Startups and small businesses expect – and need – employees to wear many hats. Resources are spread thin. Hiring people who are willing and able to perform multiple job duties is a key component of success.
One of the “hats” many companies expect non-experts to don is SEO digital marketing. In the early days, this makes a certain amount of sense. Eventually, though, you’ll want to take your SEO game up a notch. Maybe you aren’t gaining traction online, or maybe your business is growing but hiring an in-house team right now isn’t feasible.
We look at five reasons the time may be right to hire an SEO team, then we tell you what to look for and what to expect once you decide it’s time to make your move.
How Do You Know the Time Is Right to Hire a Digital Marketing Team?
Most successful entrepreneurs know that, no matter how good they are, eventually it makes sense to bring in an expert. These are the people with the training and experience to handle the job with speed and efficiency. But how do you know whether it’s the right time to bring in an SEO team?
Your Company is Growing
Expecting employees to wear multiple hats is understandable, and even beneficial…up to a point. Eventually, your business will grow so much that spreading employees too thin becomes counterproductive. Too many missed deadlines or dropped balls, and you run the risk of endangering your reputation.
Online marketing requires consistency and regular monitoring to ensure its success. When your business reaches the point where no one has the time to manage your digital marketing properly, but you still don’t have the resources to hire a dedicated team (SEO specialists, writer, and researchers), you know you’re ready to hire an SEO company. Ideally, you bring in a digital marketing team before it reaches that point. Otherwise, you risk falling behind in ranking and losing your hard-won progress.
You’ve Maxed Out Conversions through Social Media
Social media platforms are a great way to grow your brand and get recognized. All you need is for one post to go viral for millions of people to discover you. The best part? It’s totally free, which we’ve already agreed is important, especially for young companies.
There are a couple of challenges here, though. First, getting that viral hit is hardly guaranteed. Second, even if a post goes viral, that doesn’t necessarily mean increased sales. Your goal is getting your message in front of your target audience, not just anyone who has a smartphone and a Facebook account.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be active on social media. It only means that it can’t be your entire online marketing strategy. The right SEO company helps you leverage the followers you have while growing your search engine rankings to boost conversions. And aren’t conversions the reason you entered the social media landscape to begin with?
You Want to Build a Local Audience
If your business has a physical address and you want to be sure customers find you, you need stellar local SEO, which differs significantly from traditional digital marketing. Make sure that whatever company you choose understands that difference and knows what it takes to grow your brand locally.
Local competition is fierce. Nearly half of all Google searches are for local businesses.
- Percent of adults using their smartphones to research local products: 60
- Percent of smartphone users conducting local searches at least once a week: 90
- Percent of smartphone users conducting local searches daily: 58
- Percent of mobile users visiting a business within 24 hours of finding it online: 50
- Percent of users making a purchase after a local search: 78
You can’t afford to ignore numbers like that.
So, what do people look for when they conduct these local searches? Simple: address, directions, and phone number. Local SEO is how you make sure that your address and phone number are what they find.
You’re Ready to Move beyond Local
You dominate your local market. It feels like the time is ripe to move past it, to take your brand to the next level. Your new motto? Go big or go home.
Here’s the thing, though. Expanding beyond your community requires a totally different SEO strategy. Ranking for local searches is its own beast. Ranking against statewide or even national competitors? That’s a whole new ballgame.
SEO experts understand the difference. They look at the competition in your industry, determine the most lucrative keywords, and help you create a plan – and the content – to take your brand to the next level.
It’s Time to Upgrade Your Website
Upgrading your website may be the most obvious time to bring in SEO experts. Even if you have your own in-house web designer, serious issues often rise from the ashes of your previous site. Orphaned pages, dead links, and more mess with your content, often leading to declines in rankings.
Working with an SEO company from the word Go helps avoid these types of headaches, protecting your site’s rank, and implementing strategies to help it grow.
Preparing to Hire an SEO Company
With so much information about SEO (and so much disinformation), knowing where to begin can feel overwhelming. The following suggestions help ensure you go into the process well-informed so you make the best decision for your organization.
Discover Where You Are
One of the first things you want to do is get a clear picture of your site’s SEO. Phoenix Online Media offers free SEO audit reports, just click the link and complete the form. Once you know where you are, it’s easier to determine where you want to go and estimate how long it’ll take to get there.
What Are Your Goals?
Having a clear understanding of what you want helps you explain to the SEO marketers looking to land your business.
Compare it to buying a pair of pants. Where do you plan to wear them? What do you plan to do while wearing them? Do you plan to wear them with a particular shirt? Of course, you don’t ask yourself all of these questions, you just know you’re looking for a new pair of jeans. Even so, you still know what color and size you want and that the reason you want jeans is that you plan to wear them during casual outings with friends. Look for the same clarity when defining what you want to accomplish with your online marketing.
Possible SEO goals include:
- Grow sales by X amount
- Expand reach through social media or paid advertising
- Launching a new, fully optimized website
- Optimizing your current website to ensure it follows best practices
- Avoiding a Google penalty (or taking steps to get back in Google’s good graces)
This level of specificity returns much better results than vague notions of higher rankings or more traffic. It also helps your SEO company understand your goals and design a method of achieving them.
Preparing for that First Meeting
You know your current SEO status and what you want to achieve. You have a list of potential SEO marketing firms and you’re ready to schedule those initial consultations. Before walking into that first meeting, prepare a list of questions. Coming in with a written list of questions ensures you don’t forget anything. Taking detailed notes during the meeting means that later, when you’re comparing companies, you have all the facts right at your fingertips.
Potential questions include:
- Do you have a particular SEO focus? If so, how does that focus improve results?
- Do you have any other clients in my industry?
- Do you have references and case studies?
- Have any of your clients enjoyed big growth thanks to your actions? What did you do to get that win?
- Have your SEO tactics changed in the past few years? (The answer here should be yes.)
- How long have you been in business?
- How quickly can I expect to see results? (Be wary of any company promising big changes within days or weeks.)
- What can I expect in the way of communication and reports?
You likely have additional questions, depending on your goals and whether you’re looking for a company that simply does SEO or want someone to manage your entire digital marketing profile.
How to Hire an SEO Consultant by Google
Published on Feb 14, 2017
Google’s Maile Ohye shares her advice for hiring an SEO (Search Engine Optimizer) to improve the searcher experience on your website.
You’re Hired! Now What?
You held the meetings, read the proposals, and found the perfect fit. What should you expect to happen next?
Typically, you’ll have an introductory meeting. This includes introductions to the team handling your account and varies depending on the details of your contract but may include your account manager or lead, SEO specialists, and a content creator.
Expect the team to ask you questions to get a better feel for what you need (unless these are the same people who worked with you during the consultation). In addition, each team member explains his or her role.
This is also your chance to explain what you expect from them, especially since the sales person you initially met with probably offered only generalities. The people performing the actual work to implement your SEO strategy likely have specific suggestions and ideas on moving forward.
Work out communication issues with your team. Who is your first point of contact? To whom do you take specific questions? How often will they send status updates and what information will those include?
Finally, since SEO improvements don’t happen overnight, ask how they determine whether their campaign needs tweaking.
Bringing it all Together
Are you ready to throw out your SEO hat and hire the professionals? Phoenix Online Media has a decade of experience in online marketing – that’s like a century in Internet years. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your project.