Outsourcing Search Engine Optimization
SEO is critical to the
success of every Web
enterprise. It’s also one of
the most time-consuming
tasks that any Web
professional can undertake.
Small business owners are often left wearing many hats — leaving their focus spread dangerously thin. This edition of SEO Corner provides insights into what elements of a SEO campaign can be outsourced, and a framework to understand those projects that are better left to someone with more expertise.
Outsource or In-House?
Outsourcing everything in SEO may not be feasible for many enterprises, but doing so for certain projects can save time, money and ease complexity. First, you need to determine at the outset where your expertise resides. If you are highly skilled at copywriting, keep the content creation in-house. Should relationship-building be where you need the most help, outsource link building. If research bores you, outsource your initial and ongoing keyword research. By outsourcing all or certain elements of a SEO campaign, you can save the most important commodity of your business — your time.
Let’s look at a few important SEO-related tasks that are commonly outsourced to help determine, based on your own expertise, whether it’s a fit for your business.
Keyword Research, Analysis and Selection:With so many free keyword research tools available it’s easy to do your own research. After all, you know more about your products and services than anyone else, right?
What outsourcing often provides is perspective — that keyword you spent the last six months optimizing might not be the best fit (read more on this topic in Heather Lutze’s Findability Makeover article). Removing yourself from this vital part of the overall campaign enables you to rethink existing efforts and even explore untapped markets. SEOs are well suited to find the best possible set of keywords for your website and find those that are less competitive but still receive a large amount of traffic. For this reason, keyword research might be the first element of an SEO campaign to consider outsourcing.
On-Page Optimization: By reading this column, it is likely you’re already familiar with the necessary elements your pages require to get ranked on search engines: Title/Meta tags, keyword usage, optimized content for targeted keywords, internal link structure, etc. On-page optimization is often an area where an SEO firm will charge a majority of its fee. You might be better off doing your own on-page optimization and investing your budget to a link building campaign(s) which can be much more time consuming. However, if you have any doubt in your abilities to effectively optimize your pages, find someone with the necessary expertise to do so because this SEO strategy is absolutely essential.
Content Development: It is not uncommon to outsource the development of content when new products or services are added, or if analytics or additional keyword research indicates that an optimization opportunity exists. Since website owners usually know their audience best, content development might be best suited to keep in-house, unless your strength does not reside in these areas or it’s simply too time consuming. If you do fit in that mold, consider reputation, experience, and subject familiarity when making your choice of a content development team. You might also consider testing several content writers to identify those who will deliver the best possible product (whether it results in social engagement or greater conversion).
Clearly, many SEO projects can be outsourced. On-page optimization, content development and keyword research are only a few of the possible outsourcing opportunities. Everything from domain registration, hosting and analytics, to Web design, public relations and social media marketing have at least some synergy with SEO. This means that while outsourcing does carry the potential to save time, money and ease complexity, every website project you undertake — in-house or outsource — should be sensitive to its impact on SEO campaigns. Understanding your own skill-set and your company’s business objectives will reveal if outsourcing is appropriate for you.
Dante A. Monteverde is a Search Strategist specializing in Search Engine