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SEO agency Manchester

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We know you’re not going to read all of this page. It’s long. That’s deliberate, it’s the first sign we know what we’re doing with SEO. You just want to know why we should be your SEO agency. Here’s the 411:

  • Forensic SEO rooted in data – No feelings here, just actions backed up by what will have the biggest impact
  • Over 60 years of experience – We hire only the best SEO minds from across Greater Manchester 
  • No smoke and mirrors – Brutal honesty only 
  • Death to mediocrity – We are polarising, push boundaries and never settle for subpar performance
  • Integrity is at the forefront of everything we do

And a free website audit covering SEO, PPC and Paid Social. Try before you buy and all that.

Death to mediocre SEO in Manchester

The Manchester SEO scene is polluted with mediocrity. Every other search result for ‘SEO Manchester’ sounds exactly the same, filled with consultants, freelancers and SEO agencies advertising their awards that were bought with the squandered earnings of unwitting businesses they have since left for dead. Makes us sick. 

Google’s search results are filled with bottomfeeders that want to hook you in with empty promises from ‘friendly experts’. Before you know it, you’re thousands of pounds deep in an SEO cesspit that is draining your bank account and your sanity. Hook, line and sinker. 

We’ve been there. Dragged through the mud by friends turned foes. The deceitful digital domain loves those with the deepest pockets, but is unkind to the underdogs. That’s where we come in.

We steal the market share from your competition to give to you. Robin Hood with laptops. If you want your customers to find you as easily as you found our SEO Manchester page, you want the right people in your corner. Forensic SEO with integrity. No fuckwittery. 

Terrify your competition. Become the dark horse.

From the horse’s mouth

Manchester SEO 5-star reviews

SEO cons to avoid like the plague

The Manchester SEO landscape is filthy, rotten and broken. Filled with egos eager to embezzle your money, brand and sanity for shiny SEO awards. Don’t fall for it. Avoid these like the bubonic plague.

Any agency that’s adding ‘SEO Manchester’ to the end of every title or sentence – If your agency thinks this still works, they’re living in 2013. Google is basic AF. Made by man. It knows where you are based on your IP address, search history, device and other invasive features of the algorithm they’d rather you not know about. Bung in black-hat tactics like keyword stuffing and you’re doomed from the start.


Promises to get you to number 1 overnight – Red flag alert. The only promise they can keep is that they will bleed you dry. No-one can promise a specific position in the search results and if you’re speaking to a Manchester SEO agency that can guarantee it in their contract, put us in touch.  We’ll set them straight.


PDF reports as evidence of “impactful work’ They’re not, they’re just PDFs. Real results are more money in your bank account. You are not a monthly report. Your fee is not for a PDF with some green ticks and a graph. We are here to directly impact your bottom line, lead gen and ecommerce alike. A light in the oppression. That relaxing Martini at the end of the rainbow tastes all the sweeter when made from the tears of your rivals.


Vanity metrics Eyes on the screen mean nothing as a standalone metric. What is the point of thousands of users seeing your pages on the SERPs if they’re not clicking through and converting? A focus on reach or impressions as a way of measuring SEO “success” is a cheap trick. Don’t fall for it.


Ballpark Code for ‘we don’t want to give you actual figures because we’re not sure we can achieve the results’. If your agency can’t give you measurable predictions, they’re probably bluffing their way through your SEO optimisations based on feelings. Yuck. Digital dominance has to be rooted in data.


“Friendly” Do one. We’re not here to be your bezzie. Go to Spinningfields if you just want SEO schmoozers that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Fuzzies don’t pay the bills. 

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E.E.A.T the competition

What is good SEO, Manchester?

Good SEO gets you seen; great SEO gives your business access to a whole new level of sales and profits. 

Bottomline, you need to show Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. This cannibalistic acronym is Google’s little template for how it ranks websites. No authority means no chance.

You can be standing on the street corner under a flickering street light screaming for Google to notice you, but unless you’re feeding the digital monster their nectar of choice, they won’t eeat your goods. Hungry bellies and empty pockets all around.

Here’s how to play ball with Google:

  1. Expertise – extent of knowledge
  2. Experience – first-hand experiences
  3. Authoritativeness – being a known expert
  4. Trustworthiness – showcasing the first 3






Basically, you need to show Google why you’re hot stuff in the language that it is programmed to understand. The Google algorithm is just a program at the end of the day. Man-made fluff. 

Surface-level content that sounds like chat-GPT could have rattled it off will not help your rankings. (Though it can be a good tool – we’re not afraid of using AI to our advantage). You have to show a deep understanding of your industry, and more importantly what your audience actually wants to know. Search intent is everything. Not only that – you have to signal to Google why what you have to say should bear more weight than the thousands of other pages on the SERPs. Bit of a big ask Google. Five-star reviews, certifications and accreditations, and evidence of your experience on topic – whether that’s number of years or lived experiences – all show that you know what you’re doing. Put all of this information onto a well-structured website that excels in core web vitals and you’ve got the foundations for digital dominance. 

SEO is a piece of the proverbial…when you know what you’re doing. We found like-minded digital marketing experts wandering the shadows of Deansgate, equally tired of the skyscraper Manchester agencies who seduce unwitting business owners with generic tactics shrouded in cash and served with a luke-warm half-pint of Amstel. Absolutely rank. We combined over 60 years of experience to establish a killer team founded in forensic data and honest actions. No smoke and mirrors- just SEO.

