We are Embryo Digital, a Manchester SEO and digital marketing agency with several years of experience in search engine optimisation. Manchester is our home, but we service many companies across the United Kingdom. Our search consultants have brought greater web traffic and paying customers to our clients’ websites with strategic online marketing tactics (SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, and other channels), helping us to become one of the fastest growing search-led digital agencies in the north west.
Whether it’s improving rankings through earned link building, working on your global SEO strategy, producing engaging content, keyword research, conversion rate optimisation (CRO), working on local SEO strategies, running our well-renowned site audit, or building a pay per click (PPC) campaign, our experienced account managers know how to rank businesses well in many different industries.
If an SEO consultant posts a piece of long-form content and no-one is around, does it still make a sound? We’d argue no, especially when the ultimate goal is conversation, consideration and conversion. A site’s web pages may scream expertise, style, and that the business is the best out there, but if it doesn’t rank well on Google, then it’s (almost) digitally invisible. In fact, first page search results garner ninety-five percent of all website traffic, so organic SEO success (and to get on page one) is a must.
With Google’s search algorithm reportedly changing up to five hundred times a year (but probably more), and major updates such as Google Panda and Google Penguin prioritising ‘white hat’, higher-quality sites over those worked on by shortcut-taking marketing companies using keyword stuffing, low-quality content and off-page tactics like poor-quality links, it’s imperative you have an SEO campaign in place that takes all of these factors into account – otherwise page one success will not happen.
At Embryo, we’ve seen the success that our strategies have had, improving our clients’ website traffic, leads and conversions. We know how to give a website that edge over competitors, with the right mix of content, site structure/taxonomy, and link building strategies. Whether you’re a local bakery requiring improved SEO in Manchester (or any town or city), or a national logistics company looking to improve on a whole raft of important search engine listings, our SEO experts strip your site down to its core, find those defining keywords and ensure your site improves its profile on all devices – now that mobile SEO performance is paramount to Google since early 2019.
From SEO analysis to web development, social media marketing to voice search tactics, building links and other off-page SEO strategies, the range of skills in this hungry, answer-finding digital marketing agency is varied, and comes from much experience, mixed with very curious minds. Whether it’s mundane, yet crucial tasks such as periodic technical health checks for things such as crawl anomalies, or innovative strategies such as aiding clients to increase Google reviews to help with local SEO tactics (which we have seen have real ranking boosts for clients), we ensure our client’s website becomes a success.
What we are trying to say is that our strategies combine the boring, but highly necessary, repetitive tasks, with the fun, innovative, creative work that all websites need to reach an ever-greater audience. Unlike some Manchester SEO agencies (and marketing/search-led development teams in other cities, too), we understand the value of the ‘boring stuff’ and how it underpins any creative work that we do.
From sitemaps, robots.txt and 301 redirects, to page speed, site architecture and structured data markup, there are a lot of factors needed for effective technical search engine optimisation. Our understanding and expertise of best practices from years of search engine experience, and a thirst for new knowledge, allows us to prepare your website so that Google is able to travel around it as quickly as possible, yet understanding each and every page that it visits, culminating in great Google rankings.
Ensuring an excellent technical SEO profile is not the only way for a website to rank well in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines, but it can form the bedrock of a successful search engine marketing campaign, allowing site architecture, content, and offsite marketing tactics such as inbound links and social media signals to work much better.
We always start to work on a new search campaign with our in-depth 150+ point SEO audit (taking in several data sources including Google Analytics), as this allows us to see which previous SEO strategies and tactics are and aren’t working.
Our audit of the website will help to determine the best way for the site to start to perform better in Google Search Console, which goes a long way to successfully improving rankings in ‘SERPs’ (Search Engine Results Pages) which then increases visitor numbers.
Then we report. We analyse KPIs and ROIs to ensure you’re gaining traffic, organically rank well, and see real SEO results. Whether content marketing, search marketing, link building, or social advertising is key to your online success, we will have recorded each and every action that we have made, so that there is an identifiable log of actions that create success, alongside our monthly reports which report upon ranking and visitor improvements.
While monthly SEO reports are the norm for digital marketing agencies in Manchester – and we of course create and provide these – it is our in-house workflow management system that can often provide our clients with much more beneficial information about what work is being done, why, and when. Transparency and customer service are at the heart of this digital agency’s marketing services.
