June 10, 2012
For small business owners that are looking to kick start their SEO campaigns, there are a lot of options available to them. Do you go for a full service option or stick with consulting? White hat or black hat? Maybe you should just manage your site’s SEO on your own time. Each option has its pros and cons that small business owners need to consider before making their final decision.
Hire a White Hat SEO Firm to do all the Work.
A white hat SEO firm is going to treat you more like their partner than their client. They know all the rules and best practice guidelines for SEO and they are going to leverage all their knowledge to help your website succeed. Full service SEO clients get it all – onsite SEO and optimization, content marketing, social media marketing advice, a fully developed and implemented link building campaign, SEO reports and so forth. Even though site owners should stay involved with their SEO when working with a white hat SEO company, you can rest easy at night knowing your website is in very capable hands. If you have questions or concerns, a white hat SEO firm will walk you through the process every step of the way.
Working with a white hat SEO firm as a full service client isn’t going to be the least expensive option you could have chosen. This is often the biggest issue for small business owners that don’t have the budget of a medium sized business with room to hire an SEO company.
Hire a Black Hat SEO Firm to do all the Work.
Black hat SEO firms are usually much cheaper than white hat SEO firms or consultants. Small business owners can pay a fairly nominal fee to have someone else take care of their SEO and free up a lot of time.
In the world of SEO you get what you pay for. Those black hat SEO services might be super cheap because all of the activity has been outsourced to India or the Philippines; they might take your money and do minimal work at best or none at worst. Black hat SEO can work for some websites, but there is always the risk of incurring a penalty from the search engines and the results are typically short-lived.
Learn SEO for Yourself.
There is no shortage of resources out there for site owners looking at DIY SEO. The best place to start is with the search engine SEO guidelines (both Google and Bing have a ton of great information for site owners) and learn what is and isn’t acceptable according to the search engines. Make those guidelines your line in the sand. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of on-demand webinars you can download, fantastic white papers, industry and company blogs, SEO workshops and training sessions, local events and more – and many are completely free!
Managing your site’s SEO for yourself is also your least expensive option.
The road to SEO success is by no means short, nor is it easy. There is a big difference between reading how to do something and actually implementing properly. Many site owners run afoul of the search engines simply because they didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong. Now their site is losing traffic and slipping in the SERPs and they don’t know why or how to fix it. While you can learn just about everything you need to know about SEO on your own, there are certain skills that can only come with experience.
With so much information out there about SEO, it’s also very easy to get mixed messages from different sources. One blog says do this, another says do that – whose advice do you follow?
Hire an SEO Consultant.
One of biggest benefits of working with an SEO consultant is that it can be much more affordable than being a full service SEO client. Maybe you have three or four training sessions with the SEO consultant so you get a solid grasp of the basics and have them develop an onsite SEO and link building campaign that you can then execute yourself. You benefit from their knowledge and expertise but don’t have to pay as much to have all the components implemented.
Working with an SEO consultant is great for learning and having someone point you in the right direction, but at the end of the day the bulk of the actual work is up to you. That old saying about not being able to make a horse drink is directly applicable to this situation. An SEO consultant can give you all the tools and send you on your way, but the responsibility for execution lies entirely on your shoulders. If you don’t follow the plan, the consultant created what was the point?
In my opinion, I think the only option a small business owner should steer clear of is working with a black hat SEO firm. I’d much rather see a small business owner take a year to learn the basics of SEO for themselves and then slowly upgrade from working with an SEO consultant to becoming a full service SEO client in time. Working with a black hat SEO firm is most likely going to leave you and your website burned.
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Boston social SEO firm Brick Marketing. With nearly 13 years of SEO experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by writing for the Brick Marketing Blog, hosting SEO trainings and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers. Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.