Should you hire a professional or wrestle the beast yourself?
Like most skills, SEO is easy when you know how but it’s also time-consuming and requires consistency. One thing is certain and that is that every business that wants to compete must have an SEO strategy.
The question is even if you can manage your own website optimisation, should you?
To grow a business means adding manpower so that you can concentrate on the tasks that are most important. Where does SEO fit into that?
One thing is for certain in this post covid world – SEO (or Local SEO) is essential for any business that wants to grow. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, it must be done. It is now as important as having an accountant in my opinion.
One thing is for certain in this post covid world – SEO (or Local SEO) is essential for any business that wants to grow.
As always our articles are written specifically for local companies. Some industries have benefitted from COVID. With no competition for major purchases, homeowners have chosen to spend their money on improving their homes. To reap the benefits of that, the business needs to be found. While some business owners are puffing their chests about how busy they are, others are scratching their heads wondering where this boom is.
If you’re not yet convinced of the need for Local SEO take a look at ’10 Reasons Why Your Website Must Be Optimised for Localised Search.
About Local SEO?
Search engine optimisation essentially means competing with your business peers for website visitors. Simply put, this means making your website the one that search engines choose.
This is an important point because small local businesses often do not have expensive websites. A high percentage are built with heavy loading page builders and simply cannot achieve the performance levels of big company websites.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t compete or that SEO will be prohibitively expensive or difficult. The way to think of it is that you are not trying to run fast enough to compete in the Olympics. It’s more that you’re competing in the local park run. You just need to do enough to be at the front of the local pack. Like any run, getting off to a good start counts. In SEO terms this means starting with effective keyword research.
Companies who take SEO seriously are dominating in their local area.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
The work of search engine optimisation involves everything that makes your website more visible to prospective customers who are search for services like yours. This ranges from fairly simple tasks like managing your local Google My Business Listing, adding good quality content, improving internal links and adding your site to directories to complex technical back end tasks.
Organic traffic is so valuable and unlike ads, once your site is optimised for Google search, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Best of all, organic traffic gives you customers who are pro-active about buying your product and are looking for someone like you.
The confusion often lies in not understanding the difference between the types of SEO. For local businesses, the first point to understand that Local SEO is completely different from Organic SEO. Read more in our article What is Local SEO?
SEO is often dismissed by local companies because it seems too hard or too expensive to bother trying to compete but you absolutely can compete locally. Google gives you your own playground which is a more level field than organic rankings.
Are you capable of DIY SEO?
Yes, you can do your own SEO. There’s no reason why you can’t spend the time learning and implementing SEO techniques. Everything you do towards search engine optimisation has an effect so even if you only have the time or money to do a little, it all helps. Some essentials must be done if your website ever has a chance to be seen. These are not difficult or time-consuming. What it comes down to is what you want your SEO to achieve. If you want to grow your business and dominate the local rankings, the question is not ‘Can you do your own SEO?’ but ‘Should you do your own SEO?’ Take a look at Local Services Explained to see what’s involved.
Should you Attempt Your Own SEO?
Should you install your own boiler or kitchen? Should you do your own book-keeping and accounts? Should you service your own car? You can do all of these things if you’re willing to take the time to learn. The trouble is as small business owners, we are used to doing everything ourselves at the start, often working much longer hours in the pursuit of so-called freedom that we left employment for.
If you want to grow your business, everything that you do that takes time away from the ‘real work’ potentially slows your growth. At some point, you have to start delegating the tasks that do not move you nearer to your goals.
If you’ve been sitting at home unable to work because of lockdown, that may have been a great time to learn search engine optimisation or other marketing techniques. However, if you are working it’s unlikely that you have the time during. the normal working day so will attempt it in the evening. There are always further demands on your time so the chances of being consistent with your SEO are minimal.
How long does SEO take?
The amount of time that SEO will take you depends on how many pages you have, what you want to achieve, how quickly you want to achieve it and what needs doing. To see what’s involved in an SEO campaign visit: What is Local SEO?
It also helps to have the facilities to monitor and measure. Subscriptions to these can add up to hundreds of pounds per month. This is justified for professionals who monitor several sites but isn’t when you’re only optimising one site. If you haven’t already started monitoring your website get started by understanding Google Analytics.
Some sites are bogged down by performance issues that must be cleaned up before the site has a chance to rank. Google and other search engines assess around 200 factors when it decides which website to serve up to the searcher. Some of those factors include user experience. This means that even if you have the best answer for the query, search engines may not rank your website because using it is not a good experience for the searcher.
Can You Do Your Own SEO Well?
You can do SEO well if you put the time in to master it. It’s unlikely that you will do any damage if you start and find that you need help. There are aspects of SEO that you can get wrong or even cause Google to put penalties on your site but that is unlikely at a beginner level. Avoid anything that looks like black hat SEO and you should be fine. Black hat SEO is the term used for using tricks to try and cheat Google’s system.
The worst you can do is waste time. For instance, in an earlier paragraph, I said that it was essential that you create meta titles and descriptions for your pages. You should do this at the earliest possible opportunity because done is better than nothing, but ideally, you should create a keyword strategy before doing so.
