Your website needs visitors to thrive. These visitors will not simply stop by your site, but rather, you need to attract and entice them to stay on your URL. What is the best way to garner valuable traffic? The all-mighty and powerful search engines!

The process of utilizing the search engines to garner traffic is called search engine optimization, or SEO. Strategies you incorporate into your site can make it more attractive to search engines, which in turn, will allow your site to rank highly. The higher your site ranks, the more likely you will get visitors when they search for certain keywords and phrases. 

“But that sounds like a lot of work!” you say. Are you willing to do it all yourself? Or should you outsource your SEO details to a firm that specializes in helping websites get higher rankings on search engines? 

There are pros and cons to both a do-it-yourself SEO effort and hiring a professional SEO firm. Let’s take a look at some of the important SEO functions and the pros and cons of each. You can thereafter decide if you want to undertake the entire DIY SEO effort, hire a firm to perform some of the SEO tasks, or outsource the responsibility entirely. 

Link Development

Links to your website play a large part in search engine algorithms. Therefore, it is extremely important for your website to acquire incoming links from reputable sites. Certainly, there are hundreds, even thousands, of directories where you could ask for an incoming link. However, knowing which ones are the best and knowing which ones to avoid can make a huge difference in your SEO link ranking.

DIY Link Development 

What are some reasons you should do-it-yourself?

  • You are in control of all incoming and outgoing links.
  • You can be in full control of who links to your website.
  • A link request directly from the owner, instead of a SEO firm, carries more weight for some directories.
  • You can prevent a bad SEO company from submitting your link to sub-quality “linkfarms.”

Outsourced Link Development 

SEO firms can be a great resource for getting your link to all the right places that have the most impact on search engines. But beware of SEO firms that make promises that their linking strategy will surely raise your SEO ranking when this is difficult for anyone to guarantee. An SEO firm can help your link development by:

  • Knowing the best directory listings (or being able to find them) and networks for your website.
  • Being aggressive in submitting your site link consideration. Link development can be very time-consuming - having a competent, dedicated person assigned to this task can be a huge help and allow you to spend time in other parts of your business.

Keywords and Meta Data

Your keyword and keyphrase content are extremely important in receiving high search engine rankings. Adding keywords to your meta tags in your html coding takes careful consideration in choosing which words and phrases to include, as well as knowing when too many keywords may get you in trouble with search engines. 

The same holds true for keywords that exist within the visible content of each of your web pages. In order for search engines to find your website, you need good, pertinent, and concise keywords that allow search engines to rank your site in relation to a specific search. 

DIY Keywords and Meta Data

You know your business better than any SEO firm. Though an SEO firm can suggest good keywords for your website, ultimately you know the words that best describe what you do and where you are. Additional reasons for including and updating keywords yourself are:

  • You have the ability to update keywords as they change with your business and industry.
  • An SEO firm may simply include too many keywords.
  • An SEO company may not ask you which keywords most accurately reflect your web business.
  • The firm may add sneaky keyword tactics that could get your site banned.

Outsourced Keywords and Meta Data

Outsourcing keyword and meta data content to an SEO firm can also have many benefits, including:

  • Experienced SEO firms should know how to maximize the keyword potential with your meta data and content.
  • The firm will provide an accurate and concise keyword list for you to consider.
  • Updating the web coding for meta data may be best left to experts in HTML.

Consider Your Doorway

Websites that use a doorway page usually design a page that is specific to a certain keyword or phrase. When a visitor lands on the doorway page, you have a way to track your search ranking, and you can provide visitors more specific information about your product or service that pertains to their keyword. 

If you plan to incorporate doorways into your website, there are a few elements to consider when making the decision between an SEO firm and a DIY effort.  

DIY Landing Pages 

If you are knowledgeable in HTML programming or have adequate web page software, you can create an attractive doorway with ease of design and function.

  • You have full control over the design and content.
  • You can set up tracking of visitors who land on your doorway.
  • You can prevent a dastardly SEO firm from including too much keyword spam and sneaky links back to their own site that could ultimately get your entire website banned from search engines.

Outsourced Landing Pages 

SEO firms are practiced at developing well-designed and functional doorway pages. If you want to outsource this option and have chosen a reputable SEO firm, then they can help your doorway by:

  • Using their experience and knowledge about good design and appropriate content for doorway pages.
  • Developing doorway pages that get higher search engine rankings and more traffic.
  • They can set up a doorway with access to stats to track visitors.

Additional Ways to Evaluate an SEO Firm 

Following are some additional ways that you can evaluate an SEO firm.

Provides Ongoing Maintenance

If you are considering an SEO firm, evaluate their promise of continual SEO checkup and maintenance. Major search engines update their search algorithms on a regular basis. Google is notorious for changing their search procedures and algorithms to weed out the worst offenders of search manipulation. Make sure your SEO firm knows how to keep up with these changes and can make that commitment to you.

Clearly Defines Your Competition and Sites to Emulate

A great SEO firm will continually ask you for websites that you want to emulate, as well as the web addresses of your main competitors. They can gather important data about your competition and form a strategy to surpass them with SEO tactics.   In addition, by knowing which sites you like, your SEO firm can have a clear idea about how your website should look and feel to your visitors.

If your chosen SEO firm does not ask these types of questions, drop them and move onto the next one.

What About Offshore SEO? 

Opting for an offshore SEO firm is a big question for most American web businesses. There are many offshore SEO firms that can work cheaply and save you money. However, the age-old phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. An offshore may be a good deal, but you have to overcome many potential obstacles.

  • Communication factors – Language barriers could be a big detriment in getting the best SEO service. Be sure you have a fluent English speaker in your offshore SEO firm, and be as clear as possible in communicating what you need. Miscommunication is the number one source of frustration for those who hire non-English SEO firms.
  • Time Zones – Know the time zone in which your offshore SEO firm operates. Many SEO strategy firms are located in India, half a world away. While it’s Friday here and you need some immediate updates, it’s the weekend at your SEO firm and you may not be able to contact them until Monday your time (Tuesday their time). 

SEO can be the most important element in helping your online business boom. Though SEO is not easy, it can be done yourself. But with a little help from a reputable SEO firm, or allowing them to perform a full SEO overhaul on your site, you can gain valuable customers.