Some of our technical SEO strategies
On-Page SEO techniques that we employ
Off-page SEO work that we do and recommend
There are a few digital marketing companies in Manchester (and elsewhere) that will talk ‘SEO tech’ to you, and discuss things like a free audit of your website (we do this, too, by the way), and local SEO trends, in detail. They’ll talk about their work exclusively on on-site optimisation strategies, and bring young search engine optimisation ‘nerds’ into meetings that explain the virtues of mobile search, indexing, Google’s algorithms, spiders and how they crawl websites – and everyone’s (not) favourite topics of metdata and keyword density (that old chestnut).
All of these are useful, of course. Most of these techniques are necessary, in fact. But long form content is something that many that professional SEO agencies that offer ‘organic SEO services’ still shy away from – and in our book, you can’t get more organic than lots of great, well-written website copy.
This page, as you can see, is a pretty decent piece of long form copy that many would say constitutes a good read for a potential client to understand just what it is that we do as a marketing leader in the city. It also has a good use of keywords and is a pure showcase of white hat search engine optimisation. While off-page SEO will help this page to rank, the fact that we have put so much care and attention into the page, having written so much content and styled it effectively, means that readers can see the way that we convert visitors by being so verbose, yet so highly targeted, and aesthetically pleasing, too.
We’ve often been asked “What are the key benefits of using long-form content?”, and we have a great answer – targeted visitors from organic search traffic gained from ranking improvements. That’s the aim for your online presence, right?
Optimising websites for visitors becomes much easier when a site is full of beautifully-crafted content – whether that’s from a desktop search or mobile. SEO has many facets, and content will forever be the most “Google friendly” of them, which is why we are one of the very few Manchester SEO agencies that are ‘content-first’. Yes, we are great at backlink analysis, load time optimisation, are experts in WordPress, know our way around citations and local search tactics such as clever work around Google Places, but we are most happy when crawling has happened, pages have been indexed, keyword ranking software has been updated, and metrics show that our clients have increased their positions in Google.
This is what happens to websites filled with long form content on a monthly basis. It makes us happy, but more importantly, our clients are happy, too.
So, yes, as your design/marketing/web app developers/search engine optimisation agency, we will always be insisting that you add content no matter what niche/industry you are in, or whichever specific keywords you wish to rank for. We make no apology for it. There will always be competitors in your sector that yearn for increased ranking visibility, yet will not add the content that is so necessary – leaving a wonderful gap for your website to fill.
Content is what we love to do – because it works and it’s fun to write. Come and work with us to see how you can be converted into a content nerd, too.
We are a results-getting, energetic, innovative, nimble, yet experienced search-led digital marketing agency based in Manchester. We specialise in lead generation from channels such as organic search, web design, pay per click strategies, social media and high quality content creation. We utilise the talent and experience within our agency to improve your web presence and online business. Many say it, but customer service is paramount to our business and a driver of our own success.
If your website has been lost among the competition, or you don’t understand why your site ranks where it does – and you’re wondering how you’ll ever be found, then let us show you how we can win you more business.
We work with and are trusted by small and large businesses including SMEs and international brands alike. We ‘do’ reputation management for blue chips, and search engine optimisation for SMEs – and vice versa. Whilst many in the industry over-promise and under-deliver, our transparent, clear focus on producing content that earns links, with well-thought out technical search strategies means that no matter the size of your company, our methods work.
Our team is full of innovation and great thinkers, which leads to much ingenuity, no matter the size of the client that they are working with. Sustainable growth of an online campaign for any size of client comes from both the monotonous, arduous tasks, combined with inspirational ideas and leaps of faith. The difference in service to our clients big or small is not quality-based, but merely the amount of time each client pays for.
Monitoring the goals that we set and reporting upon their progress is paramount to all of our customer relationships, as are the statistics and milestones we report upon. Because of this, Embryo has become a leading Manchester SEO agency, albeit a stringent and insistent agency, especially when it comes to web content and practicing wholesome search marketing tactics.
1. Research. To create the most potent search engine optimisation campaign, we first run our 159-point SEO audit with each point manually checked. Running concurrently to this audit, we will be identifying keywords and key phrases (along with search volume), and looking through Google Analytics data to thoroughly identify the existing and potential search audience.
If we haven’t already done so at proposal stage, we will run an EmbryoGraph, which compares the current site statistics (such as number of links, amount of pages indexed, domain authority) to the competition. Search competition usually comes in two forms – the competitors that rank well in Google searches for the keywords that you wish to rank for, and the competitors that you compete with in other sales channels.
As well as auditing, keyword research, and competitor analysis, we check search engine results pages for various ontological-related key phrases to create a holistic helicopter view of the industry.
