Sam Sayer is joined by Chris Anderson from Springhill Marketing to give an overview of SEO – what is it, what does it consist of, and how to get started.


0:02 – How do we explain SEO without being overwhelming?

2:27 – The full breadth of what’s included within SEO.

5:00 On-Site SEO vs. Off-Site SEO.

7:18 The technical side of the campaign.

8:47 The most important part of SEO is content.

12:30 What is SEO migration? How does it work?

14:31 The most important part of SEO is backlinks.

16:42 Why SEO agencies need to be careful not to try to trick the system.

18:48 The importance of creating evergreen content that is relevant in the future.

21:01 Where do you start with SEO strategy?


Sam Sayer 0:00
Cool. how you doing Chris?

Chris Anderson 0:05
Really good. How are you, pal?

Sam Sayer 0:20
Alright, thanks. All good. All good. So yeah, let’s, let’s see where these take us, I’ve been keen to do some videos for a while. And always feel it’s a bit better just to talk about subjects that we often get asked about and actually go into a little bit more depth into it just to really explain things. So as we are web designers, web developers, we always get asked all the time. “Okay, so the SEO is included. Right?” And it’s like, well, no, kind of is – we do some bits. And I think, you know, it’s, it’s very difficult to really explain the full spectrum of what SEO is, it’s an enormous space, right. So as our SEO partner, Chris, you know, we’ve had loads of conversations about this. And it really is kind of right, how do we, how do we explain it? How do we get people to understand it without being overwhelming, or, you know, people want results for things, right. And they don’t know all the ins and outs.

But this is what brought us round to – well, I was pushing for it! We made a lot of tweaks. So thanks for bearing with me, Chris. But we put together this graphic just to kind of explain a little bit. Let’s get this up on screen, Chris, and we can just talk around it. Yeah. Okay. So, I mean, this is really interesting for me as well to sort of figure out okay, which bits do we actually do – this kind of a bit across over here. But then really, I’ve highlighted the bits we do it just in orange. And as you can see, it’s just a very small part of it. But it’s not just the on site stuff, we look at Sitemaps speed optimisation. Speed is the name of the game these days, efficient coding, generating landing pages, lead generation blogs and guides. But, you know, as you could probably explain next, none of that really is not relevant. But you’ve got to start from somewhere, right?

Chris Anderson 2:27
Yeah, absolutely. It’s, it’s a difficult question to ask because it’s even more difficult to answer. The full breadth of what’s included within SEO is astonishing. And I’ve been in the game for a good a good amount of time, possibly 18 plus years, I think. And every single day, we’re still learning. And we’re adding more and more into our mix of what we do as SEOs within within our company. It’s never going to stop, it just goes on and on and on. And again, what we need to do as SEOs changes constantly to however, there’s, there’s a broad amount of actions that we do on a regular basis, which we can kind of boil down and explain today.

Sam Sayer 3:21
So just before we get stuck into it. I just want to say as well, as you know, we looked at you know, long years ago, as well. And things were a bit simpler. There’s always a lot to do. I actually went on a course with one of my clients (big up yourself, Dave). We both left like wow, like, yeah, no way, like, allow, it was just too… there’s so much to do, and we want to focus on what we’re experts in, and then work with experts in the SEO side of things.

Chris Anderson 3:47
Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s a that’s a big subject, honestly, and I say it all the time to our, to our clients. We are SEO specialists, we’ve got a team of people who are dedicated to doing SEO day in and day out. So when people do try to bolt it on, and say that they’re offering the full service of SEO. That’s a real challenge, because it takes it takes so much work in so many different areas of SEO. Sometimes clients think that they’re getting a full SEO service, whereas in reality, they do need to work with specialists to be able to get well. Truly done.

Sam Sayer 4:32
I mean, we often say ‘Yeah, that goes to our SEO guy’. So how many people in your team Chris, 15? Yeah. All specialists in different areas, right?

Chris Anderson 4:41
Yeah, they’re all will do their separate part. And you know, we’ve got a few people doing each part of it. You don’t need a team of 15. But definitely, you need a good four or five people within a good SEO team to provide the very best result. So that’s for sure. So, really, we we split SEO into two main sections: on-site SEO and off-site SEO.

