Home Forums Tech talk Why most small-medium business shouldn’t outsource SEO

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  • #990052
    brendan29
    Member
    • Total posts: 22

    It’s been a long time since I have been on this site but I am very passionate about this topic and would love to generate a discussion (and perhaps have my current opinion changed).

    In short, I started a business (with two websites) 2.5 ago and after many false steps and hiccups things are going OK. My biggest mistake so far has been outsourcing my SEO and not taking full ownership of it. To give this post some context, I did have had an extremely negative experience with a large Australian SEO company which forced me to examine SEO in great detail and ultimately revert to doing it in house.

    My contention is that a small-medium business with a relatively limited marketing budget (less than $1000 per month as a rough guide) is far better off doing SEO themselves and not paying a monthly fee to an SEO company. Do you agree or disagree?

    For many websites high rankings are largely the result of good website content and good links. A business owner is an a far better position to do both than an outsourced provider.

    1. Website content. A business owner should know their stuff, and spend a considerable amount of time crafting quality website content. No SEO company should ever be given responsibility for writing website content. Even if a business owner is not a confident writer they can do what they can and hire a professional copywriter to improve upon their work (while keeping the integrity of their ideas in tact).

    2. Link building. Good links require good content and again a business owner is in the best position to create link worthy content that is relevant to their business. The other half of the link building equation is outreach and, once again, a business owner is best placed to do this. There are a number of free tools available to help gather relevant website contact information and send emails.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but for sub-$1000 or even $2000 per month, would any SEO company/freelancer put in the time to research your business, write great website copy, create great link-worthy content and outreach to relevant websites to get links?

    My only caveat is that optimising a website under the hood is a skill that not everyone can do. However, WordPress plugins takes a lot of this hassle away.

    Now that I am doing SEO in house my results have improved dramatically, although I still have a long way to go. However, I intend to go it alone in the future and get minimal external help with the exception of talented content creators. SEO is certainly not dead, but I think SEO services aimed at smaller businesses is a dying industry.

    I would be interested to hear people’s thoughts.

    #1175151
    Aidan
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,125

    This question comes up time and again,

    It is the same with any pursuit, do you want to pay someone who knows what they are doing or do you want to learn it and do it yourself.

    Personally I tinker with my car, I’ll change filters, fuses, belts, do the regular maintenance stuff… but I still prefer to pay the experts to do the servicing or heavier repairs.

    In my experience there are lots of great SEO’s who will do all the good things you describe as long as the client is able to pay for it.

    Unfortunately, there are many in the small business community who think that a $1,000 spend is enough to cover a whole month’s workload when clearly it is not.

    So, SEO services tend to become a matter of what the client can afford. Usually its not enough to get the SEO guy to become your online marketing department, so – no he does not have the time budget to do everything the way he might like in a more perfect paid for timeline.

    Your question also pre-supposes some knowledge of website management and wordpress if you use it, which of course many don’t…

    I’d also say that WP plugins can be a great help IF you know what you are doing with them – I see many who don’t. The average user’s eyes glaze over when we start talking about taxonomies or no-indexing paginated content, or canonicalisation, or image optimisation, or page load times, or… or.. or…

    Having said that I am a great believer in teaching the website owner about good link building, ultimately the best is really all from building great reputation and that is something that should be firmly in the client’s hands IMHO.

    :)

    #1175152
    MatthewKeath
    Member
    • Total posts: 3,184

    Can’t wait to see the discussion this thread generates!

    #1175153
    JohnTranter
    Member
    • Total posts: 842
    MatthewKeath, post: 203790 wrote:
    Can’t wait to see the discussion this thread generates!

    Yes popcorn at the ready.

    Having said that, I do agree somewhat with the Brendan for organic SEO. The best SEO service for small business I’ve seen is a local company that shows small businesses how to do their own SEO and Social marketing.

    Note, I’m talking about small companies that would baulk at even a $500 a month cost.

    #1175154
    Aidan
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,125

    I probably should clarify that I have no problems with those who want to learn and do their own work, I encourage it, indeed I have a client who has me as their ‘SEO Director’ – literally just a couple of hours a month reviewing what they have done lately, where they now stand and what I think they should be doing next, I charge them for just the 2 hours!

    I think business owners need to be realistic, if you want the undivided attention of your SEO guy or your builder, or your landscaper you have to pay for the hours he puts in.

    #1175155
    brendan29
    Member
    • Total posts: 22

    Just want to clarify that I too do not believe $1000 p/m is enough for quality SEO.

    My issue isn’t with SEO providers per se and those that are talented deserve to be compensated well (as with all industries).

