Do you need to bring in a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant or can you do it yourself? It’s a question a lot of small- and medium-sized business owners spend a lot of time asking themselves. Do it yourself or get help? What makes better business sense?

We used to say that if your business was small enough, that maybe you didn’t need to hire one.  SEO could be something left for the big dogs. After all, in local all you had to do was properly use your keywords and scoop up local citations and you’d do a pretty good job at ranking. However, that’s not the case anymore as Google dishes out local updates as fast as bloggers whip out sarcasm. Things are getting more complex, faster paced and more involved all across the board.  In today’s market, there are many important benefits that come with working with a professional SEO consultant.

Below you’ll find just a few.

Proper Implementation of Tactics

Many business owners who are on the fence about bringing in an SEO get their optimization information by reading blogs, participating in forums or by skulking SEO liveblogging information published during and after conferences. And while these are all great sources of education, they’re not always so good at breaking down the actual implementation of tactics – they merely introduce them. This leaves business owners to try and figure out how to put what they heard into use all by themselves. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to perform brain surgery after merely reading about how someone else does it on their blog. Because that guy’s going to die on the table. The same can happen with DIY SEO. If you’re not sure how to do what you’re being told, it’s better to consult with someone who does. By simply consulting with a knowledgeable SEO professional you can save your business a lot of time, headaches and rewrites by getting things right the first time and only investing in the tactics that will really help your site.

More Well-Rounded Link Development

The trouble with link building is that it’s as important as it is difficult. Links drive traffic, they drive eyes and they drive rankings. Building links to your site means being about to identify the different kinds of links on the Web, analyze which your competitors are receiving that you’re not, understand what links are most important for your niche, and then developing a strategy for how you’re going to acquire them. If you’re a business trying to save on SEO by doing all of this yourself, well, you may have your work cut out for you. Is it possible? Yes. But it’s time consuming.  And it’s hard. If you don’t have someone on your team who is both dedicated AND and skilled in the art of linkbuilding (and it really is an art) you’re going to be missing out on lots of profitable link opportunities. Consulting with an expert can help you find existing goldmines on your site you didn’t even know where there. It’s all about the content, baby!

You’ll Get the Latest Tactics

One thing that’s common among most SEOs I’ve met? They live and breathe what they do. Like, they’re totally obsessed. That’s not always good for their outside lives (non-industry friends? What are those?), but it’s very good for their clients. People who make their living in the search engine optimization industry pride themselves on being up-to-date and skilled on the latest and greatest tactics. They keep themselves active by always staying one step ahead of Google, and constantly experimenting to see not what works right now, but what will work in six months. That’s something an inhouse SEO or a DIY SMB owner doesn’t have the time to do. You can only spend so much time reading blogs and attend so many conferences without the boss wondering what you’re up to. When you need a fresh pair of eyes or someone to help you find the signal in all of the noise, an SEO consultant can help you do that.

Better Conversions

Good SEO consultants are responsible for money, not traffic. That means they pretty much live in their analytics, analyzing the data they’re seeing and then using that to create a site that not only ranks well, but that converts. At the end of the day, that’s the goal of all this. It’s not to drive as many people as possible to your Web site. It’s to make your site more money. If you’re not skilled in studying conversion funnels, creating landing pages, understanding time on site, monitoring keyword trends, studying user interaction, etc, then you’re not optimizing your site as strongly as you could. That’s leaving money on the table.

Support

Maybe the best thing about bringing an SEO consultant into the mix is that it means an expert is always a phone call away.  If you’re not sure you’re doing something correctly, not sure how to target a piece of content or you think you’re seeing something funny in the search results – you have someone to go to.  Someone who can either calm your nerves or validate your fear and tell what you to do.  Having an expert on your team and on your site can be priceless in giving you that reassurance and making sure always keeping your site on the right path.

As things continue to evolve, search engine optimization is going to become an increasingly important part of the marketing pie. And if you don’t have someone on your team who is dedicated to that task with significant resources behind him/her, you’re going to find your site being left behind and unable to keep up with the changes that occur on a daily basis. You may know your business, but when it comes to SEO, business owners often don’t know what they don’t know.  That’s where we can help.


About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.


32 thoughts on “Why Hire A Professional SEO Consultant?


  • Hugo Guzman on said:

    Couldn’t agree more particularly because of how nuanced local SEO is becoming, but as you well know, another key is to be able to properly evaluate said SEO consultant.

    And that can be tough if said business owner doesn’t have any expertise in the area (most don’t).

    Would love to write a guest piece on how to go about doing that. Just sayin’

    ; )


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      You’re definitely on to something there. As small business owners especially start needing to hire consultants to help them understand all the shifts in local, they’re going to have to learn HOW to hire an SEO. Because that’s definitely not an easy task. I’ll make a note of your request. ;)


  • Michael Dorausch on said:

    These are all great Lisa, but I’ll tell you from years of experience as a “mom and Pop” small business, the number one benefit of hiring a professional SEO Consultant is so that your business can focus on being awesome, and leave the interwebs roll left to professionals.