No matter if you want us to run an SEO campaign in Manchester, the north west, or the UK, our research work will be very similar (and thorough). If good, solid on-site, off-site, and industry research is done, then this creates a great platform for SEO techniques to work better from the off.
2. Technical SEO. Improving how a website is traversed by Google, how fast it loads, and how understandable each page is in and out of the context of a site menu system, is at the heart of technical SEO, or ‘on-site optimisation’ work. This work is boring, tiring, and frankly, not much fun, but is crucial to the success of a website, especially if, as in most cases, many wrongs are being corrected. A few HTML or metadata changes on a page template can have a dramatic effect on how Google robots are able to understand what the theme of a web page really is. Multiply this by several hundred pages, and rankings and visitors can soon rise.
Working from our aforementioned audit, our SEO team ensure that all online ranking factors are fixed including checking things like broken links, mobile responsiveness, conversion tracking, local SEO factors, among regular checks for the number of pages indexed, and inbound links.
3. Content Writing. Show us a site with excellently-written, long form content on every page, and we’ll show you amazing rankings in Google SERPs. Content and SEO go hand in hand – and to us are one and the same. We are often met with widely-open mouths when we suggest the addition of “two thousand words to the homepage”. But as clients get braver about search marketing techniques, take on our suggestions, and start to rank for phrases that they never thought would gain them business from search rankings, they are usually the party pressing us to add long form content to service and product pages, too.
Content helps in so many ways, and especially content of great length that is interlinked with various key pages in the site – especially if the links are within paragraphs of text, rather than just menu options, or a link above or underneath a paragraph that is describing it. Long tail phrases are much more likely to find your site if it has well-written content that explains various aspects of your service or products. Pages with greater amounts of content are also much more likely to be linked to, or shared on social media platforms.
4. Earning and Building Links. Even those who barely know who the best Manchester SEO agencies are have heard of link building and its largely negative connotations. Building links has a bad reputation for one main reason – the shortcuts that thousands of website owners and search engine optimisation companies deployed over a number of years. Link spamming does still go on to this day, but it is much less prevalent than it once was. We consider attaining new links as a digital PR process, usually encouraging website and blog owners to link to a quality content ‘asset’ on our client’s site.
We consider citations as part of a wholesome link building campaign, and ensure that citation listings happen near the beginning of any SEO work, unless they already exist. “Name, Address, Phone” (NAP) consistency and brand mentions are an ever-increasing Google ranking factor (and other search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo), so this part of link building is crucial to get right.
5. Workflow, consistency, and transparency. We have created first-rate on-page SEO strategies, we love nothing more than to write lots of content, we harness the power of inbound links, but where we feel that we excel over other Manchester digital marketing agencies is in our workflow management and operations.
Through a combination of our operations manager, Cicely, and our workflow software of choice, Notion, we are able to manage client accounts with great precision. Whether building citations, creating an outreach strategy, planning for an off-page SEO review, reporting upon a recent uplift in Google rankings, or the gaining of a new link, we capture every action, and record how long it has taken. Clients are able to see, to the minute, just how much time we have spent on their account.
This makes our client services so much easier, leaving us more time to work on real digital activity. An informed client is a happy client. And an informed, happy client with improving visitor numbers is a content client.
6. Reporting. Monthly SEO reports, whilst necessary, and indeed important, are much less reviewed at Embryo due to the aforementioned workflow management system and practices that we use to run our digital agency.
Our highly image-led monthly reports are very easy on the eye, and spend little time in complicated SEO jargon – or social media, or PPC jargon for that matter.
Clarity is important to us as a business, and we have never felt the need to over-complicate or inflate our words. Clients see right through this. Because of our close relationships with clients, all actions recorded in Notion, and useful monthly reporting, nothing makes us more happy to know which elements of our work has resulted in improved client rankings, visitors, and enquiries/sales.
What is SEO and how does it work? Dan: In a nutshell, SEO is making your website as appealing to Google and other search engines, as they aim to send their users to the best possible websites. Over the years people have tried to make SEO sound more complicated, and whilst there is an understanding needed at quite a technical level to delve into algorithms and other things, if you built your website with the question ‘is this the best possible website I can build, and would users have a good experience on the site?’ you won’t go far wrong, and you’ll rank well in organic listings.
Do landing pages help with SEO? Sam: They can be, but only when optimised correctly. The potential issue with landing pages is that they tend to be very similar, and very thin on content, so not providing the greatest experience in the sense of a query search. It can be tricky to get landing pages right for SEO, but when they are right, they’re no less useful than a normal page on the website.
