This article was first published on Sep 19, 2016, and last updated in February 2020.
To hire an SEO company, or not to hire an SEO company?
That is the question facing many small business owners.
For a quick recap, SEO stands for search engine optimization, or the strategies that help your website rank higher in organic search results when someone looks for your products or services.
In this article, I will assume that you know the value of SEO and will instead focus on whether you should hire a company to do the SEO for your company’s website. The dilemma that most small business owners face is whether the effort, time, and money involved in SEO is worth it. I have compiled a three-point flowchart to help you decide if hiring an SEO company is right for you.
How long can you wait for results?
If you can wait for long-term results, go with an SEO firm.
Search engines want to see a consistent pattern of SEO work. Therefore, it usually takes three months of work to see ranking improvement, and six to nine months for first-page results. As you already know, if you want to get more calls and increase your visibility, you also want to be on the first page.
After those six to nine months of work, and once your services reach the first page, can you stop?
If you see success during this time period, I would recommend continuing to build and expand your visibility. If you taper off or completely stop doing SEO while other websites in your industry are still working on their SEO, you could start to slide off the first page.
Can your business wait the six to nine months it usually takes for returns, or do you need immediate results?
If you want short-term or immediate results and are willing to pay more, you could consider paying for ads on a cost-per-click basis. This kind of marketing yields results faster, but it is also more expensive and will only give you results as long as you’re paying. A typical digital marketing agency can help you on this side of things but SEO firms may offer some beneficial insight as well.
SEO is like a garden in that you need to maintain and consistently work on your website to take care of the weeds. As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. You provide services to your client, you take care of finances, you take care of your employees, and you perform many other time-consuming tasks. Do you have the time to work on SEO in addition to everything else you do as a business owner?
If you have the free time, you could consider doing SEO yourself. But DIY SEO can only bring so much progress and if you make a mistake, you could cost your business significant traction. If you are willing to spend more time investing and waiting more for long-lasting results, or if you think your business will last longer than nine months, then SEO is a viable and necessary solution.
You can improve your website’s SEO yourself if you are willing to learn and put in the required effort.
Google has laid out the rules and best practices to follow when doing SEO. You would need to learn about links, authority, relevance, updates, penalties, manual actions, Google Analytics, Search Console, keywords, business profiles, technical website changes, page speed, meta tags, URL structure, and a host of other necessary SEO topics.
When done correctly, SEO provides tremendous value for your company. When done incorrectly, it can hurt and impede the visibility of your website.
SEO has a lot of technical aspects. Are you comfortable making changes to your website? Do you know which kinds of links you can build without getting your website penalized? Do you know enough, or are you willing to put in the effort, to properly set up and optimize your website?
If you can positively answer yes to all of these questions, then you could consider doing SEO on your own. If you are unsure, then consider hiring an SEO company. In the meantime, you can optimize your business listings which should help your website achieve greater visibility to a degree.
Do you have the funds necessary to invest in an SEO campaign?
A big difference between doing SEO on your own and hiring a company is the cost.
That’s not to say that doing the work on your own is free because it still requires time and effort. A typical SEO campaign could cost anywhere from $200 a month, for a non-competitive local service, to over $6,000 a month for a more aggressive and competitive national product. Are you ready to invest your money for at least six to nine months?
This amount probably sounds like quite a bit, so is it worth it to your business? SEO is known to be one of the cheapest forms of lead generation. If you are looking to expand your business and want to invest in longterm results, I would recommend hiring an SEO company. If you have lots of extra time but little money, then you could consider doing the SEO yourself.
Because SEO involves a lot of minutia and nuances, make sure you do your research before hiring an SEO company.
Ask these questions:
- How long has the company been around?
- How successful are they in helping small businesses?
- What value can they offer?
- Do they have someone to walk me through the complexities of SEO?
- What kind of reporting do they have?
- How transparent are they?
- What do people say about them online? (Note: No company is perfect, and red flags should go off if a company looks perfect through their reviews.)
- How much do SEO services cost?
In most cases, you should consider SEO as a viable option to expand your small business. If you do not have the money to hire an SEO company, there are still options for you! Boostability specializes in helping small and medium businesses on practically any budget. If you want to see definitive progress in your marketing efforts, then the answer to the question “Should I hire an SEO company?” is a definite yes!
Read more articles about our SEO philosophy to see why we are experts in the field. Please comment below with tips or questions you have found helpful while deciding and hiring an SEO company.