SEO For Small Business, Is It Worth Hiring An SEO Company?

SEO For Small Business, Is it Worth Hiring An SEO Company?

The easy answer to the “do I need SEO for my small business question is ‘YES.’  Writing as an owner of an SEO company, it’s probably the answer you’d expect me to give.  Well, Sorry for being predictable.   Let me try to answer the question another way.

If we break down the question into two parts examining the “small business” part. We can come to some different conclusions, but only by considering even more questions.

Q1) How do we define a small business?

According to the FSB,  “There were 5.8 million small businesses in the UK  at the start of 2019”.  SMEs (small to medium enterprises) account for 99.9% of the business population.  So using that definition most businesses can be defined as small businesses.

However, you don’t need to be an economist to know that there is a vast difference in the size, turnover and profits of these varying small businesses.

There are small businesses who make tens of millions of pounds in profit each year, and others who barely make a few thousand in profit, so perhaps a better question might be:

Is SEO an affordable marketing strategy for my business?

Even then… you need to consider what proportion of your whole marketing budget will be spent on SEO.

Firstly, you really should work out what your marketing budget is, and how much of that is to be spent online.

Many companies don’t work out what their digital marketing budget will be before purchasing.  Subsequently, they don’t buy the correct marketing package. They just wing it, convincing themselves that marketing is an expense they could do without.

Let’s say a business makes £100,000 per year. The agree average marketing spend to maintain their existing position is 5%.

That means that the business has to spend 5k on marketing per year, just to maintain its current position. With more and more companies getting online and investing in marketing each year, who can afford to stand still? Those who want to get ahead will want to do much more than standstill.

Let’s Leap Forward
Let’s just work on the basics, let’s assume that you’ve done your sums and you KNOW you want to invest in SEO only…just for the sake of this article.

Once you’ve decided on your budget, you’ll be faced with a number of different contract options.

1) The “One-off” fee, and walk. 
These things really annoy me.  As an SEO, I know that it’s simply not enough to fix a website up to have a good technical SEO score and build a few links, then submit the bill and walk away.

It’s akin to a car mechanic fixing your car once, valeting it…and then saying thanks and goodbye.  The car won’t say issue free forever, it won’t stay clean for long if it’s being used.   The same applies to a website.  You can’t just fix it and then leave it.  It needs constant monitoring, tweaking, testing, content creation, best practice merchandising and promotion.

2) The fix with SEO training.
Another option that makes me roll my eyes: –
So, an SEO company applies to option 1, then they “train” you to fix and maintain your own site.   Usually, they charge a hefty fee for the training which usually amounts to no more than a weeks training at most.  Can you learn to become a carpenter in a week, an accountant, or a chef?  No, You can’t become an SEO in a week either.  So at best you get a set of vaguely remembered technical lessons and a pile of handouts which date faster than your haircut.

SEO Jargon Buster

More often than not, the client has to force/encourage some fairly disinterested member of staff into maintaining the product descriptions, blogs and Social media.  This rarely works out well because…the staff aren’t that bothered.

They have no burning desire to do SEO or be an SEO.  They don’t read SEO blogs and podcasts and spend hours pouring over datasets making notes and building test sites to see what works.

Secondly, they usually have very little experience.   All of those things applied over time leads to half optimised sites, sites with literally thousands of on-page errors and a general inconsistency in the marketing of the website.  What happens when they leave their post for pastures new, is there a succession plan or is the business owner going to have to fork out for a new round of training?

3) Hire an in-house SEO
Seems like a good option. Hire someone in-house and they will be an employee, you can mould them to your business ethos and the SEO will get taken care of. All seems legit, right?

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Yes, if you’re prepared to pay them properly, and offer them significant benefits to remain with the company.  A decent SEO will cost at least £25k PA.  Yes, you can hire kids for less, but you’ll be sacrificing knowledge and experience to save money.

If you are looking at hiring a top-quality SEO you’ll need to pay them upwards of £35k PA, and that’s way more than you’ll be paying an agency.

3) Agency Retainers
The agency or retained model is the one that most serious businesses go for.  Even within this model, there are differences, in terms of pricing and payment models.  You’ll save money in the long run because you’re not their only client.

A good agency will book the right number of hours you need. This will fit both your needs and your budget.  Over time you’ll start to see meaningful returns on investment.  * the more time you book, the more impact you can expect.

SEO For Small Business – What should  I get for the money?

1) An off-site advisor /s who should create a clear overview of the problems faced by your website, including its errors, architecture issues, keyword rankings,  link profile, and competitors.

2) A plan of how to fix the issues faced along with approximate timescales. The level of detail you get will all depend on the type of SEO package you buy.  In general, it follows that the more you’re paying the more detail and attention you’ll get.

3) Regular site maintenance.  Once the site errors have been identified and actioned, the SEO team will constantly monitor these issues and ensure that they don’t keep cropping up. A fun analogy would be,  “digital what-a-mole”

4) Reassurance and expectation management.  Really?  Yes really. We have client s who pay small monthly sums, and those who pay thousands of pounds.  Each one has different needs and expectations.  Clients need to be reassured that the work is going well, notified of blockers if it isn’t, and they also need to have their expectations managed.

Some client’s who’ve heard of SEO might expect dramatic overnight changes in their site’s performance, before the end of the first couple of months.  In most cases, that simply isn’t realistic.  Customers who pay small fees need to understand that SEO is benefiting them, but the real benefit of the results will come along much more slowly than for those who are investing more, and on multiple platforms.

5) Trust.  You shouldn’t be choosing an SEO company based just on cost.
At the end of the day, you need people who communicate, you need a team who is prepared will come and visit your premises or at least meet with you regularly via video conferencing.  You need to have a good rapport.

They have to understand your business goals, your best selling lines and be confident enough to push through the changes needed to help you realise those objectives.

The Pitch – Why Hire Peak District SEO?

    • Peak District SEO work on retainer.   You pay monthly at a rate you can afford.
      The SEO package you select is flexible based on a combination of your needs and your budget. * Plus our prices are somewhere in the middle.
    • We have over 20 years of experience of SEO on websites both B2B and B2C.
    • In addition, we have worked on a wide number of platforms from bespoke builds and CMS’s to WordPress, Woocommerce, Shopify, Opencart, Prestashop and Magento.
    • The customer is at the heart of what we do.  We try to listen and steer rather than dictate.
    • We have lots of SEO reviews from happy customers

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