Do you really need to hire an SEO expert to improve your search engine rankings?

Google recently released a video giving tips for hiring an SEO expert. And in its Webmaster guidelines it says:

An SEO (“search engine optimization”) expert is someone trained to improve your visibility on search engines. By following this guide, you should learn enough to be well on your way to an optimized site. In addition to that, you may want to consider hiring an SEO professional that can help you audit your pages.

So Google itself thinks that it can (in certain circumstances) be a good idea to get professional help in this area. In today’s article we’ll run through:

  1. Whether or not you need to hire an SEO expert
  2. How to work effectively together
  3. Tips if you decide to go it alone

Do I Really Need To Pay For SEO?

The short answer is “no”. There’s nothing to say you have to pay for someone to “do your SEO”. Search engines will automatically crawl, index and rank your pages without you needing to do anything special.

Whether you “should” pay for help with SEO is another matter. This really comes down to three factors:

  1. Are you confident in your ability to get the content, technical and UX aspects of SEO right?
  2. Would an SEO expert save you sufficient time to free up your day for more mission-critical tasks?
  3. Do you know how to find a good SEO practitioner and then work effectively with him/her?

Question #1 you’ll really need to decide for yourself. SEO doesn’t require a huge amount of coding knowledge. But you should at least be able to understand the basics of HTML, keyword research, site hierarchy and SEO snippets.

This also feeds into question #2. If you find that optimising for search engines is taking up a huge amount of your time, it may be more efficient to hire someone to do it for you. This way, you can focus on sales, delivery or client-management where your time is more valuable.

Question #3 we’ll address in the next section.

How To Work Effectively Together

The first thing to consider is – is this person right for me? Make sure whoever you hire shows a genuine interest in you and your business. Ideally they will send you an initial questionnaire. But, at the very least, they should ask you questions like:

  • Who do you consider to be your main competitors?
  • What sets your business apart for the competition?
  • What are your ambitions for the business?
  • Who is your typical customer?
  • How do you feel your current content strategy is working at the moment?

Then, make sure your goals are properly aligned. A lot of consultants will try for quick (but possibly unsustainable) positive results. This makes it easier to see what you’re getting for your money.

But you may prefer (as you should) to focus on long term, sustainable results. This means no short cuts like:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Dubious “link building” schemes
  • Shady practices like hiding words or links

Tips If You Decide To Do It Yourself

If you want to manage SEO yourself, make sure you follow these three tips to get the most out of your content.

1. Be realistic

Your new website with ten pages is not going to get onto page 1 of Google for anything other than its own name. Getting high up the Google rankings for meaningful keywords takes a huge amount of time, effort and (usually) money.

2. Think of your readers

Google is very clever. Much more clever you you, me or any self proclaimed SEO expert. It knows what people like to read, and it rewards websites that give it to them. Just make your website great for humans; the robots will do the rest.

3. Have a plan

Don’t just bang out a blog, publish and forget about it. Have a strategy. Decide what keywords you want to optimise for. Make sure you populate the article with interesting stats, links or quotes. Decide where the article is going to fit into the website hierarchy.

If you’d like to discuss our approach to search engine optimisation, please get in touch.

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