It takes little thought for small businesses to determine that one of the best ways of gaining more online exposure is to climb the Google page rankings through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Being number one for relevant searches relating to your product or service is the key to consistently reaching customers, 24/7 — without paid advertising.
The problem with SEO is that it’s secretive, time consuming, and rife with tech jargon. SEO companies are here to assist — but it’s easy for small businesses to overspend on their services. Is it worth the investment?
The Role Of SEO Companies
SEO companies offer search engine optimisation services to businesses in order to help them improve their online visibility.
The major benefit of using an SEO company is that they (ought to) have a wealth of knowledge and experience — and the contacts — to help improve your site visibility and bring you more visitors.
The better optimised your site is for search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, the more likely your pages will rank on the first page of organic (free) search results. Learn more about this from my posts:
But not all SEO takes place “on-site” within your pages or content. Good SEO companies will also perform off-site SEO (also known as “off-page SEO”):
Off-site SEO is achieved by linking to, or promoting, your website through other sources — giving it consistently “positive press”.
Both on-site and off-site tactics take time. So SEO companies enable many site owners to focus on other objectives — such as producing new content.
I’ve had mixed experiences with SEO companies. Let’s talk about some of the potential dangers of investing in SEO services.
Things To Keep In Mind About SEO Companies…
You Can’t Expect Immediate Results
SEO companies may promise rapid results. But they shouldn’t do.
Google favours sites that are well-established, stable, with regular updates and posts. These are factors which influence page rankings — and it’s not something that can be achieved in a short timeframe… no matter how good you are at SEO.
Many SEO Companies Assume You Know Nothing
Be aware that many marketing firms thrive from the mystery behind SEO. The jargon and complexity phases non-techy business owners. It’s all too easy for firms to over-charge for SEO services.
The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to educate yourself on SEO in order to fully appreciate what a company is really offering you.
Click through the links I’ve provided in this post. It might help save you some money.
Not all SEO Firms are “Doers”
Many SEO companies merely provide a “consultancy” service, where they inform you of how to improve your website. This is essentially what I’m doing for free on this site (albeit to a limited extent).
To make a positive impact on your search rankings you’ll need a “doer”. So if you aren’t looking to work on it yourself, be sure to find a hands-on SEO company that does it on your behalf.
SEO Services are Expensive… Or at Least Seem that Way.
SEO services aren’t cheap. And mounting costs, without tangible results, leave many people disappointed with their investment.
Understandably, clients are reluctant to continue investing in SEO services when the results aren’t noticeable. Yet to realise an investment might mean continuing to invest more, with sustained efforts over a longer period of time.
Trouble is, without knowing the precise inner workings of Google’s algorithm, no SEO service can guarantee results. Like with PPC advertising, it simply might not pay off.
Some SEO Tactics are Detrimental to Your Site
Many SEO firms use Black or Grey hat SEO techniques to drive more traffic to your site. They’ll often look to build backlinks to your website from various other sources, in an attempt to trick search engines into ranking you higher.
To say that all Black/Grey hat tactics “don’t work” wouldn’t be entirely accurate. The techniques are used because they cut corners and get results. But they also put your website and business at risk — whether it’s destroying your brand, or being banned from Google. Besides, if your product or content adds absolutely no value then Black/Grey hat won’t help you in the long-run anyway.
You need to be clear about what SEO techniques are being used on your site. Is it worth the risk? Think long-term.
Are SEO Companies Worth The Investment?
Before you invest in SEO I’d recommend reading some of the related posts on this site. Familiarise yourself with SEO and decide if you can improve your site’s visibility yourself, or if you require outside help.
Some SEO Companies are Much Better Than Others
Indeed some SEO companies are merely consultancies — which is somewhat disappointing if you’re aiming to outsource all SEO tasks.
Other SEO services are very hands-on and deal with important factors such site speed, keyword strategy, and site reputation. I know several site owners who find many SEO companies well worth the investment.
Just be clear what you’re paying for to avoid disappointment.
Doing Everything Right Eventually Reaps Rewards
Some areas of SEO can be tedious, i must admit.
It’s like playing a platform computer game, and going out of your way to collect gold coins in the knowledge that it will eventually amount to an extra life at the end. It’s not the most fun way to play. But if you continue doing the “right” things for sustained periods of time, you’ll reap the rewards.
There is some art in SEO, too.
Working out precisely how Google would favour a site, within a particular industry, takes thought and ingenuity. In competitive industries an “out of the box” approach simply won’t always work. Unique ideas are always beneficial in online marketing. Some SEO companies can bring this to the table, and others can’t.
You need to shop around.
It’s a good idea to post your specific SEO tasks on Upwork. Employ someone based on feedback. Try to get a tailored service. Look for individuals companies with experience in marketing, a “clean” approach, and a hands-on philosophy.