Website Page Speed; why it’s essential for better SEO rankings

There is no way around this; your website has to load in less than a second.

Anything longer than that, and your next customer will be hitting that back button and onto the next search. It’s one of the biggest conversion killers and will harm your business; be warned!

In this article, let’s dive straight into page speed and why it’s critical, how it can heavily impact your conversion rates, your SEO rankings, and ways to speed up your website load times.

What Is Page Speed

Moz defines Page Speed as a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads.

If you’re curious about your page speed load times, Google has this nifty tool for checking your page load times.

It would be best if you were aiming for your website to load within 3 seconds, and anything less will affect the user experience, as SEM Rush highlights below in these statistics:

  • The first-second delay resulted in a 4.9% drop in the number of articles a visitor read.
  • The three-second delay resulted in a 7.9% drop.

Looking at the above stats, you can see that the longer a page takes to load, the more customers you will lose. It’s as simple as that. 

How to boost page speed

Your page loads will quickly depend on several variables; some are quick fixes, and others will need a web developer helping hand to help. Each of these variables will add precious seconds to impatient customers that demand instant web page load times.

These include:

Image optimisation

Pagely tells us that: converting a .png image to a .jpg and compressing to 85% could potentially reduce the file size by more than half. 

If you have a WordPress CMS, you can easily compress all images in the dashboard as you upload each one. Many small business websites will have large image galleries showcasing their work or main photos on the home page banner without consideration for page speed times. These drag load times down to a crawl and do nothing more than annoy, irritate and frustrate customers who want to see these images quickly. To compress images, get your web team ( and they should know this already ) to run your site through WP Smush. You’ll see immediate improvements in page load times without compromising the integrity or clarity of your photos.

Not using WordPress? There are still plenty of image compression options out there, like Caesium and the Mass Image Compressor.

Remove plugins

Old, outdated, unnecessary plugins will reduce load times for your website, so get rid of these asap. They are sitting there doing nothing and slows your site down. Again, if you have a WordPress CMS, you can delete these in the dashboard with the click of a mouse.

Upgrade hosting

When was the last time you audited your hosting package? Most people haven’t got the slightest idea who’s hosting their website. They pay a small monthly fee and forget about it. I bet you didn’t know that you share your hosting server with hundreds of other sites, and if one of these sites gets infected with a virus, it could harm your site? Plus, this can slow your site down. For maximum warp website speed, consider upgrading your hosting package to a dedicated server. For larger eCommerce sites where there’s lots of traffic, dedicated servers are a no-brainer. There is a bump in the monthly fee, but you’ll quickly notice the difference in page load times.

Update your CMS

Websites backbone is called a content management system, also known as a CMS. If your site has an old CMS, then it’s time to upgrade to a new CMS with clean code and is most likely a lot faster than the one you’re currently using. The best and most popular CMS is WordPress which is what Hopping Mad Designs uses for our clients. At this stage, it might be a good idea to redesign your site. But make sure that during this update, you don’t harm your current SEO rankings.

Related article11 Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

Understanding Page Speed

Understanding page speed isn’t about how quick the whole page loads on your desktop or mobile phone. There are different ways you can measure page speed which include:

a) Fully Loaded Page: It’s the most common interpretation of page load speed times, and it’s the time it takes for the full page to load right there in front of you. Does it creep slowly down the page, or does it pop up quickly? 

b) First Contentful Paint: This is the time it takes for the user to get a clear idea of the web pages intent. You will most likely see the first 30% of the pages images, content and graphics. For example, suppose you’re downloading a page about business loans and a video and interest rate table. In that case, you could read the interest rate table while waiting for the video to download. An extreme scenario, but most people are prepared to wait a few seconds extra for all the content to download, especially if it’s a trusted brand.

c) Time to First Byte (TTFB): Wikipedia describes TTFD as the duration from the user or client making an HTTP request to the first byte of the page being received by the client’s browser.

I would say that this is a supercritical metric as users want to see some response from the website once they click on the link. If you get the dreaded circle in waiting time, most people are going to exit. Improving TTFD times is the responsibility of the server and your hosting company. If they are unable to fix this and reduce TTFD issues, then it’s time to leave.

How Important Is Page Speed for SEO?

Google wants speed! They have told us this since 2010.

I understand why they have now made page speed a significant part of their ranking algorithm. They want to give users the best possible experience, which includes websites that are fast to load. Why would they show you websites that annoy their users?

Users, especially those on mobiles, want fast, snappy information at their fingertips. They are on the go, looking for products or services and need to make decisions without waiting for pages to load. It’s the way users browse now, and Google recognises this phenomenon.

There is a direct correlation between SEO and page speed; the faster the site, the better the rankings and the slower the site well, you know what happens to them.

According to Search Engine Watch, page speed is not a huge ranking factor but plays a significant role in conversion rates. But it still can give your website the edge it needs to climb up a few spots on page 1, which could be the difference between getting the sale or not. Many other factors determine your SEO ranking, such as link building and content marketing, which should be your primary focus. 

In terms of the user experience, slow load times will impact bounce rates. That is, users will bounce off the age they enter the site, never to return. Google measures these bounce rates, and if they detect an unusually high consistent bounce rate, it will impact rankings. There is a cohesive marriage between bounce rates, user experience, and page speed, which can help or hinder your SEO which in turn can affect your sales leads and ultimately revenue.


Speed kills, but when it comes to your website, ‘slow speed kills’. Keep this in mind if you start to see a drop off in sales or inquiries. Page speed is often an afterthought in the web design process, but statistics like every 0.1 seconds that your page speed improves can increase your conversion rates by 8%, is proof enough to see how well your site’s speed is performing and look at ways to improve this. More often than not, these tweaks and adjustments are easy fixes, and you can have your site loading in record time. 

7 Tips for Choosing the Best Domain Name

Most websites we design are with clients that already have a domain name.

They have an existing business, so their domain name has been going strong for many years.

But, there are occasions where we have new business startups that require us to help them choose a domain name.

So I’ve listed 7 tips that I use to help businesses choose a fab new domain name.

1. Keep the domain name concise

Short domain names are easier to remember, and they are also easier to type into the search box on Google. They also allow you to have longer sub-domain pages that will fit neatly onto the search. Long lengthy domain names look like you are creating that name specifically for Google and can look odd. You see then all the time, and they look ridiculous.

2. Make the domain name easy to type

Complicated domain names with hard to spell words can put users off. You might end up losing a few customers if they can’t spell your name. Sure, Google has an auto spell, but hard to remember and hard to spell and your off to a bad start. Plus, Aussies like Anglo Saxon sounding pronunciations. Anything foreign-sounding is a huge turn-off.

3. Using keywords is a good idea

Most businesses want to rank on Google. That’s the plain truth, and in the competitive landscape of Google, anything that can help is a huge bonus. Think about having your core keywords in the title as we have done for one of our other businesses, SEO Sydney Experts, where the domain name is Known as exact match domains, keywords in the URL give you a leg up because most people will type the keywords SEO Sydney when searching for this service.

4. Set domain expectations

Make the domain about your business. If you have XYZ in the name, then the company should be about XYZ. Users who have never been to your site before should know what it’s about by the domain name.

5. Add some humour

I can’t tell you the number of times people have commented on our business name, Hopping Mad Designs. Its memorable, funny and just a bit quirky. A lot of thought went into choosing this name, and it has worked well for us. Spend the time thinking of a name that will set your business apart. It can be challenging, especially if you have to put some keywords in there.

6. Consider your market

We are in Australia so buy a and not a .com domain name unless you want to target other countries – if you get the .com, your likely to be targeting the US market. Many people don’t realise this and go for the .com, which they regret later. Having the Australian domain name is much better for Google rankings.

7. Own the intellectual property

Make sure you register the domain name and don’t leave it to your web agency. This way, you own the rights and intellectual property. If they buy it on your behalf & things don’t work out, they’ll end up owning your domain name, which can get tricky. It’s so easy to register your domain name with companies like:

Go Daddy or Crazy Domains

and it cost about $20 per domain name.


