A week ago, I had a conversation with a business owner who’s looking for a digital marketing agency to help with lead generation. He’d found us by searching in Google and needed help to make sure his organisation’s potential customers find them the same way.
He’d searched using the term SEO specialist, or something similar, and because we showed up in the search results, it suggested to him that we know what we’re talking about – which we do. So far, so good.
However, over the last few years, he’s worked with several digital agencies with little success and has pretty much lost faith in our industry. It’s an all too familiar story and the conversations we have go something like this.
It's All About Trust
“We’re looking for a new SEO company”. “We’ve used supposed experts before and got nowhere”. “We’ve spent a small fortune on this stuff”. “Are you like all the others?”.
It’s not the best way to start a relationship. Still, we fully appreciate their lack of faith in an industry that hasn’t exactly done itself any favours. In short, our industry sucks – or does it?
Like any industry, search engine optimisation or SEO firms come in all shapes and sizes. Some are great, some OK but many are poor. The thing is, the ones who are poor are easy to spot.
- Their own search rankings are usually awful – bless ‘em
- Their fees are low – I know, who would have thought!
- They over-promise – guaranteeing number 1 positions.
- In other words, it’s easy to single out credible businesses from the chancers.
“But that’s easy for you to say, Dave, you know the industry” I hear you say, but I don’t buy it.
SEO, done right, will make sure your ideal customers find and engage with you. It will generate leads like nothing else you’ve ever tried. Right when people need what you offer and go looking for a solution, they will find your business.
Great SEO Can Transform A Business, Why Would It Be Cheap?
So ask yourself, would a service like that be cheap, would it be quick and would it be easy? It should be obvious the answer’s no to all three of those questions.
So by applying some simple logic, you can rule out many companies straight away. In simple terms, SEO companies who call you, because you’ll never find them online, charge peanuts and tell you they will secure quick results are lying to you. If you don’t believe me listen to what Google says about it.
So, being somewhat controversial, cheap, and cheerful SEO companies thrive because people want to believe SEO is cheap and easy. People want to think their website can somehow be propelled to the top of the search rankings for competitive search terms with a minimum of effort. They want to believe some low-cost, secret sauce someone is selling them will work.
As the old adage goes, buy cheap, buy twice, although when it comes to SEO, it seems more likely that people buy cheap, buy cheap again then just for good measure buy cheap one more time.
Don't Buy Cheap SEO
Some people will now be thinking this blog post is simply a pitch for our own, definitely not cheap, SEO services. It isn’t. Where SEO gigs are concerned our cup runneth over, and we’re turning work away.
Neither am I suggesting SEO is rocket science because it isn’t. As I often tell people, SEO isn’t hard; it’s just hard work. For example, the guys at Moz have created a superb SEO Guide. It’s freely available and will pretty much tell you everything you need to know about SEO.
There are seven chapters of SEO goodness written in plain English that anyone can understand. I’d strongly encourage people who can’t afford to pay someone else to their SEO to read it.
Then there’s our guide to blogging, called What Is The Purpose of a Blog. The post is pretty much all you need if you want to understand how to blog effectively and why blogging will help you get more search engine traffic.
Then there are Google’s SEO guidelines here. In short, if you’re not fully occupied running your business, all the information you need to secure better search rankings is out there, and it’s free.
SEO Is Easy, SEO Is Hard
However, if you go down this route, you’ll quickly realise that although the concepts and “rules” of SEO are not hard to understand, implementing them is not for the faint-hearted.
For example, developing an understanding of your ideal customers and the problems they need to solve takes time. Researching the search terms they type into Google takes time. Developing the content required to improve your website’s search engine performance takes time.
Importantly, you need to keep doing this a stuff on an ongoing basis. SEO success takes months or years, not days or weeks, and this is where people tend to fail.
In month one they optimise some of their existing pages, write a couple of blog posts and keenly monitor their search engine performance.
In month two, they repeat the process, but this time only write one blog post but continue to monitor their website’s search rankings.
By month three, the blogs have dried up, and there is still a list of pages that need checking and optimising. As their search rankings have still not improved, they become despondent and pretty much give up.
For this reason, paying someone else to take responsibility for the enquiries your business gets from its website makes sense. But that’s not all. It should be evident from the information above that getting this stuff right takes a lot of time.
SEO Done Right Ain't Cheap
Knowing this should lead you to conclude that effective SEO can’t be delivered on the cheap, but let’s explore this in a little more detail.
One option to get your SEO done is to create your own in-house digital marketing team. It’s what many businesses do and can make sense. A credible team would consist of, at an absolute minimum, a marketing expert who can write and a designer to make sure the website converts visitors into customers.
You might manage to secure these people for around £30k each per annum, plus “running costs”. Let’s say £70k a year all in. Now, compare that to what cheap SEO firms charge. £399/month? £299/month? Let’s go for one of the expensive ones at £499/month. That’s a total of £6k a year compared to hiring your own team for £70k/year, what’s not to like?
Hire Someone Credible
Each of the examples above is extreme. At one end you are hiring your own team and at the other securing the services of a low-cost provider. Sensible businesses find something in the middle by hiring a credible agency who can dedicate the resources required to make a difference without breaking the bank.
As for the question about whether our industry sucks? Actually, I don’t think it does. I think it has its fair share of snake oil salespeople, but for the most part, SEO people are diligent, care about the businesses they work with and do their best to make a positive impact.
On the flip side, if you buy cheap, you will buy twice, at least.
If you need help generating business from your website. Give us a call.