As the internet holds a vast amount of data and discussion on every conceivable topic, it's unsurprising that our first response to any given problem may be to 'google' a solution. Even more telling, perhaps, is that Google has now been adopted into many languages as a verb. Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and others, are the a core tool to discovering websites based on our interests, and as such businesses battle to appear top of the results for popular search terms related to their industry.
Many great websites rank poorly, and many poor websites seem to effectively appear on the first page of results for various related search terms. The puzzling algorithms being 'Search Engine Optimization' can be tricky to master, but undoubtedly prove to enhance business performance tenfold. After all, if you can't be found, you can't convey your message.
Mäd, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, offer SEO solutions to businesses both locally and globally. By creating intelligent Search Engine Optimization strategy, we can provide internet marketing solutions that'll create lasting, organic website discovery via leading search engines. Our SEO services are tailored to your needs, and our expert communications team work across a range of CMS platforms to ensure our SEO objectives are met.
We also offer website design and training services, giving you the option to create an effective digital footprint and stand out amongst competitors. Claiming to have 'mastered' search engine optimization may be a lofty claim, instead we challenge our team to stay up to date with developing tech trends, tweaks and releases to ensure we're at the forefront of ideal SEO practices - and that our websites are built in the best style to adopt high performing SEO tactics.
As a rule of thumb, 'keywords are king'. We perform detailed analytical research into your brand and business to find the core messages and search terms relating to your products or services. Once we've tested various keyword strategies, we optimize your website to attract both high visibility and click-throughs from search engines. With a keen awareness of competitors, we identify the best tactics already deployed in your field - and also the gaps available to get ahead.
One common misunderstanding behind SEO, is the time element. Adding the perfect key words to your website won't make your website rank on the first page of results overnight, as the intelligent algorithms behind search engines will crawl through website and judge the relevance and quality of a website before displaying it as a top match. With this in mind, we often pair our SEO strategy with advertising (usually GoogleAds) campaigns- this ensures that your website has instant impact whilst the SEO prepares to kick in.
Our standard estimation is that SEO practices will kick in within three months, therefore planning ahead is always recommended.
Firstly, the brand must be understood and clear goals should be defined.
Once goals are defined, these can be put at the core of SEO campaigns.
If the website already exists, this can be analyzed in full to find which areas of the website are working effectively towards the SEO goals, and which areas are not. Even the current top performing websites consistently revise and optimize their SEO strategy to maintain their top rankings.
Being aware of competitor strategies can influence powerful tactics for your brand. E.g. Improving what they do effectively and capitalizing on what they aren't doing.
Knowing how the potential customers behave is key. Understanding their language, thinking and phrasing will help develop a list of expected keywords that should be incorporated into your strategy. This is especially important to businesses offering complex services to customers outside their industry that may not understand the 'jargon'.
Existing, and new, content needs to follow a coherent train of thought. Referring to your clearly defined SEO goals will help you shape content that fits user expectations and ranks your website as highly relevant to desired search terms.
Selling products online becomes easier when customers searching for those products are directed straight to your website. Each item on sale should be set up intelligently to ensure your online store features.
When you have a physical location, search engines will take that into account when deciding which websites to rank highest. E.g. If you are a SEO Agency within Phnom Penh, and a customer in Phnom Penh searches 'SEO Agency' or 'SEO Agency near me' then the search engine will likely rank you as more relevant than a company in Siem Reap or outside Cambodia.
Therefore, including your location and a clear definition of what you do is advantageous for getting discovered.
Further to keywords and content, the naming of a page and the supporting url make a big impact.
As with the page names, the images can play a big part of SEO strategy. Naming a photo to 'SEO-Agency-Phnom-Penh.jpg' with a supporting caption and an 'alt description' (description to display when image does not load) will increase the relevance of your page.
Submitting a sitemap to a search engine aids the process of ranking your website efficiently. Search Engines also usually offer support and analytics to help you continue optimizing various features of your website to best meet their suggested requirements.
