This can be a difficult question to answer because there are many types of businesses — some which could use the expertise of an SEO Expert such as an independent provider or SEO Agency.
Do You Already Have a Website?
You should first have a website with some key pages before you consider hiring an SEO. If you don’t have that in place yet, consider setting up a well-structured website first along with a content strategy. Some pages or sections you may consider for a simple website include:
- Home Page
- Contact Page
- Services Page
- About Page
- Blog Section
- Category and Product Pages (Ecommerce)
You need to be sure these pages are all well polished with great and unique content about your business, products and services. A lot of your time will be spent on the blog and promoting your content.
For a personal site, lifestyle business, or simple Ecommerce store with just a few products, consider WordPress along with a plugin like Woocommerce. In the case of more complex or larger ecommerce businesses, I recommend Shopify.
How Much Time Do You Have To Spend on SEO?
You can spend as much or as little time as you want. It mostly depends on how fast you want to advance and the level of quality you deliver. Simply putting out a ton of content on your pages that is not useful and unique will not get you very far.
Time is a huge commitment and it is key in making SEO work. The time you have available will depend on whether you can handle your own SEO or hire an Expert.
If you have a simple site and can spend a couple of hours per week on optimizing it, you can handle your own SEO. However, you’ll need to allocate this time on things like managing content writers (unless you write your own content), doing keyword research and tracking, offsite SEO, keeping up to date on SEO news such as Google updates, etc.
On the other hand, if you do not have the time to do it yourself or have to run the actual day to day business operations, then you may need an SEO Expert who can handle all of your content (whether he writes it or outsources it), perform On-Page SEO, Outreach, keyword research, competitor analysis, and so on.
At this point, you’ll need to determine a few things before you hire an SEO specialist and you will still have to invest some time to ensure any SEO services you pay for are delivering — so consider the following questions:
How Much Should You Invest on SEO?
When it comes to how much to invest on SEO, you’ll want to look at your current marketing budget and figure out how much of it you want to allocate for SEO. If you have an existing business and a well established budget, you could consider 10% to start with. If you have a smaller business and simply decided to focus on SEO, you could spend 90% of your budget.
When you have a larger budget available and a clear plan for how SEO will help your business, you could consider hiring a team of specialists such as dedicated content writers with authority and expertise in your industry. Luckily, SEO also happens to overlap with many marketing initiatives such as influencer marketing — think of direct traffic and branded search.
Finally, keep in mind SEO is a slow process so you need to think long-term which can be months or years before you start seeing tangible results. Having said that, it’ll be awhile before you can get back all the money you are spending on it. However, if you do it wisely — it is well worth it for most businesses with an online presence.
How Will You Measure SEO Success?
It can take a few months for any SEO campaign to show results but you should make sure you monitor these and how it’s paying off — whether that’s checking your keyword positions and the traffic that’s coming in through these or your actual Organic channel on Google Analytics and how it ties to your goals and marketing strategy.
I recommend having a properly set up Analytics Report or Dashboard that helps you to quickly look at how SEO is moving along. We happen to have a great Data Studio Template for this use.
When it comes to SERP positions, looking at the volume of the keywords you are trying to rank can be useful but other long-tail keywords with a lower search volume can be just as beneficial if you can rank high for them. Ideally, these should tie to your end goal of generating additional (but qualified) traffic and potentially converting some of these visitors into leads or customers. This is why it’s good that you target the right audience. Unless, of course…
Do You Just Want More Traffic?
Simply driving traffic to your website may not be that difficult when you are not focusing on a niche but rather choose to target a broader audience. The problem with this is that, targeting a broader audience makes it more difficult to achieve success with SEO.
So if you have a store that sells “Shoes” and try to cover every single type of shoe available, and one of your competitors has “Running shoes”, chances are, they will likely sell more shoes than you, even if all they offer is running shoes.
Additionally, because there are so many businesses just selling “Shoes”, the competition that sells “Running shoes” might sell even more than you because they are being more strict with their targeting and seek to dominate that niche as much as possible. Allowing them to stand out quicker and create an audience.
That’s not to say you have to be really specific all the time, in some cases, if you already have strong brand recognition, you could expand because you have an audience that knows you which will allow you to potentially grow your new offerings successfully with the right go-to market strategy for your new product line, this just starts being a problem when you are new to a already saturated market.
Would You Consider Black-Hat SEO?
Black-Hat SEO is a technique in which you attempt to trick Google’s algorithms into thinking you have a website worth ranking high in SERPs, when in fact, you are simply using unethical techniques to get there.
These techniques may include paying for backlinks, keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and so on. By following these techniques, you’ll save a ton of time in waiting for SEO to naturally come in but the problem is that this is a high-risk approach as it can get your website penalized and possibly even removed from SERPs.
There are many agencies and SEO professionals who provide these services because it makes it easier to rank your website. Most times, they won’t even tell you that they are using black-hat SEO techniques which is why you are better off understanding the impact this could have on your business.
You should watch out for any agency or SEO professional who promises or guarantees SEO results, especially for more competitive terms. There are way too many people that assure you a #1 ranking when they haven’t even looked at your site and how competitive your industry is. Coming across this is very easy, especially when you outsource your SEO.
There are many things to consider before hiring an SEO Expert or Agency (if you even need one) and since each business is different — you should take some time to analyze your individual situation before making a decision.