How to tell if your business really needs an SEO retainer

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SEO

If you want your organisation to succeed in today’s digital landscape, you need to ensure that your website is easily found on search engines, right? Right. To do this, you need to pay large amounts of money to an SEO firm over a long period of time, right? Not quite.

SEO is big business, and rightly so. An SEO firm can do wonders for brands looking to increase their digital footprint. For highly competitive and expensive keywords, a dedicated SEO professional or team can help generate high volumes of targeted traffic to your site. For smaller organisations the decision becomes a bit trickier.

What SMMEs need to know is that finding a good firm is difficult. They need to understand your industry and have the best interests of your business at heart. You need to be able to work with them on a regular basis and they must understand what your marketing objectives are.

To prevent less “virtuous” SEO firms from pulling the wool over your eyes, it’s in your best interest to do some research, understand the basics about SEO so you know what you need. Most firms will push for a retainer contract, where often you don’t need long-term assistance. The only time when an SEO professional is essential, is during the development of your site, as on-page SEO is often gibberish to the not so code savvy individual. After the launch period SEO is dependent on your marketing objectives, how deep your pockets are and the nature of your business.

Depending on the industry you’re competing in, your staff resources and the distance you are willing to go, you can take the task of long-term SEO upon yourself. By training one of your junior staff members, you can invest in your company and the skills of your employees. Google offers a downloadable guide on SEO, and it’s a pretty good place to start. Many SEO companies offer SEO crash courses that can be used to give your staff a general understanding of SEO and what elements need to be addressed in your organisation going forward.

There are also a variety of tools that can be used to assist with your SEO efforts, from 360° paid solutions like SEOMoz to free analysis tools like Open Site Explorer. It just takes a little bit of effort and you’ll be well on your way.

For those of you that wish to rise to the occasion and take SEO head on, here are a few basics that you’ll have to attend to if you want your page ranking to soar.

  • Sort out your page titles, Google identifies these as one of the most important on-page elements.
  • Get links to your site. Beg, plead, bargain and offer exchanges within your network, contact current and past customers, reach out to bloggers and constantly keep links as a priority. Backlinks are one of the most important off-page elements, arguably equal to the actual content on your page.
  • Create quality content that supplies a need to a particular niche or market. If your content is seen as valuable to someone, it is more likely to be shared, which in turn increases your digital footprint and that’s a really good thing for your SEO efforts.

Still not convinced you can do it yourself? It’s not a problem, many organisations don’t have the time or resources either. Just make sure you know what you want. Reject promises about 1st page rankings and fast track solutions. SEO is a long-term process and anything remotely shady will most likely end up in your site being penalised or banned by Google.

If your business is dependent on traffic to your website, SEO might be the biggest investment you have ever made. While the SEO hat doesn’t fit every business, when it does fit, it can become one the most important parts of your armory.

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