Hopefully you already through our comprehensive checklist for SEO and how it works, why it works, and how to make it work for you.
In this “SEO Tips” section we are going to give you an over the shoulder in-depth review about How to Outsource SEO. We feel that is one of the best and greatest tips we could ever give you.
Now, before we even get started – that should not be a turn off – we are doing this “SEO Outsourcing Tips Guide” because MAINLY we know you are not an search optimization expert (if you were you would be too busy ranking on the first page for all of your desired keywords) – and only want one thing – RANKINGS & RESULTS.
There's a saying that is pretty commonly expressed and shown throughout SEO enthusiasts, and that is – if you can't fix it, outsource it.
And with that – we give you our introduction to the best search engine optimization tip alive; OUTSOURCING.
Outsourcing Your SEO
SEO should play a vital role in any marketing strategy for a brand. Most targeted web traffic comes from either search engines or social media so it is equally important that you create a website that is well optimized for search engines and can help you gain more visitors and potential buyers/customers.
But first…outsourcing SEO can be a difficult process to tackle, manage and stay current with. Google and other search engines are constantly adjusting their search algorithms to fight web spamming, so hiring a professional consultant or agency that will not penalize your site is the best route to take.
We take this approach as if you are already in business or started one, and assuming your not an aspiring SEO agency or company – then you need to focus on what will make you money and outsource the rest to the best available.
Section 1: Costs of SEO
Before you do anything, you'll need to know what to expect when you go to an SEO agency or consultant. Pricing for SEO services varies by agency or consultant but in general there are four common pricing models:
- A Monthly Package
- A Set Price Per Project
- An Hourly Cost Per Consultation
- A Monthly Retainer Fee
Monthly packages are the most common type of SEO pricing, especially for small businesses. A monthly package normally contains a set amount of work that can include:
- A Set Number Of Links Built
- Sitemap Creation
- On-page Optimization
- New Content Creation
The advantage to monthly packages is that you'll know exactly what you're getting as soon as you get it. There are no surprises and you can be assured that your getting exactly what you paid for.
Project Based Pricing
A project based pricing model will charge you based on the competition and work needed to successfully rank your website. Normally, an SEO consultant or agency will list out the work that will be done, the timeframe needed for each piece of work, and at the bottom of the audit, will list a price.
The main advantage to project based pricing is that the person providing the SEO services hopes that there will be another project. Therefore, if you're the type of person who is going to have a plethora of small projects, you should hope for this type of model.
In addition, this type of pricing model is normally focused on goals like:
- Number Of New Visits Per Month
- Number Of Keywords On Front Page
- Number Of Web Form Inquiries
Cost Per Hour Pricing
Cost per hour pricing is often performed if SEO work has already been completed on your website. It is also more flexible than other pricing models because this strategy generally is more about thinking up a marketing strategy for SEO, rather than say “ranking x keywords on Google.”
These consultations generally focus on devising a strategy to make your site more SEO-friendly or how to improve your website's overall performance. Be careful though, there are some sketchy consultants, so make sure do your research into a consultant before you hire one for a few hours.
The monthly retainer pricing model is more useful for big brands that will continually need SEO work each and every month. A monthly retainer ensures that the SEO consultant meets the requirements both parties agreed upon.
In addition, it's generally the most comprehensive SEO service you can find because most of the time, this model will include freelancers who are constantly creating and adding content to your site. You may also need a social media expert for reputation management as well.
Section 2 – The Four Things You MUST Know About SEO Outsourcing
SEO is big business. It could very well be a billon dollar business within the next few years, if it isn't already. This attracts a large number of shady consultants and agencies that just want to make money and don't really want to provide value to their clients.
Therefore, you should follow these four pieces of advice to ensure you hire a proper agency or consultant.
Avoid “Guaranteed Search Rankings”
There is no silver bullet for SEO. It takes time, hard work, and a proper strategy to achieve results. Beware of companies that advertise “guaranteed search rankings.”
First off, think about that statement. What does that statement mean? Technically if they rank a few of your keywords at #9, they've achieved what they advertise. However, we all know that being #9 on the front page isn't going to bring you much traffic. It's a sneaky sales ploy that unfortunately so many businesses fall for.