    If I’m the local pizza guy, keeping my shop clean, my pies tasting fabulous, my customer service loaded with friendly smiles, and generally making my community feel fuzzy and warm about my business, is plenty enough to focus on.

    I know this because I’ve lived the mistakes, and hopefully I’m learning from them. Hire a consultant, move forward, and prosper. :)


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      No, you’re definitely right. One of the main benefits of hiring an SEO is that it means you can go and run YOUR business — you know, that one you started because you really loved doing X — instead of spending your days learning to be an SEO. If you wanted to become an SEO, you probably would have already. Hire someone who can help you.


    • Chris Miller on said:

      Downside of the client not knowing, and not wanting to know anything at all about the process of which they’re hiring someone, is that it’s tough for them to wrap their heads around what they’re paying for. Not because it’s necessarily complicated (the results, not the process) but because by turning their minds off from the idea of understanding SEO at all, they are stuck in whatever preconceived ideas they had previous formed, and no amount of analytic data is going to sway them otherwise.

      Or maybe I’m just bitter. It could be that.


      • Lisa Barone on said:

        :)

        I’ve always really liked that Bruce Clay, Inc *requires* its clients to attend their training class. And they do it because, just like you show, it really does help the process when everyone is pulling on the same rope for the same reasons.


      • Scott Golembiewski on said:

        Hey Chris,

        I think I can relate to this, knowing who you’re referring to…. especially since I battle with this exact issue daily.

        What I try to do is hold weekly webinars with clients, that seems to help because trying to talk, or explain without being able to show is almost impossible.

        Also, constantly emailing reports that have been annotated so they know what I’m referring to when they look at it.


  • Sully on said:

    Hi Lisa,

    I love the fact that you included “conversions” as a metric of success. When I was with HubSpot, they preached “conversions” as the primary measurement. To this extent SEO was only a portion of the expertise one needed, as there is much more than simply ranking well for a term.

    With that being said, some business owners don’t see that far down their funnel. I’ll gladly do traditional “I want to be 1st on Google” work for them, but always drop comments about landing pages & conversions.

    Random note: I was going to log into my company’s firewall today, which is a Favorite under “Outside World”, yet my fingers typed “outspokenmedia”. Weird.

    -@sully


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      We had a big debate on the blog not long about about whether SEOs are responsible for rankings or conversions, and I really do think it’s the latter. The rankings don’t mean anything if you’re not getting any sales from the increased traffic. A good SEO should be working conversion optimization into the SEO process. They really do go hand in hand, IMO.

      Also, MUAHAHA! Outspoken Media is taking over your Internetz. :p


  • Gavin Head on said:

    I absolutely agree with your point Lisa! That is just Adam Smith’s basic economic philosophy at work. Specialization brings greater effectiveness and especially efficiency. I wish more people would just take some basic business and economics courses (or at least read some good biz and econ. books), particularly if they are going to run a business.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Definitely. I could probably stand to read a few more economics books myself. Most of what’s on my bookshelf are general biz or (gasp) social media books. Any good reads you recommend?


  • Jonathan Beaton on said:

    Doing it on your own can also be a liability. For example, I just had a client who initially tried to do it himself and had his website blacked listed by Google because he bought into a link farm.

    Not to mention all the misinformation and money that can be wasted by buying “internet marketing secrets”.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Ouch. Yeah. The problem is when you don’t know what you don’t know, you actually become really dangerous to yourself. Even if you plan on DIY, you should still consult with someone to point you on the right path. It’s sad when business owners get themselves burned when they really didn’t know any better and THOUGHT they were doing something valuable.


  • Rob Woods on said:

    If I can throw my 2cw into the conversation I would recommend looking at small agencies (like Outspoken) or one person consultancies over hiring a large agency to consult on SEO. While there may be some great larger agencies out there in my experience I’ve found that the large agencies love to publish reports, best practice documents, and audits but they tend to fall down on being able to act quickly and on being able to help a business owner actually make changes to their site. I’ve also found that larger agencies like to do the “easy” stuff like technical analyses and tend to be much more reticent to tackle the harder stuff like content creation, link building, and building online relationships. Again, this doesn’t apply in every case but I’ve found it to be the case in the vast majority of cases.

    I also think that even if you are an experienced inhouse SEO it’s worth having another consultant on retainer to use as a fresh set of eyes to catch things you may miss, or things that you may not experience while being focused on a single site. .


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Interesting. I can definitely see smaller agencies like Outspoken Media being quicker to act or make needed changes. We still have our hands in the thick of things so we’re not as scared to do what we know needs to be done. ;)

      I definitely agree about the value of having a consultant you can call as a fresh pair of eyes. Really good point.