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Isn’t SEO just a load of keywords?

We wish. Once upon a time, SEO involved stuffing a load of keywords onto your page and hiding them by making the text the same colour as the background. The good old days. Now that’s called black-hat SEO. So unless you want to dress up as a witch for Halloween this year, pop your pointy hat down and get off keyword planner. 

SEO is a combination of 3 things; 

  • Technical –  ensures your website is technical and structurally set up to meet the requirements of search engines by optimising crawlability, indexability, rending time and loading time.
  • Content –  aka “On-page SEO”, this includes optimising your written content, HTML headings, metadata, structured data and internal linking.
  • Digital PR – combines a set of marketing strategies to raise brand awareness and online presence with increased social mentions, link building, and referral traffic.

They must be executed together in synchronicity to have any real organic impact. And that precise combination changes website to website. Throw into the mix constant updates to the Google algorithm and user search behaviours and you’ve got one hell of a job keeping on top of your organic performance. (Our job, specifically).

SEO is evolving constantly. What worked 1 year ago does chuff all now. That’s why the team at our SEO agency in Manchester vigilantly stays ahead of industry trends. Search engine sleuths. We see ‘em coming before Google does.

Why is SEO important?

The power of well executed SEO is that it builds you a foundation that no competitor can infiltrate. Organic search puts you front and centre of your desired audience whenever they use Google to find “best SEO agency in Manchester” (for example…), attracts more users to your website, and ultimately converts users into customers. Lovely jubbly.

Ultimately, it makes you more money by:

  • Sending you to the top of search engine results pages
  • Building a solid brand reputation
  • Improving user experience and journey on your website
  • Making you an authority in your industry
  • Reducing reliance on Ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon or NOTHS which take huge chunks of your profits
  • Terrifying your competition


But let’s forget every bit of jargon or process for a second… It’s completely logical that SEO is critical. See how far you get enjoying the fruits of being bottom of page 7. Try checking the financial reports of those at the top of page 1. It’s that simple.

Maybe this will help; think about advertising during the Superbowl versus advertising in the local gazette. Page 1 v Page 10. Different price tags, different results for sure. Billion dollar Coca Cola aren’t rushing to take out double pagers in the Chorley Chronicle. That’s reserved for handymen and “legit” massages in the Other Services.

Search engines are league tables that matter. You get money instead of 3 points. Top 4 is the bare minimum.

We give your competition sleepless nights. Ready to be the chill on the back of your competitors’ necks? 

The unholy trinity

SEO services in Manchester

SEO is made up of 3 pillars: Technical, On-page and Off-page. Alone, they cannot support a full organic marketing strategy. They rely on each other to properly succeed. With the powers combined, they can end the catastrophes of poor rankings and increase your organic profitability. The power is yours.

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Technical SEO

Technical SEO lays the foundations for search engines to find, organise and understand key pages on a website. It’s essential. A powerful website is fundamental for keyword rankings. But it’s is also really, really dull. It’s all the shit you don’t understand about websites that need to be fixed and optimised for maximum results. (Our forensic 100-point Technical audit would bore you to tears). You don’t need to know this stuff to enjoy the results. Our Technical search engine optimisation specialists do the work for you.

We will dissect your Screaming Frog crawls, txt files, page load speed and every meta description to find errors that are limiting your website’s potential. From site maps and indexing issues to implementing structured data and SERP features, we get your business to the top of page one with calculated and precise actions.

On-Page SEO

If Technical is the foundation of your website, the On-page SEO is the bricks and mortar. This covers any optimisations to your written content that improve your organic presence, rankings and revenue. It’s not just keywords on a page. Don’t waste your time handing the task over to some intern in marketing using the Yoast tick box. Leave it to the elites.

With careful aim, we target your content with the right search terms and search intent to make your audience, and Google, stand up and take notice. Tone, length and keywords are only the beginning. Boring product copy is transformed into SEO prose and ignored blogs become researched organic traffic generators while compelling CTAs convert users into customers. Make your competition sweat.

Digital PR

Digital PR, paid press releases and free blogger links are what SEO agencies stuck in the 00s do. We fix your backlink profile and make your brand known using creative and researched PR campaigns that journalists would fight for. Less dogmess press updates, more feature stories.

The Digital PR experts at Dark Horse harness relationships with press and media to target nationwide and industry specific audiences and get your website links, organic traffic and conversions. We proactively seek out opportunities to gain new backlinks to your website whilst reactively seeking out external linking opportunities. Even stealing them from your competition.

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Beyond the 3 pillars of SEO

Structurally speaking, search engine optimisation is supported by the 3 pillars of Technical, On-page and Off-page optimisations. But there’s so much more to SEO, Manchester…

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Local SEO

Google algorithms are sneaky AF. It knows how to respond to location-based search terms different to regular search queries, and show you the results near you. Mad. If you want to  get seen in your local area, a standard digital marketing strategy ain’t going to cut the mustard. You need to target the local algorithm with precision. Put you on the map.

We put you on the map with tailored Local SEO services to where you’re based and the areas you cover. Local keyword research, geo-location pages, optimised Google My Business listings and local link acquisition are just some of the tools in our arsenal that put your business front and centre in the virtual village square. And let your competition know you own the turf.

We make you world famous in your area.

Mobile SEO

Over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. We’ve all got one glued to our hands at all times. Basically bionic. We bet you’re even using your fancy new iPhone to look at this page right now. Making sure your website can be found and used by mobiles is logical in 2023. Without thought through mobile SEO, you’re basically throwing half of your traffic down the drain from the start. 

