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

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  • #1175240
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,485
    MatthewKeath, post: 208515 wrote:
    Do you exist?

    .

    Ah lets see the keys are typing so I guess so

    MatthewKeath, post: 208515 wrote:
    I actually like giving work to people here… Sorry if that offended you.

    Seriously I am booked up for the next 11 weeks, no offence taken

    #1175241
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642

    Hi All,
    We are talking to small and micro-businesses here.

    I think we are being taken off subject accuracy by SEOs who are only experienced in providing services that are now largely discredited and who think targeting “frequently used” search terms is what SE referrals are what it is all about.

    I believe it is criminally misleading to small businesses to create the impression that SEO must be expensive and is all about link building and targeting “frequently used” search phrases.

    If you were to rank so many of their small business sites # 1 on Google for a “frequently used” search term what is likely to happen would be:

    • The majority of the enquiries would be irrelevant.
    • The business owner or staff time would be tied up answering large volumes of irrelevant phone calls and emails.
    • They would need to spend a lot of money each month on link building services to stay in the top 10 for these unproductive search terms.

    In my book, that is just bad business management, bad marketing as well as bad SEO.

    So the first questions I ask of small business clients are:

    • Who are your target customers?
    • Where do they live/work?

    If the answer the second question is that most live/work within 10km of the business and, if your business location is not in the CBD of Sydney, Melbourne and perhaps Brisbane then there is a good chance…

    you will NOT need to spend any money AT ALL on link building SEO services.

    Another critical questions should be:

    How many new clients can you handle per week or month?

    Most small businesses have a limited capacity to handle growth. I understand that inability to handle fast growth is the cause of most small business bankruptcies.

    Why would you subject a small business client to a search term that is used say, 10,000 times per month if they can only handle 10 new clients per month?

    If there is a limited service capability, good marketing should be focusing on more efficient service delivery. That may mean targeting clients in a smaller geographic area to save travel time or on a certain type service that may be more profitable.

    I also find it misleading to infer that SEO must be very expensive. For many, many small businesses it certainly does not!

    It all depends on what needs to be done and who does it. IMHO, if an SEO service does not understand this, they are a fool to themselves and a danger to others.

    In 20 years of Internet marketing and SEO, I’ve been asked to improve generic SE referrals for countless websites large and small.

    Some search markets are so simple that they only required $250 worth of SEO analysis of how people search to set them up for 85% of their traffic coming from generic searches 7 years later.

    Often I find a website design or structural problem that once removed may have doubled SE referrals.

    So much of effective SEO falls into the one-time support categories of:

    • Problem identification
    • Remedial action recommendation
    • Staff training to improve content publishing that results in more SE referrals

    In my book bad SEO services are the ones that automatically tell small businesses that SEO must be expensive and which automatically assumes that expensive external link building will be essential to improve results.

    None of the above says that link building is not important in certain situations. The critical issue is to first decide whether a small business website needs this form of SEO support.

    I suggest you can probably exclude:

    • Most trades
    • Most professional services
    • Most B2B product or service suppliers
    • Products or services that are relatively frequent and where face-to-face contact is important
    • Most retail outlets – shops, entertainment facilities, fast food, hotels and bars.

    No doubt there are many other categories I could add to the list with a little more thought.

    Can I urge the SEO consultants around here to focus on the specific needs of small businesses?

    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1175242
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591
    bb1, post: 208537 wrote:
    I’m sure that any client would hope that you did, if i hire someone I would like to know that they are looking at the best solution for me as the client. Strange comment

    It seems you didn’t get the point BB1. You kept emphasizing about the low level keywords, “Why, Why, Why”, when all you need to do is focus on the important areas, and the low level areas will rank on their own.

    It’s great to see your strategies work for your small local targeted business, but for a larger nationwide or global business, different strategies are required, although some of the principles are still the same.

    As John and Matthew mentioned:

    JohnW, post: 208542 wrote:
    Some search markets are so simple that they only required $250 worth of SEO analysis of how people search to set them up for 85% of their traffic coming from generic searches 7 years later.