Getting the right domain name is not so easy. Most of them are already gone, and you have to be super-creative to develop something new and catchy. Think of using these great domain names and adding a hyphen or number. If you get stuck or need some creative help, why not call us here at Hopping Mad Designs on 02 9360 8514. I’ve been helping businesses throughout Sydney buy cool domain names that work well on Google. Don’t stuff this part of the business process up. Do it right from the beginning.

inlineMy name is Steve and I’m one of the marketing team at Hopping Mad Designs. Let me help you get more business and sales through SEO and conversion-focused web design.


Can bad web design harm your SEO efforts?

Web design and SEO are intricately intertwined. So, in short, the answer is yes. Having lousy web design will harm your SEO Google rankings. You may ask how this works, and the answer is simple.
If a user conducts a search online and lands on your website, that’s excellent news. You have managed to get your website high up on the rankings where people can find you. But, if they cannot find what they are looking for and your website doesn’t answer or address their inquiry quickly, they will leave. If this happens often enough, Google will notice this and start penalising your site.

Known as Bounce Rates the more often people come to your website and bounce off that page ( to exit the site – because they didn’t get what they wanted) the worse it will be for your rankings. The most common reason for high bounce rates is a poor web design, and if you do not fix this, your SEO rankings can never improve.

To help you create a fabulous looking website that your customers will love, following are some examples of bad web design mistakes many people make and an in-depth look at SEO’s most essential components.

Examples of terrible website design mistakes

Text is too small or hard to read.

When people come to your site, they are looking for information and want this quickly. If the text is too small or hard to read, they may exit the site. The aim is to keep users on your site looking around for information, products or services they may need. Clear, bold text will reduce bounce rates and in-turn help with your Google rankings.

Also, take a look at the colour you use for your website text. Faint, hard to read colours is a massive mistake and will kill the user’s whole web experience. The trick here is to keep it simple. Make sure the text is easy to read, with separate main paragraph headings and its colour is black.

Also Read: Signs that it’s time to redesign your website

Pop-up notifications

Pop-ups are great if you have a promotion or you want the browser to fill out a form. But, try to limit these as they tend to become too annoying. Remember that people will be very reluctant to leave their details if they don’t know or trust your site. People come to your site to look around, and pop-ups can hamper the whole experience. Irritating your browsers will affect bounce rates as they WILL leave the site if these pesky pop-ups become an issue.

Your website is not mobile-friendly

The nature of search is going mobile. You can’t design your website just for desktop devices. Doing this will kill the user experience, and Google will penalise your site. You also have to look at how your website renders on iPads. People are time-poor, fussy and want information at their fingertips. Give them this! Google has tools to test if your site is mobile compatible.

Most business nowadays has mobile-friendly websites, but there are exceptions to the rule here. Don’t be one of them and expect to see decent online rankings.

Amateur content

You want to portray your business as being professional. Professionally written content will do this. Poorly written websites show users a lack of professionalism or care. You look like an amateur, and the results will speak for themselves. All pages have to have fresh, informative content that you update regularly. Please don’t be complacent about this part of your website as it’s one of the most crucial SEO ranking factors. The more you put into your website’s copy, the more people will engage with the site. It will build trust, authority and your rankings will improve.

Bad user experience

What happens when a potential customer lands on your website? Do they like what they see and start looking around the site, or is there a horrible gasp and they immediately leave? When designing a website, you need to keep the user experience in front of mind, making sure it’s easy to use, memorable, and above all, there are no hurdles to hinder the buying process. Known as conversion-focused pages these are critical to the whole web experience. So what constitutes good website design that’s also SEO compatible?

  • address all questions a user might have at the top of the page. If your essential information is in the lower half of the page, this can be hard for users and therefore, SEO unfriendly.
  • never clutter the text and make use of white space with robust, bold headings in your paragraphs
  • make it easy for people to find what they want. Contact us and buy now buttons should be made very clear.
  • have your phone number at the top of the page

Also read

: 15 gorgeous landing pages that are conversion-focused

Videos with sound

Make sure that all videos you have on your website DO NOT start automatically with sound. Uses can be in an office or a private area, and they will immediately close your site down if there’s a blaring video going off. If you want videos to play automatically, make sure they start as muted. Don’t annoy people before they have had a chance to look through your site. Loud videos can are offensive to some people. Others may like it, and this will depend on your audience. To be on the safe side, have videos as muted.

Long download times

Some people still have slow internet. Websites with large files, long pages and big images can slow the loading process down. If your website takes longer than two seconds to load this will add to your websites bounce rates. People will exit your site if they become too impatient.

While a couple of seconds might not seem like a huge deal, it does when it comes to your website’s speed. Users want fast, snappy websites to load instantly. It’s the nature of the online space and the way people search now. Do a test yourself and see how long your site takes to load. If it’s longer than say 4 seconds, then you have an issue.

Related post: Is your website design killing your business?

Fake images from cheap photo libraries

Users want realistic images of your business and even better of yourself. Try to avoid the overuse of free or cheap stock photos from image libraries. A huge turn off and people can see right through this. A fake photo of people meeting for a coffee that’s unrelated to your business or two people shaking hands ( you know what I mean ) adds to the distrust. Keep it real and spend the money on decent photos or your business and staff. People will respond better to this.

Outbound links

If your web page has lots of links pointing to other websites, this is good if you reference a document. It is not ideal if there are too many outbound links as this helps people leave your site. Keep these to a maximum of two per page.

Any of the above web design mistakes can and will negatively impact your SEO efforts. As a web design agency, we recommend fixing these as soon as possible to avoid any further Google ranking issues.

A great example of a horrible website design!

SEO tips to help rank your website higher.

A thorough website audit

If you have designed and built a new website, it’s time for a complete audit. Or, if you have an existing site, you need an audit also. Factors to consider n your website audit are:

  • site speed ( are images loading with a couple of seconds )
  • content ( is the copy unique – make sure you haven’t plagiarised it from other sites). Content plays a crucial role in any SEO campaign, so make sure you have it written by a professional copywriter as highlighted above.
  • look at your current backlink profile. Where are the links coming from to your site, and are they trustworthy? If they look dodgy or unrelated to your site get them disavowed through your Google search console.
  • look at your URL structure and make sure it’s SEO friendly. All service and product pages should reflect the nature of the content of that page. For example, if you’re a divorce lawyer in Sydney and one of the services you offer is child custody, then the URL for that service page need to be:

This URL structure should be uniform throughout the site as it makes it easier for Google to index this page and rank it.

Write amazing content

As discussed above, the copy is king for any website. But first of all, you need to address each page on the site and write unique, informative & exciting copy based on your keywords for that particular service or product.

Using the example of a child custody lawyer in Sydney, the content for that page has to be anywhere between 1000-2000 words and the trick here is to write it better than your competition.

The SEO and web design combined formula we like to use is incredible content combined with a great backlink profile will equal higher Google rankings.

It’s a simple process, and this is the cornerstone of what Google is wanting.

Offer more insights into the processes involved in child custody and reasons why your the best divorce lawyer in Sydney to handle any child custody matter. For SEO purposes, each page must have a clear introduction and subheadings ( we can create H1, H2 and H3 headings – in the backend of your WordPress website content management system ). Make it easy for the user to read with clear call to action buttons on the page.

Title tags & meta descriptions

These are a vital component for any website as the title sets the tone for the page and is what Google reads.

The descriptions are the information under the title to give the reader more insight into the page’s nature and topic.

These titles and descriptions are your selling point on Google and entice users to click on them.

Ideally, your title tag should not be longer than 60 characters, while meta descriptions should be 160 characters at most.

Never try to overuse keywords in an attempt to rank higher. Known as keyword stuffing, Google frowns upon this. Sounding natural with a sales angle to this is the best approach.

