Issue #10 – Web Presence – Delegate or DIY?
Over time, DIY projects seem to have become more complex. Painting a room has shifted to building a room. Since the advent of YouTube, replete with hundreds of tutorials at the click of a Google search, more well-intentioned citizens believe they are capable of more than may be prudent. While a few undiscovered talents find a new life calling along with a sense of satisfaction, today’s web tutorial culture has also unintentionally contributed to greater regularity in businesses choosing to “do it themselves” when the best answer is to outsource to experts.
SEOversite matches businesses with superb web designers, SEOs, and other technology experts. One could assume a major goal is to convince every business to use our free service to help connect them to superb online marketing teams. The counterpoint is that our business only exists because of the mistakes of DIYers and the reality that so many web teams do a poor job or take advantage of business owners. Indeed, with the tales, we hear of websites being blacklisted, hacked and given viruses, and scrapped entirely we could distribute a companion piece to our newsletter every month entitled “Website Horror Stories.” In this issue of the SEOversite newsletter, we provide concepts and implementable tips to help you determine what can be done by your team internally versus what should be entrusted to technology experts.
1. Web Design
Most people begin creating their digital imprint by building a website. We wrote in our article in ISAPS Journal why two websites can both look exactly the same, while only one works effectively and is less susceptible to hack and virus. One of the most common misconceptions we hear is that a custom coded site built line by line by a professional is essentially the same as a templated site built yourself through a site like Weebly or Squarespace. In other words, what you see on the surface is not indicative of what happens behind the scenes.
There is definitely a place for templated services. If your business does not rely on organic SEO rankings, site visitors, lead or ecommerce sales generation, a template site may work well. If your leads come strictly from another source and you are not interested in getting web leads through organic means, save the money and build it yourself. If your business is in the launch phase without much cash (we consider this any business with less than $5,000 to invest in a proper website) and you need something on the web to get started, then go ahead and build one yourself, but understand the limitations. Templated sites are easy to build, can be made to look relatively modern, and most importantly are cost-effective. You will get what you pay for, but in some cases, you may not need much and can find a way to be frugal.
Having a company design and build a custom coded site will give you a few benefits you may not get by doing it yourself. A custom coded, fully responsive (works well on all mobile platforms like cell phones and iPads) site gives you nearly complete flexibility with the design. Since you will be working with a designer to build everything from scratch you can better convey the tone and style you are seeking. Another benefit is that custom coded sites are less susceptible to hacks and viruses. Possibly the most important reason to pay someone to build a custom coded site is that Google recognizes the difference. Custom coding allows your SEO team to better optimize your site. And since Google can tell what is behind the walls of your proverbial kitchen, it gives more validity to well-coded, content-rich, robust sites without duplicate content. If you care about rankings and are planning on paying someone to perform ongoing SEO, you should begin by investing in a custom-coded site (these typically range from $5,000 to $30,000 on up with most of our clients finding superb teams in the 10-20k range). As a proper website is created over forty to one hundred or more hours of custom work by a development team, it is easy to understand why there is a significant cost associated with doing the job properly. Here at SEOversite, we are in the process of developing a brand new website using one of our preferred vendors. It is so highly customized that we will be paying on the very highest end of the typical price scale to ensure an impressive site both visually and functionally – we’ll show you in a few months what you get for your money and cannot wait to see what you think!
2. Ongoing SEO
Often, we meet business owners who write some of their own content, like blogs, and in rare cases even do some of their own search engine optimization (SEO). We ask these owners how they are doing attracting leads and sales through those efforts. You can guess that most owners and business managers share rather poor results. The reality is that Google’s algorithm is incredibly advanced and changes constantly, which means SEO is not just writing blogs or using keywords. It is a much more complex and tedious process requiring professionals for all but the smallest organizations.
Complicating matters further, over the last few years, our team at SEOversite has met myriad web marketing teams that insist that “Content is King” and believe this so thoroughly that the only work they do is content creation or editing of existing web pages. They tell every client this is the only safe way to grow lead counts. Despite this, for years, we have connected our clients to teams that do create content but also do traditional, white hat, SEO techniques that go beyond that scope. The results have been superb. Underscoring our theory are countless experts who chime in regularly with their version of our Kool-Aid they also sip. This superb article from SearchEngineLand.com sheds light on this common misconception.
It is quite clear that SEO is much more than content and is performed, at the highest levels, by educated experts who spend forty or more hours a week honing their craft. Link building, directory submissions, press releases, meta-information optimization, content marketing, keyword utilization, latent keyword optimization, overall client strategy, client and team management, and much more go into a well-rounded SEO campaign.