The most important part of good SEO for mobiles is a responsive design. Ever been on a website on your phone and your screen is filled with an image that doesn’t let you scroll or click anything? Yeah, that’s shit mobile SEO. Responsive mobile designs allow websites to automatically adjust their layout and content to fit different screen sizes, meaning your users can easily view and interact with the website regardless of the device they are using. Google really loves responsive designs, because it eliminates the need for separate mobile versions of a website and makes it easier for search engine crawlers to index and rank the site. Anything that makes things easier for Google.

Our mobile SEO experts turn your slow-loading, non-responsive website into an accessible digital wonderland for that half of your audience that will be using a mobile to view your website. With a revised website design and page speed optimisations from compressing images to minimising code and scripts to leveraging browser caching, we make sure you don’t lose out on that traffic or money in your pockets.


SEO Content isn’t just keywords. Content marketing plays a vital role in boosting organic website traffic, conversions and brand awareness. By consistently producing valuable and informative content, you are showing your audience, and Google, that you are an authority in your area whose word can be trusted. 

Creating content that is valuable, relevant and trustworthy (see, there’s that E.E.A.T again) earns you a big gold star for backlinks. If other websites see your content as the Holy Grail on a topic, you best believe they’re going to share, reference and link to your golden nuggets of wisdom. Backlinks increase your online visibility, drive referral traffic and signal to google that your website is trustworthy and authoritative.

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International SEO

International SEO it’s in the name, right? It helps you grow your organic presence in international markets to reach your audience globally. It’s like geotargeting, but much, much bigger. Think France, Spain and the United States over Bolton and Didsbury (arguably worlds apart but we move on). 

An international SEO strategy needs to help Google identify which countries you are targeting and which languages you users so the algorithm can recommend the most relevant version of your website to users in each location. With a combined approach of Technical, On-page and Off-page, our SEO specialists will turn your website into a global dominating force.

Website migrations

There’s a lot that goes into SEO website migrations. If one cog doesn’t turn in unison with the rest, the whole machine breaks. That’s a one-way street to losing your organic rankings, traffic and backlinks. We’ve seen this happen time after time as we’re swooping in to the rescue after dodgy developers and those who “know Technical SEO“ have caused your website to tank. It’s harder to salvage a website from a botched SEO migration than it is to get it right at the start. Whip out your fedora and trench coat and do your research before committing to any website migrations.

Ecommerce SEO

Over 90% of the UK buys online. Fact. If you’re touting your wares in the back of the Yellow Pages (does that still exist?!), you’re missing out on valuable digital real estate that will shift your stock and make you money. Making sure your online store is set up technically, and that you have all the category pages users need to find and browse your inventory is bare basics for Ecommerce SEO, whether you’re using Shopify, Magento, or any other online store front.. Knowing how to execute this with precision is where the Ecommerce SEO specialists come in.

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How does Google even work?

Google’s algorithm is the driving force behind search engine rankings. It determines which websites appear at the top of search results and plays a crucial role in attracting organic traffic. Even better, it changes all the fucking time.

To make the most of SEO efforts, it’s essential to understand Google’s algorithm, track its updates and adapt strategies accordingly. Tracking algorithm updates can help businesses stay ahead of the competition and adjust their optimisation techniques to align with Google’s evolving requirements. Keeping up with algorithm changes also allows for proactive optimisation, ensuring that websites maintain their rankings and continue to attract relevant traffic. By staying informed and implementing best practices, businesses can unlock the full potential of SEO and maximise their online visibility.

Forensic SEO reporting

We know what it’s like to be scarred and broken, let down by SEO agencies that never deliver and just tell lie after lie to keep you down. We, too, searched high and low to find the right partner to lift us out of the pits, only to be left wallowing in the dark. So, we became the change we wanted to see.

Transparent, honest and open – just like our reports.

Partner with our SEO agency in Manchester and we’ll send you a meticulous monthly report that tells you exactly what each of our SEO experts are working on across Technical SEO, Content and Digital PR, how each of these actions has impacted your site, and where you rank vs your competitors. No fluff, no pomp, just the hard facts.

Our monthly reports include:

  • An executive summary with the key KPIs you care about most – and how we’re performing vs the set targets
  • An overview of your site’s organic performance, including user engagement and conversion metrics
  • An analysis of your keyword profile, how your visibility is increasing, where improvements are needed and how you fair vs competitors
  • A summary of the Technical work carried out and the impact it’s had on your site
  • A rundown of the Content work conducted and the subsequent increase in visibility and performance
  • A recap of the Digital PR campaigns sent to journalists, the number of backlinks acquired and their effect on your domain authority
  • A clear outline of the upcoming work

We only hire the very best SEO experts. The smarter we work, the more money we make you. We have client relationships spanning years. That’s not down to business patter and fancy lunches, it’s down to the cold hard cash we are handing them. Want to get in on the action?

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Meet the team

The Manchester SEO team that will terrify your competition

Good SEO allows local businesses to enhance their online presence and increase visibility within their target area by optimising their website for local search terms, such as “restaurants in Manchester” or “plumbers near me”. Local targeting lets these businesses attract a stream of local customers who are actively searching for their products or services.

For Ecommerce stores, digital marketing is crucial for driving organic traffic and increasing online sales. By targeting relevant keywords with optimised category page content and product descriptions,  Ecommerce businesses are able to improve their search engine rankings and attract potential customers who are more likely to convert into paying customers.