Generally speaking, the tactic here is to:
- Rank for low to medium competitive keywords on the bottom of page 1.
- Rank for non-competitive keywords
Ranking #1 is great – position #10 isn't. Therefore, avoid having to deal with shady marketers by avoiding these sales ploys.
Know Where Your Links Are Coming From
Another problem for small business owners is that they do not know what backlinks are or how SEO really works. Therefore, when they see thousands of backlinks they jump for joy because they think it must automatically mean customers are going to come flocking in. Not so fast.
Where these links are coming from is a lot more important than how many links are coming in. No-follow and do-follow is not nearly as important as it used to be but for the most part, you need to know what types of links you're getting.
For example, good links come from:
- Authority Niche Blog Posts
- Social Media Websites
- News Sites
- Authority Blogs/websites
Bad links come from:
- Automated Software
- Hacked Sites
- Sites That Can Be Easily Spammed
The key here is to know where your links are coming from and how they will be built. If your SEO professional is going to use “blackhat” techniques, you're running the risk of getting your site penalized very easily.
Ask For Proof Of Past Performance
When you hire a lawyer or doctor, you'd like to see his or her credentials right? SEO is no different. It's your right to ask an SEO agency or consultant if you can see some proof of their past work. Any good SEO professional will keep case studies and be more than willing to show and explain the data to you.
Don't be afraid to shop around either. Pretend buying SEO services is like buying a car. You should shop around, check out agencies or consultants, and eventually pick the professional you feel most comfortable with.
Content Is KING
The most overused saying in the SEO industry is easily that “content is king.” While it may be overused, it's still so true in today's SEO landscape.
Search engines have publically said their goal is to provide users with the most valuable content on the web. Therefore, your SEO strategy should revolve around creating high quality content so your visitors will engage with your website and yes, turn into customers or leads.
Social media factors into quality content a great deal. Think about it – if people are sharing your content on Facebook, tweeting about it on Twitter, and blogging about it, then chances are you have high quality content. Social factors play a huge role in today's landscape so doesn't forget it.
Section 3 – SEO Agencies vs. SEO Consultants
SEO consultants are individuals who perform SEO services own their own. They tend to be a jack-of-all-trades and can adequately perform just about any SEO service you need. They often have one or two contractors on their payroll just for menial tasks but if they have a large team, then you're really looking at an agency, instead of a contractor.
Advantages of SEO Consultants
- Cheaper – SEO consultants don't have a full staff to pay each week. They often charge by the hour which means they are more flexible to work with.
- Honest advice – An SEO consultant is staking his or her reputation on working with you. They will provide you with honest advice to help you achieve your SEO goals because it's their reputation that will suffer if they fail.
- Flexibility – As we just mentioned, SEO consultants are incredibly flexible in terms of their availability. They generally do not have as many clients as Agencies and therefore they will provide you with that 1-on-1 time to really fulfill your needs.
Disadvantages of SEO consultants
- Lack of resources – An SEO consultant is not going to have near the amount of resources an SEO agency possesses. This means results are going to take a longer, which can lead to frustration in some clients.
- Reliant upon you: SEO consultants work a lot more closely with their clients, so there is going to be a lot of back and forth between you two. Time management can be an issue when you're trying to focus on your business and your SEO consultant needs a two consultation.
SEO agencies are a large-scale operation that generally includes a large staff to complete every task needed for your SEO campaign. You'll often be in contact with a project manager that will oversee your SEO campaign and communicate with you about the progress of your campaign.
The project manager will then assign tasks to the staff to design, write, and develop anything you need to make your SEO campaign more successful.
Advantages of SEO Agencies
- Core resources available: SEO agencies have a team of experts to create content, build links, and design/develop whatever you need. This means that an SEO agency can deliver what they promise much more quickly because they are utilizing all their resources available to your campaign.
- Efficient Processes: An SEO agency works like a well-oiled machine, so it is efficient and effective. While an SEO agency might outsource some menial tasks to developing countries, they should not outsource everything.
- Stability: An SEO agency is less likely to run away with your money or go out of business. An SEO consultant may take your money and disappear and you get nothing out of it.