    MatthewKeath, post: 208458 wrote:
    I think the point was that you will rank for those anyway, while trying to rank for phrases the have more traffic.

    Some of your comments seem to undermine the experienced Internet Marketers here on FS, on the basis that your local marketing works for you. Your comments and advice are well received, but you have to remember your industry is different to theirs, and what works for you locally, will not work for other larger scale businesses.

    #1175243
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,485
    Cesar, post: 208551 wrote:
    It’s great to see your strategies work for your small local targeted business, but for a larger nationwide or global business, different strategies are required, although some of the principles are still the same.
    .

    Cesar I will remind you what the thread is called “Why most small-medium business shouldn’t outsource SEO”, we are talking small business not larger or global business.

    Cesar, post: 208551 wrote:
    Some of your comments seem to undermine the experienced Internet Marketers here on FS, on the basis that your local marketing works for you. Your comments and advice are well received, but you have to remember your industry is different to theirs, and what works for you locally, will not work for other larger scale businesses.

    Sorry but no undermining intended, questioning is a good thing, it makes people think, just because you and I may have different opinions, it doesnt mean I am undermining, it is questioning, making you think, are you looking at the right target market.

    Questioning lets the potential clients say, well is this or that guru telling me the right thing or looking in the right direction, if i had a potential client come along and not ask questions, or seek second opinions I would be concerned, education makes all our potential clients wiser, thats not undermining.

    At the end of the day the whole thing about marketing is getting your busines in front of the next potential client, if that is via SEO, flyers, cold calling or what ever method you choose to employ. The key been getting it in front of the client, and that means not missing out on one key segement (big or SMALL) of the market. the concepts are the same, the method may be different.

    Yes i know my industry is different, but you make the mistake and assume that because I have a certain tag in my signature, thats all we know about.

    If I put SEO guru in my tag line instead of garden maintenance, would that make my comments more legitimate. People have a wide range of experience, look beyond the tag line.

    If I came on here and gave advise that all conifers must be planted in a north south line, and only on a monday between 10 and 1, I would be quiete happy for someone (even SEO), to question me, and offer other, even better solutions, that is why we have a community of different views.

    #1175244
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591

    BB1, there is a “right way” of questioning, and a “wrong way” of questioning .i.e rudely or politely. Some constructive criticism for you. ;)

    #1175245
    Snakeman
    Participant
    • Total posts: 329

    Dear all, and not intending to hijack this thread, those who may have missed it, should see a post I did about six months back of an SEO horror story where a friend of mine in an unrelated business, did a google search for SEO Melbourne, went with an advertised (paid) business and was effectively burnt 10K and even had his site deindexed as well.
    In summary, those who advise caution in SEO are to be listened to.
    All the best

    #1175246
    AmberS
    Member
    • Total posts: 66

    I’ve been keeping up with this discussion for a while and find it frustrating that SEO gets discussed as though SEO equals online or internet marketing, when in fact it is just a small part of good marketing. Even when you take out all the other channels for offline marketing, there are so many online channels and actions which should be used to increase sales, that such a disproportionate focus on search, keywords and rankings baffles me.

    As SEO professionals like John say, link building isn’t going to be of any real value for most small-medium businesses. So paying an SEO company a big chunk of a tight marketing budget doesn’t make a lot of sense. But where the discussion here seems to be either pay a lot for SEO or do it yourself, I think the most important thing should be to find a marketing company who can come up with the best strategy for your business growth and then implement that plan. That plan would show you where (and on what parts of your marketing infrastructure) your money would be best spent, and importantly, in what order.

    I find all this talk of SEO, rankings and keywords misses the point, you’ve run a marathon and stopped short of the finish line thinking you’ve done enough. You haven’t; businesses don’t make money based on search rankings. They need ~sales~.