What is image optimisation in SEO? Sam: Image optimisation is a tale of two halves, the first being focused around ensuring the image is compressed as much as possible without loss of quality. This allows the image file size to be decreased, and therefore load quickly. You should also make sure that you’re serving images which are scaled correctly.
The second half is ensuring that images have appropriate file names and alt text. For example, an image with a file name of ‘IMAGE1.PNG’ and an alt text of ‘IMAGE1’ isn’t useful for search engines, nor people using accessibility software. The filename and alt text should accurately describe the contents of the image – for example, ‘red-car.png’ and ‘red car on a road’.
Is HTTPS better for SEO? Dan: Simply, yes. Having your site on a secure server (which is what HTTPS signifies) is a sign to Google that users on the site can trust you. Most websites can obtain a free SSL certificate, and it’s quite easy to implement. This would be one of my first port-of-calls when looking at a new site from an SEO perspective.
What is on-page optimisation in SEO? Sam: On page optimisation is ensuring that various signals on the pages of a website send the appropriate signals to Google that help to improve rankings. Whether this be great content, improved page titles with reference to the topic written about, or inter-linking content are just a few examples of on-page optimisation.
Is SEO or social media a more important marketing priority? Sam: Digital marketing is working together more than ever before and having a well-rounded strategy including different channels – including SEO and social media – is the key to create the greatest amount of online visibility. Whilst some industries will suit one digital marketing discipline or the other more, it largely comes down to where you audience is looking for your services. Paid options when applying social media marketing also mean that if you’re looking for a quick short-term return this could be the better option – again, depending on your product or service.
What is the best tool to check a website rank? Callum: SEMrush – it can tell us not only where a site is ranking, but the changes in rank over certain periods of time, search volume, visibility and estimated traffic. But what is it that makes SEMrush the ‘best tool’ to track website rankings? Because it’s an ‘all in one’ platform. SEMrush has it all in one place, so any SEO or marketer can check everything, anytime, in the same place. From website audits to keyword suggestions, SEMrush can do it.
What is enterprise SEO? Sam: “Enterprise SEO” is typically mentioned when working with large companies whose websites run into thousands of pages, and in some cases, millions. For this you need a solid SEO campaign managed by an experienced team of people who understand how the strategy can scale and have a positive effect on the website as whole. Managing even thousands of pages individually isn’t realistic, so every decision needs to be based on how it will effect everything, not just a certain area.
How to write meta descriptions for SEO? Callum: Meta descriptions are not as important to successful SEO campaigns as people may think, but they are important to write correctly, so that they entice users to click on an organic listing following a Google search.
How does link building help SEO? Callum: One of the biggest rewards in gaining an increased number of links pointing to your site is gaining Google’s trust. By earning/getting links from relevant and/or high in authority websites, Google will see the trust other sites have given to your site and will start to trust it themselves. The ultimate result of this is Google ranking your site higher for various keyword phrases in its search engine, usually resulting in higher traffic.
Although it sounds easy enough, gaining and earning links has become considerably harder to do over time. Owners of websites are evermore so reluctant to link out for a number of reasons (most ill thought out). And Google loves anything that is hard to do. In terms of SEO factors. the harder something is to do, the more Google places emphasis upon it within its algorithm.
How long does it take for SEO to work? Sam: This is entirely dependent on many different variables including the industry you’re in and the competition level of your target phrases. As a benchmark, you should expect to see some progression by month three of your campaign, and start seeing solid results at around six months.
How do I become an SEO professional? Dan: Practice. Practice. Practice. Not one SEO in the world knows everything, and if they claim they do then block their email address/phone number immediately. The industry is constantly changing which makes things difficult and Google constantly tweaking their algorithm is another factor to consider. To get to ‘the top of the game’, constant practice and research is needed. Testing things is also vital – it’s not uncommon that a great SEO devises a new campaign they’re over the moon with, and it falls flat on its face. Being wrong is not a mistake, being wrong and then employing the same tactic again is when it becomes truly wrong. Everyone will get something wrong (or ‘break’ a website for example). Just make sure you learn from it.
How many keywords should I use? Sam: The days of Manchester SEO companies (and agencies from other locations) offering services that includes a set number of keywords are over. Whilst it is OK to have some phrases you want to rank for, you should instead be focusing on writing excellent content, and increasing overall visibility.