Understand How Search Engines Work.
Understanding how search engines work will save you a bit of time. If, later on, you decide to hire an SEO professional, they should start with keyword planning. If your pages URLs are not keyword-friendly, they may create new pages and redirect the old pages so that the URL, page title, meta title and meta description all support the keyword. They will then optimise the content with the keyword in an H1 tag and further supported in other headings and the content. You will have done no harm in the meantime. You can at least start with off page SEO if you have no access to your site.
Examples of SEO work for clients.
To give you an idea of what’s involved, below is a description of the work that we do for two of our clients at opposite ends of the small business market. Local SEO differs from national SEO. Often, local clients only need a small number of good quality local visitors a week where a national business like Everest relies on several thousand, and Amazon would require several million.
Client Case Study 1. Glazing Business.
This client came to us initially just because he wanted to generate some more leads from SEO. We started with ten hours per month to create content and manage the Google My Business Listing. In the first month, we improved their map rankings from 34 at number one and 89 in positions 2-5 to a whopping 117 in 1st position and 192 in positions 2-5.
This immediately increased leads and the customer was confident in handing over the site to us to see what else we could do.
This site was a bit different from what we usually see. It is built on Joomla and is 9 years old. It wasn’t built for SEO and it had about 300 pages of thin content. Some of the pages only had one photo and one line of text. None of the URLs had the keyword in and the images were too big and had no alt tags. Images were being indexed as URLs causing Google to crawl 1,200 pages when only about 50 were valid. We’ve reduced the pages to 102 including ten we’ve added. We’ve added approximately 20,00 words so far to existing content. Created a new menu which meant redirects to all the new URLs.
Unique meta titles and descriptions have been added for each page and we are working through to fully optimise each page.
In total, we have worked on this site for 120 hours in 6 months. We will probably continue at 40 hours per month for another three months and then drop to twenty hours per month.
This is a lot more than most small businesses need but the work we have done has taken this site from 200 visitors per week to over 1,000. That is a lot for a local business. Our target is to increase turnover by £800,000. We are already generating enough visitors to beat that and there is still more we can do.
Client Case Study 2. Garage Doors.
This client was our first ever SEO client. We were already working with him for sales training but when COVID hit, his needs changed and the priority became finding clients.
He also had an old site but it was dreadful and was only generating garage door repair enquiries. In 7 years it had gained no authority and was ugly and slow. The original developers refused to hand it over and there was no choice but to start again. New sites always take a little while to gain traction but in the first week, it was in the map pack for garage doors in his area.
In the year that we’ve been working with this client, he gains rankings every month. He is in the Dominator management plan so we just work on his site for 10 hours per week. We manage his Google My Business listing and add content to his site.
The site was built for SEO so we do not need to work on anything technical.
When he came to us, he worked with one fitter and mostly managed the sales visits in the evening. Now he has two teams of fitters and is able to concentrate on Sales.
Usually, ten hours a month is enough for steady growth. The first month usually needs some technical work. We think of it as clearing the weeds to allow for growth.
Start With a Free Local SEO Audit.
Every client is different so before we work with anyone, we conduct an audit to see how well the website performs in local search and Google My Business. We also look at listings consistency, page performance including page speed and how it fares in organic ranking. We can see quite a lot without having access to your site. This enables us to be very clear about what work is involved depending on what you want to achieve.
Before you decide whether you want to DIY SEO or hire a professional, let us conduct a free audit for you. It really is free and without any obligation. It will give you a very clear picture of your site. Most business owners have no idea what is happening on their website and it’s no more than a static brochure online.
It will also show you what your meta titles and descriptions are. Let us know that you are working on it yourself and we’ll keep you in the system and run a new report a month after you’ve made the changes. No charge. We’ll even tell you what you need to do. Our customers are those who don’t have time to optimise their websites themselves but we’re passionate about helping local business, so are happy to help.
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Small Business Marketing in the Future for Home Improvement Businesses.
2021 was a great year for home improvement businesses. How will you continue to grow your business at the same rate and feed the staff you took on?
The home improvement industry has enjoyed unprecedented demand in the last 18 months, with businesses typically enjoying an extra 50% turnover without any additional effort to find customers. Those business owners who have jumped on the wave and ridden it hard have seen their businesses grow 3 or 4 times the expected norm. If you want to keep your business running at the same rate read our article: Small Business Marketing in 2022 for Home Improvement Businesses.
The question is not ‘Can you do your own SEO?’ but ‘Should you do your own SEO?’
Note from the Author – Sian Wood
The difference between most SEO professionals and us is our understanding of the homeowner as a consumer and how local marketing differs from national. I’ve worked in the home improvement business for over 30 years, including owning my own business. I’m personally involved in the strategy for all clients with the support of creative and technical experts.
What our clients say they like most about us is that they can hand it over and leave it to us. We don’t ask you for content, although it’s always good if you can supply photos related to the work you do. We just get on with the job and leave you to concentrate on growing your business.
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