SEO: Do it myself or farm it out?
Should I take the time to learn how to do Search Engine Optimization myself or should I pay a service for this? If the latter, what is a reasonable amount to expect to spend and for how long? Also, what expectations can I reasonably have that this service will succeed in placing my business on the first page of a Google search, etc. assuming they know what they're doing?
My adviceis - it depends . . .
if you have a few hours to spare over the next few weeks, like learning, have accesss to edit your site and are computer literate then do it yourself.
but if you have a few $100 to a $1k to throw at it and time is money, let an SEO guy do it.
Side Advice - if doing with sub-con
Make sure they are a white-hat not a black-hat SEO company. Black hat basically get you up the rankings quickly but use the wrong methods - and if the big G find out they will drop you. . .
Side Advice - if doing it yourself
a) get google analyitcs and webmaster set up and inatalled (you used WP to create site so download the plugins)
b) do nothing for a weeks or so - just monitor the baseline of your site
c) start improving - more succinct title tags, different for each page, the meta tags with keywords, more h1 and h2 sections in the html body, more keyworded html file names ....... just make it easier for G to find your data
SEO is Dead !!!!
Just kidding, I figured that might rile up the SEO experts answering this question. I would suggest farming it our, rather that trying to learn it yourself. I would also look into a solid Search, Content and Social Media Marketing Campaign to compliment your SEO efforts. :-)
I highly recommend farming the SEO out to an experienced person. You are busy running your business and do not need to learn yet another set of skills. SEO can be complex, and is constantly changing.
I agree with Dave W. that you should run the other way if anyone guarantees you the top of Google. Your niche is very specific, and you need to be found by non-profits and institutions.
Your current website needs the meta data that SEO supplies, but there are a number of other techniques we use such as social media optimization, and inbound links. There are also specialized directories and websites for your niche.
SEO does not need to be expensive. Some of us charge a onetime fee, while others charge by the month. While, again, no one can guarantee the first page of Google, it is more important to be found by people who really need your service.
Looks lots like lots of generic answers and opinions here... I actually looked at your profile and went to your website, so I doubt any keyword research has been done or a competitive analysis. The company that built your website did very little "on page" optimization - it looks likes the page titles are repeated and there are no "page descriptions" were relevant keywords to your content can and should be used. The site is built with HTML5 - so it is responsive and mobile optimized. There is no social sharing tool installed -
SEO is complicated, to get good ROI, get help! I haven't gotten in to all of the "off page" optimization required that incurs a monthly fee for the work performed. Who ever you get, make sure they setup Google Analytics and Google Webmaster for you, demand extensive monthly reporting and verify the data!
Don't get an SEO specialist, get someone that is holistic or at least uses an Adaptive SEO method.
Reach out to me with your 5 best competitors, and I'll run a Webscan Report for you with 40 tests & recommendations...
CJ @ 1 Click Solutions in Denver
David - before sending any traffic to your site I recommend making sure it's ready to convert whatever business KPI you have dedicated to your Digital Assets. SEO is like any direct marketing strategy: not being able to measure success means there will be guaranteed failure - no matter who does this task! Ranking first on Google is great. Online conversions more so.
I think an active participation with an SEO expert would be best. Anyone who has been doing this and understands how SEO works knows there are many variables and many best practices.
SEO, these days, is all about relevancy. In the past many black hat tricks got through. Today, every successful website has a person, or more, behind it.
Think about want is truly relevant to your ideal customers. What do they see and look for online? This will help guide to relevant key words.
A great SEO specialist will be able to conduct some research and give you a ball park figure in money and time for maximizing your results. In your contract with them, set-up results based pay and expect outcomes. They can come slow, to be sure, though they should come. Do not pay for simple 'acts' -- pay for results. This puts you in the game as well as you will influence your results along with an SEO expert.
And, one final word of caution -- search engines do not appreciate black hat tricks and many people still use them. If you are into learning how to do this, check out www.QuickSprout.com -- Neil is one of the best in the game.
Yes, anyone can learn SEO, but hiring someone who is dedicated to it, knows all the ins and outs, is alert to the changes that occur often and can move with them can be worth it. Also, time is ALWAYS a consideration - their knowledge and skills allow experts to do things promptly.