Desirability can be built by other sources linking to your content. If you write a blog on SEO optimization that is shared by hundreds of tech websites then Search Engines will deem your content highly desirable and therefore more relevant to user searches. After all, the Search Engines aim to display the best content possible for the user.
As SEO can take a while to kick in, running advertising campaigns is an excellent strategy to have a short term solution. Effective Ads will appear as the first result to targeted search terms, and generate a high flow of traffic on a pay-per-click basis. If you're confident in your website, then you're only paying to direct targeted, relevant, customers to your page - which should result in a large spike in sales.
Alongside Search Engines, social media platforms have become a huge source of information gathering. Ensuring your business is optimized on these platforms will help drive more people to your website, and Search Engines view intelligently operating social media accounts as a factor on the credibility of their linked websites.
Not to be forgotten, SEO needs to be tracked. We work with various analytical tools to study and report on progress. By carefully researching, trialing and optimizing, we're able view our progress easily. Integrating analytical tools makes life easier as all the data we need can be kept in one simple place, linked up with our website.
When searching for a product or service, prospective customers are most likely to click on websites on the first page of results on any given search engine. They're most likely to click one of the first few links shown, especially if the first displayed website matches up with their search term(s).
A physical store, placed on a high-street enjoys high footfall and attracts new walk-by customers. Conversely, a hidden boutique off the beaten path, would need to advertise more aggressively to ensure potential customers know where the store is and can visit. Unfortunately on the internet the overwhelming majority of businesses are hidden down virtual alleyways and out of sight from the 'digital high street' that is the first page of search results. It's important to note that this 'digital high street' is able to gain footfall the entire globe - regardless of the customers location, they can be directed to your website within seconds.
Think of the potential. The Earth has over 7.5 billion people living on it. No matter how niche your product or service, your potential custom could explode if you can tap in to strong SEO.
SEO isn't sticking a bunch of popular keywords into a hidden section of your website. Nor is it renaming pages to try and trick search engines into displaying your content. The SEO strategy should flow through the entirety of your web campaign: your website design, your content, your page names, your affiliates, your branding, your business details and your social media.
For example, as a Human Centered Design Agency, Mäd have a huge variety of services to offer every business sector. To ensure that we get this message out to the world wide web, we need to carefully plan our content strategy and website flow. Our customers rarely go looking for a 'HCD' agency, therefore we need to flexibly include content that links our marketing, design, coding, thinking, sourcing, training and other features into a digestible term. We can do this by publishing case studies whereby our 'marketing services' are core to the content and reflected in our meta data, this can then be supported by social media sharing and link building via affiliates. Before we've even written our first sentence, we know that we are targeting those that will search such phrases as:
With clearly defined goals, we can ensure that our content will rank effectively in relation to our desired terms - and importantly, that the content within the insight effectively meets the expectations of the website visitor. After all, if you were to search for 'Phnom Penh Marketing' and land on a Danish web design company's portfolio, you'd likely leave their site pretty quickly as it was too unrelated to what you wanted to find. This is also a big consideration for Search Engines as they crawl through your data and judge the relevance score of content to key words and naming conventions.
To supplement SEO services, we also recommend Search Engine Marketing (SEM) such as advertising:
As Mäd is based in Phnom Penh, our daily work exposes us to the good, the bad, and the ugly, of our local SEO landscape. Truth be told, the internet in the Kingdom is still dominated by social media. Many brands simply aren't investing in their websites and as such, their web presence and SEO. Whilst strong social media accounts are ideal for building strong brand tribes and communities with your customers, they have limited effectiveness for ranking on SERPs—particularly the top spots.
At the time of writing, Google Ads are also massively underused. Search Ads are a fast track method to reach the top, which is an ideal strategy while SEO is being developed in the background. Many overseas businesses are targeting the Cambodian virtual space and enjoying prominent positions on SERPs due to a lack of competition...meaning their cost per click is also low!