On-site SEO is obviously everything that’s happening on the website, which affects your SEO results. And off-site SEO is everything that’s happening away from your website that affects your SEO results. You can see within this diagram that we kind of have, we have content separate, and we have strategy separate and results separate, which makes sense in terms of of a diagram like this, but truly, in terms of things that we’re going to do action wise, we have on site and off site.

Now. Everything that you have highlighted there in the darker orange, which obviously you guys do incredibly well, that affects the SEO side of things as well. And we we happen to work very closely together with lots of our clients. And all of these parts are absolutely essential that the most important thing I’d say, when we’re talking about on site SEO is content. So you can kind of split on site seo into into two halves. The first half is the technical side of things. And the second half is the content side of things. When it comes to the technical side of things, we’re talking about tweaking the parts that are already there, really, and making sure that what the website is doing and what the website is saying, or signalling to you all matches up with the what the website is trying to get found for. So we’re not talking about fixing any issues technically… (excuse me my phone’s going off!). I’m not talking about fixing any issues, that it’s about tweaking things to make sure that it supports what we’re trying to get found for.

Sam Sayer 6:50
Do you know what? This was something really interesting when we started working together about four years ago now I think it was, you know, you can’t be all things to all people, you know, what’s your strategy? What are your pillars? And I was like, I’ve built this content is like, well, some it can be tweaked some of its kind of not relevant to our strategy. And that sort of was the game changer to me in terms of right, well, what is your focus? What are the sectors and the services you’re really pushing? And that makes so much more sense to me?

Chris Anderson 7:21
So honestly, we could talk for hours and hours and hours about there. We’ve got to be a little bit careful. I want to do that. But on the technical side of things, there’s a lot that’s involved, but that they might cover things like XML sitemaps, and robots.txt files and things like that. All the types of things that you already set up for your clients and most web design companies will do. When we come in, we go in, and we were tweaking what’s on there, or we’re deciding, okay, this is relevant for this campaign, because we’ve done this strategy, this might not be relevant. And because of how we want to approach and get these results for the clients, then we’re making decisions along the way. And none of that can happen without having that strategy in place.

So that’s where we come in. And depending on the website that’s already been produced, we are making tweaks and making decisions along the way to get the results that we need. And then there’s things along the journey as well. So obviously, you will be producing websites for your clients, producing landing pages, thank you pages and things like that. Well, then we come along, and it’s about considering which pages are appropriate for the strategy in the campaign, which ones we want to show on Google, which ones don’t, which pages would be associated to one another. And when we start to make silos and things like that, it’s about structuring that content – linking it together in a particular way. So in broad terms, on site, SEO is about content.

And it’s about some of the technical things that show signals to Google, the most important part of that is the content. Because effectively, Google is a content delivery system. So trying to choose out of the trillion web pages out there, which is the best website for that particular search term. So it’s got quite a hard job Google has, but it’s got an incredibly strong algorithm that helps it make those decisions. Our job as an SEO is to make sure that the content on the website (which is already probably fantastic!), we need to make sure that it’s suited to the searches that are being made specifically.

Sam Sayer 9:45
There’s one there’s one comment on content specifically actually, which is a lot of people say ‘our site’s got too much content’ or ‘there’s too much to read there’. And I’ve always thought that there’s no such thing as too much content – it’s about how you deliver it, making bite size, making it relevant, you know – punchy headlines. Is it an h1, h2, h3? What’s it for? What is it? And what story is it telling. And all of us have always encouraged pushing that, you know, get as much content as you can, we will then design it in such a way that it’s easy to read and digest, but also in a way that Google can consume it too. So you know, it’s making sure it’s suiting your audience, but also Google’s algorithms.

Chris Anderson 10:31
And honestly, that’s a difficult thing from an SEO perspective, because we often see when on a website someone goes – especially for well established websites – at some point, or many points along that the life journey of that business, they decide to have a real culling of their content. And it generally happens when they’re working with a company like yours, and they’re deciding to do a redesign. And they look at all of their content, and they go, ‘Okay, so that’s out of date, that’s not relevant, we’ve got too much of this, let’s remove that, let’s simplify it, let’s make the user journey, a lot easier to kind of go through that journey’.

