You have a new website for your business and all the plans and investment in place for that business to take off rapidly. All the enthusiasm that goes with setting up that new website often places a smokescreen over some of the smaller points that might be hidden away in the package you bought into. This might include giving your web design agency permission to spend your SEO and marketing budget with reckless abandon.
Search engine optimisation or SEO as most people refer to it is the name given to work aimed at getting websites on the first page of search results or ideally in the top positions on Google and Bing.
It covers an ever increasing variety of different tasks that are aimed at achieving this goal. If you were to break it down into its most basic parts, these tasks would come under the umbrella of web content production and editing, the creation of web pages, link building, outreach, analysis and good old fashioned PR.
There are many different skill sets required to fulfil these tasks. An agency will almost certainly need a good writer, a web developer, a graphic designer, a talented PR and (or) outreach executive and analysts all working together.
All of these individuals will need to be paid for what they are working on and the additional costs of employing and providing them with desk space and so on. So you will in effect be hiring a full team to work on your project potentially for more than it would cost to hire a bunch of freelancers to do the same work.
Yet having all these experts work on your website sounds so reassuring. There is no way you could possibly fail is there?
The Only Guarantee Is There Are No 100% Guarantees With SEO
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that even employing the best talent in the world in these areas is going to achieve a return on investment in the short term. For a new domain, the prospects of achieving anything in 6 months for high competition keywords will be next to zero and anyone who tells you differently is either lying or at best deluded.
This is because the fundamental problem with SEO is the inability to guarantee search rankings. Results will always depend on a third party.
Even the best SEOs in the world cannot guarantee the top slot because that top slot depends on Google rather than the person doing the SEO and also everyone else competing in that niche.
The search engine optimizer has no direct power over Google unless they have somehow gained access to the search engine’s inner workings which is highly unlikely when Google remains so secretive about how it works.
The best anyone we can do is gain an understanding of what it takes to get a website ranked and in most cases getting these basics right will result in success with SEO eventually if you are better at it than the competition, almost certainly at a local level and in some cases even at a national level over a period of time. That timeframe could be 6 months, 12 months or years of hard work later.
Don’t Rely On Others To Decide What Is Right For Your Business
So in coming up with a budget a web agency should advise you on whether SEO is right for your business or if some investment in online advertising would bring better results.
Think of it this way, If you had a choice between spending £1,000 on something that will get you to the top of Google for your keywords straight away or spend that same £1,000 on the possibility of getting there at some point in the future – which would you choose?
Putting this into even sharper focus, agencies can charge £3,000 per month or more just to do local SEO work. Will your business earn enough from local search rankings to justify the spend?
So going back to the contracts sometimes imposed by web agencies, the terms often include 6 to 12 months of SEO work bundled up with a package.
While there is nothing wrong with this, it is important to remember you will be heavily reliant on that agency using your budget wisely and this is far from guaranteed with some of the less experienced agencies.
To avoid becoming a victim of mismanagement, that budget should be set according to the amount your business is prepared to lose if the SEO campaign doesn’t achieve its objectives. Or perhaps it might be better to spread the risk and split that budget between paid advertising online and SEO.
Don’t Sign That Contract Unless…
At the very least would be sensible not to sign that contract at all unless you can get someone with knowledge to independently verify if the work being undertaken has any chance of achieving your objectives.
The split for a new business to start getting leads quickly should be in the region of 70% online advertising such as Google Adwords and 30% SEO, the latter being part of a longer term strategy.
The alternative is not retaining control of your own SEO and online marketing budget, which is akin to betting a pile of cash on a horse. That horse might have a good track record of success, but that doesn’t mean it will come in first if the rest of the field in the next race are better.
If you can afford to risk that money and achieve nothing, then you can put it down to experience. If you can’t afford to lose that money, then six months down the line you could be left contemplating the future of your business.
Like anything else in business, any investment should have at least some chance of achieving measurable results.