Are SEO services worth it? This is a bit of a loaded question, isn’t it? By asking if they are worth it you are kind of leaning towards them not being worth it. And my answer might be just as loaded. Fair warning, we offer both traditional SEO and local SEO services and we totally think they are worth it. But not everybody agrees with us and I am here to explain both sides of the coin.
In my experience, people who own small and medium sized businesses either don’t have the slightest clue about SEO or have a negative outlook on it. Part of this is not understanding SEO and the other part is directly influenced by their first interaction with the term. At first, not understanding SEO is perfectly fine. The complexities surrounding the term can be a little overwhelming. On-page optimization, SEO audits, off-site optimization, key word planning, link building, and SCHEMA markups are enough to make your head start spinning. And that’s not even an exhaustive list.
The first thing I do with every client is make sure they understand that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. So even if you don’t understand anything else about search engine optimization, you should understand that. Hopefully with a bit of explanation you will begin to see the need for SEO services even if you don’t quite understand every detail.
SEO Services and First Impressions:
One of the more difficult parts of my job occurs when a potential client says that SEO doesn’t work. When I dig a little deeper, it usually entails a “professional” cold calling their business and promising the world. The world to most small busineses typically means appearing number one on Google (not any other search engine – just Google). And if you haven’t already guessed, that doesn’t happen over night.
It’s the reason why my number one rule is to remain realistic. I put this in all of my proposals and I tell each client this before we begin discussing their business in great detail. It is also my job to remind them of this throughout the experience.
SEO is kind of strange. Most people begin their campaign really excited about the possibilities. After spending a few weeks developing a strategy they are ready to test it. Their excitement rises to an all time high once their business starts climbing up the rankings. Then something interesting happens. Their excitement wanes because their SEO isn’t providing the same results as it once was. Why does this happen? Well it could be a number of reasons but it usually occurs because your content is being indexed by search engine crawlers (think of them as machines that search the internet for information) and then they run out of content to index.
When your confidence and results wane, it is natural to want to create a new strategy and begin a new campaign. I am here to tell you that you should hold on to your original campaign (if it was optimized well) and the ship will right itself.
Starting Your SEO Efforts:
In order to answer our original question: “are SEO services worth it” we have to briefly take a look at what SEO services entail.
Outside of being realistic, the first thing you should know about search engine optimization is that it is incremental. It is about making small incremental changes or modifications to your site. While some may be more noticeable than others, most changes are going to be so small that you may not notice them at first. However, when you combine these optimizations with other improvements they may result in a noticeable change for users and search engines alike.
Making Small Modifications:
Search engine optimization is not a one time event. Blog posts aren’t even a one time event. If you write something on your blog, it is your obligation to continue fine tuning it over time. If you are just posting content and never touching it again you aren’t getting the full benefits of having a blog. Your SEO campaign is no different.
There are no easy roads in SEO and there’s certainly no button you can press that makes your website rank higher. SEO is a long term process executed over a long time. It’s something that you continue to work on over and over again.
The User Experience:
I am a firm believer that content is king. People who tell you otherwise generally don’t have a strong sense of what good content is capable of. With that being said, your user experience (UX) is also extremely important and shouldn’t be neglected. You can have the greatest content in the world, but if your website is horrible for the user than nobody is going to find it. That is why you have to design your UX around both search engines and the human visitor.
I am also a strong believer in that the content you write and share is not for you – it is for your consumer. You can’t have an understanding of SEO without first understanding your visitor and their needs. If you hire a good SEO service, they will create a campaign with the user experience in mind.
Don’t just take our word for it though, Google published an SEO starter guide and on the first page they even admit that you should focus on the user first before search engines:
. . . We’d like to say that you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what’s best for the visitors of your site. They’re the main consumers of your content . . .
Again, this is the leading search engine company reminding you that SEO is best suited when optimized around your consumer. If you don’t know exactly who your consumers are, well that is a different problem for a different day. We wrote a short guide on identifying your best customers and it should be of some use. Moreover, a solid SEO company should be able to identify them for you.
The Consultant and You:
If you decide to hire a company to structure and build your SEO campaign, there is one fundamental concept both parties should understand. You are partners the minute you sign the contract. The consultant needs you just as much as you need them. To understand your exact needs, they will need to pick your brain quite a bit.
While we are confident that a competent SEO should be able to identify your target market, it is a lot smoother if you already have an idea of who your market is. The company you hire cannot create a fleshed out SEO campaign all on their own. They will need your help. They need you, the website owner, to be active in the process. Keep in mind that nobody outside of your market knows your target demographic and how to serve them quite like you.
SIDE NOTE: Some companies prefer that you are very hands off. From my experience, those are the companies you do not want to work with. They much rather you remain in the dark and therefore you haven’t the slightest clue where your money is going.
Are SEO services worth it? It really depends on how realistic you are. If you understand that your small business will not take out the largest companies in your market, than I would suggest that yes SEO services are worth it for you. You can become number one in your local market, but it is going to take time.
I know that what I offered today may conflict with what some SEO companies may have told you in the past but it is the truth. There aren’t any shortcuts in SEO. If you are still on the fence about search engine optimization, just ask the right questions. Focus on the following when you’re in contact with an SEO company:
- What realistic goals can you offer my business?
- Do you offer weekly progress updates?
- How often are we going to communicate?
- Can you identify my audience?
- Do you know my audience’s pain points?
- How are you going to address those pain points?
If the SEO company can’t answer the majority of these questions than perhaps they’re not for you or your audience. For more information on how The Content Group can help you, feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. We’d be glad to help your business or point you in the right direction.