    A #1 ranking means nothing if your web presence is poor. I’ve been to a number of websites that get promoted on different forum topics here as: I got these guys to rank, this website is super fast to load, you don’t need a fancy responsive website to rank… Sure, but as a consumer looking at these sites, I’m moving on to #2. Why? I can’t read them, the functionality is not user friendly, on a mobile where I do a lot of my searching (along 55% and climbing of searchers) they are completely unusable, they make the business look very small and un-professional. So all that time and effort in building that super quick, top ranking site means nothing because your website fails to do what it should, sell.

    So what is the business owner left with? They have paid a lot of money to lose the client at the worst possible time – just before they buy. So you’ve spent a lot, but received little benefit. Even worse, people are left in a position where they are led to focus on exactly the wrong thing, and can’t understand why it isn’t “working” – why they’re not getting any returns.

    What’s the right thing, then? We tend to look to ratios, and strategise the best ways to achieve different ends. For example, where does the ~value~ lie? There’s no point driving X type of traffic if it’s low value. If you can look to your stats on your reception desk and correlate where the leads came from. All highly valuable in working out online marketing / content marketing / SEO strategies.

    However, what’s happening here is that people are focusing on the wrong (and very limited) set of metrics for the business owner. No amount of money thrown at “SEO” (as opposed to broader, decent quality digital marketing) will have the best results for the business.

    If you are a small business owner and have some money to engage a professional, look for someone that has a general marketing background with the up to date, technical skills to create a great website that speaks to your market, teamed with a well rounded strategy that encompasses the best ways for you to market to your audience.

    Don’t get caught up in lower level metrics that SEO companies will try to convince you are the most important. Yes they have to be considered, worked on and improved, but they aren’t the finish line.

    #1175247
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,485
    AmberS, post: 208578 wrote:
    I’ve been keeping up with this discussion for a while and find it frustrating that SEO gets discussed as though SEO equals online or internet marketing, when in fact it is just a small part of good marketing. Even when you take out all the other channels for offline marketing, there are so many online channels and actions which should be used to increase sales, that such a disproportionate focus on search, keywords and rankings baffles me.

    As SEO professionals like John say, link building isn’t going to be of any real value for most small-medium businesses. So paying an SEO company a big chunk of a tight marketing budget doesn’t make a lot of sense. But where the discussion here seems to be either pay a lot for SEO or do it yourself, I think the most important thing should be to find a marketing company who can come up with the best strategy for your business growth and then implement that plan. That plan would show you where (and on what parts of your marketing infrastructure) your money would be best spent, and importantly, in what order.

    I find all this talk of SEO, rankings and keywords misses the point, you’ve run a marathon and stopped short of the finish line thinking you’ve done enough. You haven’t; businesses don’t make money based on search rankings. They need ~sales~.

    A #1 ranking means nothing if your web presence is poor. I’ve been to a number of websites that get promoted on different forum topics here as: I got these guys to rank, this website is super fast to load, you don’t need a fancy responsive website to rank… Sure, but as a consumer looking at these sites, I’m moving on to #2. Why? I can’t read them, the functionality is not user friendly, on a mobile where I do a lot of my searching (along 55% and climbing of searchers) they are completely unusable, they make the business look very small and un-professional. So all that time and effort in building that super quick, top ranking site means nothing because your website fails to do what it should, sell.

    So what is the business owner left with? They have paid a lot of money to lose the client at the worst possible time – just before they buy. So you’ve spent a lot, but received little benefit. Even worse, people are left in a position where they are led to focus on exactly the wrong thing, and can’t understand why it isn’t “working” – why they’re not getting any returns.

    What’s the right thing, then? We tend to look to ratios, and strategise the best ways to achieve different ends. For example, where does the ~value~ lie? There’s no point driving X type of traffic if it’s low value. If you can look to your stats on your reception desk and correlate where the leads came from. All highly valuable in working out online marketing / content marketing / SEO strategies.

