Ready to dive into search engine optimization for your small business? It this series, we’re going to look at the common concerns you may have about SEO, from whether to do it yourself or hire a consultant to the things you need to know and tools you should be using regardless of whether you are working with an agency or an in-house team. In today’s post, we’ll start with the considerations you should make when choosing to who ail handle your search marketing.

In-House SEO Team

Choosing an in-house SEO team for your small business has one major advantage. Your SEO team will be dedicated to your business. They will know the ins and outs of your products and services, they will be readily available to discuss strategies for your business, and, depending on their skillets, they can be utilized for other tasks within your business.

Of course, then there are some things you have to consider. First off, depending on the size of your business, you may or may not have need for a full-time SEO person or team. If you’re just getting started from scratch, then maybe. But on-going SEO after the base elements have been implemented (on-site optimization, local search optimization, etc.) may not require the attention of someone 40 hours a week.

You also have to think about educating your SEO team. Even if you bring in one or more experienced SEOs to work with your business, each person will need to maintain on-going education about the search marketing industry. You don’t want to hire someone who is using the same tactics from one year to the next because of the constantly evolving landscape of search. What works one year may not the next. Worse yet, what worked last year could get you penalized this year. Education can range from time each day to read the top SEO blogs to sending your SEO team to search marketing conferences throughout the year.

Your best bet if you go this route is to hire people who can perform SEO for your business alongside other tasks. Just be careful that you don’t overwhelm your SEO team with so many client deliverables that they never get a chance to actually work on your SEO.

Freelance Consultants

If your business isn’t able to hire an in-house SEO team or to afford a monthly agency contract, a freelance consultant may be the right fit. While they might not cost as much as an agency, you shill should expect to invest in someone who knows what they are doing. Get ready to grill the individual about how they help clients rank in search engines, what they do to avoid sending their clients into the Google penalty box, and how they will report their progress.

Remember that Google is constantly working to improve the quality of the websites in search results. You get what you pay for is especially true in the SEO industry – if you don’t pay for a knowledgeable consultant who strives to deliver quality work, then you might not like the results.

Agencies

There are lots of great small to medium sized agencies who are willing to work with small businesses. One of the nice parts about working with an agency is, assuming you do your homework and choose a good one, they have the resources to help you with every aspect of your search marketing campaign.

For example, if you have an in-house SEO team that decides an infographic is a good way to market your business, then you will have to figure out who to outsource design and research. If an agency decides you need an infographic, they will handle everything on their end once they run topic ideas by them.

Just because you are choosing to work with an agency doesn’t mean you should trust them wholeheartedly. One way to see if an agency knows their stuff is to look at their blog. Most agencies will blog about topics that relate to the services they offer. If they don’t, then you can go back to the grill ‘em method of seeing what strategies they use to help customer rank, how they stay up to date on the latest things that are working (or not), and so forth.

SEO Packages

The other SEO option you may run into when researching is a link building package. If you see a package (or anything) that guarantees you will rank #1 for your desired keyword, think twice. While you can be guaranteed improvement in search rankings, no one can guarantee you’ll get the #1 spot without knowing what your keywords are and what your business has to offer on their website.

Also, remember that quality links tend to be expensive. If you see a package of 500 links for $99, then beware. They are probably not quality links and they could get you penalized by Google. And while we’re talking about low quality links, avoid services that promise hundreds of links for $5 through Fiverr. Even if they say they are getting you PR 8 backlinks, what they really mean is they are getting links on PR 8 social bookmarking networks or blogs. Chances are, for a large quantity of links, they are using some sort of automated program that does not guarantee quality.

How did you choose between an in-house team or outsourcing for your search engine marketing? Have you had good results with SEO packages? Please share in the comments!

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