The questions that plague small businesses seem to never change – only the subjects small business is asking these questions about. Unlike a corporation or large company, resources within a small business are often scarce. As it is, you likely are doing the jobs 10 or more people would be in charge of in a larger company. SEO may sound like another truffle on your plate that you simply don’t have the stomach for.
“We have a great product, people will find us.”
This is a reaction you want to avoid. The most important aspect of SEO, or search engine optimization, any small business (or large for that matter) must realize is that it is not another “option” in how you market your business, it is a necessity born of a real and fast change in the way consumers search for various goods and services.
Long gone are the days a neighbor asks a neighbor where a good shoe store is located, or looks up a doctor office in the Yellow Pages. Your customers are online almost to a person. Where they go, what they buy, the services they hire, etc, are all found online. Often that is the only place they look.
A “good deal” often does more harm than good.
So do you hire an “Expert” for your SEO, or do it in house? You’ve probably already been approached by an SEO expert. They may have promised you’d be the top of every search for a low monthly fee of $99, and this sounds fantastic given all that is on your plate already.
Unfortunately if you have any competition whatsoever, SEO at this price is a myth. And you’ll learn quickly there are many who use “Black Hat” SEO which in the long term is more damaging than helpful – and most of them are in the $99/mo range. The first step is to learn a little about SEO so you will be able to decide whether it is something which can be done in house or if you should outsource it.
Learn the basics.
You don’t have to be an expert on the subject, but you do want to understand SEO as a generality at least. For instance, if you sprain your ankle you may not know how to fix it, you do know enough though that if a surgeon starts cutting into your chest to fix it they are probably a quack – so learn enough to spot the quacks.
You may find after learning a little about SEO, that you enjoy it, or that for your specific business it is something that can be taken care of in house. What should be understood, and what you will learn quickly once you read up just a little on it, is that SEO is a continuous process. You will have to ensure you can afford the manpower going forward to stay on top of the popular search terms, where your competition is placed on searches, and the ever-evolving algorithms engines like Google and Bing use.
If you hire an outside firm you don’t have to spend the manpower, and you will be working with a company that concentrates only on SEO (so your SEO guy isn’t also your payroll guy or however your small business works it out). As a result, you will likely get better results – is it worth the price or not? That is ultimately the question.
Most important, you do not want to ignore SEO. And if you do decide to outsource, know enough to hire the right people.
ABOUT THE GUEST AUTHOR: Jeffrey Gross has been an SEO consultant in New York for more than 7 years. His company nPromote helps business owners all over the country realize their online marketing potential. When he is not SEO consulting Jeff teaches SEO to small business owners at a local college and guest lectures at other colleges in the area as well.