    However, what’s happening here is that people are focusing on the wrong (and very limited) set of metrics for the business owner. No amount of money thrown at “SEO” (as opposed to broader, decent quality digital marketing) will have the best results for the business.

    If you are a small business owner and have some money to engage a professional, look for someone that has a general marketing background with the up to date, technical skills to create a great website that speaks to your market, teamed with a well rounded strategy that encompasses the best ways for you to market to your audience.

    Don’t get caught up in lower level metrics that SEO companies will try to convince you are the most important. Yes they have to be considered, worked on and improved, but they aren’t the finish line.

    What Amber said.

    #1175248
    Aidan
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,125

    What Amber said too! though I’m not going to quote the whole thing again ;)

    Having said that – Amber, I think the SEO guys here all think ‘marketing’ rather than ‘positioning’, but for this particular thread the item started about SEO particularly (see thread title), hence the focus.

    I’m sure if we were to talk about ‘online marketing’ rather than SEO, we would have a whole bunch or other stuff to discuss, including design, CRO, remarketing, social… etc

    Actually maybe its better we don’t start on that right now, this thread is long enough without getting more off topic… :)

    #1175249
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642

    Hi Amber,
    You make a lot of good points about Internet marketing and the need for it to support the business marketing plan’s objectives.

    And as Aidan says, there are some folk around here who came to SEO with a marketing education and background.

    Marketing communications is only one part of the Marketing Plan but IMHO, what sets the various Internet communications channels apart from all others is that for the first time the business owner needs to implement delivery of his/her messages.

    When it comes to delivering messages to potential clients by the small and micro businesses on FS, the choice for the vast majority of them is search engines, search engines or daylight.

    I suggest that in this day and age, a marketing consultant must immerse themselves in the how, when, where, why, what of Internet communications delivery mechanisms in order to provide a rounded service to their clients.

    PS Please send me a PM if you would like to chat about these issues.

    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1175250
    AmberS
    Member
    • Total posts: 66

    When talking about where small to medium business owners should spend their marketing budget (assuming they have one), I think the current focus on SEO is way too narrow minded. For any business owner reading this thread, it appears that SEO is the main way of marketing and the decision is to hire an SEO consultant or DIY. I feel strongly that it is important to highlight that SEO should play a smaller role in a broader strategy.

    Talking to business owners who seriously want to start a business, having a sensible marketing budget for website, logo, branding and the ongoing marketing for at least the first months is just as important as having money for a shop fit out. This stuff is so important to the success of your business – a $500 website looks like a $500 website, DIY SEO can get you into a fair bit of trouble with Google if you go about it in the wrong way, a quick stock logo looks like a stock logo. If you were an expert in these things, you’d be in business doing them. I liked the comment earlier, I’m not going to install my own downlights, I’ll hire a professional for it. So coming back to the original question – $1000/ month spent on solid marketing won’t be wasted, a good strategy will have benefits across many online areas simultaneously. Good for marketing, good for SEO, good for business.

    I do have to disagree with your statement that the SEO guys here have a marketing focus, Aiden. If that were the case they would be asking the question ‘Is Google (or any SE) the best place to find, connect with and convert the best customer base for my client?’ Instead they proceed with the assumption that it is and in doing so the business owner can miss so many opportunities.

    I will again bring up the speed issue, which has been mentioned on a number of threads. Yes, a quick loading website is very advantageous – but not when that speed comes at the cost of most of the website features which make it an effective selling tool. Examples from SEO guys of how their stripped down ‘mobile’ websites load in ‘blah blah’ seconds and this makes their web design a success – I can’t read them (and I have a big iPhone), the links are so small even my little girly fingers can’t click them, navigation so poor I can’t find the product pages etc…. But these sites, which are missing out on sales opportunities every day because they don’t work from a marketing perspective, are considered raging successes. This isn’t coming from anything other than an SEO number focus which is not what marketing is about.

