The Olympics started in London last week; the best sports people from around the world are now in the Capital, all competing to win gold medals at their respective sports. This is an exciting time for the country and as the opening ceremony on Friday night proved – as a nation we know how to put on a show and get results. Danny Boyle (or should that be Sir Danny Boyle?), put on a great event that was truly spectacular to watch.
Central to the latter stages of the event was the emphasis on the digital age and how the UK and the rest of the world is now switched on and interconnected like never before – the number of smartphones recording the ceremony shows just how quickly footage of the event will flood the internet; Facebook and Twitter feeds only covered one event on Friday night.
Perhaps it is not surprising to learn then that the UK has one of the most switched on digital populations in the world: according to Ofcom, the average household now has three internet-enabled gadgets; 15% of homes have more than six.
This digital emphasis of the opening ceremony and the fact that the world’s best are in London has many parallels, in my opinion, with ‘team GB’s’ burgeoning search industry. The UK continually delivers exceptional results for businesses and brands in a highly competitive market.
Thanks to the well publicised Google Panda and Penguin updates over the last 12 months SEO has become far less technically focused and more reliant on traditional marketing discipline techniques, with great online content at its core. This switch from a technical focus towards a stronger more content led approach is great news for the UK SEO industry as a whole. Here’s why:
Off-shore companies find it difficult to compete
Anyone with a website and an email address will know about SEO companies based off-shore, many in India, where English is commonly spoken.
In the past these companies could get results; they were cheap and worked primarily by adding a sheer weight of numbers approach when it came to generating back-links, comments and directory submissions. In short, they technically knew how to play the search engines to get the desired results. But with a greater emphasis on content and quality content at that, with Google coming down hard on anything that looks too unnatural, the successes these companies can generate, for British and Western websites in particular will be limited. Yes they write in English, but do they write like native Brits and about timely topics that will generate the desired links and likes? Probably not.
Britain does creativity best
In the future SEO as a medium will have to become more creative, and creative, as the opening ceremony shows, is what we do best in Britain. According to the latest stats from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (December 2011), 1.5 million people are employed in the creative industries or in creative roles in other industries. This equates to 5.1% of the UK’s total employment population. There are 106,700 businesses in the creative industries and when it comes to exporting our creativity around the world, the creative industries accounted for 10.6% of all services exported. So when it comes to coming up with creative ideas that can optimise your website – be it in paid search, natural search or social – British agencies are always likely to be innovative and full of ideas.
We are competitive
The UK Search industry, in both PPC and SEO, is one of the most competitive in the world. There are several reasons why, to date, this has been the case. Firstly, we read and write in English. This is great in terms of business and communication, but it also means that there is more competition. Not only is there off-shore capabilities from countries such as India as mentioned above, but there is considerable competition from the US too. As a result, as an industry we are used to performing well.
We are used to doing more with less
The US, as we all know, has a burgeoning search industry. It is home to giants such as Twitter, Facebook and the all-powerful Google. Many leading search specialists are American. It is a mature search industry. But with a bigger audience to appeal to and target, US search specialists benefit from being able to cast their net far and wide to attract users – and they also typically have bigger budgets to work with too.
In comparison the UK, where the target demographic is considerably smaller and the budgets often smaller too; we are used to doing more with less. The challenge is sometimes harder, the resources we have to call upon for success fewer. Perhaps this is where the UK’s creative edge really comes from?
If you take sectors such as travel or personal finance, for example, there is considerable competition in the UK; there are numerous big players all competing for similar targeted keywords and the best overall SERPs. Everyone wants to be number one for their desired keyword. Any good search agency operating in the UK, Found being one of them, will have experience of and strategies in place that can move clients up the rankings and increase website traffic, conversions and ROI.
The UK Search market is competitive and brutal to any underperforming agency. For success, like the Olympians going for gold in London over the next few weeks, you have to put in continual effort, look to innovate and look to capitalise on your competition’s weaknesses.
We do all of these things in the UK, which, when combined with our creative heritage is why I think we are best place to grab gold for the SEO industry in the years to come.