Please take a look at our example below of a well-worded SEO friendly title and meta description:

Title = Child Custody Lawyers in Sydney | Company XYZ

Meta Description = Sydney Child Custody Lawyers. Company XYZ is a specialist divorce and child custody law firm based in Sydney offering cost-effective solutions. Call 02 1234 5678

Creating backlinks

A backlink is created when a link from an external website links back to your site. The more links you get from authoritative websites, the more trustworthy your site will be. Backlinking is, without a doubt, one of the essential components of your SEO strategy. Getting it right will shoot you up the rankings, but getting it wrong will produce dire consequences.

I could go on and on about backlinking as it’s a complicated topic, but the golden rule is this; it’s quality over quantity.

Quality linking is what so many businesses fail to understand. One quality backlink from a trustworthy site is better than 1000 links from untrustworthy cheap sites. Many SEO agencies offer cheap SEO packages where they can build ‘so-called’ links to your website for next to nothing. Cheap SEO and the building of these types of dodgy links are why so many businesses fail online.

If you’re a new business start-up in a competitive niche and want to rank BUT have a limited budget, I would be cautious about commencing any backlinking campaign. Rather blog instead and aim for the long tail easier keywords.

For existing businesses with a decent SEO budget investing in a backlinking campaign is one of the best marketing moves you can make.

In summary

I always tell my clients that the road to SEO success is a long one. There are no short cuts, and you have to be prepared to invest your time, energy and some of your marketing budget. It’s an on-going process where you have to continually improve your website’s performance, creating high-quality backlinks and producing great content if you are to succeed online. But, if you put in the hard yards, there are rewards for you.

Do you want your website to rank higher on Google? Contact our Sydney web design team to find out how our SEO services can help your business grow and beat the hell out of your competition.

inlineThis article was written by Steven Walberg, one of the marketing team at Hopping Mad Designs who has helped many businesses with their online marketing. He’s a business mentor and loves creating exciting new online strategies for Sydney businesses.


SEO PRICES SYDNEY | How Much Should SEO Cost?

Are You Unsure About SEO Prices & How Much You Should Be Paying for an Effective SEO Campaign?

Most small business owners or companies that I have come across have either been stung by a previous SEO experience or know someone who has been burn’t by a supposed SEO expert.

This happens all the time and has left a really bad taste in the mouth of the business community regarding search engine optimisation. I don’t blame them, I hear horror stories daily and they keep getting worse.

More often than not, they were tricked or scammed into signing up for a lengthy SEO contract, with poor ranking results, and absolutely no accountability. They often refuse to accept that they did anything wrong and are unable to fix those terrible SEO rankings.

This has fueled industry-wide distrust amongst the business community, who may potentially engage a search engine optimisation company.

The rule of thumb here is that you should pay a fair and normal price for an SEO service. Cheap, quick and speedy results JUST DONT EXIST – you have to pay normal prices to see measurable & successful SEO results.

It’s it OK to Engage the Services of a Cheap SEO Company?

In short NO!

This is a massive mistake and will only land your website in a Google penalty. This is a certainty.

Related article: Google penalty help.

Bargaining the SEO price down and expecting to pay a small SEO price places huge and very unrealistic cost restrictions on SEO services.

Cheap SEO budgets will mean that SEO service providers will cut corners, implement dodgy inorganic link strategies and completely ignore basic SEO principles, which should lay the foundations for your internet marketing.

As this is a relatively new industry, the market has been flooded by cheap SEO service agencies offering bargain deals, which put simply, cannot be met.

Paying as little as $300 per month for SEO is just not on and it’s SEO companies like these that are tarnishing the good name of SEO firms like Hopping Mad Designs.

If you are serious about your online rankings and Google is the only way you can get business, then YOU NEED TO HAVE A REALISTIC SEO BUDGET FOR THE YEAR.

Giving cheap SEO companies business only adds to the problem and encourages them to keep ripping people off – it’s time to wake up, and understand that they are nothing more than con artists.

Also read: 5 Ways To Tell That Your SEO Team is Ripping You Off.

What Should SEO Cost & What is a Fair Price to Pay for an Ethical + Proven SEO Company?

If you want to go down the path of paying $39 per month for your SEO then you should not read any further. SEO is based on a number of factors and is it these following variables that help determine the fair price and cost that you should be paying:


First, reputation must be earned, and it is this reputation that takes time and many hours of expertise to implement. Not many companies can say that they have invested thousands of hours in learning and studying SEO principles. It is this background and knowledge that earns them their great SEO reputation. The better the reputation the more these companies should be able to charge. For example, Hopping Mad Designs has been in the web and SEO business since 1998 – we, therefore, feel that we are able to charge a fee that reflects this longevity.

Startup SEO businesses with no reputation or credible working history will not be able to charge as much as their peers. SEO companies that can prove their worth and show that they are able to rank their own website, MUST be able to charge accordingly.

If you are thinking about using one of these cheap SEOs, you will find that you will be treated in a production-like manner, and your work will more than likely be undertaken by someone with little or no SEO experience. Even worse, outsourced with no strategy or goals in place. Again, don’t expect any results. Be prepared to be treated poorly and be given every excuse known as to why you are not ranking!

Experience, Knowledge and Reputation all Mean a Higher SEO Fee.


Next, an SEO company is a business and will have typical daily running expenses. These include: research, educating staff as well as working on your SEO (that is project management).

As an SEO client, you should be asking yourself:

> Do you expect answers to questions immediately or are you happy to wait, perhaps never get an answer or even lied to?
> Do you expect reports – what have they been doing for you?
> Do you expect an above-industry standard, speedy, quality service?

If all of the above is expected, then you will be paying for this.

If you want below-average experience, with poor results, then you do not need to factor the above in determining your SEO payments.

If you are serious about maximising your online performance then you will need to pay a realistic SEO fee. For more information please call us on 02 9360 8514


All credible SEOs spend most of their downtime keeping current on all changes in the SEO landscape. Google makes roughly 450 changes to its algorithm each year, with hordes of engineers inventing ways to improve the search experience.

SEOs must be up to speed on these changes and this all comes at a price. Sure you can pay next to nothing for your SEO but don’t expect your suppliers to know the latest Google updates. They will keep on implementing old SEO tactics with little regard for the algorithmic updates that occur. This is dangerous and can lead to online penalties.

SEO is a continued and evolving process. Nothing stands still and the landscape created by Google is continually changing. Ultimately, you will have to pay for this knowledge.


If an airline offered you a seat from Sydney to Perth for $15, but could not guarantee you a time for departure or arrival, with no customer service, would you buy the ticket? Or, would you prefer to pay $500 for a ticket and know exactly when you would be leaving and arriving, plus a meal was thrown in? The same logic applies to SEO and its pricing levels.

Basically, you get what you pay for; that is a certainty. The certainty that you will be working with a company that knows the ins and outs of SEO and has PROVEN  and TANGIBLE RESULTS.

At Hopping Mad Designs you might pay just that bit more for your SEO, but we will GUARANTEE you results that can be backed up by over 18 years in this industry.

SEO is Worth the Investment & the Return Can Be Huge.

The price you pay for SEO must be seen in the light that it is a long-term proposition. It is not a tap that can be turned on and off. It is a continuous process that will only add value to your business. Therefore, when considering the cost of SEO for your marketing, think of it not as a cost/burden but as an asset.

PLUS the return on investment, once you are ranking is going to be massive. See for yourself, try it out, measure the performance and look at how great SEO can be for your business.

You should really ask yourself the following questions:

1)  How would 1000 visits a month to your website change your perception of SEO costs? So 1000 visits, 20% will make an enquiry ( and this can be increased if your landing web page has been designed properly). This equates to 200 leads. If you are able to convert roughly 15% of these into clients, you would have 30 sales. This number can be increased if you are able to find an SEO company that has web experience.

2) Is my current advertising working and where do I currently advertise to get new business? In the past, the Yellow Pages was the place to advertise your business. Have you looked at the Yellow Pages lately? It’s gone from a huge 2 book directory to a thin paper napkin-size book.

