After many years of working in the marketing industry, I’ve found that “can’t I just do [service] myself?” questions are often asked. The reason they’re asked can vary depending on the circumstance. You could be running a small business and don’t want to fork out the budget; you could be a business looking to scale down on marketing costs or you could be at a party trying to explain to somebody for the fifth time what you do for a living. That last one is probably the least common out of them all.
But I mostly think this question is asked because the person asking might not quite understand what’s involved in that service, which can imply it’s a cakewalk. SEO is not exempt to this.
If you know anything about SEO, you’ll probably understand that some areas of it are pretty technical and full of jargon, which can put people off – if it’s not explained in a way that everybody can get. However, if you’re completely new to SEO you may sometimes oversimplify it and therefore not see the value.
In this article, I’m aiming to be as transparent and straight talking as possible in regards to what’s involved in SEO so you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to learn about it yourself, or get somebody else to do it for you.
- Can I do SEO on my own?
- How can I do SEO myself?
- SEO software
- Why dedicated SEO services exist
- Should I hire internally or pay an agency?
- Why multi-faceted account managers don’t work
- Final thoughts
Can I do SEO on my own?
Put simply, yes – of course you can do SEO on your own.
I actually think a lot of people who work in marketing like to make their jobs sound untouchable or otherworldly in an attempt to impress or prove that they’re indispensable.
At the end of the day, we’re not superhuman – if you had the enthusiasm to take the time, effort and practice in to learning about SEO you could absolutely be great at it. Now, flying – that’s another kettle of fish.
How can I do SEO myself?
Learning about SEO yourself in 2020 has never been easier, there’s a bag load of resources out there to get your teeth stuck in to.
However, my recommended starting point for anybody new to SEO would be Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO. They have spared no detail – from how search engines work, to how to conduct keyword research – it’s all there.
Below are some other great (free) websites for learning about SEO:
- Moz – as well as offering the beginner’s guide to SEO, they’ve also got regular blog articles that discuss any recent SEO developments, Whiteboard Fridays dedicated to one SEO topic each week and the Moz Academy which is currently free for everyone! They’re dedicated to learning and well worth a visit.
- Search Engine Land – another huge website that offers blogs, tips and guidance on pretty much anything you could want in Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Great for keeping up with recent news in the SEO space.
- Search Engine Watch – highly informative website filled to the brim with SEO information for any level of knowledge you may have. I’d recommend subscribing to their emails as you never know what might land in your inbox.
But those are just my favourites – there’s hundreds of independent SEO bloggers out there too which can help you learn more and more about the wonders of SEO.
An important part of any SEO campaign is being able to make data-driven decisions and show results. There’s a lot of software in the market that helps you do this, which I’ve gone in to below.
Google Analytics is a completely free and powerful piece of software that helps you monitor and analyse the traffic coming to your website and get insight in to your users’ behaviour.
You can use this tool to segment traffic by the different channels in which a user can enter your website (i.e. a social media post, an email marketing campaign or through the Organic search results) so is great for measuring the impact of your SEO efforts.
There’s much much more that this tool can give you which I won’t go in to here, but if you want to find out more visit the Google Analytics Academy. I don’t wish to brag, but I am certified.
Screaming Frog is a tool you can use to crawl any website domain and receive Technical SEO data on areas such as:
- Meta optimisation, i.e. missing title tags
- Broken links, i.e. a link on the website which leads to a dead page or
- Website structure/architecture issues that impact the efficiency at which a search engine can crawl your website.
This data allows you to make Technical SEO decisions that will improve your website visibility in Search Engines.
It’s an incredibly useful tool and best of all it’s completely free as long as you only crawl up to 500 URLs. So if your website is on the smaller side – get crawling! More information the features of Screaming Frog SEO spider can be found here.
SEMRush is described as in all-in-one marketing analytics platform as it pretty much covers every area you’d wish to see in order to measure website performance.
From an SEO perspective, it’s certainly an invaluable tool. The key features from my perspective are:
- The Domain Overview tool, which lets you take a retrospective look-back for any domain and measure how many keywords it’s Organically ranked for on a month by month basis.
- Keyword Magic, which is an in-depth tool I personally use when conducting keyword research.
- The Site Audit tool which provides top-line Technical SEO observations in an intuitive format that anybody can understand and action.
- Position Tracking feature which allows you to load in a batch of keywords and gives you your website’s ranking position for those keywords on a daily basis, as well as other metrics such as that keyword’s monthly search volume.
So, why do dedicated SEO services exist if I can just do it myself?
Dedicated SEO services exist for a very good reason; you can’t do everything.
Yes, whilst you might want to be across every single area of your marketing strategy or business in general – it’s just not feasible or sustainable long term and becomes detrimental to the quality of work you produce. That’s why most businesses choose to delegate to internal employees or external marketing agencies.
SEO might seem like something you can just pick up on the side, but there’s actually a lot of time and resource that needs to go in to it if you want to deliver an effective and successful SEO campaign with the attention to detail it deserves.
Should I hire an SEO agency or an internal SEO employee?
That’s ultimately up to you and completely depends on your circumstances and budgets. The below breaks down the pros and cons of going either with an agency or in-house employee:
- Highly experienced in marketing
- Lots of people working on your account, typically with regular reviews from senior staff
- Costs are consolidated (i.e. one fixed cost for the resource & software)
- No costs for training, computers, benefits which you’d typically have with an employee
- You might not get the same contact time as you would with an internal employee
- As much contact time as you’d like
- Time is 100% dedicated to your business
- High overheads compared to agency (salary, training, software, benefits, bonuses etc) especially if hiring a team
There’s probably many more considerations to take in to account, but the above is what we typically come across.
Why multi-faceted account managers don’t work
So, you may be thinking about hiring a full-service Digital Marketing agency to look after your SEO amongst other things, which is absolutely fine – there are tons of great full-service marketing agencies out there that do a great job of SEO.
However, one thing to be wary of before signing on the dotted line is your account team and general infrastructure of that agency.
As I’ve already mentioned above; one person can’t do everything. However, there’s a lot of Digital Marketing agencies out there that claim to be “full service”, but they’re made up of generalist Account Managers that have lots of marketing channels squeezed and crammed in to their remit.
So what does this mean?
This means you’ll be getting a lacklustre and diluted level of service for these channels at the benefit of the agency who’s saving money by not having specialist members of staff.
To really get the benefit out of SEO, you should always ensure there’s a dedicated member of staff focused on that subject matter – otherwise you run the risk of getting a poor, ill thought out and badly planned service that’s set up for disappointment and will ultimately end up costing you money in the long-term.
As I said at the beginning of this article, us marketers aren’t superhuman – we just have a specialist interest and dedicate our time to carrying this out effectively. So yes, of course you can do SEO on your own. But whether you should or not is entirely circumstantial and cost prohibitive.
If a pipe burst in your bathroom, would you learn to be a plumber and fix it or just hire a plumber to fix it right away? Probably the latter, right? The same can apply for business; you’ve got to think about what your time is better spent doing.
That being said, if you’re in need of some specialist SEO support feel free to get in touch for a completely free SEO audit or, if you have any general questions or enquiries just click here.