Disadvantages of SEO Agencies
- Expensive: SEO agencies have a full staff to pay, so don't expect to save any money. Plus, this company needs to maintain a profit margin to keep it running and stabile. This makes SEO agencies must more expensive than consultants.
- Inflexible: Agencies aren't going to wait around for you to make room to discuss a strategy. An agency is supposed to run efficiently and therefore when tasks are delegated to workers, they get done. You'll find agencies are inflexible because of this, which means they cannot adjust or adapt to your needs very quickly.
- Less attention: An SEO consultant delivers more of a personal experience whereas an agency has hundreds of clients, which means you're going to get less attention. In addition, there's a good chance an agency has a client with a bigger budget, which might push your project even further down the totem pole.
Section 4- Finding the Right SEO Company or Consultant
Now that you know a bit about SEO and what to think about when hiring someone to perform SEO for you, it's time to pick the right company or consultant. While this can often be a difficult process, we've simplified it for you by providing you with this ultra-simple step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Define Your Goals
What's the purpose of your SEO campaign? Is it to engage with your customers? Perhaps you want to increase newsletter customers? Or are you a general contractor looking for new business?
No matter what your business is, you need to have defined goals with exact numbers. This will enable an SEO professional to understand your needs, so he or she can fulfill your goals.
Step 2: Learn More About SEO
This step could be optional for some people but it really is better if you understand as much about SEO as possible. Learn the technical terms of SEO and learn some more about how SEO really is performed. This will help you understand the SEO strategy outlined by a professional or agency so you understand things like:
- Social Media Marketing
- On-page Optimization
- Competition Analysis
- Link Building
- Content Creation/Link Baiting
Step 3: Look At Case Studies And References
If you applied for a job, you'd probably have to provide references to your employer. An SEO consultant should have to do the same. Ask for references and case studies so you know that:
- The Seo Professional Has Actual Experience Performing SEO
- That You Will Actually Receive The Services You Were Told You Would Receive
If the professional shares who the client was in a specific case study, feel free to call the client to see what the process was actually like.
Step 4: Arrange a Meeting
Once you've found a list of legitimate SEO providers, find a time to arrange a meeting. It's best you have a list of questions handy to ask the provider things like:
- His Or Her Content Marketing Strategy
- How Links Will Be Built
- A Timeframe For Completion
- How Social Media Will Be Utilized
Once you meet with a few SEO providers, it's time to narrow down the list of providers to one. We personally recommend that you choose a provider that you were most comfortable with and a provider that you felt best can accommodate your needs. This will ensure you and your SEO provider have a great working relationship and that both of your needs are met.
Section 5 – Must Have Clauses
Once you pick an SEO consultant or agency, it's time to create an SEO contract. Chances are you'll be given a standard contract offered by the agency or consultant to look over. While you might be eager to begin your SEO campaign, there are some clauses you need to make sure are in that SEO contact before you sign the dotted line:
Defined Deliverables – You should know exactly what you're going to get and when you're going to get it. Things like reports, social media account creation, content, and optimization should be clearly identified.
Also, make sure you know what happens when deliverables are NOT met. It could be a discount or extra work to your site. Either way, know what happens when things go wrong.
Content Ownership – Make sure that all content created on your website is YOURS, not the agencies. This is to protect you in the event that your contract comes to end. Otherwise, your SEO provider could legally remove content that they added to your site.
SEO Definitions – Besides defined deliverables, make sure that your SEO provider clearly defines common SEO terms. Know exactly what a “keyword report” is or what “on-page optimization” means. This will help you determine whether or not you're actually getting what your provider says he or she is providing.
Some of the terms to have defined are:
- Link Bait
- Link Building
- On-page Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
Reporting – Make sure your SEO provider delivers reports to you on a set date. This should include traffic reports, keyword data, and traffic data. This will help you understand just how the campaign is working to benefit your business and it will ensure your SEO provider is actually doing the work he or she said they would.
Payment Terms and Dates – Finally, it's time to talk money. Set specific payment terms and dates on which work will be completed so you and your SEO provider can continue to have a working relationship.