  • george charalampakis on said:

    This is a pretty nice post that i will need to show as a reference to many small business owners here in Greece that believe that they can do their Adwords and SEO campaigns alone since they believe that they are experts and SEO is not a big deal. In the end the get powned by Google or they simply don’t get results ofcourse :)


  • Alan Bleiweiss on said:

    Ha! I never thought about that fact, where we’re available when they need to call us…
    So we’re like the Butterball Turkey support people – our people can call us when their deep fried DIY SEO turkey nearly blows up in their faces :-) #WIN


    • JadedTLC on said:

      How funny – This is off topic, but in college – a group of 15 people were using the “conference call” feature of our dorm room telephones and someone in the group thought it was funny to call the Butterball hotline. And then hang up so none of us could get rid of the lady.

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :) And thanks for being an inHouse SEO’s support system.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Woah, you can call the Butterball people on Thanksgiving and they’ll walk you through your turkey making process? Let me just write that down for next year… ;)


  • Suzanne Vara on said:

    Lisa

    When reading this I immediately thought how could a SMB DIY SEO really make an impact and get the results they need? Even attending every conference known to man, reading every Lisa Barone SEO live blogging session, they do not have the deep understanding that someone who only does SEO has. A SMB DIY SEO can get by and get some rankings, no doubt. But when it comes to sustaining those rankings or ranking for terms that are more popular/harder to rank for, they will not be able to do it. They have a business to run. They cannot possibly run their business and effectively perform SEO for their website. Just not enough hours in the day. The changes to Google are quick and what the SMB DIY SEO just learned in a *kick ass* webinar the other day, is so yesterday as people were already doing that and have moved on to something else.

    Before hiring, ask around, get some good strong references so you can find the right agency for you.

    Always the best from you Lisa. Pleasure to read.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      It’s really true. It doesn’t matter how much information you read about SEO, if you’re a SMB owner, it’s going to be virtually impossible to stay up to date on it AND run your business. It really is worth the investment to bring someone in to give you a hand – at least on a consulting basis. And definitely get references! It’s really hard to analyze who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t when you barely speak the language yourself.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)


  • Cijo Abraham Mani on said:

    At the end of the day what matter is conversion. An effective SEO consultant needs to drive traffic and make maximum use of the visitors. SEO consultant should test ways to outrank the competitors and to bring in more conversions.


  • Jim Rudnick on said:

    a la @Rob’s comments above, I also feel that being “small” is a real bonus for firms who have an SEO practice….

    it means that your SEO consultant is small enough that a SME gets to talk directly to the folks who “do” the seo tasks…that they can react much quicker to change in our industry and there are no layers tween client and seo practitioner, eh!

    my .02 but something we use to “sell” our own firm….and this works so dang well for us and our clients….

    being “small” is the new black!

    :-)

    Jim


  • Moosa Hemani on said:

    lol… to be honest you can makeup with one at a time either you can give time to your girlfriend and family or either your clients/Company and industry. I am one of those who at this stage wants his company to become happy from him and announce some benefits and bonuses for the very nearer Christmas :)

    on the post i would love to agree with every part of it. You love your dog but when your (Tommy) get ill you don’t even thing about DIY but a vet so the same goes for your business when you are not good at something you should move to the consultant, you might have to compromise a bit with your profit margin but atleast its better then blowing up the brand.


  • Ivonne Tostado on said:

    Lisa,
    I started off as a marketing guru and now I have evolved into just that person, an SEO/Media consultant. My true passion for marketing is taking me to places that I never thought possible. If you have a store in a busy plaza you better have your Open sign on. The same applies if you have a website. Turn the lights on, let your customers find you. SEO is just that, allow everyone to find your content and product online. A store without an open sign might as well be a closed store. A presentable website and an outstanding SEO campaign can brighten any companies future.

    Loving everyones comments.

    Ivonne :0)


  • T.J. Loftus on said:

    This post is great because it can be substituted for many things. Why Hire a – Financial Advisor, Real Estate Agent, Pest Control Company, Auto Repair Person, PPC Management Company, ect..

    And this can help relay it back to the SMB that is wondering why they should hire and SEO. I revert it back to the SMB- “If you were to get a conversion for xyz, why should they hire you if they can do it themselves?”

    There is only so much time in each day and it’s best to focus on what you do best and outsource the rest.

    I know how to change the oil on my car but it’s not worth the time/money to do it myself. I know how to buy/sell stocks off Etrade but I’m not going to chance my small cap stock picks on my long term investment and retirement plan. I know how to clean my pool filter and clean the pool but I rather have a pool guy keep up with it weekly.

    Time is money and Wu-Tang said it best C.R.E.A.M


  • Terry Davies on said:

    I wish I had the time to write in-depth replies to articles like these but I am too busy saving money by building my own office partitions. By my calculations I will save almost as much money as I lose by not being able to service my SEO clients. And both jobs will be half-done. Boy am I smart.


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