30 Aug Do I need an SEO Consultant? How to pick a good SEO Company?
This post provides clear steps to making that all important decision as to whether you need to hire an SEO consultant, food digital marketing agency or employee.
Whether you’re just embarking on a new food business venture or extending your current business, you always need growth. What’s more, growth will never come from one place.
You probably have excellent product knowledge but maybe you’re not sure how to grow your online traffic and even more importantly, your sales.
Some people tell you you need to be on Social Media, other people will say you need content. Many, many people will tell you you NEED to do SEO for food and beverage and therefore, probably to hire an SEO company.
So, in this post I’m going to give you the essential steps, you need to take, before deciding whether it is right for you.
How to decide if you need an SEO Company
Step 1: Decide if you need SEO at all
If you don’t have a website at all, you definitely don’t need to invest. You probably don’t need to read this post. Head over to our Web Design Manchester page
If you have a website and just want to send people to it via your business card or word of mouth, you don’t need to worry about investing money to grow your site in the search engines.
Ultimately, if you have a website and want to get people to buy, or enquire, through it, you definitely need SEO. An SEO company is generally an agency who will give you advice on how to rank your website in the search engines, such as Google. There’s 2 types of consulting. Someone, who will just give advice and someone, who will give advice AND do the work for you.
The person who just gives you advice often charges for time, whereas the person who will do the work will often give a few hours of their time, for free, in a bid to win the work from your business.
Online Growth Guru provides free advice, so even if you just want some guidance and to do the work yourself, have a read of this.
Step 2: Decide of you need local, national or international SEO
It’s vital you understand the difference between local, national and international search engine growth because that will help you decide what skills to look for in a consultant or agency.
Have a look at the infographic below. To put it simply, local means that you just want to promote to people in your local area, or areas. For example Manchester or Liverpool. Usually businesses who don’t dispatch products or don’t want to travel, will promote heavily in their local area.
If you offer products or services that are only targeted towards customers in your home country, that’s when you need national search engine optimisation.
International optimisation is a way of growing your business across the globe. It’s perfect if you have products or services that are needed and admired by other cultures and countries. There are very few boundaries on optimisation when targeting the world. Only that you want to be ranking in Google.com as well as Google.co.uk.
Step 3: Work out how much time you have
This should be easy. The reason I run a digital marketing agency is because I setup an online greeting card in 2008 and had LOADS of time to learn and implement my own marketing strategies.
I bought lots of books to find out EXACTLY what SEO is and EXACTLY how it works. I did hours of competitor backlink analysis. I even made crucial mistakes along the way. All this gave me the ammo I needed to do my search engine optimisation myself.
So, ask yourself, “do I have the time to do it myself or am I best off getting a consultant in?”
If you’re just starting out and need to preserve your cash, I would most definitely recommend learning it yourself. There’s millions of free resources to help you do it, and I promise, you won’t regret it.
Remember this though, once you have the basic technical knowledge. Growing your website is actually more about identifying opportunities, constant innovation and regular engagement with influencers, than it is about ‘building backlinks’. Like most companies will tell you.
Here’s a perfect example of how we did some local SEO blogger outreach for a business who set up an event and used it to grow their presence in the search engines.
Hopefully that gives you a few steps to take before deciding if you really do need an SEO Consultant. If you do make the decision to outsource your efforts, have a read of this – 7 critical questions to answer when going through the process of outsourcing.
How to Pick a Good SEO Company
Everyone selling digital marketing will tell you, they are the best at what they do. So, how do you know if it’s true or not? Simple, keep reading these simple steps to find out.
There’s many a Manchester SEO Agency who can help out, but alternatively, you might want to hire a consultant to help you put together a holistic marketing strategy before diving in to choose the marketing tactics.
Step 1: Don’t fall for the bragging rights ‘we’re on page one’
Many companies on the front page for a keyword are likely to BRAG about their rankings. But, the fact they are on page one doesn’t mean anything. Firstly, How many visits do they get from that single search? And how many leads or sales?
There’s also hundreds, if not thousands of ways to manipulate the search engines for a short period of time, like 6-9 months. One way is that they can setup their own Private Blog Networks to get to the front page of Google, in real quick time.
Competitor backlink analysis showed me that there’s definitely a few SEO companies who are clearly PAYING FOR LINKS. This can work well when done properly, but here’s why it’s NOT a long term strategy. When you pay for a link, you’re not building a relationship, you’re also not creating good content.
Really, when doing an SEO programme, you should only need to outreach to people, to ask for links in the early days. Once you have you GREAT content ranking highly, people will link to it organically and YOU (or your SEO company doesn’t have to do anything). So if you want long term success for free, creating content that people WANT to link to is the only way forward.
If a digital agency has been running less than 2 years and they claim to have got to page 1 of Google, or even worse, they were on page 1, you’re probably being scammed. Have a look below to find out which questions to ask, so you can see straight through it.
Step 2: Review several SEO companies
This is where you can do your supplier comparisons. Create a spreadsheet that you can use, create the selection criteria with tick boxes and mark out of 10, depending on your needs and business goals.
Trust me, spending a little extra time now will give you massive benefits in working with the company that meets your values and vision.
Step 3: Ask the right questions
I know, you don’t really care how SEO works and the reason our digital marketing agency exists is because of that. However, you should make an effort to consider whether the strategies your potential partner is using make sense from a business perspective.
If someone talks technical to you and you don’t understand it, then run a mile. Why? Because every time there’s a challenge, they will just blag you with false science and charge you through the nose.
Here’s the questions you should ask and examples of the text book answers, that prove they are genuine.
- What strategies have you used to grow websites in the search engines
Text book answer: As a marketing company, we constantly scour the industry for new opportunities and create content that allows us to share it with influencers in your field. So, they want to collaborate and reference your website on their page.
- How many links can you get me a month?
Text book answer: We can’t guarantee how many links you get each month, because it is down to continuous effort of collaboration with influencers, but we will let you know who we’ve collaborated with, how likely we are to get the link and why we want a link on that page. We always make sure there are doors open with bloggers and website owners who are likely to share your page with their readers. Some months we will get 5 links, others we might get 10 back links.
- Do you automate everything?
Text book answer: No we don’t automate everything, however we do have tools that allow us to obtain details and get in touch with bloggers, or engage on social media, much quicker and more effectively. We passionately pride real relationships with people because that’s what will set you up for long term business success in the future. We leave a trail of excellent content across the web written under your business name.
Step 4: Don’t choose the cheapest
In business – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s the same in digital marketing.
So, when you’re doing your supplier comparisons, be certain to listen to their techniques and innovation ideas as well as whether the price makes sense.
Going for the cheapest might get you up the rankings in 3 months. But, if not done properly, i.e. by building real relationships, with real people online, then your website will drop out of Google completely and you won’t have a business at all.