin for you, is easy to get excited about a niche product, but we have to be grownups and ignore that and follow the money. That will then give you the revenue buffer to promote the things that you’re really interested in.
I try to come across to the client and say, not only do we have to park our egos, we have to be consistent, as you said. Scheduling posts, scheduling content. I try to get them to build in a calendar, and if they don’t do it, I will do it for them, I do have templates. That will allow then to set a reasonable and realistic limit to the content I create every month. I say, “how much time can you or your team devote to this’? There’s no point saying we are going to a blog every week if they cannot do it…. it just becomes uncomfortable for everyone and then the client becomes unhappy and we don’t want that…
So, I use a calendar to plan the content so we know, based on historical keyword searches… let’s say you are the garden designer, I will look at the trend of searches around garden design across the previous year, so we know when the peaks and throughs are we hen look at the search terms, what are people searching for in August around garden design, and then we have ideas that we can write about and provide content so that YOU are relevant to your customers search terms.
GD: It is dark art isn’t it? It’s amazing if you know how.
PG: This is the thing, unfortunately, SEOs or SEO has this bad image…and I think it’s just because it takes a long time to learn everything….. it’s not terribly difficult, anybody could get quite good at it within a couple of years, but there’s a lot to learn.
GD: As you say, people are slightly afraid of things they don’t understand for a start, and the time it takes, I think people have a fear of that when they are trying to do the work. Marketing gets pushed down the list of priorities when it’s not a tangible thing that you have made or done. So it’s easy to push it away a little bit, but it’s very, very important.
PG: I would agree with that, and that’s why measurement is key. A lot of clients I speak to, how are you tracking your visitors, yours, sales, your enquiries..and they often say…I’m not.
So I’m like how do you know if you’re improving? So I try to help them with that
GD: One thing that’s stopped me in the first place, I have now had a little bit of an SEO audit with a local company, Ditton DGM, shoutout. It was the perceived cost, but on your website, anyone can contact you for an SEO audit cant they? Is it a lot of money to do that?
PG: It’s not a lot of money there are several tiers. You talk about cost, SEO costs vary from the crazily cheap to the excessively expensive. I always try, you know to pitch at a human level. The types of businesses I am trying to reach are small to medium-sized enterprises, and they are run by normal, family people, probably working parents like myself.
So I try to pitch somewhere in the middle, in lime with tradesman’s prices, and I think that’s fair, you know you have to pay a mortgage and keep food on the table. I’m not trying to buy a yacht and sail around the Caribbean.
GD: One day, maybe
GD: Yeah one day…
Speaking more about the SEO audits, if the audit is a referral it’s a quick turnaround, but if someone comes to me directly I have a detailed conversation with them about what they are looking for…If they need a really deep dive…then the SEO audit is a chargeable thing at my hourly rate, but if people just want a quick overview, then I produce a user testing video and a PDF of the errors on the site. So it’s not expensive to do that.
GD: And people can contact you right now through your website on http://peakdistrictseo.co.uk but apart from that where can people find you?
PG: Nowadays the best place to find me is linked in, I have found a new lease of life there….just talking to other business owners. Talking to other business owners about their pain points is absolutely key.
GD: Great, I will put your LinkedIn and your website in the show notes. But for now, Phil Gregory, thanks so much for joining me for a cuppa.
PG: Thanks very much for having me Gareth.
Phil Gregory, Digital Marketing Consultant and founder of Peak District SEO. He helps businesses make more money, using traditional Search engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media, and paid advertising (PPC). Phil loves Real Ale & Fell Running.