At this point, if you don’t have a highly findable website, your company doesn’t exist for the great majority of consumers who start their path to purchase online. It’s not the case that your site must come up at #1 on Google for the generic name of the product you sell. It certainly is the case that you have to show up when your targeted prospective customers look specifically for your goods and services.
So should you be doing SEO in house, or should you be hiring an SEO company? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What skills do we have in-house — really? We’ve done a number of pro bono sites for nonprofits. People working on content are usually amazed by how poorly the charities’ websites communicate their missions. The people who write the web content are always workers for the charity, and they are very passionate about their subjects. They know exactly what their organizations do and truly believe in its value. Yet they are pretty well never able to communicate this knowledge clearly even to human readers, let alone to search engines, if only because they are too close to it. If you don’t have writers and SEO specialists in house, you’re not going to get the results you want.
- What resources do we have for ongoing content? A well-optimized website will perform better than a poorly-built site with unoptimized content. However, the key to success online is regular posting of high quality content. If you as a business owner or marketing director think that you will have time to blog regularly and develop other quality content such as white papers, social media posts, and excellent email messages… well, you’re planning to head up a failing company, aren’t you? If you have a successful business, you don’t also have time to keep your website at its best. So having someone with SEO and writing skills on hand to get the website up or improved is fine, but that person will need to have a good amount of time available going forward as well.
- Do we also have the rest of the team in place? Good content does its job only if it is connected with your business goals, tracked, and continually optimized in harmony with those goals. You’ll need an analyst or someone with the skills and time to see to that. You’ll also need graphics, and probably some technical updates as well. These things are specialized skills. It usually takes more than one person. This is one of the main reasons that having everything done in house by one person usually doesn’t work well. Few people have the needed skills in all the areas that need skillful work. It usually makes sense to have a team. For small to medium sized businesses, that means outsourcing — you’ll rarely have enough full time website work to justify hiring a team in-house.
- Can we keep up? Technology changes, the business landscape changes, consumer habits change, and therefore SEO changes. The basis — valuable content — is constant, but if you’re relying on SEO tips from years past, you’re not on solid ground. If you’re expecting your staff to do all the work involved in SEO during their coffee breaks, you can’t also expect them to stay on the cutting edge for website optimization and digital marketing.
If you have a creative team and a strategic thinker with analytical skills, then you can do your SEO in house. However, if you don’t have specific SEO skills, you’d be wise to begin with expert strategy, training, and reporting, even if you plan to do much of the work in-house.
Here are some ways to organize things:
- Hire a firm like Haden Interactive to provide analysis, strategy, and targeted training for your team, and then continue to produce your content in-house.
- Develop your strategy and then outsource the regular content provision to a team like ours.
- Work with a firm like ours in strategic partnership, using your industry insights and our SEO expertise to maximize your team’s work.
- Hire a firm like ours to take care of it all for you so you and your team can focus on mission-critical tasks.
All of these options work well. Here’s one that doesn’t: Google “SEO” and try to fit a few tips and tricks in along with everything else you do for a few weeks, see no results, and decide that SEO doesn’t work.