    But the reality is that $1000 is a lot of money for some small businesses and I believe they will get far better bang for their buck by taking ownership of SEO.

    #1175156
    Adam Hodgson
    Member
    • Total posts: 47

    A good SEO company should be able to deliver you excellent results for $1000 a month. You should work with them but the good skilled SEO practitioner will be able to research and save you a lot of time and effort.

    The question goes down to how much time you have and what is your core business. In some cases, it makes sense to run it yourself, but in most instances it is best to get some expertise or assistance with the execution.

    #1175157
    Aidan
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,125

    Adam, that may be true for some industries and especially small ones like here at FS but $1,000 a month is nothing to many industries where full time attention might be needed.

    #1175158
    Craig.Smith
    Member
    • Total posts: 167

    In my opinion $1000 on SEO won’t get you much from the majority of companies. They will be charging out their services at minimum of $100+ p/h. At the very least $1000 a month might buy you 2-3hrs per week. Very little detailed work can be achieved with those budgets, most of this time would be spent analysing data and creating reports for the client. This obviously wouldn’t include any adwords budget.

    #1175159
    John Romaine
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,104

    ….must……..hold………..back

    #1175160
    John Romaine
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,104

    This problem goes much much deeper than what you’ve listed here in a few small bullet points.

    Small business owners are extremely difficult to serve, because they just dont have the money to cover the expenses involved with SEO.

    Within my own agency, I work to an hourly rate of $75 an hour. (This is considerably cheap compared to many of my competitors) Having said that, you simply cannot help someone at that hourly rate when they only want to spend $2-300 a month.

    SEO done right is very labour intensive and time consuming. What you’re paying for are man hours. It’s as simple as that.

    As for small business owners wanting to do their own SEO, I have no problem with that, infact I plan on holding small workshops in the new year to accommodate them.

    However (because I already do consulting) I often hear from almost all of them …”Wow, I really had no idea how much work was involved”.

    #1175161
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,485
    John Romaine, post: 203915 wrote:
    ….must……..hold………..back

    Why, you opinion is important

    #1175162
    Byron Trzeciak
    Member
    • Total posts: 422

    There is no reason why a small business owner could not do their own SEO, and do it well, but it does take a significant commitment of time for research, self-educating, practice and then applying what you’ve learnt to your website.

    Like learning anything new it’s likely your experience may miss key opportunities or make mistakes that you will learn from as you go. That goes for learning anything new.

    If you’ve got the hours to invest and learn then go for it. Many business owners do not have the time, patience nor the desire to learn SEO, they’ve got a business to run. Business owners are at times also resistant to developing content themselves.

    As mentioned the lowest average rate for SEO in Australia is $75 – $100 p.h and as John R said you’re basically paying for man hours that fall into onsite, content, link building, outreach etc.

    Given that $1000 dollars per month will provide you with roughly 10 hours of work, which equates to 2.5 hours a week. I know many SEO guys that are working far more, therefore reducing their hourly rate, because of the demand and pressure to achieve #1 ranking for clients in small periods of time i.e. less than three months.

    I’m a strong believer that business owners should get involved with content, as you’ve mentioned the business owner is in the position to create link worthy content. In fact I enjoy working with client’s who enjoy content and want to try more creative ways rather than just the written approach. The partnership between a business owner that creates amazing content with the experience of an SEO agency is very powerful.

    In saying that I believe that much of the small business content that is generated is unlikely to generate many links in return and at smaller price points I believe it’s also harder for an agency to create link worthy content too. Creating link worthy content is far more than just answering questions for your ideal customer even if this is a good approach to organic traffic.

    As it’s been said previously, the SEO process can be broken down into many stages and offerings including mentoring, training and technical seo activities. Each client can be significantly different in what they require, it’s up to the agent and the client to agree on the work required and the cost.

    #1175163
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591

    At the end of the day, some individuals, no matter how much training they receive on Internet Marketing strategies, will never fully grasp the concept. These type of individuals will definitely need to outsource their online marketing services, otherwise they will be destined to fail.

    It’s a personal decision, some will be adept, some will not. Some can afford it, some cannot. Some have time, some do not.

    It forms the basis of your initial business plan!

    #1175164
    help4bis.com
    Member
    • Total posts: 268

    I believe that SEO is important and is best done by a specialised service who is willing to learn your objectives.

    Yet I am not sure why it has so expensive. Can someone enlighten me on a breakdown of cost for example hours etc.

    I am living under the impression (most likely wrongly) that a lot of this stuff can be done automatically of some sort.

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