Personal Small Business Enterprise

Do I Need an SEO Expert or Can I Learn It Myself?

If you want your company’s web site to rank better in search engines and attract more traffic, then you need to understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

One of the most common questions I receive from small business owners is “Can I learn SEO myself or do I need to hire an expert?” The simple answer is a bit of both. As a small business owner, you know all too well that there’s rarely time to become an expert in all skills needed to run a business. That said, there are a lot of great resources out there. SEO is one skill that is worth gaining some proficiency in because outsourcing can be expensive and an ongoing drain on your resources.

Let’s have a quick look at what SEO experts do for many small businesses, and explore what level of value they can bring to the table.

What do SEO experts do, and what value do they bring?
A good SEO expert will do an analysis of your web site to see where you are at today and measure results all the way through the process. They can help you research relevant keyword phrases (e.g. “Edmonton plumbing supplies”, rather than just “plumbing”) that will attract the right kind of traffic to your business. You’ll also need to reconfigure your pages to improve your rankings for the targeted keyword phrases. Ask your expert to provide guidance and show you how to improve one page to start with. Instead of optimizing all the targeted pages for you, have them provide a briefing document for each page. Then follow the guidance to learn the techniques and do the work yourself. You will learn an enormous amount in the process.

Another core task you will need help with is increasing the number of links in to your website from other websites (these are called “inbound-links”). Search engines like Google score a web page higher if other web sites link to it. This activity is arguably even more important than on-page optimization, but to ensure you have a seamless approach, it should not be done without optimizing your pages as well.

The bottom line
For many small business owners, the best approach is often to start by finding an SEO expert that is willing to do the short-term work you need done, and then agree to mentor you in the necessary skills. As time progresses and you become more proficient, the combination of your in-house process and the hired SEO expert’s implemented strategy should keep ongoing consulting costs down and produce good results.

If you can deploy an initial expert-designed strategy, learn some in-house capabilities, then bring your SEO expert back for quarterly audits and pay them to support your own in-house capabilities, then it will go a long way to getting the results you want and keeping costs down.

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