Search engine optimisation (SEO) is rapidly becoming main-stream as more marketing managers recognise the value of reaching an audience that is actively seeking their product or service. Not only do search engines deliver high value, engaged leads, but around 1/3 of search engine users believe that companies which rank highly are more credible than those which don’t.

Our experience has been that many organisations leave SEO activities to someone in the IT group who has an “interest” in SEO and more often than not have skilled themselves up through public forums, blogs or articles that appear online. There are indeed many credible and excellent forums, websites and blogs on SEO, but there are just as many which at times include blatantly wrong or misleading advice with no liability taken for the effect it can have on search engine rankings. Often advice that seems too good to be true is just that, and can include “black hat” or deceptive search engine practices.

While some bad advice may have no effect and prove a waste of time, often you run the risk of having rankings penalised by the search engines for spammy or deceptive practices. Not all SEO advice content is born equal and judging what to trust and what not to can make the difference. If your website is a critical channel to market for your business, getting this right is vital because a mistake can cost not just your rankings but also your reputation and lost revenues.

The current Australian market is short on skills and formal education in SEO. A large organisation may hire a self taught SEO and have little idea whether their tactics and approach will work, or are even ethical. In the meanwhile, ignorance is of little consequence as your website disappears out the index. In some cases techniques that worked on smaller, simple websites are not scalable for large dynamic database driven websites. A further issue is that many standard practices in IT may have negative impacts for search engine ranking purposes.

So if you have worked out that SEO cannot be ignored, you will also appreciate the need for the right skills and education. Services and training are fast becoming critically important to build in-house SEO skills and strategies in Australia’s larger organisations. In addition management need to have search engine marketing on their agenda and prioritise and support the process throughout the organisation.

SEO also affects a number of departments within an organisation, including in most cases marketing, sales, IT and operations. Getting the right and relevant knowledge to the relevant people in each area is key. Building standards which will help, not harm search engine optimisation efforts and gaining clear management understanding and support as well as the relevant performance measures in place are critical.

Finding credible training that is firstly able to support all of these initiatives, secondly goes into sufficient depth, thirdly, provides a methodology and clear ethical guidelines to avoid penalisation of search engine rankings and finally is supported by a powerful toolset is key. When considered against the cost of a monthly ad-words campaign, the return on investment of a successful SEO campaign is far superior.

Keep an eye out for our next article on considerations when selecting SEO training.