Service-based companies, such as accountants, lawyers and consultants, also benefit greatly from optimising their websites establish themselves as industry experts and attract organic traffic from individuals actively seeking their services.

SEO is great. It allows businesses to compete with larger companies and reach the top of search engine results, resulting in increased visibility, targeted traffic and ultimately, higher conversion rates. Now what business wouldn’t want that?

What businesses is SEO suitable for?

Every business benefits from SEO, regardless of the size, industry or business model. You need to dominate Google if you want to be found by users searching for what you have to offer.

Businesses that can reap the benefits of this digital marketing channel:

  • Local businesses
  • National businesses
  • International businesses
  • Small businesses
  • Big businesses
  • Ecommerce businesses
  • Service-based businesses
  • Freelancers
  • ANY businesses

How long does it take for SEO to work


Short answer: It typically takes 4-12 months for SEO work to have an impact. There is no definitive timeframe, however. It takes how long it takes, and depends on:

  • the age of your website
  • the health of your website
  • the quality of the content on your website
  • the quality and health of you backlink profile 
  • how much work has been done previously
  • how much competition you’re up against
  • how good your strategy is
  • how much man-power you have to execute all the tasks in your strategy

Ultimately, your leads and sales won’t dramatically improve overnight. Many SEO agencies in Manchester will sell you the promise of results in a certain timeframe. They are lies, no one can promise you this. Not even Google themselves.

SEO in Manchester is rife with sophists spinning you tales of page 1 rankings for keywords that have over 30,000 monthly searches. Here’s the hard truth; it ain’t gonna happen. Not immediately at least.

We won’t sell you a set time where the SEO impact will “happen”, but we do vow to deliver transparent strategies and report on meaningful results throughout the partnership. 

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Month 1

We build you an SEO strategy that delivers. Our Tech, Content and PR teams analyse your existing website to identify the key priorities that will most impact your performance in line with your business objectives. They’ll outline a unified 12-week expert plan to turn the cards in your favour. Should we identify any immediate fixes for your website, we’ll also action those straight away to get the ball rolling.

Month 2-3

We use our years of experience to fix your most pressing Tech errors that are sabotaging your website, turn your worst Content into hypnotising copy that hides keywords for Google, and run Digital PR campaigns that will connect your brand with high-value media.

Month 4-6

With continued Technical optimisations, Content creation and backlink development, you should expect to see a noticeable increase in rankings, organic traffic and lead generation.

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Month 7 – 12

Real results grow with time, so the momentum built in months 4-6 will allow for significant improvements over the next 6 months. User journey is improved and those leads are converted into sales.

1 year and above

You’ll have dominated a good number of top spots – but be warned, complacency is for the lazy. Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving and there’s always more to be done to improve search engine optimisation. Our Manchester SEO experts focus on maintaining those top positions, while expanding to your next target.

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How much does SEO cost?

You better sit down for this one. The average cost for an SEO agency in the UK is £1200 – £9000 per month. Gasped? Us too. The exact amount you pay will depend on the location and size of the agency. And whether they want to rip you off with sky high fees. Integrity is sparse in the SEO landscape. 

Manchester SEO agencies are likely to be cheaper than any you’ll find in London. Period. Think about this, are your monthly fees being spent on impactful SEO work that makes a difference to your bottom line or on the swanky office overlooking Southbank? Don’t waste your money.

When considering how much SEO costs, don’t think of it as a cost. SEO is an investment. Your website is the digital home for your business. You want to build strong foundations, and have a structure that encompasses all the rooms you need. You might even build it with extensions in mind for future growth. SEO is the same. It takes meticulous planning, time and effort to get it right. The true cost of SEO should be measured in gaining market share, getting coverage and earning your place on the results pages.

We’ve been accused of charging too little. Maybe. Based up north, we’re an SEO agency in Manchester that keeps its overheads down to give you the best price. Dark Horse has people who really get it, making noise and delivering results that leave you wondering why it took you so long to give us a call.

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What can you expect from our full SEO agency service:

  • Quarterly comprehensive SEO audits which include Technical SEO, Content and Digital PR strategies
  • Technical SEO, from structured data to web coding
  • Content SEO that lures people in
  • UX/UI and URL reviews to optimise for humans AND Google
  • Brand authority campaigns researched and written by our Content specialists
  • Creative Digital PR and Outreach campaigns
  • SEO experts demystifying the fog of search engine optimisation
  • White hat SEO strategies – we look down on agencies who still do 2007 link buying
  • Ascendency and imperium

If you want to leave your competitor running scared, then find out if we can work together. Call us, we are your watchful protector.

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Why choose Dark Horse as your SEO Agency?

The Dark Horse SEO team is known for revealing harsh truths. This is a team of search engine optimisation elites who examine websites and find every error, gap and opportunity. Vigilant, forthright and meticulous SEO strategies designed with your commercial goals in mind.

The team’s ambition is high – they’re not here to make friends. They’re here to right the wrongs in your account and destroy your opposition and grow your business from 7 to 8 figures.


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Find our SEO Agency in Manchester

You won’t find Dark Horse rubbing shoulders with the likes of Spinningfield SEO agencies. They’re a dime a dozen. To find Dark Horse, you need to step into the shadows. Our SEO agency in Manchester is hidden to the South of the land, just below the M60. Look to the skies and follow the bat signal towards Alty and you’re on the right track. We’ll be waiting.