Google has sucked its market dry and the money you were traditionally spending on the YP should now be diverted into an online SEO strategy. If you find that you have no other advertising options on the table, then SEO is your answer.

The power of being on page 1 of Google for your main keywords is enormous. If you currently have your website there you will know what I mean.

Taking this into account the pricing for SEO can be a relatively cheap proposition.

The best part concerning the cost of SEO is really this: if your business grows by 1000%, your SEO costs will remain the same. Your investment in SEO will not change (unless your strategy does), so your return on the SEO investment will have been multiplied many times. This will cover your costs and more!

SEO is NOT a One-Off Fee.

If you want to maintain your rankings then you must pay monthly for your SEO. Some people may consider this monthly SEO fee as a bit pricey, but if it is bringing in the business, then it should be thought of as a GREAT business investment.

A start n stop approach to your SEO campaign will only affect your rankings long term – so if you are going to commit to this type of marketing, you really need to stick with it for the long haul – the DIVIDENDS will pay…you just need to give it a bit of time.


Google your main keywords, for example, if you are a lawyer who specialises in conveyancing type in ‘conveyancing services’ and sees who is on page one. Getting your business to that position is not impossible and it is totally achievable.

As far as SEO PRICING is concerned, you will be more than surprised by what Hopping Mad Designs can do for your online digital marketing.

To learn more about our SEO pricing packages, and to get your website on page 1 of Google contact us at 02 9360 8514.

Why SEO is a monthly fee

For your websites success online you need to be paying a monthly fee for your SEO.

Cutting corners and trying to cram your SEO campaign into a couple of months is a recipe for failure.

To rank on Google, you need to build authority into your web site address and for this to happen you need to be implementing a SEO campaign consistently, methodically and very organically – and all this takes time, hence the monthly fee. This requires, depending on the competitive nature of the keywords, roughly 120-30 hours of work per month and this obviously needs to be paid for each and every month.

If we start an SEO campaign and then after 1 month stop it, then this is simply not enough time to rank and maintain your website. Sites need a good 3-6 months to rank and 1 months work, will just not work. Why? Because Google needs to index the work we are doing, plus we need to build a certain level of trust to our URL. This can only be done gradually. If we push too hard, Google will respond to this with a likely penalty.
Once the site is ranking, then our SEO team needs to be continually working on your site links and content to maintain this position. If you think that once your website has reached page 1, then that is all you need to do, then this is a huge misunderstanding. If you stop your SEO, you will begin to loose rank to your competitors. After a couple of weeks what you will see is your position begin to slide, eventually right off the first page.
Google likes to see an organic approach to search engine optimisation. That is everything that you do in and around the whole SEO process must appear natural. If  your SEO strategy is implemented in an ad-hoc, rushed manner, YOU may get penalised and all the work  done on the site will be for nothing.

This is why  this is such an important point –  SEO must be done slowly and naturally. Short quick wins with SEO simply do not exist and are unfortunately commonly promoted by less than credible agencies.

This means all link building, article writing, blog submissions must be done over a lengthy period of time; hence again the monthly fee. Plus depending on the competitive nature of the keywords you are trying to target, this fee can become quite expensive.

Many companies will promise a 1 month all up fee for SEO and this is all you need to pay.

Basically, these guys are lying to you and just want your money. To get solid, credible and consistent ranking you need to be working with a seo expert that knows the ins and outs of SEO.

If SEO is a monthly fee, how long do I need to be doing this for?

In short, SEO is now part of your online marketing

SEO is not an expense, it is an investment in your business. Like us, if you need to have a high web ranking then the cost is worth it and the monthly fee should be part of your marketing mix. This is a no brainer and if we are able to get your website sky high on the search engines, then paying this monthly SEO fee should be a pleasure, not a burden.

Having said all that it is a good idea to do SEO for say 6-9 months, measure your return on investment and then assess your marketing spend. If you are seeing a positive ROI, then continue as normal, but if your not getting the kind of sales or level of inquiry you were hoping for then it’s time to look at the factors that could be causing this such as your actual web site and it’s conversion rates.

So, if you are thinking about marketing your website online, then note that you have to be in it for the long haul. There is no point is starting this, if you are in it for the short term. A better solution for you would be an adwords marketing campaign, also known as SEM. This is a lot quicker, but the results are not as good and the costs overall can be prohibitive.

Start your SEO as COVID19 eases

What can we say except these are terrible times? COVID19 has really hit all businesses throughout Australia and the world in a way never imagined before.

All sectors have copped a beating; travel, food, cafes, restaurants, real estate, hotels, gyms everyone and every business has been touched by this horrid pandemic. Simply put, it’s stopped business in its tracks. Plus take a look at the unemployment it has created.

Also read:COVID-19 lockdowns have cost 1.6 million Australians their incomes, ABS survey showsinline_199_

But all is not lost, there will be an end to this and there is light at the end of this tunnel. As of today 8th May 2020 we know that the PM is going to start easing restrictions with the lockdown and this will hearten most people who have been at home watching their business lose revenue, sales, and inquiries.

But, during this time one cannot wait and hope things will get back to normal without starting to work on their business. Now, while you have time on your hands is really the best time to look at what your business needs, what you have been putting off for ages, and what needs to be done to get the wheels of the business turning once we are out of this mess. This is not going to happen on its own and taking a proactive approach to your digital marketing and SEO is the best thing you can be doing.

So, I will list some key points that you should be doing to get your business back on its feet. This doesn’t have to be done all at once but you can take a slow approach to this and ramp it up if necessary if restrictions ease more quickly.

1) Take a look at your website and see if it needs a refresh. Go over all old content on all pages including all your old blogs and news articles. Give them the once over and update where necessary to make all information more current, engaging, and more relevant.

2) Look at your marketing budget. The first thing you might have done when the panic set in at the beginning of COVID19 was to reduce or cancel your marketing. Adwords, SEO, content marketing and your latest web project might have all been put on the back burner taking a wait n see attitude. That was probably a great idea at the time but now is the time to start reassessing your marketing budget (especially as the first Job Keeper payment has come through for most businesses). Get in touch with your SEO or web agency and look at starting your marketing again. Businesses will be back so it’s important that you are ahead of the curve rather than behind it. Businesses are going to be desperate for customers so it’s vital that your online visibility is strong. This can be all facets of the digital landscapes: Google, YouTube, Facebook etc. It’s critical that you don’t wait till COVID19 is over and then decide to start your marketing. Do this now, be the market leader and you will see how this has a positive impact on your business.

3) Look at all your communication material and see if it can be improved. What do your E-newsletters look like and can they be improved? Are you using an old CRM? Can you improve your sales processes and streamline your digital marketing to one agency? Now that you have the time, it’s a good idea to look at all of these things in a methodical manner.

4) What has happened to your Google rankings over the last couple of months and can you see areas where they need to be improved? Has your SEO agency been in touch with you and are they communicating what they have been doing during COVID19? Maybe it’s time to start looking at other agencies to see what they can offer you. Most businesses have their staff working at home and they are contactable. You have the time so do your due diligence.

Related post: 20 Questions Your Potential SEO Partner Must Know

5) Stay positive and look at this time as a time to work on your business model and ways you can fine-tune it to the level you have always wanted.

COVID 19 will not last forever. Yes, it’s here now and yes there may not seem an end in sight when things will get back to normal. But, it will happen and your business will open and it will be trading. But, don’t get too down about this and start looking at your marketing as a way of staying positive and keeping your finger on the pulse.

If you would like some other tips and ideas about how you can work on your business to get more clients during and after COVID19, please get in touch with us here at Hopping Mad Designs.