What are the best practises for on-page SEO? Dan: Here are my top 3 tips for on-page SEO:
1. Don’t spam it.
Make sure your content reads naturally. Don’t mention the keyword/phrase you are targeting fifty times in a 300-word paragraph. Google knows what you’re trying to do here.
2. Title Tags.
Keep title tags simple. I’d always recommend following the following format:
‘Product/Service | Brand Name’
I could write a hundred different tips here, but to sum it up in one, it would be: Build your site, and produce content so that reads naturally. If Google can see you’re trying to incorrectly manipulate the rankings, it may work in the short-term but don’t expect this to last very long.
What should I do to get traffic on my site? Dan: Employ the best specialist SEO agency in Manchester (hint!) and save yourself the headache! If you did want to do this yourself, the best way to get traffic to your site is to ensure that you’re adding value with your site. Look at it like this, if you were a user looking to buy a product/service or gather information about a specific topic, would you be happy with your experience on your own site? If not, then make the necessary changes. If you are, Google will have no hesitation in sending your site traffic. Obviously, obtaining backlinks and other factors contribute to the levels of traffic your site will receive, but as a general rule of thumb, this is a good one.
What is Google Analytics in SEO? Callum: As SEO’s, we want as much data as we can get from the sites we work on – from organic traffic to returning users – to help us mould our next campaigns to improve rankings. One of the main reasons we use Google Analytics (GA) is to make sure what work we do is working through iterative reports over time.
What is W3C validation in SEO? Sam: Google understands correct W3C validation as promoting a good user experience, and from various tests that we have done and seen, we think that it is a ranking factor in its algorithms. Google specifically states that broken HTML could result in drops in a website’s crawl rate.
How does social media help SEO? Sam: Social Media can help SEO, but probably only indirectly. A page on your website which performs well on social media is more likely to gain organic backlinks too, which in turn could result in higher rankings for that page. One often forgotten factor is also engagement. If social traffic to a particular page is well engaged, again this could have a positive effect on your rankings as Google will interpret that page as being valuable to users.
Does Adwords affect SEO? Dan: This is a tricky one. Google’s answer would be a categorical, ‘No!’ However, several studies have shown a correlation between budget spent on paid ads within the SERPs and organic ranking improvements. Some argue the more you spend with Google on their Adwords platform, the higher you rank organically – as a sort of ‘reward’ from Google.
Personally, I disagree with this thought. I think it’s simply a case of that if a business is spending a large amount on a PPC campaign, they probably also have the budget to have employed good quality SEO services, too.
How to write SEO content for a website? Sam: The first step is to stop writing content for search engines and start writing content that your target audience is going to engage well with. Look into the successful competition – how have they structured their content? Be sure to include mentions of key subject matters, as well as semantic phrases which are associated with the subject. For example, if you were writing about servicing a car, you should look to include words including engine, oil, checks etc.
What’s your favourite SEO method? Callum: Long-form content based around questions which attract highly engaged visitors to the website. This content should ideally cover all steps of your customer’s buying funnel.
Dan: I love long-form content. It works an absolute treat, and conforms with exactly what Google wants. Content written by industry experts which increases signals regarding expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Long-form content combined with a few links from high quality external sources will get you where you need/want to be in terms of rankings.
What is an SEO-friendly URL? Dan: A URL that a user would be able to work out what the page is about from viewing the URL alone. This isn’t strictly a ranking factor but will improve the likelihood of people remembering it, obtaining backlinks, and people sharing the URL on social media.
How does Google’s mobile-first index change SEO? Sam: Google used to crawl the desktop versions of websites, and from that rank them on mobile device searches, whereas now they’ve switched it around and they crawl the mobile version and rank the desktop from what they find. The main way it has changed SEO is that now you need to provide a great experience to mobile users, especially when it comes to speed, design and user engagement.
Can you explain PPC vs SEO? Callum: The main difference between SEO and PPC is that traffic coming from search engine optimisation work – and therefore appearing ‘organically’ in Google rankings – is free, with traffic coming from pay per click (PPC) being paid for. Adwords (the ‘PPC’ advertisements listed Google search pages) are almost certainly always going to be shown before organic listings in search engine results pages (SERPs), because paid search ads are how Google makes much of its revenue.
Improving search engine optimisation features on your site can result in search traffic that costs nothing to receive, so if you have no budget for paid search, than SEO is perhaps the main way you will receive web visitors. If you use PPC, put simply, you effectively bid against other advertisers to appear in various positions – and in various frequencies – above organic Google listings when users type in searches and receive results pages.