4 Signs You Need SEO Help
When you run a business, it can feel like you never stop hearing about some important service or product you need to invest in. You can’t just go around throwing your money at one thing after another, so figuring out which investments are actually important to the success of your business is crucial.
If you’ve been unsure about whether or not SEO belongs on the list of services worth investing in, then you’re already late to the game. 81% of consumers say they do online research before making a big purchase, and over a third start the buying process with a search on one of the three main search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing).
To reach those people where they’re looking, you have to show up in the search results. If people have a hard time finding you online, you’re losing out on customers to the businesses that claim those top spots in Google.
If you’re still on the fence, here are four signs that it’s time to invest in SEO services.
1. You have a website.
You already put money into building a website for your business, but it can’t do its job if people can’t find it. Whatever the primary goal of your website is – whether it’s selling products on the site itself or driving people to your store location – it’s not going to meet that goal without visitors. SEO is one of the most effective and important ways to drive the traffic you need to make your website worth it.
2. Your website isn’t getting much traffic.
Website traffic is one of the main indicators of whether or not your online marketing efforts are working. If you have Google Analytics set up for your site (and you should), then you can quickly and easily see how many people have visited your website in a set amount of time. If that number looks pretty low to you (and determining what counts as low will be different for different types of businesses and industries), then you need SEO to bump it up.
If you’re a local brick and mortar business thinking that online traffic shouldn’t matter as much to you, think again. Over half of consumers say they use Google every month to find a new local business and 71% value the information they find in local search results. Even for businesses that are primarily offline, SEO is important.
3. When you look for businesses of your type on Google, you can’t find yourself.
Have you ever done a search on Google for the type of product or services you sell? Take a few seconds to try it right now.
Is your website there in the results? If you have to click through to the next page to try to find it – how many pages deep do you go before your website shows up? Now repeat the experiment for any other terms you can think of related to your business.
If your business was hard to find in your searches – really, if it was anywhere other than on page one for them – then you can be sure that other people looking for what you’re selling aren’t finding you.
4. You’re ready to commit.
Sorry – here’s the bad news. SEO is competitive. It takes time, effort, and money. Investing in SEO is important for businesses of many types and sizes, but it won’t be worth much to you if you try to just do a little bit. Successful SEO is a long-term process and you won’t see results right away. If you’re going to do it at all, you have to be prepared to do it for real.
How to Find the Right SEO Help
Unfortunately, the SEO industry includes some bad players. SEO professionals that practice what industry insiders call “black hat” techniques can actually do a lot of harm to your business.
When you’re ready to invest in SEO, it’s important to find a legitimate company or consultant to work with.
1. Take time to understand the basics first.
Before you start researching SEO firms, take the time to read up on the SEO basics yourself. If you know at least the 101-level stuff, you’ll be a lot better at recognizing if a SEO agency you talk to seems to know what they’re doing, or if they’re trying to con you.
2. Avoid anyone promising a #1 spot.
You’ve probably gotten spam emails before from SEO consultants promising to get you to spot #1 in Google. As with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There are so many different, complicated factors that determine search engine rankings, that no one person or firm can have that much control over the results. Legitimate SEO providers know that promising those kinds of results would be foolish and will give you a more realistic idea of what to expect.
3. Ask about their process.
This is where the knowledge you learn in the first step should come in handy. A good SEO professional will talk about things like performing keyword and competitor research, doing on-site optimization, and building backlinks.
If instead they talk about buying links, keyword stuffing, or anything else that sounds like it’s trying to game the system, steer clear. Google pays attention to the tricks black hat SEO professionals try and continually updates their algorithm to penalize the sites that try to cheat their way to the top. You don’t want to end up in the crossfires because you hired the wrong firm.
If your business is local, pay attention to whether or not they mention local-specific tactics. Local SEO is a little different than national or global SEO and you want to find someone who understands the differences and knows how to help you optimize for Google Places as well as Google’s organic results.
4. Ask about their reporting.
While you understand now that progress can be slow in SEO, you still need some way to measure success over time to figure out if your investment is paying off. This is part of the service SEO professionals should provide.
Ask what kind of reporting they provide, how frequently, and how they measure success. Good SEO professionals will promise regular updates that include metrics like your change in ranking for target keywords and differences in website traffic.
5. Ask about results they’ve achieved for other clients.
SEO professionals can’t create the same kind of portfolio to show their work that a graphic designer or copywriter can, but they can point you toward examples of times their work for past or current clients resulted in higher rankings and more traffic.
Ask for any case studies or testimonials they have to help you gain an idea of how their clients have liked working with them.
HostGator has a number of SEO professionals on staff that help website owners improve their rankings. We only hire proven SEO experts that know how to get results with white hat tactics. To talk to one of our experts to see if our SEO services are right for you, simply set up a consultation.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.