Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key element of any modern digital marketing strategy. It’s a vital way to ensure that you appear in a great position within relevant search engine results, thus directing the right traffic to your products and services and making conversions more likely.
Simply put, if you’re not doing it, you’re likely to lose custom to brands that are – and you’ll become harder and harder to discover online.
When it comes to SEO, a popular way to achieve high quality results is through the use of a specialist agency. Of course, services of this kind come at a cost.
While a significant portion of your business’s budget should always be spent on marketing, it’s important to keep a tight rein on your expenses.
So, should you invest in the services of an SEO agency, or might it be better to do it yourself? In this article, we explore the questions you should ask yourself before making a decision either way.
1. How Established is Your Business?
You may have already made a name for yourself within the relevant field. If your aim is to maintain your standing and keep your place within the search results, it may be enough to teach yourself – or a team member – the basics of SEO and go from there.
However, the help of SEO professionals can be invaluable for a company that is being built from the ground up, as the first few months are key to growing discoverability, trust and a strong reputation.
For this reason, you may prefer to hand all of your digital marketing over to the experts, at least in the early days.
However, as we’ll mention in further detail below, a new business won’t always have the budget to outsource key elements to pricey service providers.
2. How Big is Your Company – and its Budget?
If you have a good-sized budget to play with, it is almost always worth investing in SEO assistance from established experts. After all, if things go well, this service will pay for itself and then some.
Cutting corners when it comes to marketing is always a bad idea. There will always be another business waiting to leap into your spot in the search results once you let things slip.
Of course, if you are operating on a shoestring, you may have no choice but to manage your own search engine optimization. However, you’ll still need to pay this aspect of your business as much time and attention as you possibly can.
3. Who is Your Target Audience?
As with any marketing scheme, it’s vital that you consider who it is you are trying to attract.
SEO can be tailored to global, national and local audiences, so it isn’t always as clear cut as “SEO for large scale marketing, DIY for small scale”.
In fact, promoting yourself to a very specific audience often takes expertly developed tactics – while more general targets are easier to reach by yourself.
It’s worth noting that local SEO is still fairly straightforward to implement in-house, and there are a lot of free tools to help you do this, such as Google My Business (which helps you to optimize your Google Maps listings and search engine description).
There are plenty of free and affordable keyword search resources available, too. You can use these to research long tail keywords – lengthy and more specific search terms that allow you to narrow down your audience.
For example, if your company manages auction property sales in Manchester, UK, you’ll probably want to attract sellers and bidders who are focussed on that particular area of the world.
For that reason, you’ll need to include specific keywords within your site’s copy, such as “auction property in Manchester UK” in order to attract audiences that are most likely to “convert” and become paying customers.
4. What is Your Level of Computer Literacy?
How much would you need to learn in order to manage your own SEO? If you’re already pretty competent at all things tech and IT, learning an additional related skill may not be too much of an undertaking.
However, if you’re really going to be building your understanding of this technique from nothing, perhaps it’s best to pass this task to an expert – so that mistakes can be avoided, stress can be reduced and time can be saved.
5. What Does Your Schedule Look Like?
Speaking of time, you need to ask yourself whether it is realistic to take on an additional duty on top of everything you’re already doing to manage your business.
A successful SEO campaign needs a significant amount of attention and strategy. If you can’t invest the time and energy required, your approaches will be ineffective – so you may as well have done nothing.
What’s more, if you decide to add SEO duties to the workload of an already swamped employee, you’re not likely to see good results.
Ensure that anyone on your team who is chosen to manage SEO is capable and happy to take on this additional task – and that it isn’t likely to fall by the wayside as they handle their other duties.
If you’re considering hiring a new employee to undertake SEO, it’s always best to compare the cost of doing this against the fee that would be charged by an agency.
Of course, agencies usually manage the accounts of multiple clients, so you might decide that having your own dedicated SEO officer is worth any extra expense – but, at the end of the day, that decision is up to you.
You should consider all of the above questions before making your final decision between the use of an SEO agency and handling this element of your digital marketing in-house.
Remember, SEO should be afforded as much attention as the rest of your marketing strategy – so be sure to plan as effectively as possible and consider the challenges and benefits of each approach before you choose.