Having trouble finding us? Don’t sweat it. The streets of SEO agencies in Manchester can be hard to navigate. Give us a bell on 0161 883 1094 or email us (if that’s more your thing) to find out how our SEO team can get your business noticed by Google.

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Find out more about SEO


Victoria Roscow

What is cloaking in SEO?

In the world of search engine optimisation (SEO), there are various techniques and strategies that website owners use to improve their rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). One such technique is cloaking, which has drawn both attention and controversy in…

Do I need an SEO agency?
Do I need an SEO agency? - Expand

That depends on whether you want to make more money or not. (We think the answer is yes). An SEO agency is there to guide your organic marketing strategy and ultimately get you more leads or sales. If that sounds good to you, give our SEO agency in Manchester a bell.

Can I sign up for a multi-channel retainer?
Can I sign up for a multi-channel retainer?  - Expand

We’d love you to! Our SEO agency doesn’t just do killer organic marketing; we dabble in the paid stuff as well. You’re more than welcome to boost your sales with our premier league PPC and Paid Social teams who can work alongside our SEO services.That’s called synergy.

Does Dark Horse forecast SEO results?
Does Dark Horse forecast SEO results? - Expand

Is the Pope Catholic? Not knowing or planning what impact your SEO efforts are going to have and how you will benchmark and measure them is digital marketing suicide. We take into account where your current rankings, click-throughs, traffic and conversions are and tell you where we see you in 3, 6 and 12 months time with our SEO efforts. 

Does SEO increase sales?
Does SEO increase sales? - Expand

Yes, SEO can definitely help increase sales. By optimising your website for relevant keywords and ensuring that your website is easy to navigate and user-friendly, you can attract more organic traffic to your site. This increased traffic can lead to more potential customers discovering your products or services, ultimately, resulting in higher sales conversions. Additionally, by appearing higher in search engine results, you can establish your brand as a credible and trustworthy authority in your industry, further boosting sales.

Does Dark Horse work in partnership with large in-house teams?
Does Dark Horse work in partnership with large in-house teams? - Expand

Yes! Our SEO team in Manchester work with any in-house team to deliver our SEO services, whether that’s a single Marketing Manager or a broad team of marketing specialists. We’re all there for the same goal after all – to make you more money.

Why should I use an SEO agency rather than do it in-house?
Why should I use  an SEO  agency  rather  than  do  it  in-house? - Expand

Expertise, time, resource and cost – there are a lot of reasons to choose an SEO agency in Manchester rather than hire a full-time employee to do the same work. Mostly, though, search marketing is an ever-changing landscape that requires expert knowledge to really impact your organic visibility and traffic. Dark Horse has specialists in each of those verticals to build you an strategy that will crush your competition.

Why should I use an SEO agency rather than a freelancer?
Why  should  I  use  an  SEO  agency  rather  than  a  freelancer? - Expand

Getting a freelancer to do your SEO is like asking one man to play every instrument in an orchestra – they’ll be some level of expertise but overall the music will be slow, messy and out of tune. We hire experts across Tech, Content and Digital PR to draw on their unique, specialist knowledge to cover every aspect of search engine optimisation. The perfect symphony.

What is the difference between SEO and PPC?
What  is  the  difference  between  SEO  and  PPC? - Expand

SEO and PPC are both search marketing strategies channels, but the main difference is the respective cost. Where the former improves your website’s rankings in search engine result pages through organic (read non-paid) means, like optimising website content, link building and fixing any technical errors, PPC is a paid advertising model where you pay a fee every time one of your ads is clicked. PPC ads are typically displayed at the top or bottom of search engine results pages, and are a way to quickly drive traffic to a website. However, as soon as PPC activity stops, so will the traffic and revenue associated with it. SEO can take more time to have an effect on your online presence, but you’ll reap the rewards long after any activity stops, assuming you put the right investment and time into it.

Is SEO or PPC better?
Is SEO or PPC better? - Expand

We’re a bit biased on this page of the website, so for now SEO is better. Head over to our PPC page and you might find a different answer though.


The answer to whether SEO or PPC (Pay-Per-Click) is better depends on your specific business goals and budget. SEO is ideal for long-term, sustainable growth and organic visibility, as it requires time and effort to build authority and relevance on search engines. On the other hand, PPC can provide immediate results and targeted traffic, but it comes at a cost for every click. It’s essential to consider your overall marketing strategy and goals when deciding between SEO and PPC, as both can be valuable tools in driving traffic and conversions to your website. Ultimately, a combination of both SEO and PPC strategies may provide the best results for your business.

Is SEO worth it for small businesses?
Is SEO worth it for small businesses? - Expand

Yes, SEO is definitely worth it for small businesses. It allows small businesses to compete with larger companies on a level playing field in terms of online visibility and attracting potential customers. By optimising their website and content for search engines, small businesses can increase their organic traffic, improve their search engine rankings and ultimately, drive more qualified leads and sales. Investing in SEO can provide long-term benefits and help small businesses reach their target audience effectively.

What are the benefits of SEO for my website?
What are the benefits of SEO for my website? - Expand

More money. Firstly, SEO helps improve your website’s visibility on search engines, making it easier for users to find you. This increased visibility can lead to more organic traffic and ultimately more potential customers. Additionally, a well-optimised website is more likely to rank higher in search engine results, which can increase your credibility and trustworthiness with users. SEO also helps improve user experience on your site by making it more organised and easier to navigate. Overall, investing in SEO can have a significant impact on your website’s success and growth.