20 Questions Your Potential SEO Partner Must Know

Before you even think of hiring an SEO agency you have to be sure that you have made the right decision. If you hire a SEO company that doesn’t know what they are doing (and let’s be perfectly frank here, most SEO agencies are simply out for your money and do not know a thing about the latest Google updates or how to effectively rank your website, you are going to end up seriously hurting your business and any chance of being competitive online – essentially, you can kiss your Google rankings goodbye.
Your prospective SEO partner must have a thorough knowledge of all facets of SEO and the following questions are a good way to sort the good from the bad. If you find that they are umming and erring and evading answering these then simply move on. These questions are SEO basics and anyone with an intimate knowledge of SEO should be able to handle these easily without breaking a sweat.

I really want to highlight a point here if you are doing the ring around looking for an SEO agency. You will most likely end up speaking with a sales person who is great at getting your business BUT has no experience with SEO. Once you sign up, your work is then handed to another person who takes a cookie cutter approach to your internet marketing and SEO. This is where the problems start. So before you make any commitments make sure that the person you speak to over the phone is confident enough to handle these simple questions. I have also given you the answers as well so you can see if they know what they’re talking about.

1Q. What are 2 factors that go into making a website SEO friendly?

A. Website speed and being mobile friendly.

2Q. How do you measure success when it comes to SEO?

A. Success is measured by not only the increase in online Google rankings but also by the increase in traffic numbers, that is, website visitors. Ideally, these numbers need to be growing month after month in conjunction with rankings. You also need to take into account customer conversion rates and what the consumer does when they land on your website. Do they buy from you, call you up or simply exit the site?

3Q. How do you stay updates with the latest Google changes?

A. They should be using industry standard tools to measure Google algorithm activity as well as being very active on forums where other likeminded SEO people chat.

4Q. How often do you update clients?

A. Most SEO companies will provide monthly reports and these are in most cases simply ranking reports without any other information – these are stock standard and this is the minimum that you should accept. At Hopping mad Designs we provide reports every 2 weeks and we will make serious recommendations on ways to improve your online profile, conversion rates and user experience. This is why we are so much better than the majority of other SEO agencies.

5Q. Where did you learn SEO?

A. This is a good question as the person you are chatting to over the phone will most likely just be the suit or sales person. Not a good start! You need to be talking to an SEO professional with years of industry experience who has been through all the main Google Panda, Penguin changes. Anything less than 5 years on the job is simply not enough. Now I know this sounds harsh but when it comes to internet marketing, especially Google you need veterans working on your side.

6Q. What SEO tools do you use daily?

A. If words like SEMrush, SEO moz, Google Analytics are not mentioned, hang up the phone quickly.

7Q. Who is Matt Cutts?

A. He is the head of Google’s web spam team. Essentially, he is God in the SEO world and your prospective SEO partner MUST answer this within a millisecond! If your in SEO and you don’t know who Matt Cutts is you’re fake. BTW – see picture below of him just in case you were wondering.


8Q. What does Panda and Penguin mean and what are the differences?

A. These are Google’s algorithmic changes designed to weed out spammy SEO agencies and techniques used to fraudulently manipulate rankings so common in the early days.

Panda weeded out websites that had poor content or pages with thin poorly written content as well as pages that were trying to rank through stuffing as many keywords on it as possible.

Penguin killed sites that had dodgy or over optimised back links.

This is SEO 101 and they should be able to roll this off in a nanosecond – if they cant they are seriously bad!

9Q. How do you deal with Google penalties?

A. By cleaning up the websites in bound links and on page copy. Most penalties are a result of dodgy link building carried out by bad SEO companies that do not have the faintest idea about SEO> All of these links need to be deleted. You can find out about these links through access to your web master tools account provided by Google.

10Q. How do you know if you have a Google penalty?

A. Two ways: Google will advice you through your web master tools and your rankings will suddenly disappear.

11Q. What methods do you use to redirect a page?

A. You need to be doing 301 redirects from old pages to new pages. This is common when you are launching a new website and you do now want to loose any value from the old site. Far too many SEO agencies ignore this and people wonder why their rankings have tanked when they launch a new site. 301’s prevent this from happening.

12Q. What is your approach to keyword research?

A. Keyword research is based on using web tools to determine what keywords will bring in the highest number of website visitors. Many SEO companies will tell you they are targeting hundreds of keywords to impress you when in fact 90% of these are useless. Watch out for this sales tactic!

13Q. What is your opinion of link building?

A. Many SEO agencies will say that link building is no longer relevant and that content is the key to ranking. This is total BS and the only SEO people spouting this dribble are those that cannot rank sites. They are generally copywriters with a huge lack of SEO knowledge. Link building and citations are seriously important when it comes to ranking on Google – take my word on this.

14Q. How long will it take to rank my website?

A. If they tell you less than 90 days or you don’t have to pay or that kind of mumbo jumbo simply end the conversation. SEO takes time and if you do it properly (depending on the competitive nature of your keywords and industry niche) this could take up to a year. Many SEO people will not tell you the truth about this for fear that you wont sign up with them. Let’s be real hear most business owners want to hear that they will be on page 1 tomorrow or sooner – SEO agencies prey on this eagerness to rank and tell you they will be able to do this. WATCH OUT OR THIS MASSIVE LIE – they get many suckers this way.

15Q. What is the difference between web titles and descriptions?

A. The title is what Google indexed and displays as the top line of the results (usually 50 characters long) – a description is the 2 lines of descriptive text underneath that gives the user more information about that web page. They both need to be written professionally by your SEO company as it will help with web rankings and conversion rates.

16Q. Can you clearly tell me 1 SEO success story. Where they were ranking before you started and where are they now PLUS how many hits are they getting a week/month?

A. I will leave this one for them to answer – in our case the list is long – get in touch with us and I will be more than happy to tell you all about this and provide references.

17Q. What is the benefit of content marketing in relation to SEO?

A. It helps but it’s not the silver bullet. Creating compelling content is great for you branding and establishing credibility BUT will not be the answer you are looking for to get you to page 1 of Google for you main keywords. If they go on about how effective content marketing is, they do not know what they are talking about!

18Q. What is the best speed for a website to load.

A. Pretty self explanatory but it’s good to give them an easy one to answer – less than 2 seconds. Longer page loads will affect the user experience and in turn your rankings.

19Q. What’s the difference between SEO and SEM?

A. Another easy one – SEO is search engine optimisation and SEM is search engine marketing or Adwords.

20Q. Why should I trust your SEO company?

A. The answer they give to this is important. If they go on about SEO guarantees they are spammers and fraudsters trying to con you. If they seem genuine and can back it up by:

– their own fantastic organic Google rankings (THEY MUST NOT BE DOING ANY FORM OF PAID ADVERTISING) – if they are using Adwords to get to page 1 of Google avoid them – choosing SEO agencies that pay to be up there is a big mistake most business make when choosing an SEO company.

– by real life current examples

then they might be worth a try

Hope this helps but of you want any other help with your SEO or need any other advice please get in touch with me Steven at Hopping Mad Designs.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Backlinks. Tips to make Google LOVE your link profile.

What is a back link? A backlink is a link that points from one website to another or if you prefer one unique domain to another. Don’t be fooled by people that say back links are not important because they are and they form the building blocks of all SEO campaigns. But remember not all back links are equal and not all back links are good. Some in fact can be incredibly harmful and have and adverse affect on your SEO rankings so be warned.
Working out what are the best back links that should be pointing to your website is a challenge and forms a big chunk of the work we do. So let’s take a closer look at how all this works and to try to help you make some sense of it all.

Why do Search Engines, Google in particular worry about Backlinks?

The idea behind all search engines is to give users or their customers results based on performed searches with the most relevant website related to that search being displayed at the top of page 1 The next most relevant sites will come after that, so on and so forth. There are basically, thousands of algorithmic elements that when combined together come up with these results. Search engines will trawl the entire net looking for the most relevant sites, including yours and display the most apt site. In order for your website to be considered Google needs to audit your website and if all the elements are correct, including your back link profile, your site will rank.

