If improving your website ranking in search engines is a key goal for your business, you can consider various paths to achieve SEO success by either DIY or utilising the services of an SEO provider or specialist.
Having explored the options in detail for my own business, I was disillusioned and confused by the lack of clarity I was given by many SEO providers for the pleasure of handing over hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars a month for their proposed services. So I embarked on a challenge to find out what SEO providers actually do to earn and justify the investment a business puts into their services.
Knowing the primary factors that drive how well a website is recognised and ranked by search engines (and if you don’t know, please see these other SEO articles in my blog to find out: How to get traffic to your website – heard about SEO? and Getting high in SEO – understand what drives SEO results) the opportunity is clear, but how to go about it isn’t a clear path. So consider the options…
What can and do SEO providers do and what drives the costs of SEO services?
SEO providers are constantly staying in touch with changes, trends, opportunities and threats, and can hep you to manage them. There is no doubt that search marketing is a complicated, dynamic and forever evolving field and the expertise an SEO specialist can offer you saves considerable time for you and should instil confidence that they will drive your activity correctly.
Gordon Chong from FreedomSEO says the expertise and industry involvement they have can allow them to “predict changes from industry trends to get ahead of the game, and react quickly to unexpected changes.”
On a tangible level, SEO providers generally offer the following services:
1. Keyword research and identification of optimal keywords
Including keyword testing against outcomes like converting to an enquiry, relevance to your market, competition for keywords, and ongoing review to ensure keyword adjustments over time
Steve de Niese at digital agency Assemblo says “A good SEO company should be able to identify optimal key words while constantly adjusting and experimenting to ensure these keywords are always relevant to your market.”
2. Reviewing your websites performance against SEO drivers and improving it
Including reviewing content quality and suitability for target keywords and recommending or making content changes, technical factors like alternative text on images and cleaning up any broken links throughout the site, as well as ensuring SEO friendly aspects like title tags, H1 tags, metadescriptions and keyword tags are in place; and reviewing website analytics and performance over time.
3. Establishing external links for your website
Typically involves identifying relevant, quality sites to target in terms of gaining links from them (to backlink to your site), for example Shana Vaughan from Web Marketing Experts explains “our in house linkbuilding team will trawl the internet for good websites to link to.” Additionally SEO providers may write or submit articles/ content to these sites to earn the backlinks, and publishing blog and social media content with the intent to attract your target audience and also encourage them or other sites to repost or link to your blog/social media content; and creating links/feeds in search directories.
The cost of SEO services will depend on the scope of included services such as above, as well as:
- the number of keywords,
- your industry and how much competition there is for the keywords (as more work is usually involved to succeed in more popular/ desired keywords). As Robert Steers from Creative Development says “ Competitiveness of keywords makes it harder to rank in that keyword – therefore SEO has to be smarter… and work harder” and naturally this will reflect in both effort and hence cost; and
- link building efforts – Gordon Chong from FreedomSEO says “generally the more money you spend, the more time and links you can expect, and the better you are able to compete, to an extent, for a larger number of keywords.”
SEO services can be bought in small packages from around $50 for example, however this is usually just for one aspect of SEO (like submitting your site to linking directories), through to $1000+ a month for professional fully managed SEO services (that would typically include the array of strategic and tactic work outlined above).
A piecemeal approach to SEO is unlikely to be beneficial as it takes many components to achieve success, so many say do it properly or don’t waste your money/time as being on page five instead of page ten of google isn’t really going to help you!
DIY: What you can do to contribute to better SEO results
There are still a number of things you, as a business/ website owner, can do – including making your website as good as possible with appealing content/ offers and by promoting it through email marketing for example to attract as many visitors as you can, and through having a blog to add fresh/new content regularly, and a facebook business page/site to stimulate social interaction with your brand.
Depending on how your website is built, you can try to ensure your website has SEO friendly aspects like title and heading tags, metadescriptions and keywords listed against page content.
Participating in social media, like commenting on blogs and forums related to your market and industry, especially where you can leave a url link to your website if appropriate is also helpful.
Jodie Culpin, SEO Specialist at Corporate Web Solutions gives some sound advice saying “DIY is more suitable for ongoing SEO – once you are ranking, clients can be taught how to maintain those rankings themselves”
There are risks of getting it wrong – here’s what not to do
Google penalise bad SEO practices, and you get penalised, not the SEO provider/supplier, so beware. The SEO industry is not accredited, at this stage, so be on the look out for dodgy practices someone might offer you.
Dodgy practices are those that try to ‘trick’ google into increasing the ranking of a site without offering value/ quality to the audience or user such as:
You should now be well armed with insights on how to consider and get SEO working for your business.
If you have any comments or unanswered questions about SEO, or indeed a tip you’d like to share, please feel free to add a comment below.