    Perhaps the thread would be best served by defining what marketing ~is~ about, and why the choice presented in the name of this thread is profoundly misleading. I’ve worked on many a campaign using many forms of media in many industries. Part of what we do is SEO, but it’s at best an adjunct to good marketing. These days, with Google, it’s actually a bi-product of content marketing, but I digress…

    What would an SEO company do if the best way to reach a particular audience was actually an old-fashioned letter of introduction, delivered via snail mail? Would they even consider it as an option? Would they even be able to recognise the right circumstances for X media channel to be used? And is an SEO expert the right person to develop this sort of flyer? If you answer “No, of course not, are you crazy?” to that question, perhaps you shouldn’t consider an SEO person to be a “marketer”. Because their vested interest is SEO.

    So for business owners on a limited budget, I’d say don’t spend it on SEO, but that doesn’t mean don’t spend it – find a great marketing company that will work with you, in your budget to get the most bang for it – whatever that may be.

    @ John W. The choices for micro / small / medium businesses should not be “search engines, search engines and daylight.” There are so many more effective ways for business owners of all sizes to communicate and engage with potential customers, and this focus on SEO isn’t helpful for them.

    Sorry for the length, this is something I am very passionate about.
    Amber

    #1175251
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591

    Amber, totally agree with what you are saying. You will find though, the majority of Internet Marketers here on FS, are focused on basically everything you have mentioned.

    Back in the old days, anyone could be an SEO or online marketing professional just by building links. These days, it’s more in-depth and all about marketing your Brand from various angles. Any online marketer that survived all those changes to clean up the web, did so because they were focused on quality from the start.

    Most of the members here on FS in that field, would qualify as quality marketers. They focus on delivering the best result for their customer.

    The title of this thread, is altogether wrong in saying SMB’s should not outsource their online marketing requirements. As with any service you are not totally familiar with, you need to get expert to get it right from the start.

    #1175252
    MatthewKeath
    Member
    • Total posts: 3,184
    AmberS, post: 208602 wrote:
    I do have to disagree with your statement that the SEO guys here have a marketing focus, Aiden. If that were the case they would be asking the question ‘Is Google (or any SE) the best place to find, connect with and convert the best customer base for my client?’ Instead they proceed with the assumption that it is and in doing so the business owner can miss so many opportunities. I agree with what you are saying, but most people here are focused on the bigger picture.

    Being number one is pointless if you are not converting that traffic!

    #1175253
    MatthewKeath
    Member
    • Total posts: 3,184
    chaase, post: 208615 wrote:
    I dont recall seeing anyone talking abou stripped down ‘mobile’ websites load in ‘blah blah’ seconds and this makes their web design a success.

    Me neither.

    Speed is very important, but it’s a rich tapestry of many things.

    #1175254
    AmberS
    Member
    • Total posts: 66
    Cesar, post: 208608 wrote:
    You will find though, the majority of Internet Marketers here on FS, are focused on basically everything you have mentioned.

    Most of the members here on FS in that field, would qualify as quality marketers. They focus on delivering the best result for their customer.

    I think there is still a distinction between marketers and SEO guys becoming marketers. Don’t get me wrong, I think many of the SEO guys here are good at what they do (SEO), I usually find myself agreeing with JohnW, Johnny etc…when they talk about their approach to SEO, I’m saying, based on their posts here and across other threads, they still have a heavy focus on search. – as indicated by John’s reply earlier. “When it comes to delivering messages to potential clients by the small and micro businesses on FS, the choice for the vast majority of them is search engines, search engines or daylight.”

    This just isn’t the case, and how many business opportunities are going begging because of inbuilt biases in the recommendations of the marketing consultant? For small businesses who have a budget for marketing, check that the person you are engaging has a broad understanding of marketing, not just search, or online as this will be where you get the most bang for your buck and minimise situations like the guy whose friend threw away thousands on a service that didn’t help.

    Good quality SEO can be expensive, slow to pay off and very time consuming, which for a small business needing to turn over money can be a big gamble when not implementing other short term marketing actions to get clients in the door.

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