If you think about it and break it down to it’s most basic form, a back link referral from another site to your website is seem as a vote of confidence and the more trust your site has the more it will rank. This is why great back links from other high ranking trustworthy websites are perfect. Basically, it’s telling Google that we are happy to direct people from our site to another site. The aim of the game is to get as many of these in a wide and diverse manner if you are going to outperform your competition and rank higher than the others. So for example, if your website is travel related and you get a back link from an travel associations website in your related field, this is considered a sign of trust and therefore a good back link.

Why you should be concerned about back links.

There are many advantages associated with quality back links and in the digital environment the name of the game is to get as many qualified relevant leads coming to your website and this is where back links are so vital. Yes, back links will help in the SERP’s rankings but they also have other added benefits including:

> You get more leads coming to your website from other referral websites. This can produce some great sales leads if the user has being doing their research and found your site organically other than via a search engine.

> Your brand and business becomes more exposed as the number of back links widen. Basically, you are on more sites and the likelihood of you getting noticed dramatically increases.

> You can build good business relationships with other site owners through this interlinking. You never know where this may lead to.

> Finally, you get a much better ranking on Google – a caveat here…this is where the linking process must be implemented properly and in a compliant non toxic manner.

If your website is designed and built for customer conversions and you are going about your linking effectively then there is absolutely no reason why those eye balls coming to visit your site should not turn into great qualified leads. Remember the travel site mentioned before? Just imagine someone arrived at your website from another site through an extensive search. If you have what they are looking for then your chances of scoring a new client have just radically improved.

With Back links it’s quality over quantity

To fully understand the back link process you need to look at it from a search engines perspective where it’s all about the quality of the referral. Ask yourself what’s better: 100 links from websites that are in your industry and are based in your country or 1000 links from various random sites that have nothing to do with your website and they are coming from all over the world. What do you think is more relevant? Obviously the former.

Why? Because it’s all about the best and most relevant links. In fact too many links pointing to 1 page of your website can seem contrived and fraudulent by the search engines. It seems as though you you are trying to push a page too hard and game the system. So the takeaway from this is to have pristine, high quality links that are evenly spread throughout your site. That is pointing to all pages and not just 1 page. Most people think that you just need to optimise the home page, but this is a fallacy and will get your site eventually penalised by Google. Key point here is be as natural in your link building as possible.

What is an example of a high Quality Backlink?

At about this point you should really know the difference between a good and bad quality back link. To be frank Google has nailed it completely in the way the disseminate the good links from the bad. They can easily tell when someone is trying to over optimise a website by buying cheap, ineffective, poor quality leads in order to boost their rankings.

So what is a great back link?

> It should be from a relevant site, from within your industries niche. Anything that looks or smells fishy is probably a dodgy bad back link and should be deleted.

>The link should be coming from a if your an Australian website. If it’s coming from the USA or UK it is not ideal unless it’s from your parent company and your an Australian subsidiary.

>The link needs to be from an English site and not any other foreign language.

>If the link is from an adult, gaming, payday loan or pharmaceutical website take cover as these are really bad referral sites, especially from the adult sites. You need to watch out for this as your competition may put your link on adults sites back to your site to harm you. we see this all the time and have to take steps to mitigate any damage that this may cause.s the referring website splattered with adverts? If so get your link off that page. It may look like you have have bought the link which is counter intuitive to organic SEO.

>What is the anchor text of the link pointing towards your site? What does it say and is it relevant to the page it’s pointing to. If for example the page is all about plumbing supplies you would want the link name to be related to that word. Anything else would seem odd or out of place and therefore spammy.
Where is the link on the page. Links placed at the top of the page are a real bonus and yield the highest authority as opposed to those on the side or at the footer of the page.

>You need to look at the quality of the linking website. What page rank does it have and are there any other links on that site and where do they point to. This will take a fair amount on investigative work but it’s worth it. In some cases these links are staring right at you. Also are those other links going to sites in your industry or other niches. If so, why? Surely it should be all about your particular area of business. These might seem small nuances but believe me when I tell you that Google looks at all of these very closely.

Once you have run through all of the above you can see if you want a link from that website. What initially might seem like an ideal link is in fact quite terrible. again, the aim here is to be the only link on the referring site and this site must be 100% top quality. anything sub par to this can and in most cases will put your site at risk.

What are some types of links?

Links can vary and they do fall into many different categories. Generally speaking the harder and more difficult it is to get the link from the website ( that is, everyone wants that referral but it’s almost impossible to get) the better it is. Let’s put it like this 1 super quality link is far better than 10 000 bad links. That’s how good Google is in determining link value.

Good Links
Some examples of easy to get yet quality back links are: Local directory entries like Yellow pages. They are super easy to get and are good for Google maps but because of it’s ease they will have little impact on your rankings.

Other include: Industry forums and adding your opinion to blog posts. In your industry you are probably an expert and you can pass on this information freely on open blogs and forums with a link back to your site. This may bring a few interested parties to your site but for overall link quality this will do absolutely nothing. Think about it. Anyone can contribute and they probably do. So with all these links flying around on these forums why would Google place any value on these especially if spammers can get in there and place links ad hoc and en masse. The only advantage is that you are seen as part of a community and adding to it via sharing your thoughts and wisdom. You may even get a loyal following and a few new clients. But, don’t ever expect Google to reward you for this.

Reaching out to other website owners to have a link on their website is a bit more difficult as getting them to accept this and do the actual linking work can be a task indeed. Therefore if you can get it done it will have some merit and push authority your way. Again, it must be industry related and yours should be one of a handful of out bound links. What you have to give the other website owner in return for this valuable link is your business and needs to be worked out between both parties.If your a supplier and they are a customer perhaps they get a 10% discount  on your products for the life of the link.It could actually be that valuable.

The best type of referring back link are from your industry peers and those that influence trends within your industry. People go to these websites as a source of credible information and for your websites link to be there is really valuable. In fact getting there has meant that you have had to have dome something really special or trend setting within your industry. This is the only way you could get there and it’s a real blessing for your business.  These are PRIME links and these are what Google is looking for. Get enough of these and you will be well on your way to securing a top position.

What are Bad Links?

Bad back links are really easy to get.I bet I could go online now and get 100 000 of these in less than 5 minutes. The ease at which I can get these and the mere fact that they are assessable to anyone makes them really incredibly bad. I am however still amazed by the number of SEO agencies that rely on these toxic links as the cornerstone of their link building. Yes that’s right. They still fair and squarely believe that linking like this in the old fashioned way will be god for their clients. Be really careful if the SEO company your are interviewing mentions lots of back links as a good thing. This is termed black hat SEO and if you want to close down your online presence swiftly then you should go down this path. It’s generally offered by those SEO agencies promising great rankings yet all done on a tight budget. This is because they buy crap links that kill any hope you have of rankings. I see it daily and I get the phone calls from really upset business owners who have fallen victim to these SEO scammers.

So what are some examples of the worst type of bad back links?

>Paid SEO Directories  – this is where yo pay to have your listing on a directory site. There are literally millions of these and any links on these are really bad. Stay well clear of these buggers. Some guys in fact will own perhaps hundreds of directory sites and offer a link on each one for a small fee. When you hear or see this run as fast as you can.

> Private Blog Networks – these used to be really popular but again really terrible. This is when a website owner owns or has control over a number of websites or blogs and puts your link on each individual site. The issue here is that Google will know they are all owned by 1 person and it’s therefore seen as gaming the system or spammy activity.  How? They probably come from all the same IP address. The issue  here is that an incredible amount of effort can go into creating these private blog networks but to no effect.

> Blog and Forum Links I have discussed this exhaustingly on many other blogs but if you or anyone else can place a link on another site in the hope of propping up rankings then this is a bad link. This like most outdated SEO techniques used to be the way to go, but alas it’s now outlawed by Google. Contributing to a blog can be OK if you are a serious writer with an opinion and something to say. But trying to place links willy nilly throughout a blog network in the hope Google will see this and reward you is simply foolish. Sure Google will see it but the ramifications are not what you would want.