I often tell my clients who question when projects are turned over quickly, "You aren't just paying for how long it took me, you are also paying for how long it didn't take you"
Take the time if you have the time. Anticipate, however, that it will take hours each week to devote to the project. Anticipate also, depending on how niche a product or service you have, to devote months to the effort (especially assuming you are starting from scratch) before seeing the results you really want. By spending the hours, however, you should end up with a winning online presence, which to my mind is what SEO at root is about.
A good service may ultimately get you on the first page, but whether you end up there (or stay there) can depend on the competitiveness of the keywords you target and how much time and money you put towards the effort. Assuming they are a "white hat" provider of services, assume as well that it will take time, but that the results should last a bit (no guarantees there), and you run less of a risk of ever being penalized (you don't want that) or simply diminished in rankings (you don't want that either).
We're dealing with ever shifting concepts of what gets websites found, though as search engines get smarter, I think we're seeing an increasing rewarding of quality over gaming the system. So expect to stay on top of technology changes if you do it yourself!
Chief Executive Goat
GoatCloud Communications LLC
It really depends how large your website is - how many pages you have, how many products there are, and your competition. If you're interested in it, you can start by doing the initial research on keywords / back links and see how competitive your market/industry is. Some good tools to play around with are moz.com (open site explorer) and http://www.linkresearchtools.com. No expert can guarantee you the first page - if they do - run the other way. SEO needs to be an ongoing investment in both money and time in multiple facets - on-site content development, offsite link building, backlink monitoring, and social engagement (which is becoming a stronger search signal every day), which is a lot for one person to handle. There's no magic bullet or average cost, it varies on a case by case basis.
How do you use your website? Is it a lead generator or internet sales portal? If it is then SEO will be high on your list of needs. If you use it as an on-line brochure with information and an expansion of your sales and marketing tool box then it won't be AS important.
The question about DIY or hire an expert depends on you own level of competence, available tools and time. Any new skill worth having, including SEO, takes at least 5,000 hours to become competent and 10-15,000 hours to become expert. You will need to make a business decision on how important the SEO portion of your efforts is and how much your own time is worth in this task as opposed to other necessary tasks.
In a small business what happens is that when either time or money get tight - marketing (and SEO is a marketing task) is what gets cut and it should be the last. But then hiring experts at anything from computer code writing to landscaping, to auto repair to SEO is a skill of its own.
You need to learn enough about it to know when your getting what you paid for, what you need, and paying a reasonable price. One key to getting what you paid for is knowing what you want, specifically, the expert to do and how to measure and analyze the results.
You know yourself the best. Are you a quick learner? Moz and SearchEngineLand have excellent beginner guides. How much do you value your time? If you are high dollar earner, the least expensive route is to learn enough to recognize the con jobs and the bad advice, and then hire a small local firm starting out that will work with you. Always develop a relationship with whoever you hire - you must have a personal contact.
My very best advice is when anyone tells you something, Google it. Learn to recognize the authorities, and if you see something that conflicts with what you have been told, ask about it..
LinkedIn has a number of SEO groups - they are populated by people who don't really know what they are doing, but if you see a few people that are commended for their answers, ask them your questions. This forum too is good for that, but of course LinkedIn is more established.
The very basics of SEO are that you need to know the top ranking factors - they change, so every three to six month Google "top SEO ranking factors" - and Google the terms you don't know.
As far as getting to the first page of search engine results - totally depends on the competition. I've had webpages I created go to the first page immediately upon creation, because the on-page optimization was good and there was no competition. But if you go up against established, well-SEO'd sites, be prepared for an investment.
SEO is different for local vs. national vs. online-only business. When you ask a question like how much, be very very specific in what you have and what you are looking for. That is the only way to get a good price with few to no surprises.
What kind of SEO are you needing? Nationwide coverage, local or worldwide? You can learn to do it all yourself, but I found most business owners don't have the time or effort to learn and do it.
