Startup profile: We chat ethical web analytics and data-driven SEO with Accelerate Agency
If you want to optimise your website to ensure it can be found on search engines, Accelerate Agency – a 6-month-old, Bristol-based company – could be just the solution you’re after. And even if you’re not looking for an agency to do this for you, it’s worth reading on to find out how you can avoid some common SEO marketing pitfalls…
“It may seem counter-intuitive, but our business model is based on actually giving information to our clients”
Accelerate Agency describes itself as doing data-driven SEO and analytics for busy people. It differs from other digital marketing agencies in that the co-founders like to share their knowledge to empower their clients, as co-founder Nick Brown explains: “It may seem counter-intuitive, but our business model is based on actually giving information to our clients about the SEO, Web Analytics, Tag Manager, AdWords and digital PR support we offer.”
Targeted marketing: The Accelerate duo, Nick and Phil,
find Nerf-gunning is a useful tool at demos
(and a fun distraction while at the office)
The team sees SEO, CRO and web analytics as tools and methods that take a substantial amount of time to learn and perfect. Nick describes this work, particularly SEO, as being akin to making long-term investments: Sometimes small changes can have big impacts, but longer-term changes are more influential and require greater care.
“We’re about accelerating online presences,” Nick continues. “We encourage the fast-paced experimentation that get companies high on search engine results, and boost their conversions – we’re about leveraging experience and technology which allows our clients to move fast.”
In fact, the agency is so confident that it can improve results and deliver what it promises that it is happy to use a performance-based model, so they reduce their initial fee and then get paid more if they deliver pre-defined targets.
“We increased BookingLive’s organic traffic by 140% in the past year, and increased the conversion rate for all marketing channels by 50%”
The two-strong team, Nick and Philip Pearce, met at Bath’s Guild Co-working Hub over a year ago where Phil was running taster sessions (using Nerf guns) so people could see what was possible with Google Analytics – and, while the company is still in its infancy, it has been steadily gaining clients (University of Bristol, Wriggle, BookingLive and National Geographic, to name a few) and has been delivering great results.
One such case in point is local startup BookingLive, where the objective was to focus on ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’ – it was Accelerate’s job to get users to sign up for free demos, which they did with great success: the sign-up rate increased by 420%.
“We increased BookingLive’s organic traffic by 140% in the past year since working with them, and we’ve increased the conversion rate for all marketing channels by 50% – for people signing up for marketing leads,” reveals Nick. BookingLive told Accelerate that it has seen a 70% increase in all lead value since they started working on its website.
Cutting costs and delivering results
Phil, a top contributor to the Google Analytics Forum and a previous Google Engage Regional Trainer, works on the analytics for the client’s website to find out how the site is performing currently and checks that the analytics code is added everywhere it’s needed. “We also check out that things like the markup of the website is correct. We basically draw a line in the sand, then Nick comes along and shows them how to grow their traffic and convert their audience,” says Phil.
“Nowadays, anything that you can do in a browser you can replicate in Google Tag Manager,” he continues. Tag manager also enables Accelerate to make site changes which will drive more web traffic to the site without needing to get an IT person involved, which can reduce IT costs considerably and increase the speed to implement changes.
Expert advice from Accelerate
With its focus on education and training, there are a handful of strategies that Accelerate Agency is using to better inform clients about SEO, CRO and Google Analytics, and to counter the destructive prevalence of some worryingly influential ‘black-hat’ strategies.
“In the effort to get more customers onto your website, you need to spend equally in SEO and in PPC”
One common misconception is that spending on SEO improves Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. If you think that, you’d be incorrect, as Phil points out: “It’s not so simple… The reality is that they are mutually exclusive and Google takes great pains to ensure that advertising doesn’t have an impact on search outcomes, and that search outcomes don’t impact advertising.
“It would be awesome if working on one helped the other, but that’s not the world we live in. For now, in the effort to get more customers onto your website, you need to spend equally in SEO, to get your website to rank higher in searches, and in PPC, to make sure your customers know about your products. You need to be aware of and invest into all aspects of digital marketing, remarketing (repeat marketing) and PR, as well enhancing your CRO and streamlining your use of Google Analytics, to get people to your website and convert them into customers.”
People also think adding Google Analytics is good for your SEO, but Phil says that it has no effect: “There are other vendors like Adobe analytics, Web Trends and Snowplow, so if Google favoured sites that used its measurement tools there would soon be an outcry from these other operators and Google would find themselves on the wrong side of competition law.”
“A business’s product, and how they get that product out, is going to be the most important thing in every single case”
Many people also believe that good SEO can replace branding, but trusting in a brand goes way beyond good SEO, as Nick explains: “Imagine you’ve got Joe Bloggs’ bookstore that ranks higher than Amazon (perhaps through some black-hat (unethical) SEO methods). That’s going to look good, but just ranking higher than a competitor does not mean you’ve won the popularity contest.
“Everyone’s still going to trust Amazon over your business, even if you miraculously rank higher than it, because it’s simply a more trusted name. SEO is important. Branding is definitely important, but a business’s product, and how they get that product out, is going to be the most important thing in every single case.
“The reason why we’ve been so successful with BookingLive and Bristol University, and most likely in our upcoming work with Wriggle, is that we work with companies to create trust-points within their websites. Reputation is essential.”
Phil also points out that people assert that links are dodgy and they aren’t important, but from a Google Analytics standpoint links are absolutely essential. “They have got a bad rap because they are easy to manipulate, can be easily faked, and accordingly they can look very dodgy by just being what they are,” Phil explains.
“Make sure you and the company you work with are going to use organic, legitimate links”
“However, the web is always going to be made up of content and links, and to have a successful online presence your business is going to require both,” Phil continues.
“Make sure you and the company you work with are going to use organic, legitimate links. It is also essential that your website speed is fast, uploads quickly, and can be searched for quickly. Links are essential, but they can’t operate alone. Web optimisation is a multifaceted one, and one that takes time.”
How to get involved
Accelerate Agency is offering a wealth of freebies including CRO and SEO audits, and analytics support, and Phil and Nick have a full range of training events, with analytical, SEO and PPC meetups.
If you wanted to explore this subject more, the Bristol Digital Analytics Meetup, to which 350 people have already subscribed, would be a great place to start – and you may even get some free pizza!
“It’s great to have experts in the room you can ask to solve those niggling problems”
“We do a mix of informal chats and presentations on topics such as new tools from Google, cool talks we’ve seen and want to share about setting up Google Analytics or A/B testing,” says Phil.
“Just Eat very kindly let us use its big open space presentation room which is ideal for Meetups. And they usually provide free pizza. We get mid-to-senior analysts, but it’s open to anyone really. We also do some beginner stuff such as our Lean Analytics sessions, but mostly, it’s great to have experts in the room you can ask to solve those niggling problems – crowded-sourced SEO advice!”
There’s also the Bristol Online Marketing Meetup that Nick runs along with Phil and co-organiser Clifton Fathers. This group started in November 2016 and already has over 170 people signed up. Here you can join in with the general discussion, and share tips and tricks on Google paid and free search.
Plus, you can check out Phil’s book for analytics experts on Amazon entitled Google Tag Manager Developer Guide: Everything you ever wanted to know to launch successfully or download it for free via Accelerate Agency’s website.
Accelerate also offers a Google sheet for SEO planning, which you can download for free.
Thanks to Nick and Phil. You can see more from the company via the Accelerate Agency website.
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