Today’s consumers take to the Internet to find almost everything they need. From restaurants to shoe stores to insurance providers, they know that they can find the right business with a quick Google search. An optimized site is the only way to make sure they find you, but do you have to hire a professional to handle your SEO?
If you’re responsible for your company’s marketing budget, it’s your job to find and eliminate unnecessary costs. And if you think hiring an SEO specialist or Internet marketing agency falls into that category, you may be considering a do-it-yourself approach.
However, much like with home improvement, not everyone is equipped to take on SEO as a DIY project. So how can you tell if you are? Here are four questions you should ask yourself before taking on your site’s SEO alone:
Do you have the desire to learn about SEO?
Unfortunately, optimizing a website isn’t exactly an intuitive process. It takes a solid understanding of search engines, site structure, and Internet marketing, and building that understanding will take a few months at the very least.
If you’re genuinely interested in SEO, taking online courses and reading various blogs and articles can be a fun and interesting experience. If you’re only putting in the time to shave a few dollars off of your budget, your experience will likely be very different. Spending time outside of work reading about topics you don’t enjoy can make it feel like you never get a break.
Ask yourself whether learning about optimization would be an enjoyable task – and if the answer is no, whether the work would be worth the money you’d save.
Do you have time to set aside each week for SEO?
Site owners who are unfamiliar with SEO often think that it’s a one-and-done process, and that once their site has been optimized, it’s optimized forever. What these business owners and marketers don’t understand is that SEO is an ongoing process.
Optimizing a site starts with going through each individual page and editing elements like copy, headings, and alt tags. Then, depending on the site, the initial process can also involve serious reorganization, restructuring, and reformatting. This phase can take up to a few weeks, but the work doesn’t stop there.
Between keyword research, copywriting, monitoring analytics, and many other tasks, a good SEO strategy requires a minimum of 3-5 hours per week of maintenance. And considering that SEO is constantly changing (and your competitors are likely working on their own sites’ optimization), you have to be willing to look for new ways to improve on a regular basis.
Ask yourself whether or not you have time to manage optimization on top of your other daily and weekly responsibilities.
Are you willing to keep up with the SEO industry?
I mentioned earlier that SEO is a constantly-changing industry. Algorithms change, best practices shift, and strategies that used to work (like keyword stuffing, aggressive link building, and exact match anchor text) quickly become obsolete. If you don’t keep up – and continue to use outdated tactics – you can actually wind up damaging your site’s SEO and online visibility.
The only way to keep your strategy current and effective is to keep up with the SEO industry. This involves reading industry publications, taking new courses every few months, and revising your approach accordingly.
Much like the initial education that SEO requires, this can be enjoyable if you like SEO. In fact, scrolling through Twitter and Feedly for new articles over your morning coffee can be a great start to your day – but only if you’re passionate about Internet marketing.
If not, it’s all too easy to fall behind. And if that’s the case, your website will almost certainly suffer.
Ask yourself whether or not you’re willing to set aside time each week to read a handful of industry publications.
Do you have someone to call if you make a mistake?
Everyone makes mistakes. Problems arise in every industry, and in SEO, where the absence of one HTML tag can bring disaster to an entire site, mistakes are a huge headache without the assistance of a developer.
With that in mind, if something happens to your SEO – duplicate content, negative SEO, Google penalty, etc. – how will you fix it? If you choose to hire an agency, a quick phone call could be all you need to have things back to normal within a few hours. But if you’re running a one-person operation, it could take days or weeks to resolve the issue.
This isn’t to scare you out of doing your own SEO – but before you even think about touching the code on your site, make sure you have a go-to contact that can help you out if and when something goes wrong. It will take some searching to find an SEO specialist that is willing to help without a contract, but you shouldn’t even change your header tags before putting their number on speed dial.
Ask yourself who you would call if worst came to worst and your rankings came crashing down.
The bottom line
If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, then DIY SEO may be a viable option for you. As long as you’re truly willing to dedicate time and energy to learning SEO and apply your knowledge, it’s possible to improve your site’s rankings without hiring an agency or specialist. That being said, it’s smart to make a connection or two within the industry, just in case something goes wrong.
If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, DIY SEO probably isn’t for you. It’s time to either hire an experienced in-house SEO, or outsource to an Internet marketing agency.
Do you have any experience taking a DIY approach to your site’s SEO? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!