> Paid for Links are incredibly bad. If you have to pay for any link then consider this bad and the reason being is that it is in the public domain so anyone who is will ing to part with their money can also acquire these links making them virtually useless in pushing your websites authority. remember what I said earlier; the easier they are to attain, the less valuable they are in the eyes of the search engines. Some argue that the search engines are not sophisticated enough to determine what is and what’s not a paid link. But Google’s incredibly almost human like algorithm can somehow pick this and decipher the difference. OMG, they must have some smart engineers working over there.

> Fake Online Business Profiles. There are heaps of websites that let you create an online profile of your business and allow you within that profile  to add a link back to your site. This might seem harmless enough but many people feeling that this can somehow help with your Google rankings have signed up to countless directories and communities where you need to create a profile. Google is all over this and will not pass on any link juice or authority for any of these fake, over used profiles. If you intend to sign up and create a profile and you intend to contribute to that forum or blog, then that’s totally OK. You may even find that you get a few new clients if what you have to say is relevant to your field or business.

> Article Submissions are a waste of time Article submissions purpose is purely there to hold millions of articles in various categories. People write these articles post it to the website with of course a back link to their website. The majority of articles on most of these sites are absolute crap and are only there to facilitate one thing; that individual back link. People have been posting thousands of articles with garbage for content thinking that the number of back links will help their cause in the rankings. A complete waste of time and effort. Those links have zero authority!

> Sitewide Website Footer Links. Many web and SEO companies like to put their stamp on other websites they either design, build or do the SEO for. They generally put a link at the footer of the site and say something like: website designed by (your company name) or SEO by such and such… this is a bad practice if this link goes on all pages throughout the site as Google will find it very easy to spot this. This practice is still implemented by some SEO agencies that want quick wins with lots of links on a valuable site. Well, forget about doing this any more. Google will punish you hard for this type of practice. Those SEO agencies that still do this are practicing ‘black hat’ SEO and if your rankings have suffered recently then this could be part of the problem. Stay well clear of any internet marketing agency that has anything to do with these site wide links.

So what can you do?

There are some link building activities that are fine to do so long as you do not over do these. As I have tried to reiterate here in this article, the more natural your link building is and the more organic it is the better off you will be. Like with anything, do it in moderation and you should be fine. Any type of overkill will get your site penalised. Essentially, you have to forget about what the search engines are looking for and go about your link building in a natural manner. When you start looking around for cheap, quick, high volume links, this is when the problems arise.

Following are some OK link practices.

> Press Releases are fine If you have got something to announce to your customers a press release is fine. Perhaps in a local magazine or associations website will do very nicely. A link from one of these sites back to yours is completely kosher and will push some serious authority back to your site. Watch out for websites that say they are press release sites and will take and promote your press release for a fee. These sites are spammy and will do more harm than good. Why? Because they were over used in the past where every man and his dog was posting spammy irrelevant press release for the sake of a link. Today these sites are banned.

> Guest Posting on a blog If you know on someone else’s website (in your country) that will allow you to write an intelligent, on topic blog and post it with a link back to your site as the author or guest blogger, that’s fine. Doing a couple of posts is fine, but you are treading a fine, risky line if you start doing this on heaps of other sites. This will look like you are trying too hard with this particular tactic and Google will no doubt pick up on this. The problem here is that people were writing low quality content and publishing it on websites they owned. Again, the rule of thumb here is moderation.

> Reciprocal Linking is fine A reciprocal link is where you put your link of one website in exchange for a link back to their website. Doing this with a couple of websites and in some cases it’s necessary, so that’s totally fine. But, if you think you can do this x the hundred, all I can say is watch out. Reciprocal linking is ok if it’s implemented organically. Say an overseas company needs to link to it’s subsidiary in australia and vice versa. That is deemed natural and therefore OK.

What about Paid Links, are they OK to do?

I have already discussed the fact that paid links are a bad idea but in some situations the case is not so clear cut so it does need a bit more explanation. Paying for a link in 99% of the time is not on. Most of the strong, trustworthy websites will be reluctant to sell links as it’s not part of their core business. This basically pigeon holes you to buy links from low quality sites which are on Googles radar.

If however, you are buying a link to help your business as this is where you get customers from then 1 or 2 paid links is fine. I’m thinking sites like Yellow Pages here where you have to pay for a link. This and other high quality well known sites are fine for a paid link. Cheap, non relevant sites that tout their business online enticing your to pay for the link is a must avoid.

Having said this, what ever you do, please don’t think you can now go around and sign up to 20 or even 30 of these authority sites. Being natural is the way to go so go sparingly and what ever you do spread it out over a period of time. A point to note is that these directory submissions or citations are good for Google maps.

So, is Link Building enough to get better rankings and sales?

In a perfect world this would be ideal. If you could simply rank a website and hey presto sales would start flying through the door then that would be great. Our job would be done. Unfortunately, SEO and ranking is really only half the battle in the digital space.

The other half is all about the customers online experience and journey. It’s really all about customer conversions. Once they find your website what happens next is going to be the difference between success and failure. Similar to a bricks and mortar retail shop. Once the customer enters the front door they need be wowed by the experience. They need to be greeted by friendly staff and they need to find what they are looking for very easily. If the experience is lees than perfect they will simply exit the shop. Same goes for your website.

It’s all about the consumers online journey and how they engage with your website. If they find it and love it then you are going to do really well online. All you have to do is look at all the major well known websites and see the effort that goes into creating website geared towards the consumer. What ever happens and what ever you do make sure you get your website professional designed by an agency that knows all about conversions rate optimisation and the user experience (UX). After all what the hell is the point of ranking a website if it’s no good and doesn’t work effectively.

Make sure you audit your Backlink Profile

There are heaps of free online tools available (Ahrefs, Moz, and Majestic) which will let you do a complete audit of your back links. Whilst some links created today or recently may not show up immediately (they may take a few weeks or even months), these tool will allow you to see what links are pointing to your site.

Once you have this information the next thing to do is trawl through the links and see what are good and what are bad based on the information provided in this article. If you can see any stand out toxic, harmful, web killing links make sure you get rid of them ASAP. If you are having issues deleting them then the next step is to go into your Google account and let Google know that you want these not to be counted as part of your link profile through the ‘disavow tool’. If this is too complicated for you make sure you get in touch with us on 02 9360 8514 and we will guide your through the process.

Will Backlinks ever die?

Many people in the web and SEO game will swear by the fact that back linking is dead and is futile. These people who purport this are in total denial.They say this because they have no clue about link building and will therefore say and do anything to put this method down. This is harmful to naive business owners that fall for this bull as they themselves will suffer poor SEO rankings at the hands of these shonks and charlatans. Why? Because back linking is the ONLY WAY Google can recognise your site as trustworthy and it’s this trust that pushes you up the rankings.

The fundamentals of all SEO campaigns is a combination of backlinks and great content – you cannot have one without the other – if you can do both professionally then Google will love your website. Matt Cutts from Google below will explain why linking is still vital BUT it is in conjunction with great well worded copy.

In short, backlinking is here to stay and here for the long term. So, if you are serious about your  Google rankings you better find and agency that knows the ins and outs about back linking.

Also, what ever happens please do not attempt to do this on your own. I, unfortunately have seen the effects of do-it-yourself SEO attempts. Whilst people try this with the best intentions from the outset, the results in a majority of cases is horrific. No rankings and in some extreme cases website penalties.

For more information on how to effectively implement an ethical SEO campaign please talk to us here at Hopping Mad Designs on 02 9360 8514.

Mistakes Most Businesses Make When Choosing an SEO agency

Businesses make some fundamental basic mistakes when they choose an SEO agency and this always results in problems with their Google rankings.
The biggest mistake they make without doubt is choosing an SEO agency purely on price. This is really easy to do and the amount of people I speak to who have been absolutely massacred online because they went with the cheapest option is amazing.

