Many small business owners continue to resist investing in SEO. SEO has become part of the business marketing reality. What you need to be thinking of is whether to hire in-house SEO expert or outsource your SEO requirement.
With SEO becoming integral to the website design process, the question that invariably a small business owner will face is whether to outsource SEO or have someone do the job in-house.
There was a time when you designed a website and then worked on optimizing it. Today SEO has become an intrinsic part of web development services. A website is being optimized even as it is being designed.
To get a website to the top of search engine rankings is a time and resource consuming process. What is more, it is a continuous process. You need to regularly update content on your website, market your website online, create avenues that increase traffic to your website.
Billions of people are now online. Hundreds of millions of people are using mobile phones to connect to the internet.
You would think that small businesses are scrambling to take advantage of these digital trends to enhance their online presence. Yet, surveys have found that very few small businesses go beyond maintaining a website.
Among small businesses, SEO finds resistance
Small businesses do not wish to invest in SEO or invest very little. Here are some statistics from a 2015 survey on clutch.co that shows us the SEO investment trends among small businesses:
- Half of the small businesses surveyed use SEO, the remaining resist.
- Close to 40% have no plans of investing in SEO
- 20% of the companies already using SEO, close to 50% allocate less than one-fifth of their marketing budget for digital marketing
- Larger companies spend less on digital campaigns because they have more marketing options
- Small businesses prefer online advertising to SEO but again over 40% are unlikely to invest in online advertising either
- 25% of small businesses using SEO don’t track their SEO efforts
Those who track mostly depend on the following to determine if SEO investment is worthwhile:
- Referral traffic from search engine
- Keyword rankings
- Leads and conversions
Those who do not track find it difficult to quantify or even justify their investment in SEO
Why this resistance to SEO?
The biggest factors are perceived cost and an inability to eschew traditional methods of marketing.
Other reasons include SEO’s history of spamming (the old days when any strategy was applied to get to the top of the ranks, before search engines had become more intelligent).
Business owners may not always have the time or the willingness to learn about the strategy of applying SEO.
It is frankly speaking an intangible thing when it is being applied. You can’t see the search engine algorithm; you learn how it works through careful study.
There are no guarantees. Just because a keyword strategy worked for your competitor, it may not work for you.
It is a time intensive process. Only steady, continuous effort will provide results. Unlike advertising on TV, SEO is not a marketing strategy that has immediate effect on consumer behavior.
What business owners need to remember is that it works.
A survey reported on Forbes online found that:
- 72% business owners who applied SEO strategies felt that it had a direct impact on bottom line
- Compared to lead conversion from outbound marketing (1.7%), SEO lead conversion was at 14.6%
- SEO leads are also cheaper to acquire sometimes 61% less expensive that an outbound lead
Before we answer the question of whether SEO should be in-house or outsourced, let’s first understand SEO.
The Need for SEO
What is the need for SEO you ask?The need arises from the way people get information from the internet.
When someone wants to find something on the internet what do they do?
They open a web browser and open a website like Google or Yahoo or Bing. These are called search engines.
The person inputs a search query into the search box and clicks on search.
The search engine will return a set of websites that closely match your query. To return this set of websites the search engine has an algorithm running in the background that decides which of the hundreds of thousands of websites are best answers to the query.
The internet user will glance at the short descriptions provided under each entry and click on the one they think suits their query the best.
From the business owner perspective, the company’s website must:
- Make it to the list of search results by meeting the search engine algorithm requirements.
- Be the website that the customer clicks on to get required information.
Why has the need for SEO become critical?
For the simple reason that more and more people are now accessing information online. A few days ago I had written about user and advertising statistics of Facebook.
You can see that in markets like USA and Canada, majority of people are accessing the web for their information and interaction requirements.
Today, anything from a job opportunity to the latest model of a timepiece can be marketed within moments online. Compared to traditional marketing means, digital marketing allows you global access for a fraction of the cost.
The other aspect of this is that every business that has an online presence is now your competitor. Even in the digital world, to stand above the competition you need excellent strategy. This is where SEO comes in. What SEO essentially does is:
- Ensure that your website design and content are as per the latest search engine algorithm
- Appropriate digital marketing strategy is applied to ensure that your website gets clicked by the internet user and not your competitor’s
SEO is not just about search engine rank
One of the common perspectives about SEO is that its sole purpose is to get you on the top 10 of a search engine result page.
True, it is one purpose. But as competition has increased, what happens is that getting to the top is no longer enough.
Your website also needs to be able to attract the internet user enough that they click on your link. More importantly they have to stay with the website long enough to generate business for you.
Therefore the purpose of SEO is to bring in more business for your offline/online ventures by making your website visible to the search engine and also to ensure that you get unique and repeat customers to your website.
Once you have decided that you are willing to invest in SEO for your company’s website, then the next logical question is:
Who should do the SEO?
- Hire an SEO expert
- Hire a SEO company
Perhaps the following story will help you decide.
The story of a coffee shop owner
Let us imagine this scenario. You are a coffee shop owner who wants to get more people in. A larger establishment has opened up on the same street as yours and you are facing stiff competition.
You have a website that allows people to place orders before hand, you try to keep up with your customers on social media, you have an adequate digital presence.
Then suddenly, people typing in “coffee shop on Toast Avenue” end up seeing your competitor’s website first and see that they have the ability to place orders for coffee and breakfast and choose to go with your competitor.
How did that happen you wonder? Oh, they have better SEO, someone tells you. You just need to do better SEO than them.
There, you have the solution right at hand. Do better SEO!
How to do better SEO?
Get someone to help. You, obviously, won’t have the time unless you plan to stop running the coffee shop and do only SEO.