This leads to the conclusion, in short: You can create your own website if you do not need leads or rankings, but you likely should not. And you absolutely need to pay a professional to properly perform your SEO and overall digital marketing if you want to maximize your business and have even a small budget (we consider a small budget $700/month or greater for most business sectors).
Last, while we do recommend hiring a company to perform your SEO, you can save yourself some money by doing certain things internally. Writing and curating content, such as blogs or newsletters and email blasts, is a good way to actively participate in your SEO, though your web team may want to optimize the post before it goes up to make sure you are getting recognized for keywords, headers, meta-tags, links, etc. Contributing before and after photos, videos, testimonials, as well as asking your clientele to positively review you on third party sites are all smart uses of time for many businesses as well. The combination of doing some work internally while outsourcing the most technical aspects of SEO may be a good compromise for budget-conscious businesses.
3. Social Media
Issue # 9 of the SEOversite Newsletter, “Social Media – What you Need to Know,” (click here to read it if you missed it) outlined the current state of social media and how to properly utilize it to impact your business to drive profit. Surely, social media can work wonders to establish your brand and is easier to do moderately well than SEO, though very difficult to master if social media is not a full-time profession for an individual.
As we speak to hundreds, if not thousands, of business owners each year, it has become clear that most business owners do not realize the time their people put into curating and posting content to social media and underestimate the manpower and cost they are truly dedicating to their social presence. Further, most of those who do not commit this “misdemeanor of social media management” tend to have almost no social media presence whatsoever, an entirely different proverbial misdemeanor. Diving deeper, we found that both groups of business owners underestimate the weight Google gives to powerful social media feeds and that to truly make an impact a business must consistently be posting to many sources (at a minimum, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google +), liking other people’s posts, and following back, which means you will need to be creating a steady stream of created and curated content.
With most companies spread thin dealing with items directly related to the growth and sustainability of each company, social media easily falls to the back burner. Too often social media is relegated to a young employee who is assumed to understand social media traction and growth. Regardless of age, a sophisticated professional, trained in the nuances of social media, should manage your presence. If that person works for your company, then keeping social media in-house may make sense. If not, then outsourcing to a professional firm is prudent. As a rule of thumb, plan on the cost of ten hours per week or forty per month, plus manager education, certification and compare that to the price of outsourcing your social presence. Remember that quality teams do more than simply post interesting information. The very best decrease your office’s frustration factor by organizing content in a calendar, create content, scour the internet to find interesting information to post, follow thousands of connections in order to create follow backs, and work with your business to gain access to information only your team has. And to cap it off, they create a consistent feel, or as we call it, an “avatar” for your business that has a personality that both fits and builds your brand. We have found most businesses achieving revenues from $500k to $100 million+ find that outsourcing is best. Our group, iScreamSocialMedia, or another company offering these services that are truly superb, will usually start around $1,000/month and rise based on specific needs.
4. Ratings and Reviews
Garnering a multitude of positive ratings and reviews is a great way to get listed on Google Local, gain credibility, and showcase great customer results while burying the rare negative review. While you can simply ask your customers to write online reviews, the best businesses have learned that there are ethical, legal, and efficient ways to significantly increase online reviews and testimonials. Indeed, at the risk of some fun hyperbole, what the cotton gin did for clothing and the computer did for communication, the iPad is doing for review generation.
While anybody can write a review if they make a few minutes, most businesses can attest that even if asked, most people simply do not post a positive review. Some people forget, others are lazy, even more, are not tech-savvy, and still, others wish to help but don’t have a Yelp! or Gmail account making it impossible for them to post to their respective review sites.
The exciting news is that there are great companies out there that will provide a tablet or a button on your website that collects and posts reviews throughout the internet. These technologies create the required unique IP address, in some cases have access to difficult sites on which to post reviews, like Google Reviews (the most important from an SEO perspective in our opinion currently). For those wishing to DIY and save money while increasing reviews, simply send a link to a review site either via an email or text to your customers. This will leap at least a few hurdles and give the client the direction of where, and the immediate opportunity to, post. While handling your own ratings and reviews will get you a few, if you want a robust review profile with hundreds of positive testimonial reviews, you will likely need to hire a company to help facilitate and our company will help you find the right team for free. SEOversite can connect you with the right team at no cost whenever you reach out to us. (These teams often range in price from around $300 to $800 per month)
When deciding if you should DIY or delegate your online presence, think about whether you would want someone DIY-ing what you do. You are an expert for a reason, and so are web professionals. The internet is a powerful medium for marketing if used properly, but trying to cut corners can cost businesses dearly in the end. There are opportunities to save money and DIY in every business, but ensure you are prudent when it comes to outsourcing and seek expertise in technology. If you would like help finding a web vendor for any of your online needs, contact SEOversite at email@example.com.