There are far too many domestic and offshore SEO firms all offering bargain basement SEO packages and for the majority of business owners this is often too hard to resists. When they speak to the sales people at the other end of the phone it all seems very legitimate; they are polite, they can offer a few testimonials and above all they are bloody cheap. So why wouldn’t you go with them. It makes perfect business sense.

The issue here is these companies will either do nothing with the monthly budget provided or they will buy a few worthless links that are actually toxic and will do damage to your website. It’s this type of SEO behaviour that gets your website either penalised by Google for non compliance or your rankings simply go no where. What do you really think would happen with the pittance your paying. These guys are going to take your money and run.

If you are going to have anything to do with SEO, you need to have a realistic budget based on the competitive nature of your keywords. Being frugal with your internet marketing is actually going to harm your business. If your not committed to spending money on your SEO, don’t even contemplate starting.

What the issue here is, when businesses decide to move on they still look online for the cheapest option. It’s a never ending cycle until it’s actually broken by someone who realises the value of a page 1 ranking. Until then, it’s hit the repeat button.

The other serious mistake is falling for the insanity of believing SEO companies when they say they will guarantee that they can get a certain percentage of your keywords on page 1 within 90 days. This is a really common sales ploy and in the unregulated SEO market, cowboys, ‘shonksters’ and scam artists use this to sign you up. Yes they do rank some very useless keywords but they will have absolutely no impact on bringing traffic to your website. Once they have proven to you that they have fulfilled their end of the deal (basically an infant could rank those keywords and in 9 times out of 10, they are already ranking), you are locked into their contract. From that point onwards nothing happens. They have you where they want you and there’s really no point spending their time or money on your SEO. Remember you are in a contract with them now.

This type of behaviour is rife and rampant in the SEO space and for the naïve business owner they keep falling for slick sweet sounding sales pitches time after time. Again, a continuous loop of poor rankings based on either the business owners unwillingness to learn from their mistakes as well as their inability to spend money on marketing.

Another mistake that is made is the start/stop approach to SEO. Businesses tell me that they stopped their SEO because they were on page 1 and they were not seeing a return. A very common mistake made as they feel that they have spent all this money to get to page 1 and it’s enough already.


The issue here is that getting to the bottom on page 1 is a lot different to the top of page 1. Position # 10 gets roughly 10% of the inquiries where as position 1, 2 and 3 will receive about 80% of inquiries. To make the leap from 10 to 1 takes a lot of serious effort, back linking and SEO strategy. Stopping once on page 1 is a grave mistake. You need to keep pushing harder and out perform your competition if you are going to get to the top. SEO is continuous. Even if cash flow is tight you should try to work out some type of solution with your SEO agency rather than a complete halt in work.

The last mistake is when businesses expect super fast rankings for competitive keywords on new websites. If you cannot pull a rabbit out of your hat and somehow get them to page 1 within a month for words like: travel insurance, home loans or cosmetic surgeons, they think you are not doing SEO properly and move on. It’s this chopping and changing that starts to have an effect on all your marketing especially the way in which Google values your website. Keep this in mind.

At Hopping Mad Designs we take pride on our SEO performance and on our ability to rank really difficult keywords and sustain these rankings month after month.

If you are serious about your SEO and are tired of hopping from 1 agency to the other please give us a call as once you use our service there will be absolutely no excuse to leave. Modern day SEO is really competitive even more so for SEO in 2016, don’t keep on repeating the same mistakes you’ve been making over the past couple of years.

SEO in 2016. 5 critical factors You MUST know.

Following are 5 critical factors to consider when choosing a SEO agency in 2016.

# 1 critical SEO factor: Never choose an SEO agency that is based on price alone. I know that you are running a business and you are looking for the best deals going around and looking to save as much money as you can where ever you can. I am the same. At Hopping Mad we try to find providors that offer the best vale for money with the largest return on our investment.

Unfortunately, this simply doesn’t work in the SEO space and the reasons for this are many:

– if you choose a cheap SEO package and you are in a competitive niche, the work needed to make your website competitive is a lot and all this takes funds. If you are paying next to nothing to rank in niches such as: health, trades, tourism, travel, legal, or any type of service you are going to find it difficult. Google is already seriously crowded with existing  and very established businesses occupying page 1. For you to dislodge them it’s going to take a serious effort.

– many SEO companies are going to offer you a ridiculously cheap monthly fee in order to sign you up and lock you into their binding contracts. Once they have you they do nothing. Hard to believe, I know, but these guys are trained professionals at pitching you the SEO sales spiel, saying anything to get you to sign up with them, and then it’s all over. You can kiss your money good bye! Don’t just look at the dollar signs as this is what they prey on. Know your niche, get to understand the competitive nature of this area and know that it costs serious marketing dollars (in some cases) to rank.

# 2 critical SEO factor: Do not rely only on SEO to generate new business leads. Yes, it is still the most important lead generation tool, but also focus on other areas such as your social media and how you are engaging your customer base through platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google +. Many companies I speak to simply ignore their social media marketing and treat it as a second tier option. Believe me when I tell you that this is the wrong thing to do. Social media is now as important as SEO so please what ever you do, make sure you are active in this space.

# 3 critical SEO factor: Let’s be honest here. SEO is a competitive business and there are thousands of agencies out there online competing for the same clients. In 2015 a good percentage of these companies where offering some really nasty sweeteners to get your business and they were in the form of:
SEO Guarantees, Pay on Performance SEO, or try SEO for 1 month and see if you are happy with the results or even do not pay a cent till 20% of your keywords are on page 1.

In 2016 as the SEO space heats up and more cowboys enter the market these types of insane offerings are going to become more prevalent and more targeted to small to medium sized businesses. All I can say is if you cherish your business and want to have the slightest chance of getting any type of rankings, please avoid these ‘shonky’ operators at all costs. This is such a critical point as about 50%-60% of the businesses that call us, have actually fallen for these scams. I know it’s hard to believe but these ‘SEO Guarantees’ are sold with such conviction and such skill that people cannot see the evil behind it.  It’s really not their fault as they are not in the SEO space and are unaware of the scams. If someone was to guarantee me page 1 rankings and I was just a business start up (or someone trying SEO for the first time) I would probably give it a try.

Don’t fall for SEO scams like ranking guarantees!

So why are SEO guarantees as a scam? Because you are dealing with a third party; Google, that will never ever tell you about their ranking algorithm. You can only make an educated guess based on your research.

At Hopping Mad Designs we NEVER EVER make these crazy guarantees. What we do is SEO the right way; through a methodical and proven process. There are no guarantees but what we can say is that you have a better chance ranking with us than by trusting agencies that are out right lying to you from the beginning.

# 4 critical SEO factor: don’t ignore your ‘on page’ SEO. That is make sure your website is completely Google compliant. This includes: page titles, descriptions, URL structure, website speed, and lastly content. Make sure that all your pages are filled with relevant, helpful information with at least 500 words. Skipping on the content and having thin pages with a couple of paragraphs is no longer good enough. You need to start looking at all your pages ( especially your home page and your services pages) and make sure they are beefed up with juicy, unique well worded copy.

# 5 critical SEO factor: what ever you do, don’t suffer at the hands of an agency that is not performing well. If you have been with them for say 6-8 months and you are not getting: proper monthly reports, genuine increase in rankings, open lines of communication with your SEO providor…ditch them and move else where. The digital space in 2016 is only going to get more crowded, with fierce competition online for the same clients. So it’s up to you to make the move and look elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to make the decision to ump ship and try another SEO agency. Remember, it’s your business and you have to do what’s best for it.

So there you have it. A handful of critical SEO factors to watch out for. If you need further explanation about this or want to discuss your SEO with a digital agency that can produce real results, please give us a call today on 02 9360 8514. I will clearly outline any issues with your current website & SEO campaign and show you how we can turn your rankings slump around.

We have been doing this since 1998 so in terms of timings that’s probably one of the oldest SEO companies in Sydney. We are still here so we must be doing something right!