What if I'm not in a position to hire an SEO agency yet?
What if I'm not in a position to hire an SEO agency yet? - Expand

That’s okay, we’re not going to force your hand to sign a contract you aren’t ready to commit to yet (unlike every other SEO agency in Manchester). While you’re readying your website to work with an SEO agency, why not see what our free SEO audit comes up with so you know what SEO tasks we will work on when you do feel it’s time to come on board? What have you got to lose.

What industries does Dark Horse work with?
What industries does Dark Horse work with? - Expand

Literally any. Ecommerce websites, accounting, fish filters, ear doctors, plasterers, cloud based storage software, crotchless tights…You name it, our SEO agency can work on it.


What input do you need from your clients?
What input do you need from your clients? - Expand

We want to hear everything about your business. Who you are, what you’re all about, your target audiences, what’s working for you and where you want to see the SEO improvements. You will have the most valuable information about the inner workings of your business that no analytics tool will have access to, so your insights will be one of the most valuable aspects for our SEO strategies. And your sign-off of the work, of course.

What is SEO management?
What is SEO management? - Expand

SEO management involves overseeing and implementing strategies to improve a website’s visibility in search engine results. This includes keyword research, on-page optimisation, off-page optimisation and monitoring website performance metrics. All of this is essential for ensuring that your website ranks well in search engines and attracts organic traffic, ultimately leading to increased website visibility, brand awareness and potential conversions.

What other digital marketing services does Dark Horse offer?
What other digital marketing services does Dark Horse offer? - Expand

As well as delivering the best SEO services Manchester businesses will find, Dark Horse also offer PPC services and Paid Social services so you can choose the best marketing channels that will have the biggest commercial impact for your website. Usually it’s a mix of all three, but our free website audit can tell you exactly where we see the biggest marketing potential for your business.

What to look for in an SEO agency?
What to look for in an SEO agency? - Expand

When looking for an SEO agency, it is important to consider their experience, track record and expertise in the field. A reputable agency should have a proven success record with past clients, and be able to provide case studies or testimonials to demonstrate their effectiveness. Additionally, it is important to look for an agency that stays up-to-date on the latest SEO trends and algorithms, as the digital landscape is constantly evolving. Communication and transparency are also key factors to consider when choosing an SEO agency, as you want to work with a team that is responsive, proactive and able to clearly communicate their strategies and results.

Why isn't my website ranking on Google?
Why isn't my website ranking on Google? - Expand

Because your SEO is poor. There is very rarely one single reason why your website isn’t visible on the SERPs. It could be due to Technical issues with your website, such as slow loading speed or improper use of keywords. Your Content may not be optimised for search engines, or you may have a lack of quality backlinks pointing to your site. It is also possible that your website has been penalised by Google for violating their guidelines. Whatever is holding you back, our team of Manchester SEO specialists will identify the specific issues causing your website to not rank.

Should I be doing both SEO and PPC at the same time?
Should  I  be  doing  both  SEO  and  PPC  at  the  same  time? - Expand

A well-rounded digital marketing strategy should combine both. While SEO focuses on building organic traffic over time, PPC helps to drive targeted traffic to your site immediately. Consequently, PPC can help to fill in the gap while you’re waiting for your SEO efforts to pay off, while search engine optimisation can help to improve your website’s visibility and drive more  traffic over time, decreasing your reliance on paid channels and increasing your profitability.

How do you create an SEO strategy?
How do you create an SEO strategy? - Expand

Creating an SEO strategy involves identifying keywords that are relevant to your business, optimising your website’s content and structure, building high-quality backlinks and monitoring and adjusting your strategy based on analytics data. It is important to set clear goals and objectives, conduct thorough keyword research, ensure your website is user-friendly and mobile responsive and regularly update your content to keep it fresh and relevant. Collaborating with SEO experts or agencies can also help in creating a comprehensive and effective strategy beyond what the average Joe can come up with.

How does Digital PR contribute to SEO performance?
How  does  Digital  PR  contribute  to  SEO  performance? - Expand

Digital PR improves your site rankings by increasing both the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your website, which, in turn, increases your website’s visibility and authority in the eyes of search engines. Digital PR also increases your brand awareness by getting brand mentions in online publications, potentially increasing your leads and conversions.

How do you ethically build backlinks?
How do you ethically build backlinks? - Expand

Building backlinks ethically involves creating valuable and relevant content that naturally attracts other websites to link back to yours. It is important to focus on quality over quantity, as search engines like Google prioritise backlinks from reputable and authoritative sites. This can be achieved through guest blogging on reputable websites, providing valuable resources and information that others in your industry would find useful and engaging with your audience on social media to encourage shares and links back to your content. Avoiding spammy tactics like buying backlinks or participating in link schemes is crucial in building backlinks ethically.

How does on-page content contribute to SEO performance?
How  does  on-page content  contribute  to  SEO  performance? - Expand

Your website won’t rank for relevant keywords if there’s no content on page to target it. A strong content marketing strategy will optimise each page towards a set of relevant and specific keywords to improve your visibility in search engines for those keywords. Good content should also be tailored to the needs of your audience, helping to engage and inform them, and come from trustworthy sources that showcase your knowledge and expertise to build authority.

