Many small businesses seek to expand their presence online and better leverage their website to attract customers, but are unsure of the best way to proceed. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a great way to help more people find your business, but it is not an easy process to do successfully.
So is it worth it to try and handle the SEO process yourself? Or is it better to spend the money and hire a professional firm? Here are some issues to consider.
- SEO requires a thorough process if you want significant and lasting results
- In addition to the initial setup, an SEO campaign requires regular maintenance and updates
- SEO done poorly is a waste of time and money
- Do you have time to do all this yourself? Or the money to hire a full-time employee to do it?
Let’s go over these in greater detail.
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SEO Requires a Thorough Process
SEO is, fundamentally, not an easy process. It requires attention to detail, web design aptitude, copywriting skills, link-building relationships (or the ability to forge those relationships) and quite a bit more.
Google’s algorithms have a highly diverse set of criteria that they look for, and of course getting people to visit your site is only step 1. Once you have visitors, you need something compelling to show them.
Doing this yourself is possible, but you need to put the time into it to both learn how to do it correctly, and focus enough to handle all of the different details that need to be ironed out.
Hiring a professional firm, on the other hand, will take up much less of your time. They know exactly what to do because they’ve done it before, and succeeded, with a number of clients already.
Once you have communicated your goals to the SEO provider and they understand what you are looking for, the process is almost completely hands-off for you. (though of course a good firm will be regularly communicating with you to ensure that you are happy and that the campaign is working at maximum effectiveness).
Regular Maintenance and Updates
SEO is NOT just something that you do once and then it’s done. If you want to hold onto your gains and improve even more, it’s vital that you continue building links, adding content, and keeping up to date on relevant keywords and search patterns to your business.
Not to mention, Google will periodically change their standards and send everyone scrambling to adjust.
Even if you’re willing and able to spare the initial time investment to analyze and optimize your site, you may not be able to dedicate regular windows of time to generate new content and secure new links.
You do have a business to run, after all.
Poorly Done SEO is Counterproductive
If you spend any time on SEO, it’s important to know what you’re doing. Incomplete efforts can lead to a huge expenditure of time without any significant results.
A campaign that isn’t working can bring negligible movement in search results, no significant additional traffic or visitors that aren’t really interested in what your business is selling.
And this doesn’t even take into consideration the damage that can be done to your brand and business by a truly bad SEO campaign.
Certain practices (including link schemes, loading pages with irrelevant keywords, cloaked images and others) will lead to a “manual action” from Google, which can range from a demotion in the search results to outright de-listing.
A professional, well-run SEO campaign will be effective at both bringing in new visitors and converting them to paying customers.
And a good agency will know to steer clear of anything that will get Google to penalize your site in their results.
Do You Really Have Time?
A common complaint among small business owners is that there simply isn’t enough time. And largely, this is true. Running a successful business requires someone to be working in a number of different roles simultaneously.
Do you really need MORE on your plate right now?
If you do have the expertise and the time available, then yes, it may be worth a try to run your own SEO campaign. If you don’t, and if you’re looking to expand your brand online and help your customers find you, you’ll want to hire an outside agency.
Most SEO campaigns cost significantly less than it would to hire a full time employee, but the effect of a good campaign will massively outweigh the cost.