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SEO, Contributed

Should You Hire an SEO Company?

October 25, 2019

Hiring an SEO company isn’t right for everyone. You have to assess your current marketing plan to see if your budget, timeframe, and internal capabilities call for external expertise.

In 15 years of doing digital marketing, I’ve learned that SEO is not for everyone. It takes a very particular type of company at a very particular stage to make SEO a great fit for their business. That’s why I turn away 9 out of 10 companies who come to us looking for SEO services.

There are signs that indicate when SEO would be a good service to offer a client, just as there are signs when SEO would be worth the investment for a small business.

So how do you know if SEO may be a good fit for your business? And if SEO is a good fit for your business, should you hire an SEO company?

Here are few telltale signs you should hire a SEO company. 

7 Factors to Think About When Considering an SEO Company

  1. SEO can lower a high paid search spend
  2. Targeting difficult keywords may require professional help
  3. Your internal expertise may or may not be enough
  4. SEO companies might have a hard time with your industry
  5. You need to have the right timeframe
  6. SEO companies take a monthly fee
  7. It takes time to find the right SEO Company for your business

A High Paid Ad Spend Can Be a Sign to Invest in SEO

SEO can reduce or replace a paid advertising budget. By ranking organically for the keywords you’re targeting with paid ads, you are able to drive traffic to your website without having to pay for each click.

As ad costs continue to rise, an investment in SEO can lower expenses while reducing the risk of becoming too dependent on paid lead generation channels like Google and Facebook.

In the image below, you can see an example of how organic stats in a month can far outnumber paid clicks.

seo investment image

Organic search exceeds paid search in number of targeted keywords, estimated clicks, and click value. With a monthly Google Ads budget of about $72,000, this person was only able to target under 8,000 keywords. Compare that to the roughly 13,600 keywords targeted through SEO.

The bottom line is if you are spending thousands of dollars each month on Google Ads, then you should strongly consider an investment in SEO.

Ranking for Difficult Keywords May Require Outside Help

Keyword Difficulty is an estimate on how hard it will be to rank in the top 10 organic search results for a specific keyword.

SEO tools like Ahrefs calculate keyword difficulty by “taking a weighted average of the number of linking domains to the current top-ranking pages. The result is then plotted on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100 (low difficulty to high).”

Let’s say you wanted to rank for the term “seo company.” Ahrefs estimates that this keyword has a difficulty score of “54” — meaning that this is a hard keyword to rank for.

ahrefs keyword ranking

The higher the difficulty, the more effort and skill that is required to accomplish a top 10 ranking in organic search results.

You can utilize free keyword research tools to determine the difficulty of your target keyword. If your keyword has a medium to high difficulty score, then you should strongly consider hiring an expert SEO company to help you rank organically.

Your Internal Expertise Can Be a Major Factor

SEO is the most difficult area of digital marketing to master, so it’s not a bad idea to consult a specialist when trying to target “super hard” keywords or developing complex SEO strategies.

Here are a few technical SEO concepts that good SEO companies should know:

1. Technical SEO

There’s Technical SEO, where you will need to be comfortable making changes to your website and providing crawling directives to search engines. You can use tools to determine how easy it is for search engines to read your site.

technical seo image

The screenshot above shows an assessment where most of the URLs were difficult for search crawlers to read.

2. Digital PR

Digital PR requires an understanding of backlink building, and which websites would be good or bad to receive a link from. Here’s a snippet from a tool that shows you how trustworthy a site is.

digital pr image

The number is based on a few criteria and covers a broad range of topics, including recreation, computers, and business.

3. Keyword Strategy

Content creation calls for the ability to perform effective keyword research, and identify the search terms that you could realistically rank for. Check out this screenshot that breaks down keyword ideas based on their search volume.

keyword strategy image

The breakdown considers topics that have the same terms, relevant questions, terms that are also ranked, and newly discovered terms.

4. Google Algorithm Monitoring

And then, once you learn everything, Google is updating their algorithm approximately three times a day and pursuing patents to stay ahead of your efforts in order to deliver the best results for users.

This diagram from SEO by the Sea shows an approximate model of how Google’s algorithm works.

seo by the sea image

The model takes into account the different ways a search engine can gather and assess information.

SEO is not impossible to learn and do on your own. But, you’ll need time, tools, and training to onboard yourself.

Do you have the curiosity and resources to develop an expertise with SEO? Or, do you want to enlist the expertise of an SEO expert?

Your Industry Might Be Harder for an SEO Company to Grasp

A key element to a SEO strategy is content creation. Content enables websites to appear for search terms that prospective customers are searching for. By creating content targeting these keywords, a website is able to increase organic traffic from search engines.

This means someone will have to create content for your website. That someone could be you, or an SEO company.

If your industry is complex, then an SEO company without experience in your industry may have a difficult time producing valuable content for your prospective customers.

Content is an important piece of an SEO strategy, and one that a writer needs to get right. 

Your Timeframe for Success Could Limit SEO

Google says that in most cases, SEO companies need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefits.

In other words, if you are considering hiring an SEO company, do you have four to twelve months of patience and investment to potentially see the return?

If not, doing SEO yourself while investing in paid ads for more immediate results may be a good way to bridge the gap.

You Need to Allocate a Budget for an SEO Company

A review of SEO companies on Clutch shows that you’ll be spending at least $1,000 / month on SEO. More than likely, that monthly fee will reach $2,500–$5,000/month for a reputable agency.

That could be a significant amount of money to be investing each month. When factoring in these costs and considering the length of time for investment, will you have a positive ROI?

Finding the Right SEO Company for Your Business Is a Process

Help is abundant in the SEO industry. Business owners can easily turn to Upwork freelancers, anonymous Fiverrs, tech-savvy nephews and nieces, or one of the 15,000 agencies who offer SEO.

With that said, great help is hard to find. To succeed, you need to find the right match.

Here are a few interview questions to ask an SEO company:

  • What is your experience in my industry?
  • Who would be my point of contact?
  • What are the deliverables I can expect each month?
  • How involved will I be in the process?
  • What are the terms of your contract?

If the answers to these questions align with your needs, then the decision to hire a SEO company becomes easier.

Hire an SEO Company if You Have the Budget and Time but Lack Expertise

In most cases, SEO is a solid marketing investment that will produce sustainable and predictable returns for your business. If an SEO strategy is well designed and you are successful in the execution, you can build and grow a business from organic search traffic.

Exploring that notion of organic growth is what tempts companies to hire a SEO company. However, take the time to make sure your company is a match for SEO.

  • Do you have advertising spend?
  • Are you targeting keywords that are difficult to rank for?
  • Is time on your side?
  • Would you rather pay an expert than do it yourself?
  • If everything works out the way you’d like, will you have a positive return on investment?

If the answers to these questions are yes, then you’ll need to find an SEO company. If the answers are no, then exploring alternative marketing tactics or taking a do-it-yourself approach may be the better road to pursue until SEO becomes a more viable, and appealing option.