How does Technical SEO contribute to overall performance?
How  does  Technical  SEO  contribute  to  overall  performance? - Expand

Think of Technical SEO as the foundations of your house – if they’re not strong, the whole building will crumble. This ensures your site is easily crawlable and accessible, well-structured and user-friendly, fast and mobile-friendly. The better your site performs technically, the more search engines and users will enjoy using it, and the higher it will rank.

How long does it take for SEO to work?
How long does it take for SEO to work? - Expand

The time it takes for SEO to work can vary depending on several factors such as the competitiveness of the keyword, the quality of your website, and the amount of effort put into your SEO strategies. In general, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to see significant results from your SEO efforts. It’s important to be patient and consistent with your SEO efforts as it is a long-term strategy that can bring sustainable results over time.

Is Dark Horse a specialist SEO agency?
Is Dark Horse a specialist SEO agency? - Expand

We’re a specialist SEO agency in many ways. First and foremost, we are elite specialists in SEO. We hire only the best brains in SEO, Manchester businesses deserve no less. But we also specialise in a few key areas of SEO, such as Local SEO, International SEO and Ecommerce SEO to name a few.

Is SEO ongoing or a one off project?
Is SEO ongoing or a one off project? - Expand

SEO is an ongoing process rather than a one-off project. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing (thanks, Google), so it’s important to consistently update and optimise your website to maintain visibility and rankings. Your competitors know this and are also working on their SEO strategies constantly, so you need to stay ahead of the game by continually improving and adapting your SEO efforts. This ongoing approach ensures that your website remains relevant, competitive and visible to potential customers.

How do you measure and track SEO results?
How do you measure and track SEO results? - Expand

Measuring and tracking SEO results can be done using various tools and metrics. Some common ways to measure SEO results include monitoring keyword rankings, organic traffic, backlinks and conversions. Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help provide insights into website performance and track progress over time. Additionally, utilising tools like SEMrush or Moz can help analyse competitor rankings and optimise SEO strategies accordingly. Ultimately, your Manchester SEO agency should be consistently tracking and analysing these metrics to effectively evaluate and adjust your SEO efforts for optimal results.

How long is an SEO contract with Dark Horse?
How  long  is  an  SEO  contract  with  Dark  Horse? - Expand

As it takes time to reap the rewards of SEO, a typical contract lasts 12 months and then moves into a rolling monthly agreement after that. Don’t worry, though, we’re not crooks looking to lock you in unnecessarily. Contracts can vary based on the current performance of your website, the organic opportunity, and how long it will take to see notable results.

How much does SEO cost?
How  much  does  SEO  cost?  - Expand

Our SEO campaigns start at £1,500 per month, though the fee will vary based on how many hours you invest in. To deliver the best results for you, we recommend a set number of hours based on how long we think it will take to achieve your business objectives. We then charge a flat hourly fee for those hour, providing projections and options to align with your budgets and goals. Speak to our sales team to discuss our costs further.

Does Dark Horse undertake SEO projects and ongoing retainers?
Does  Dark  Horse  undertake  SEO  projects  and  ongoing  retainers? - Expand

To impact your organic performance, we recommend investing in a long term retainer. However, our SEO company Manchester also undertakes short term projects, including in-depth audits, site migrations and on-page strategies. We’ll give you the heads up now, though, our clients are usually so impressed with our project output that they end up signing a retainer too.

What happens once I become an SEO client?
What  happens  once  I  become  an  SEO client? - Expand

You’ll have taken the first step towards making more money!

  • Onboarding: We start by having an onboarding call to introduce you to the full team, fill you in on our ways of working, align on your business objectives and discuss targets
  • Auditing and strategy: Our team spend the first month auditing your site from a Technical, Content and Digital PR perspective, aligning internally on priorities and developing a coordinated 12-week strategy that works towards your goals. We then present it to you, get your approval and start work
  • Monthly reporting: Each month, we send out a report, providing an overview of what’s been done so far, how these actions are benefiting your organic performance and what future actions will be taken to further improve results
  • Quarterly reporting and strategy reset: At the end of each 12-week strategy, we review progress to date, look at what worked and what didn’t, and create a new strategy to replicate and build on that success
  • We then repeat this process each quarter to keep delivering exceptional results
What does the SEO team at Dark Horse look like?
What does the SEO team at Dark Horse look like? - Expand

We have a large team of SEO experts here at Dark Horse – and no one is a junior. You can visit out about us page to meet the team in detail but here’s a quick overview:

  • Our Head of SEO and their right wing look after overarching strategies and department processes
  • Our Head of Technical and their team specialise in all things technical, implementing fixes to get your site working as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • Our Head of Content and their team specialise in content auditing, strategy and copywriting to deliver content that ranks, builds authority and drives consumer trust
  • Our Head of Digital PR and their team perform backlink audits, link reclamation strategies, campaign ideation and more to get you links and brand mentions

We’re a well-oiled and coordinated machine that is ready to get you to that top spot.

Who will be my day-to-day contact once I am a client?
Who will be my day-to-day contact once I am a client? - Expand

We don’t rely on account managers at Dark Horse. Instead, you have direct access to the relevant person working on your website – no middle man. If you have a question about the content strategy, for example, you can reach out directly to the content manager looking after your account. The same applies to all verticals. Email or call us anytime between 9 and 5 and they’ll get back to you directly.