The cost analysis should go something like this: How much is your time worth? How much time would it take for me to learn all the ins and outs of SEO? Afterwards, how many hours can I spend a month keeping up with all the changes/trends, etc. that occur in the SEO world?
Then compare that to fee that some companies quote.
NEVER ever go with a company that guarantees 1st page! If they succeed it is black hat (bad) and temporary. Realize that SEO is a long term continuous endevour. Things that worked 2 yrs ago could very well be a penalty today (research quality backlinks and Panda Penguin algorythm), so go with someone that uses logically good methods of SEO (sometimes slower results but it sticks through algorythm changes).
If it is Local SEO that is best for your business I have a 42 pg pretty thorough eBook on how to do it yourself. Let me know if you would like a copy.
I have adopted a mixed approach to SEO. I do some things on my own like page management and adding new pages. My SEO company does back-linking, copy writing as well as other services.
I personally am in the very competitive industry of merchant services. If your company is in a less competitive industry you should see even better results from a SEO campaign in about 6 months.
I have been taking the mixed approach and with paying $600 a month I have gained great placement on a vast number of keywords relative to my business. The keywords have been continually climbing with more being added each month.
If you would like me to pass you on to my contact at the company I have been using with great results feel free to reach out to me.
SEO takes time and lots of it. Successful strategies revolve around content creation and then optimizing the content and "getting it out there." Sometimes the optimization part can be 2-3X as long as creating relevant content. So if you write a mind-blowing 1000 word blog in 2 hours, it can take up to 6 to make sure it is fully optimized and placed in high-traffic arenas. Having a team for this is usually the most effective route.
Personally, I would recommend a solution of "both". There are lots of freelancers and companies that can offer this sort of service and it would start you down the road while you are learning the ins and outs for yourself. It will give you an idea what to look for and how the process can be executed.
There are no guarantees of first page placement, but a reputable freelancer or service should certainly be able to give you an idea of which keywords will serve your purposes best.
I would also recommend adding an upgrade to your Google services so that you can more accurately track your results.
For a small company, unless you can comfortably carve out a few hours a day I suggest leaving it up to the experts with your constant oversight. SEO should be a percentage of your overall internet advertising and marketing budget. Devoting 25% is a reasonable budget. Keep in mind that you will not see immediate direct and quantifiable results as you would with display ads, PPC, banners, etc. Don’t believe anybody that guarantees search placement results. Too much is outside of their control. Rather you can and should expect month over month improvements with significant gains inside 12 months. Remember that SEO is far more than search results. It’s an investment in the company’s perceived reputation and credibility which pays enormous dividends for numerous segments of the business in addition to sales.
Hi David, I think your decision should really come down to two questions:
1) Do you have time to devote to SEO development yourself? If you do, great! If not, then you should probably enlist help of a professional.
2) How will you measure your conversions from the web? Being first page on Google is all fine and good, but if you don't have conversion points on your website, nor are you inquiring over the phone or in-person about where your inquiries are being generated from, you won't be able to effectively measure your efforts.
Definitely ensure that if you're going to use an SEO professional that they are using White Hat SEO efforts and have an understanding of how search algorithms are working these days as SEO is really just one branch of an overall Content Marketing Strategy.
My two cents!
Farm it out; it's too much to take on when you've got your own expertise to apply to your core capabilities/business. As for cost, you pay for what you get. Those who play in this field know it's competitive and they won't (or shouldn't be) out-pricing their prospective business. Longevity: you have to monitor it over time. The data is always changing, your competitors are always optimizing, etc. And once you get to that 1st page of Google, you have to fight to stay there.
That's always the same balance : make yourself or make it do 8 Have You the qualifiactions therefore. We live in a more and more specialized world. You have to caluclate evrything and after again the balance for profitability.
I am not convinced you really need to spend that much time or money on it - unless of course you are talking to an SEO person.
In any case you need to see ROI. You need to look at it from the business side, not the Google side. If it isn't generating revenue for you, then what good is it?
But if you want to do it and it isn't in your bag of tricks, outsource it. That will save you time, money and headaches in the future. But remember, you need to keep it going - it isn't something you can do for a day, a week a month and expect continuous good results.