And that’s all well and good. But some of that content might actually be having an important role within within the search engine optimisation process. So yeah, so we like to be involved with a design or redesign process as early on as possible. So that we can say, ‘Okay, we’ll do an audit of the content, we’ll be able to then tell you how a particular piece of content or how all of the content is working towards the SEO or not’, sometimes, and a lot of the time we do find some content that is not helpful.

If it’s not helping, and actually better for that to be removed from Google. But then we can also say, ‘Look, this is valuable, this page is getting some organic traffic, this page has some backlinks pointing to it, this page is adding some topical relevance’, whatever it might be, we can say, ‘Look, this, this might not be the type of content that you want, at the very top of your homepage, or in your menu system or your blogs. However, it is important to some users and some searches and things like that.’

So we can lower it down the hierarchy and effectively remove it from the view of everybody going through the website. And then still keep it there for the sake of SEO.

Sam Sayer 12:30
Yes, exactly. Yeah, that was really interesting to me, especially when we’re redesigning a site. It’s like, right, let’s make sure there’s redirects in place, you know, that’s really, really important. So you don’t lose any equity in a previous site.

Chris Anderson 12:44
Yeah, that’s a subject on its own. So we should probably talk about this in the future. But what we call SEO migration – so as soon as you have a new website that is getting redesigned, so your website is getting redesigned or moving to a different domain – we have to consider the SEO that was already in place. And make sure that during the transition of a new design or a new domain, we are taking as much of that value as possible. So that when that update goes live, we’re not losing the SEO, we move forward rather than backwards. I think the assumption is generally ‘new is better’. We’ve got a new amazing website looks better, the messaging is better, positioning perfect. But from an SEO perspective, unless that’s considered, there can be losses along the way.

Sam Sayer 13:36
And you know what, this is something I say all the while is you have the best looking site in the world, (which we can create for you, of course!), but unless someone is finding it, it’s a pretty picture, nothing more. So. Yeah, absolutely.

Chris Anderson 13:49
So I think that’s probably summarises what on-site SEO is quite well. Yeah. The other side of it is off-site SEO. So like I said, that’s everything that’s happening away from the website. There’s a lot to off-site SEO, there’s lots of different signals. So I think, I think signals are the best way to explain it. We need to give Google or whichever search engine we’re interested in at that time – we have to give that search engine as many signals and positive information and confirmation that this website is relevant. And all authority on particular keywords particular searches. off site.

SEO is incredibly important for that, the most important part of that is proving authority to Google. And generally that there’s lots of parts of it, but the most important part of that is backlinks. So a lot of people listening to this will understand what a backlink is and some may not. The best way to explain it is any link / hyperlink on the internet that takes you from one page to another. If you’re reading some content that says ‘go and see this website’ and there’s a link and you click it as a link, it goes from one website to another. So we consider that to be a backlink.

Now, the reason that’s so important is because basically, the internet is made up of links, it’s the World Wide Web. And without that web of links going from one web page to another, and actually, Google’s full of links, right? Every time you click on a listing that goes to a website, that’s a link.

Without those links, there’s no web within the worldwide web. And isn’t an incredibly good signal to Google, that people care about that page. People care about that website, and that brand, that mentioning it, that and they’re willing to share some of their traffic, some of their users on that particular page with the page that they’re linking to. So soon as somebody’s willing to do that, it’s a really good sign that that web page is related to this content. And we like that it’s a value to the people, the users, the readers of that page. So basically that’s why it’s important.

Sam Sayer 16:15
Okay, interesting. Yeah. A lot of people know a lot of the buzz words and the phrases, but actually, what is it and what does it do is really important here. I’m sure many business owners will have emails all the while saying, ‘Oh, we can write this. Can you link back to this?’ You know, sometimes they’re good. Sometimes they’re not. And this is why I always check with you guys!

Chris Anderson 16:35
That’s a really good point. Because I think some people try to shortcut this process a lot. And as they learn how SEO works, they kind of think well, okay, so these things are really important. So we’ll just do these things. And the problem is, is that it’s just not as simple as that.

