Originally, we were just going to put up a post about how to do SEO on your own. The honest truth is that you may not need to hire someone for SEO. You may be capable of doing it on your own. Sure, there are a lot of valid reasons to hire someone – a freelancer, an agency, a consultant – but there’s also situations where you may just be spending extra money.
As it developed, we realized it would probably be much more helpful to know who and when to hire for SEO, and then to talk about how to do SEO on your own if you decide that hiring someone isn’t for you. So, here we have part 1 – who and when to hire (or not), and part 2 discussing how to do SEO on your own is here.
How SEO Basically Works
SEO sounds complicated – and it basically is. But, not everyone is able to have an agency do it for them, at least to a competent enough level that doesn’t justify the extra expense. There are highly technical components of SEO. However, a lot of SEO is simply creating a really good website that has really good/helpful information. If you have a website that makes the end user happy, that’s ultimately the goal of SEO.
Google’s end goal is to provide search results that are exactly what the searcher is looking for. This keeps the user coming back, and ultimately providing ad revenue. To do this, they have a highly complicated algorithm of over 200 factors that undergoes hundreds of changes per year. It’s a lot to keep up on. But, if you remember that this is simply to help people find the best answers to their questions, it gets much easier. And basically, an oversimplification of the algorithm breaks it down to these three elements:
- Code – Basically, how is your site built? Is it mobile friendly? Does it take forever to load? Is it structured well to provide clear signals to the search engine?
- Content – Does the site have high quality, substantial content? In other words, if you have pages for 250-300 words, do you really think that’s a good enough answer and in depth enough, or do you think Google is going to find an in-depth article of 1000 words instead (hint: most likely, yes they are).
- Links – Who else points to your content? This is Google’s way of seeing who is legitimate and counts somewhat as an endorsement. More links from quality sites in relevant niches typically lead to better rankings.
So, yes, some of this is hard to do on your own. The code typically takes some specialization. But as far as content is concerned, most businesses have the capability to write high quality content that answers the questions of their users. They can promote the content on social media and other avenues to get it noticed and hopefully linked to. They can write content for third party sources. Time may be an issue, but the capability is there.
So, it winds up being a mixed bag. There are elements you can do on your own, and some you’ll need help for.
Five Times You Want to Hire Someone for SEO
We believe that many companies – especially small companies and sole proprietorships, can perform SEO at what would be an acceptable level. In these situations, budgets can be tight. Even some larger companies may not need to hire outside, as their internal teams can handle what they need. However, there are a handful of specific times that we believe it is important to hire someone outside.
1 – You Don’t Have the Time
You may know what to do, but if you don’t have time to do it, it really doesn’t matter. If you know it’s important, and you know you won’t do it on your own, hire someone.
2 – You Are Rebuilding a Website
This is one of the biggest issues we see with SEO. We routinely have calls from concerned businesses because they get a new website and all of the sudden, their traffic goes away instead of grows. There are some good web design companies that know what they’re doing with design/development, but do not understand SEO. Make sure the company that is rebuilding your website fully understands SEO (and sadly, they’ll all tell you they do, so make sure they give you specific best practices they’re including). Very often, when web development companies are building new sites, we work in conjunction with them to consult from an SEO standpoint, making sure that best practices are built in and completed.
3 – You Have a Situation that Requires Additional Knowledge or Expertise
Some sites are more complicated. Some industries are difficult and require specialization. And sometimes, you may know what you’re doing but the situation is unique. In these cases, it’s typically worth the money for an outside person to come in and lend a hand. It’ll probably be cheaper in the long run when you think of all the time and energy invested in solving a problem that someone else can do fairly quickly.
4 – You Just Need Some Help with Direction
Maybe you have all the content resources you need. You have a marketing team that knows out to reach out and get publicity. But for SEO, you just need to know where to start. This is a really good opportunity to bring in a consultant to do an analysis, provide direction, and review on a regular basis (quarterly, monthly, etc.). Outside help for SEO can provide a fresh perspective and make sure you’re pointed in the right direction.
5 – You Really Want to Invest in Growth
If you’re serious about growth (not all companies are, and that’s okay – seriously), and you want to put a lot of energy into marketing, hire someone for SEO, whether it be an agency, new hire, or freelancer. Someone who really knows where to focus, where to find opportunities, and how to execute can bring a lot of value to your business.
How to Know Who to Hire for SEO
There are different types of people you can hire to assist you in your SEO efforts. Who is best depends on what you need.
Hire a freelancer when – Your budget and needs are a little lower. You may not get as quick of a response time, and work is typically done during “free hours,” but you’ll often get the same person that would be doing work at an agency, but for a lot lower price.
Hire a consultant when – Your needs are specialized (toward SEO), and/or you’re looking more for guidance or specialized help – project work, site audits, etc. if you’re just getting started with SEO, a consultant could be a really good option
Hire an agency when – You have a large number of needs, likely among multiple disciplines (web development, print design, PR, etc.). Agencies typically require bigger budgets, but can also be very worth the money. Make sure that you also hire an agency appropriate for your size.
Do it yourself when – You have enough expertise on your subject matter, and the availability to write consistently in order to build up your content. This is also a very good option if someone else is going to have a very hard time understanding your subject matter. If your budget is low, and you’re willing to learn, there are a lot of resources out there that can help you. Also, if you’re going to do it yourself, we very highly recommend that your site is in WordPress – it’ll save you a TON in the long run.
How to Get Started
There are a few things you can do to get started. If you’re going to go the solo route, we recommend the previously mentioned blog post here about how to get started. If you’re going to hire (hire someone in house, an agency, etc.), the first thing you need to do is get a list of your needs, goals, and budget. Then start looking around to see what is going to be realistic for you. Please don’t contact anyone until you have these three items in writing, and agreed upon by decision makers. You don’t have to share this with the agency/hire up front, but you are going to save yourself and the other party a lot of headache.
If you’re stuck getting started, either with creating that list or just trying to figure out who to contact, drop us a line and we’ll be glad to help you.