Your SEO Strategy: DIY or Call in the Experts?
Emily Taibl, Sweeney Conrad
As marketers for accounting firms, we are often pulled in a million different directions. Our lists of tasks and “to-dos” can seem a mile long, and it can be hard to prioritize where to focus our limited time and resources. So with all of this on our plates, where does search engine optimization (SEO) fit in, and how do we know when to do it ourselves and when the time has come to outsource?
While marketing efforts like collateral and social media can be hard to quantify, SEO is an opportunity to shine as a marketer as you bring in leads as a DIRECT result of your strategy. The first step to considering how to implement a good SEO strategy is to understand what it will do for your firm. A good SEO strategy will help your firm:
- Appear in Google searches.
- Improve your rankings over time, so that you will show up ahead of your competitors.
- Optimize that website that you spend so much time and money on. This means a website that loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and is full of rich and relevant content that increases engagement.
The end result of these improvements is a significant increase in new, higher quality leads that will bring new business to your firm.
Things to Consider
It is clear that SEO is an important part of any marketer’s strategy, but how do we know when we can handle ourselves verses when it is time to bring in the experts? Here are a few things to consider:
Strategy: The first thing to consider is your overall strategy. Do you have one? Do you know what your goals are and how you plan to move things forward, or do you need help figuring out where to start? Do you already have a content strategy, a deep understanding of the keywords your target clients are searching, and an optimized website? Or are you (like I was) unsure where to start? Determining where you are at in terms of your strategy is a great place to start, and will give you a clear picture of the scope of your SEO needs.
Time: As I have already mentioned, time is our most valuable and limited resource. A quality SEO strategy will require a substantial amount of time, especially in the beginning. You will need to audit and optimize your website, determine popular search terms in your area, and refine your content strategy. While there are certainly apps and programs that can help you handle your SEO yourself (Moz, SEM Rush, Yost to name a few), this can require a lot of your already limited time. It is also important to remember that SEO is a long-term project that requires consistency. It may help to look at your current workload and determine how much time you realistically have to devote to SEO. A good SEO firm will customize a plan to meet your current needs whether it be just a few hours a month or much more.
Knowledge: If you have dabbled in the do-it-yourself world of SEO, you know that Google can sometimes seem like a testy toddler. It is as if you have to figure out what the heck Google wants from you on a daily basis in order to function the way you want it to. In the world of SEO changes are constant, and it can be difficult to keep up with. What works for today, may not work tomorrow. The reality is, if your competitors are able to keep up with the evolving world of SEO, you must too, or you will fall in the rankings. Hiring a good firm to handle your SEO will ensure that you are always keeping up with the best practices, and the most cutting-edge tactics.
Budget: Oh, if we all had unlimited budgets we would of course hire experts to do it all, right? But with limited resources and lots of ways we could spend our budgets, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of dolling out those valuable dollars to an SEO company. Keep in mind when evaluating your options, when SEO efforts are done well and over the long-term efforts they will pay for themselves and then some. The good news is there are many options out there, so you can customize as little or as much help as you need, in a way that fits into your firm’s budget.
Partners’ Expectations: When implementing an SEO strategy, whether you handle it yourself or outsource, it is important to manage your partner’s expectations from the start. SEO is not a short-term project. It is a slowly moving needle that, when given consistent attention can have extremely lucrative results. The good news is, the results of SEO are numbers-driven, something most (if not all) partners can appreciate. When you chose to use part of your marketing budget to outsource your SEO, partners may have a higher expectation to see immediate results. A good SEO firm will help you set expectations early and create reports that will showcase your efforts.
The decision to handle SEO in-house or to hire out can be a difficult one to make. However, if you keep these four factors in mind you can make an educated decision that will bring the best possible results for your firm.
*Insider’s Tip: No matter which way you decide to go, once you have begun implementing your SEO strategy, make sure you are prepared to track the results. Educate your staff or admin on responding to leads and calls by asking “may I ask how you found our firm?” This is an easy way to show your partners the ROI.