Unfortunately, we wish it was as simple as that, but choosing which website links to you and making sure that they are an authoritative website, and that they are relevant. And those websites that have negative signals, which will harm your SEO, is really important. And for every step that we do within the SEO process, we have lists and lists of things that we need to consider before we take that action.

And I think really, probably the reason we have to do that is because there’s been so many SEOs over the years who have tried to trick the system and look for loopholes, and found a loophole, and was able to get these web pages and these these websites up to the top of Google overnight, through illegitimate actions. And then Google’s found the loophole, and shut the loophole, and suddenly all those websites fall down.

So nowadays, our job as a proper SEO agency isn’t to trick Google. And it isn’t to try and get overnight success that lasts for five days or a week. Our job is to make sure ultimately, that we are producing the best content possible for those particular search terms. And making sure that Google can see all of the signals, and trust our website. And when you do that properly, you end up gaining a huge amount of organic traffic to your website. And you keep that authority forever. It can make a huge impact on on a website on a business.

Sam Sayer 18:48
Yeah, I suppose one thing to put this into perspective, as well as a lot of this is about creating sort of longer term, evergreen stuff in terms of content, I guess. And this is what I’ve really been thinking a lot more in terms of creating content ourselves is, you know, it will it be relevant in the future. Sometimes you don’t always know things change, but it’s, you know, making sure it is good quality. Right, you know, erm – just lost my tangent…!

Chris Anderson 19:19
One of the problems that we’ve seen over the years is that people have learned that they need to produce content as part of their SEO process, and they hear that fresh content is important.

So a few years back, probably probably good 10 years back now, the process that everybody started going through was to produce as many 350 word blog post is possible. And the internet went from just a few people producing really good content and a few people producing terrible content to everybody producing mediocre content, and just churning out every single week, another 350 word post, article and blog that was just accidentally very similar to their competitor, their neighbours, or whatever similar kind of business.

And the problem with that, in the end is that everybody was producing content, Google recognise that it’s all a load of rubbish. So then Google decided to only give any SEO benefit to the content that’s really long form. So then everybody starts going across and starts producing 2000 word articles and having the ultimate goal and everything. And then everyone starts doing that. And then people kind of realise, well, that’s quite a lot. And you don’t always need the ultimate guide for things. And sometimes you just need a really good piece of content that covers one area of things very, very well. The cycle goes on endlessly!

Sam Sayer 21:04
So this is going back to knowing your niche – what are you specialists in? Right?

This is good but actually, let’s bring it back, let’s dial it back a little bit, and say: where do you start with SEO strategy?

What’s the what’s the process? I think we can expand on more of these areas and on different sessions. Someone who’s never been before? Where do you start?

Chris Anderson 21:29
Yeah. Okay, so the first thing to do is to have a good understanding of what’s already working. Why are you getting traffic from already understanding the basics of what’s happening on the website. So knowing which content’s working well for you, understanding where the gaps are within your content, understanding technically, what’s working for and against you, and then doing the same on the off-site side of things?

So understanding the links that are coming to you, understanding and analysing the links that your competitors are getting, seeing which of those are valuable and which ones you should have and things like that. So it’s an initial real audit of where you’re at, you find out where the gaps are, you’re comparing your SEO and your gaps and spaces compared to the competitors.

And your job is as an SEO to then build up all of those factors over time, improve things, until then you have more signals more ticks. And compared to your competitors, and that’s when you can start winning.

Sam Sayer 22:46
Yeah. Your big ‘strategy button’ right. That’s a whole other conversation we need to have!

Well, yeah, I think that’s a really good explanation. You know, this, this diagram is about version eight or nine, I think of this. And we were kind of doing a screenshare at one point moving bits around. And as you know, it’s not complete by any means. But I think this certainly helped me frame it in terms of ‘what we do need to talk about’. I don’t know if it’s helped or hindered you and me!

Chris Anderson 23:27
This conversation has helped, I think that’s exactly it, yeah.

Sam Sayer 23:31
Yeah. So I think let’s catch up on some other sessions. Go and dive a bit deeper into other areas of it. I mean, certainly, the initial strategy side of things is fascinating, especially if you don’t have a website already. If you’re starting out, I’m sure that’s got a very different approach. So yeah, awesome. Thanks, Chris!

Chris Anderson 23:52
Good to see you!