You know you need a well-optimized website to rank well on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The only question is: Are you going to do the work on your own or outsource it to an SEO company?
If your company is small and you have more time than money, it might be best to invest in some good SEO tools and take a stab at optimizing things yourself. Larger companies and/or those with sophisticated competitors will probably be better served by hiring a professional. Depending on the complexity of your situation, optimizing your site to leap-frog the competition might require skills ranging from HTML, CSS, PHP, and JQuery to copywriting, marketing, and PR. Getting all that from a single person is a tall (and expensive) order. By hiring an SEO firm, you can get an entire team for less than the cost of a competent specialist.
Outsourcing SEO is cost-effective, but not without challenges.
While outsourcing your SEO can be cost-effective, it does come with it’s fair share of baggage. If you’ve hired an SEO company in the past, it probably didn’t take long before you started wondering, “what exactly am I paying these guys to do?“ Even if you’re seeing results, it’s still nice to see the input. In addition to the reports detailing increases in rankings, traffic, and leads, many reputable SEO companies will also create for you an SEO strategy and detailed implementation plan. Some will even spend time educating you so that you understand – and buy into – the process.
So why aren’t other SEO companies as forthcoming?
The SEO companies that are tight-lipped about what they do for the money you pay them are either:
- Not doing very much
- Afraid that you’ll “steal” their intellectual property by taking their detailed plans and either doing the work yourself or shopping it to someone else (they don’t realize that implementation is everything — great plan + poor implementation = lackluster results)
Ask some SEO companies what they’re doing for you each month, and they’ll respond with something vague like, “I have to optimize your code, your site structure, your page load time, write some content, promote the content throughout the blogosphere to get links, you know… stuff like that” (actually, most companies will probably insert a “dude” before the “I”). The financial markets are regulated and you still have people like Bernie Madoff – imagine the potential for disaster in the wild west world of the Internet, a place where everyone and their mother is an SEO “expert.”
If your SEO firm is light on detail, you should be wary.
Like any advertising and marketing endeavor, there’s what the sales person says and what actually is. So, what’s the best way to track your SEO company? How can you find out exactly what your SEO company is doing from week to week and month to month?
One option is to ask them for reports. Again, some companies will do this (a small handful will do it proactively), but to get timely reports out of other SEO companies is about as easy as getting your 85 year old mother to hand over her car keys after the family Christmas party.
Another option is to subscribe to a service like HVACSEOReports.com. Both our Professional and Advanced package include a feature called the Website Change Tracker.
With the Website Change Tracker you can quickly and easily see the changes being made to your website between any date range (as granular as week-by-week). We created this feature specifically to help HVAC and plumbing contractors monitor their SEO firm and avoid getting ripped off by some of the less-than-scrupulous companies that seem to be so common these days.
If you’re working with an SEO company and you’re not entirely sure what they’re doing each month for the money you pay them, give our Website Change Tracker a try (it can also provide you with added visibility for your in-house guy if you use one of those instead). We think it will bring a lot of clarity to the situation. If you’ve hired a good SEO firm, you’ll see the work they’re doing and, over time, develop a better appreciation for what you’re paying for. If you’ve hired a bad SEO company, you’ll see that pretty quickly and get the added bonus of watching them squirm when you show them the output from our software.
Make 2013 your best year yet. Give us a try today!