Whatever your required user tasks are, you need people to come to your site and this is why we think of hiring a SEO company or expert. But is it worth it? What do they do? How much should you pay?
If you own a website you want people to come to it, this may be to purchase your handicrafts, buy some coffee or decorate your home with some little lights. You may offer a service so you want people to book a web design course or even donate to your Free Ambulance Service. Whatever your required user tasks are, you need people to come to your site and this is why we think of hiring a SEO company or expert. But is it worth it? What do they do? How much should you pay?
What Does a SEO Company Do?
Before you buy a product or service you need to know what it does. “This might be the best widget in the world but I must first know how it can benefit me or my company”. SEO is such a Grey area that it is hard to pinpoint what they do, or so they will lead us to believe.
The best SEO companies will tell you that they will “increase traffic” to your site, but how do they do it? It is your job to ask as it is very important to know what kind of things they are doing. It is not that you want to do it yourself (or maybe you do and I recommend taking an Online Marketing Course) but that you need to know they are using ethical methods to promote your brand online. BMW German was recently banned from Google results because of the black hat methods they used to gain rank in Google.
Here are some things a SEO Company should tell you they will do:
Analyse Your Competition and Market
With any new client a SEO’er will first try and really understand what you do, how you do it and what makes you special. It is this that will give them the inspiration to create engaging content to bring in the visitors to your site. They should also look at what your competitors are doing, can you do better, is there something they are missing and how hard will it be for you to out rank them? The company should give you an answer to all these questions.
Research your target audience, where they go, come from, what sites they use etc
You need fingers on mice and eyes on screens, to do this the company needs to know who your audience is. There are many ways of doing this, first of all is a little bit of common sense. It does not take a genius to figure out that web designers frequent Smashing Magazine or DJs love spending their time on Soundcloud. That said and the obvious aside the SEO company needs to show its creativity by suggestions realistic sites for them to target.
You should be hearing things like “conversion rate” and no “thousands of visitors”, we business owners care about conversion and return on investment and not only hits. Or do we?
If you are making money from advertising and your advertisers pay per impression (someone seeing their ad) then tones of traffic is your aim. This is hard! So make sure your return on investment is worth the work.
Analyse and suggest improvements to your on site SEO i.e. is your website search engine friendly?
One of the best weapons in a SEO arsenal is the Search Engines themselves. This means you should have no barriers in the way of search engines getting to and understanding your content. SEO starts with your site having web standard code, good heading structure, clear internal linking and a sitemap.xml ready for Google to munch. Your SEO company should tell you this and even change your site to implement this.
Create content, this maybe in the form of articles, detailed products descriptions and press releases
Things start costing money here, if you need content writing then prepare to open your wallet. However there are ways that the SEO company can reduce the cost and that is using freelance copywriters who often make decent articles of 500-700 words for about $5. We had some Customise WordPress articles written, see what you think as it only cost us $45 for all 9 articles.
They may also suggest to re-write your product descriptions to improve keyword density, that is the amount of times your targeted search terms appear in the text. I advise you do this yourself as you know your products better than anyone and you`ll save a lot of money.
The best you can do in this case is actually hire a professional copywriter, these guys know how to use a consistent tone and lure your users into clicking purchase. A good SEO company will have a dedicated copywriter as they will know it is a vital role in the work they do.
Create social media profiles and then give you the choice of managing these yourself or they managing them for you
Social Media Marketing can be a dirty word however if done correctly it can be a massively effective tool for getting know your users, gaining feedback and turning users into advocates of your product or service. Imagine customers selling for you?! It happens when companies get SMM right like Boagworld has done with their massively popular podcast.
Ideally this is again something you should do yourself but if prefer to hand this to the SEO company than they must be telling you things like “gaining exposure”, “consistency and commitment” and finally “building relationships”. If you don`t hear these three things then they will probably just setup a Facebook profile for you and post all your products to it leave engagement to couples in love.
What they should be doing is setting up key profiles on networks that your customers use a lot. Starting from the top Facebook they should have a business profile that really entices people to share and engage with the content they post, with twitter they should follow relevant people, monitor anyone mentioning your brand and interacting with potential and previous customers.
Reporting on the success of the SEO and Online Marketing
Is it worth it? They need to answer this. What marketing methods are working, which campaign gave the best ROI, where are the emerging markets? All this can be done through reporting from either analytic programs, social monitoring software and even user testing service such as Userfly.
They need to be sending you reports weekly and make analytical data available to you on tap. You need to know what is going on and where the money you are paying them is working for you.
Lastly, be patient. The SEO company cannot tell you exactly when but they will tell you how much work is involved and this will give you the cost. If you go up against tough keywords and entrenched competition be prepared to pay the pounds and penance of patience.
How Much Should I Pay for an SEO Company?
As you can see there is a lot that can be done. The short answer is whatever you can afford. Start small and work up as you see which methods work best. Give it 4 to 6 months before making a decision if it is working or not which is why you start small.
A decent company will charge from $30 to $50 but this can go up when you start talking about consulting and creating detailed marketing strategies.
I recommend spending 50% on managing your existing site, making sure you have new content, up-to-date product descriptions, newsletters and articles to entice people to link to you. Then 25% on Social Media Marketing and 25% on guest posting, press releases and article posting. These will and should change which is why those reports are vital.
Spending about $200-$500 per month is a good start but you should easily increase this when looking at banner advertising and PPC (Pay Per Click).
What To Look for in a SEO Company
An SEO company should be someone you can work with. A lot of trust is required for this type of business relationship because it is hard to quantify exactly where the money goes at the start. They will need to give you advise on a field that is filled with pitfalls and complications, SEO is as much an art as a science. They should give you ideas and inspire you to be part of the whole process.
Do they answer emails promptly? Do they get things done when they say they will? Are they chasing you or you them, it should be the later. Efficiency is key and this can be as simple as invoicing you on time, keeping in constant contact and coming to you with ideas and giving feedback to the ones you suggest.
Efficiency for us is all about consistency and this is something that comes from a maturity in how you do business. I feel sad to say that I know so many business owners who have been stuck with inefficient SEO companies who just take their money, submit the company site to a million irrelevant directories and are never to be heard from again.
One company we have experience with is DSA Global which is a Melbourne SEO company and Ben, the founder, is someone who is passionate about what he does. Their passion is evident in every meeting and Ben himself will keep sending ideas and progress reports weekly. If you get anything less from your SEO company then change.
Ask to see their portfolio and the gains the have brought to companies over say 2 or 3 years. If they cannot do this it is better to move onto a company that has a history of success. This may seem a little harsh but there are literally millions of people fancying themselves as “SEO Experts” but you need someone with experience, connections, real ideas and a list of happy clients climbing over each other to recommend this company.
DIY Online Marketing
The reason your are reading this article is because of WCB’s DIY Online Marketing and SEO strategy. This is what we teach individuals and businesses to do every day. We believe the best SEO company is you! So to answer the question no it is not worth hiring a company when you can learn to do it yourself (time permitting).
If you want to save money and enter the exciting world of Online Marketing then take our Online Marketing Course here in Bangkok.
I look forward to meeting you and I wish you all the best in either doing it yourself or choosing a SEO company.