Should You Outsource Your SEO or Do It Yourself?
SEO can be straight up scary. It’s expensive, time consuming, complicated and doesn’t guarantee results. But for a small business it’s also not something you can ignore.
It’s initially difficult to see how such a huge investment could pay off. A big part (and arguably the most difficult) of an SEO’s job is just helping clients understand why they need SEO to begin with.
And it is a lot of money, a decent SEO campaign will cost you around $1000 monthly; keyword here being monthly, it’s an ongoing expense. Because for SEO to work you have to build it up over the course of a few months at least.
Ain’t nobody got time for that! Unless you’re an SEO geek.
So how do you weigh up this expense against its benefits? How much of this can you do on your own and when should you look for a professional SEO?
Here’s an outline for you, you might be surprised that the benefits of SEO actually go beyond search engines.
How Long Does SEO Take, Also, How Long is a Piece of String?
I’ll tell you a secret.
I am a musician (ok, that’s not really such a big secret). I work under the name Emily Rigz. Google that name and see what comes up in the results.
I dominate the first 5 pages of Google when you search for my stage name. I achieved this with relatively little effort to the point of it almost being an accident.
One day I Googled my name to discover that Emily Rigz dominated a huge portion of the SERP. How you ask?
There is no one else in the world who works under my name. That, and there’s been a steady flow of content published online with my name in it from myself and other people for a number of years.
Not only does Google not have a lot of options to sort out when my name gets searched up, but the only name that fits it is pretty credible. There’s enough about my music from enough different sources for Google to decide I’m actually a thing (thanks Google).
The reason I’m telling you this is to illustrate why SEO is so different depending on the business, keyword and the campaign. It’s totally natural to want to know when you will see results and how much you will need to spend to get them, but the answer is a vague one, because like science, the result depends on all your variables.
Even though it's fun, this search result isn’t overly useful for me (remember I said I didn’t set out to rank my stage name, so it’s no biggy). Why? Because while there are people who search me up by name, it would be more useful for me to appear in searches relevant to my goals as a musician, like “musician for hire in Sydney” “songwriters in Sydney” etc.
Anyone searching for me can find me no-problemo, but I’m not being exposed to a new audience through the SERPS.
My point here is that appearing in Google can be quite easy if you’re trying to rank for a keyword with little to no competition. It can be as easy as doing what I did…which was nothing intentionally for SEO ranking.
But, if you’re, say, an SEO company trying to rank for the word “SEO” there’s going to be a lot more competition.
Here’s a snap of the search volume and top of page bid for some common SEO related keywords.
What Else Needs to Be Considered?
So, now that we’ve established that SEO is unique to each company’s position and goals, let’s take a look at what else is worth considering.
Can’t I Just Have a One-Off SEO…Polish Up?
Well yes, especially if you’re website is new and you just want to get it set up correctly for SEO.
It’s not going to make a difference to where you show up in search engines but I still think it’s a good idea. Here’s why.
It’s All About User Experience
People get all kinds of crazy about SEO (including me, because I’m a nerd), but it’s really easy to obsess over your SEO the wrong way.
You’re ready to throw all caution to the wind and propose to Google. It’s that serious. But the thing is, Google doesn’t want your love. What do I mean?
Google’s best piece of advice (in my opinion) is to stop focusing on making websites for them and start focusing on making websites for your users.
Google’s main goal is to serve up the best user experience to their searchers, so they are very interested in finding websites that offer the best user experience to browsers. We can spend all day analysing Google’s algorithms, and even if they didn’t change roughly 500 times a year we’d still be missing the most important point.
Google is looking for websites made for users, not search engines.
Read that again and repeat after me.
Google is looking for website made for users, not search engines.
So, the first step here is to relax. Yes, Google is an extremely complex machine, but we can all relax by remembering the above mantra when making decisions.
My point here is that getting your website set up for SEO initially is going to make it a better website. Here are some of the things to check up on in this initial set up:
Page loading time
Image and video alt-text (though this is becoming less important)
Quality content like blogs, images, text that’s easy to read
Relevant external links
Links to social media
And this is just to get you started. It’s understandable that you might not even know what a lot of those things are. Learning about all this and how to do it is not easy, which is one thing to consider about outsourcing all this or doing it yourself.
What Are the Benefits of a Long-Term Investment in an SEO Campaign?
The SEO game has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. As Google becomes more advanced at finding genuine, high quality and trustworthy websites, it’s pushed businesses to make these qualities their goal.
As a result, SEO is overlapping into a number of other areas of digital marketing. Not on social media? Google knows. Got shocking reviews? Google knows that too. Linking to useless, spammy websites or got them linking to you to create backlinks? You guessed it, Google sees you!
Because SEO is so in line with what works for the user, you can’t have good SEO without improving your online presence holistically. Oh, this is another thing I want to make you all chant, but I think you get the point.
A good SEO will not just focus on keywords, in fact, they usually won’t just focus on your website. They will look at every aspect of your online presence and weigh up how this is shaping your SEO, how it can be improved and exactly how to do that well. Don’t just take my word for it.
This is why so many digital marketing agencies don’t just do SEO; they also do social media, content marketing, online reputation management, PPC, influencer marketing and so on, because all of these things feed into each other.
So, I think it’s fair to say that if you want to invest in digital marketing at all (and let’s face it, you kinda have no choice about that), SEO is going to be a part of that.
So, Should I Outsource My SEO?
Here’s what I recommend.
Figure out what your goals are
There’s going to be a really seriously massive difference to the cost of your SEO depending on what your goals are. If you’re a small business and you want to rank locally, that’s very different to a huge corporation that needs to rank for a large number of competitive keywords.
Spend some time thinking about what your goals are at the moment and how SEO is going to help you reach them. You can’t hide from SEO forever, but it’s a big investment and so it might not be something you should start spending on right out of the (business) gate.
Decide on a Budget
Now it’s difficult to give a general figure about the cost of SEO because it depends on each business, but it’s a safe ball park figure for small business to be ready to invest around $1000 a month into a campaign.
You might not be ready for this kind of investment straight away, but you should start thinking about when this will fit into your budget.
Remember, this is an investment. Once your SEO starts to pay off you will have boosted a lot more than just the initial clicks and conversions. SEO is a major trust builder. It says that your website is high quality, that you’re one of the top businesses in your area or industry and that you’re credible.
At Some Stage, You Will Want to Outsource Your SEO
If you’re a small business on a budget you might consider taking the job on yourself and see how you go. And you know, you can do this at first. In fact, I think it’s a good idea to know how your website works and learn the basics of SEO if you have time and want to.
But if you want SEO to be a game changer for you eventually it’s going to take up too much of your time. It’s up to you when you decide that SEO is a priority, but unless you actually are an SEO yourself, you should palm this job off onto someone who:
Won’t be kept awake at night by it
Has at least a whole day a week to dedicate to it
Already knows what to do
I’m guessing that that’s not you. Which is fine, that’s why SEO people have jobs.
Where to Now?
Don’t feel bad if digital marketing and all its little areas are totally overwhelming to you.
Truthfully, it’s overwhelming for everyone even if it doesn’t (always) feel overwhelming to professionals.
It is overwhelming. That’s why you can now do whole courses just in digital marketing, because there’s a huge need for professionals who only do social media, or only do SEO.
Feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like more info, help with your SEO or keeping your blog up to date, I can do all that! Or you can check out the rest of my blog and become a fan if you like ;)