Does Dark Horse work with e-commerce clients?
Does Dark Horse work with e-commerce clients?  - Expand

We love a good e-comm site. From fashion retailers to skincare, and pet supplies to model railways, we’ve worked across a wide range of retail sites and made their website’s shine, from Magento stores to WooCommerce. Give us a little Shopify and some product pages, and we’re ready to roll.

Does Dark Horse work with lead generation clients?
Does Dark Horse work with lead generation clients? - Expand

We’re not a one trick pony. We work with a wide range of lead generations clients across a variety of industries, from delivery services to quote comparison websites, and health and safety specialists to electric vehicle charging point installers. If you’re looking to generate leads, you can count on us.

What CMS’ does Dark Horse work with?
What CMS’ does Dark Horse work with? - Expand

Whatever content management system you use, we can use it too. We do have a soft spot for WordPress, Shopify and Magento though.

Can Dark Horse work alongside our in-house SEO team?
Can Dark Horse work alongside our in-house SEO team? - Expand

We’re always happy to support and align with your in-house marketing team. Whether you need us to audit your site and propose a strategy that you then execute, or you want to create content in-house and just have us optimise it, or just need support on Technical fixes and Digital PR, we can adapt to your needs.

What SEO tools does Dark Horse use?
What SEO tools does Dark Horse use? - Expand

At Dark Horse, data is everything. It informs every decision we make, so we use an array of SEO tools to gather as much information as possible.

  • Auditing: We’re forensic with our audits. We use ScreamingFrog to crawl through every inch of your website and find every flaw, big and small. Duplicate content, multiple H1s, excessively long meta descriptions – if it’s there, we’ll find it
  • Performance tracking and analysis: You can’t beat Google Analytics (even if GA4 is less user friendly than Universal Analytics) or Search Console. We’ll use them to track how much organic traffic your site is getting, how well it’s converted, and how many impressions and clicks your site is getting for the keywords it ranks for (among other things, of course, but we won’t divulge all our secrets just yet)
  • Keyword research: SEMrush, AHrefs, SEranking, Keyword Planner – you name it, we use it
  • Link and mentions tracking: TalkWalker and Google alerts are musts for tracking brand mentions and link acquisition. We also use Prowly to gain access to journalists, magazines, regionals and more, capturing live coverage and mentions as they come in
Does Dark Horse conduct cross-channel campaigns?
Does Dark Horse conduct cross-channel campaigns?  - Expand

Absolutely. We might be SEO legends now, but Dark Horse’s roots actually lie in PPC. Our team can join forces with our PPC counterparts to create unbeatable paid and organic search marketing campaigns that help you dominate across the board. PPC gets you leads quickly, while SEO works on your long term visibility. The two teams also align on which keywords convert best to inform the organic strategy.

Can I work with Dark Horse if I’m located outside of Manchester?
Can I work with Dark Horse if I’m located outside of Manchester? - Expand

We love to work with our neighbours and have plenty of Manchester-based clients, but we don’t discriminate. It’d be unfair to deny our skills to those outside the M60. Wherever you’re based, our Manchester SEO services are available for you. We’ve had clients based everywhere from London to Dubai, and Ireland to Germany.

Does Dark Horse do SEO on Shopify websites?
Does Dark Horse do SEO on Shopify websites? - Expand

Yep – we’d even go as far as saying we’re Shopify specialists. Whether you’re currently using Shopify, thinking of migrating to it, or looking to migrate away from it, we can help you with all of your ecommerce website’s needs.

Does Dark Horse do SEO on Wordpress websites?
Does Dark Horse do SEO on Wordpress websites? - Expand

If you use WordPress, our Content team will love you forever. Easy to use and update, we definitely have a soft spot for this CMS and work with an array of clients who use it too.

Does Dark Horse do SEO on Magento websites?
Does Dark Horse do SEO on Magento websites? - Expand

Customisable, scalable, flexible, and easy to integrate – we can see the benefits of using Magento. We’ve optimised and worked our magic on a range of Magento websites, and we’ll happily do it again.

Can Dark Horse work with a custom CMS?
Can Dark Horse work with a custom CMS? - Expand

Give us a CMS and we’ll work with it. Our team is well versed in CMSs and can adapt to your needs. We might need a developer to help with some additional functionalities or design but we align on the details together later.

What is included in my monthly SEO report?
What is included in my monthly SEO report? - Expand

If it’s important to you, we will report on it. After aligning on your business objectives during the onboarding call, we create a personalised report that provides insight on what matters most to you. Typically, reports include:

  • An executive summary
  • Performance tracking vs targets
  • Overview of work carried out by each vertical and impact to date
  • Insight into next steps
What should I do if my website has been penalised by Google?
What should I do if my website has been penalised by Google? - Expand

Okay, first things first: breathe, stay calm and keep a clear head. Now you can work on identifying the cause of the penalty. Head over to Search Console and read Google’s notification about the violation. It should give you more information. Use that to identify the issue, then start rectifying it. You may need to remove spam or low-quality content, fix some technical issues, or ensure your site is in compliance with Google’s guidelines. It might take some time for the penalty to be lifted, even after the issue has been corrected.

Other things we do


Digital Audit

There is no room for mediocrity in the future. We will forensically retire your incumbent agency.

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Paid Social

They haven’t got mortgages so why not take their savings instead of Netflix. Paid Social so startlingly revolutionary that it could make Gen Z vote Tory with Kirsty Allsop as PM.

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PPC Service

PPC results to make you cry tears of joy.

PPC results to make your competition cry. Period. Make a Martini out of them.

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