Such opportunities may be ripe, but the future will be dominated by best practises from leading digital countries. Brands can invest time now to fast-track themselves to the top, and establish a strong base to fend off competitors in future years. As the rise of accessible AI tools help copywriters turbocharge SEO content, competition will heat up and businesses will need to abide by these laws of great SEO:
Always develop a website to aid your SEO.
You can still run the majority of your brand communications through social media, but every great brand should have a strong website as their virtual business card.
Always link your social media accounts to your website to help your SEO.
Strengthen your brand, its authenticity, its professionalism, and of course, its SEO effectiveness.
Ensure backlinks are as relevant as possible.
Search Engines improve daily. Having thousands of dubious websites linking to you doesn't help you, it discredits you. Great backlinks are formed by relevancy. Partner up with related bloggers, brands, and publications to ensure your website is bolstered with quality.
Find your niche, and run with it.
If you want to compete for 'mens clothing' then you're going to fight every fashion seller in your area, your country, the world. Can you compete with global brands with million dollar advertising budgets and a whole department of SEO specialists? ...Maybe you can, but still, it's a lot of time and resources to appear in front of a wide market that won't necessarily be looking for what you offer.
Let's take it further to explain. If a man was searching for a 'male sports top', then your site may well trigger for that... or if another was looking for 'mens suits'... but you can see how wildly different each item of clothing is. If someone is looking for a particular item of clothing, then the best website will instantly showcase the type of product they want—rather than a huge pick and mix of everything that may be clunky to navigate through.
Great SEO = Clearly defined keywords + finely tuned, related content.
Getting the audience to your page is half the battle, but next you need to keep them there, captivate them, and convert. If your SEO strategy is purely based upon driving traffic then you've got a gap in your marketing to address.
So find your niche, tailor content towards it. Create the best content to address the questions and needs of your target audience, and let them find you.
Thousands, upon thousands, of SEO guides exist online. Most spout the same advice in mildly rehashed variations. If you follow the steps provided, then sure, your content will improve...but how credible are your teachers? How do you know who to place faith in?
At Mäd, we stand beside our work. We're not ashamed to highlight gaps in our knowledge and partner with preferred professionals and agencies when necessary. I.e. We won't try and build you a VR headset, but we will be able to expertly design the UX/UI elements.
With SEO, we want to be transparent. It's a difficult practice, it requires daily grinding. Even once you reach the top of the pile, you need to monitor competitors and adjust your content occasionally depending on algorithm changes from major Search Engines.
Sometimes you'll hit the jackpot, and your work will effortlessly flow. As a case study, we have a previous insight that ranks highly not just locally, but globally.
Our insight on the 'Mäd Six Pager' shares our exploration and research into leading Amazon practices. We took time to learn how Amazon developed and executed this method, and we tried it for ourselves. Once we were confident and happy with the result, we decided to share our knowledge—to inspire others.
Don't be scared to share your secrets for success.
Many wrongly think that sharing their best strategies and knowledge will weaken their worth or attract too many competitors. However, as a society we are stronger together and by full transparency we encourage ourselves to be better while helping all we can.
With this insight we put ourselves in the shoes of the reader, asking key questions:
Our insight ranks within the top 3, or 4, for as simple a search as 'Six Pager' (at the time of writing). Given the mass amount of information on the topic, we stopped to analyse—what did we do right? And here's the bombshell:
We didn't write the piece just to gain traffic and customers.
The purpose of our insight was genuine, which built a foundation for relatable content that readers wanted to engage with. Which leaves us with a perfect final thought on SEO practices...
Don't create content purely to self-serve.
How many times have you stumbled onto a list of 'top ten X software options', only to find that the option most recommended is actually created by the writer's team... We've spoken about Dark UX patterns before, but perhaps this style of copywriting can be attributed as Shady Copy! Your audience aren't there to be fooled or manipulated. Be open, honest, and meaningful. Create quality content with purpose as your first step, SEO is second.