Really, you think, will it be all that time consuming?
So you try on your own.
You will find out that SEO typically consists of the following strategies:
- Technical SEO: Optimize for things like site speed, look for better code-to-text ratio, even optimize your SSL which involves establishing encrypted links between server and client machines.
- Onsite SEO: This involves optimizing content at the backend, keyword research and keyword mapping.
- Link SEO: This involves developing an authoritative link profile for your website through building backlinks and removing issues that may lead to link penalties.
Seldom does one person have complete mastery of all aspects or even the time to work on all three aspects in the same day.
You somehow manage to make time and stick to your own SEO attempt.
You may even get results. But after sometime, your website keeps going down in the rank. You are scrambling to keep pace with changes (who knew a search engine algorithm like Google actually evolves!). You scramble to keep your core business running and shortly thereafter it is very likely that both business and your online work will suffer.
For any business owner learning SEO is hardly a feasible idea. You have come to the conclusion that you need to get someone to do it for you. So choose an experienced small business SEO services to full fill your needs.
This raises the next pertinent question: Should you hire an in-house SEO expert or outsource SEO to a company?
Pros and cons of Outsourcing SEO
Let us look at the pros and cons of leaving SEO to professionals. We’ll then see why outsourcing is a great option to go with.
|In house||Outsourced to Agency
|-||Cost effective solution; No operational overhead for you
|Full control of the process||Standard project management practices to ensure strategy is on track
|SEO expert is working exclusively for your brand||Diverse experience due to working for different businesses and longer exposure to your industry
|Selected portions of your SEO strategy can be given to other contractors||Multiple SEO experts work on each project, which means all strategies can be applied to your website
|SEO expert can easily collaborate with your marketing and sales teams||Always up to date because they have to retain clients by giving tangible results
|SEO expert can provide inputs to your overall marketing strategy as well||Ensures steady growth of your online business since access to resources is higher
|-||Trade networks help in sub contracting which makes process even more efficient
|In house||Outsourced to Agency
|Expenses will be more because you pay salary and benefits||Cost of service reflects quality – cheaper is not always better
|Single person may not have expertise on all strategies||Distance from your business can be a problem unless robust communication in place
|Slower growth due to lesser resources||Results from an agency may not always be as expected
|Difficult for single person to stay abreast of all trends||Drive to retain clients by giving impressive results can result in questionable strategies being selected.
Why you should outsource your SEO strategy?
As a business owner your goals are to make your brand the go-to brand for your niche, achieve success while keeping costs low, use available resources efficiently.
In-house SEO works for you if:
- Your business is big enough to require a full-time SEO working for you
- Your website is in a highly competitive sphere and requires constant attention
- A single SEO strategy works for you
- You can justify the year-on-year cost (considering that in-house SEO can cost you upwards of $70,000 per year according to this article)
- As a coffee shop owner in the story, an in-house SEO may not be the best option for you.
Outsourcing SEO works for you when:
- You need to keep your overheads low
- You need a multi-pronged SEO strategy
- You are looking for a cost-effective means of continuous SEO support
For the coffee shop owner in the story, the need is to always stay ahead of the immediate competition which means SEO shouldn’t end up adding significantly to the cost of operations. Thus outsourcing is a great option for the coffee shop owner.
For some small businesses, though, outsourcing to SEO companies within their region, say USA or Canada or Australia may still be an expensive option. So try to outsource your your needs to a best small business SEO company for the better results.
Cost is one of the major reasons that businesses are hesitant to invest in SEO. In such cases, you may look at outsourcing further afield, to say an SEO company in India.
Benefits Outsourcing SEO to India
One of the reasons why India is such a big outsourcing hub for IT and related services is the sheer size of the technological workforce. Does this, however, make India an ideal outsourcing venue for SEO as well?
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of outsourcing to India:
|Cost: There may be significant cost differences when outsourcing to India. SEO packages in India typically also cover aspects of web design and content management. The cost difference may be as much as 25% in some cases.||Differences in language and culture: The approach to business and marketing may differ between cultures. Also even though English is a common business language its application by native speakers and non-native speakers can cause problems.|
|Value for money: You get high technical expertise for lower prices||Marketing: Technical expertise may not translate to marketing expertise|
|Work gets done even when your business is closed for the day: Given the time difference, your online presence continues to get optimized even after you head home for the day.||Time zone difference and communication: Even with all the technology at our disposal for teleconferencing, there may be some issues with regard to getting communication out on time.|
For the coffee shop owner, if the budget is small, an outsourcing partner in India would be ideal.
Ultimately, however, when choosing an outsourcing partner whether in your country on in India, you have to do the due diligence before you award the contract. Discuss in detail with the agency before taking the plunge.
A full-service wordpress website development and SEO services company like ColorWhistle brings not just years of experience but also a strong client list which is testament to its capabilities in this field.
Plus as a full-service agency every aspect of SEO whether technical, onsite or link building, everything gets taken care of at the agency. You also get to enjoy the benefits of comprehensive digital marketing packages as well.
For small business owners around the world whether it is USA, Canada or even India, the need of the hour is to strengthen their online presence. Developing and executing a solid SEO strategy is the way to create a sustained presence at the head of search engine results while ensuring lasting traffic to your website (and therefore business).
The benefits of outsourcing SEO far outweigh the disadvantages of outsourcing. The survey reported on clutch.com also found that a majority of the small businesses that had opted for outsourcing were planning to continue with their chosen SEO vendor.
Like the coffee shop owner in the story, first understand your needs, see what fits in your budget and then decide on whom to outsource to. Most companies, including ColorWhistle, are happy to provide free consultation to help you decide the best course.