The first step in understanding SEO basics is learning when it’s not the right time to invest.
WHEN TO SAY NO TO AN SEO BUSINESS
Right now, across the globe, thousands of companies are throwing their money away—precious dollars they could be spending on improvements to their products and services, developing their talent or promoting their brand.
Is SEO a $100,000 question? Well, it may be a lot more expensive if you’ve been conned. There are SEO companies out there charging $5,000 per month for retainers, and they may be charging that amount for each division of a large business. Multiply that by the amount of years they remain contracted, and it may be a million dollar question.
Are these business the best SEO companies or the most manipulative? At Blak Ink Media, we’d never begrudge a quality agency the good fortune of gaining a great client, but there are a lot of charlatans out there, so let’s see if your business meets the following criteria, and help you spend your money wisely.
Are you ready to grow?
It seems insane to suggest organisations are unwilling to make more money, but it’s more common than you may think. For small businesses, particularly those that are family-owned, maintaining a status quo is not treading water or stagnating; it’s about quality of life.
Businesses with excellent retention of clients and great word-of-mouth referrals may be able to maintain demand for their services without any digital marketing activities. What would be the purpose of turning 100 clients away due to your inability to accommodate them?
Even if you’re a larger business with ambitious plans, a sudden boost to referrals will require agility. If you’re in the middle of major projects, preoccupied with a pending partnership, or undergoing restructure, the timing may not be right. SEO is the ultimate can of worms, especially when you start diving into backlink strategies involving major content production and networking activities.
Why do you want to improve your search engine rankings?
If your answer to this question is “so I can be number one”, you’re not focusing on an actual goal. Real goals are: improving conversion, building an audience, becoming an authority in your industry, or creating a valuable subscriber base.
Every SEO has met a client obsessed with two or three keywords that may not lead to increased revenue or better conversion. Good SEOs know that dozens of low-volume, high-conversion keywords will always beat a broad term that tells us nothing about the user’s intentions. Bigger isn’t always better, and vanity isn’t a turn-on for the SEOs here at Blak Ink Media.
Do you have the resources to action the advice of a professional SEO company?
SEOs can do a lot of heavy lifting for clients, but there will always need to be communication, web development, admin assistance and management approval. There are very few sites that don’t require changes to code. The basis of every good site is excellent design, an intuitive user experience, search engine-friendly code, efficient analytics and conversion tracking.
But the biggest hurdle we face is when a client isn’t prepared to create web content, engage with audiences (commonly via social media), or build networks of peers and influencers who are vital in helping brands boost authority. Some businesses don’t even have the time to communicate with us frequently enough to keep our processes rolling. If that’s the case, it’s going to be a waste of money for you, and a frustration for us (we like seeing results).
Is it possible to handle your SEO in-house?
There’s nothing a good SEO loves more than empowering a business. Set-up, consultation and training may be a better approach than an ongoing retainer. For businesses with large marketing departments, it’s probably a little bit old fashioned to outsource your day-to-day SEO tasks.
By the time you’re a year into your relationship with an SEO business, you could have paid for a full time, in-house employee to handle the job, or restructured slightly to expand the skillsets of existing employees. SEO is here to stay, so it might be time to play the long game. If you want to do the DIY thang, learn SEO, preferably from someone you can trust like MOZ.
Are you happy with the design and functionality of your website?
This is the most frustrating situation for us. What many businesses don’t realise is how unforgiving (and sometimes outright vicious) online audiences are.
Picture a musician learning guitar. Chances are, they sound quite terrible. A huge performance at this stage of the musician’s career will not only lead to a disappointing experience for the audience; they will also remember the performer’s name. The brand will be stained. In six month’s time when the performer is capable of amazing gigs, the fans he/she burnt will see the name on a poster and not only mock the musician but also tell their friends.
How many people would you like to invite to your dysfunctional website? The answer depends on how many customers you can afford to lose, possibly for months or years. Fix the site, then focus on promoting it.
Are you already on top?
It’s fun for us when a business is second or third, but when it’s first? Well, unless it’s under immediate threat, we would advise the organisation to simply look at widening their audience, probably by creating linkbait and advanced content marketing strategies.
There are a lot of savvy businesses that have great design, big audiences, regular content and effective social media management. Yes, there’s always something that can be fixed or improved, but it’s not like the Olympics where there’s a goal beyond #1. Google doesn’t care about world records; it simply ranks in order of relevance.
An occasional consultation with an SEO will show you whether you need to be worried about your competition. Until there’s a red flag, I wouldn’t be trying to fix what’s obviously not broken.
Conclusion – why we’re willing to discourage clients
To understand what a good SEO is like, you need to picture obsessive, passionate, competitive people. It’s difficult for us to switch off. There may be a lot processes involved, but we don’t just go through the motions. We get excited about results and apply a lot of lateral thinking and creativity to our strategies. We research constantly, debate trends and conduct experiments.
Why would we want to do all that for a business that doesn’t need to grow, doesn’t have clear goals or can’t action our plans? We need results as much as our clients because SEO is an incredibly competitive industry. We’re only as good as our last gig, so if any of the above points describe your business, here at Blak Ink media we’d advise caution.
And as always, beware SEO businesses offering free audits.