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Should I hire out SEO in 2012 to make waves with Google?
chipdouglas

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 2:58 am on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been online for over a year, and at this point my average monthly uniques are stubbornly stuck between 300-500. Granted, I had to redesign in November 2011 but my uniques are now back up to about where they were before the relaunch.

I hired a reputable firm to build out my site and it's organic-SEO friendly. I also use SEO plugins and recommended white hat tactics. I've posted about 500 articles consisting of high quality multimedia content (10-15/week). I also promote via social media (but recognize nofollow links aren't ideal). I don't use any spammy/black hat SEO, and I confirmed with Google very recently that my site is NOT flagged and is in good standing.

Still, after 13 months, thousands of $$$ in high quality web development, several hours per week of original multimedia content writing, and my own white hat SEO promotion... VERY few backlinks and maybe average 400 uniques/mo? Realistically, I need 100,000 uniques/mo MINIMUM to recoup my investment.

Now before I get flamed for being impatient, I know there is no silver SEO bullet. I'm very willing to be patient, learning everything I can about SEO/SEM and continuing to invest sweat equity in intensive, quality content creation.

But I got into trouble trying to build the site myself, and wish I would turned it over to a pro sooner, because I was a decade away from being able to build what they did. Now I'm starting to think I should do this for SEO instead of trying to crash around clumsily in the hyper-competitive world of SEO/online marketing.

So my questions are this:

1. In general, with Google's algorithm being what it is now, is it still worth hiring out SEO? Or is professional SEO now "dead," as I've heard more than one say?

2. If it's still worth it, how important is it to keep third-party SEO/SEM efforts up month-to-month? (Compared to one or two massive campaigns (e.g., big backlink buys) which look suspicious to Google)

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:31 am (utc) on Apr 13, 2012]

 

garyr_h

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 4:20 am on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

1. Yes, but it depends on what you want the SEO to do. Some SEOs can simply give you an outline of what you need to perform yourself. An SEO audit, basically. They can tell you what you need to create for linkbait and other changes you can make.

If you want them to get links for you, you could do that as well, but it will be very costly as it will be time consuming for them. Plus it depends on exactly how you want them to create the links.

If you want to simply create linkbait (which is basically what Google wants you to do anyway), then an SEO team could give you some ideas on what you should create or possibly create it for you. Or, if you know your audience well enough, you can simply come up with your own linkbait. It depends on what you want and your budget.

2. Again, that depends what you are trying to accomplish. SEO effort in what way? Link building (linkbait or contacting others or guest posts or directory submissions)? Link buying?

Are they doing something which you can't do yourself?

chipdouglas

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 5:19 am on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Gary--

Thanks for the reply.

The short answer to your question(s) is: I want the audit AND the remedial work. The short reason is: I'm increasingly very low on time, plus I have a bit of capital and after all the time/money I've already spent on this it would seem downright silly to build this thing this stout and then put 82-octane gas in it when it's meant to burn nitro. Read on for more details if interested.

Like I said, I'm willing to continually learn about SEO, but just as with my web development, I learned after a few years of DIY that for my purposes it was a far better idea to hire it out. It would have been 2020 before I was able to create what I wanted. That and the poor GA metrics are leading me to think of handing this over, too.

Perhaps most importantly, I'll be going back to school as a graduate student where I will have ZERO time to do anything other than content creation, so I won't be able to do any self-education/trial-and-error for about 18 months. It doesn't help that I believe my niche to be an untapped gold mine that will eventually dry up if I spend 10 years teaching myself SEO/SEM. So you see what the urgency is all about.

I know you can't always force these things but I'm getting to be of the mind that there's just so much "stuff" out there that basic DIY SEO and content creation isn't enough to turn heads and earn dollars--at least not prior to a 5-10-year investment. I just want to make sure I'm taking every honest measure I can to not turn a 3-year ROI into an 8-year ROI.

As always, additional feedback welcome.

garyr_h

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 6:50 am on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

To me, it sounds like you answered your own questions already. You don't have the time, yet still want the site. Since you can't do it yourself, obviously you have to have someone else.

It looks like you are simply wanting reassurances for what you already know what you have to do.

ak_web



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 2:34 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

1. It's dead and in fact never been alive.

Consider SEO specialist as a vehicle mechanic.
100 years ago, when vehicles industry started, just a few people understood how the vehicle worked. Nowadays every kid knows that.
The same with so-called SEO. 15 years ago some people knew more, than others about the websites. They were specialists. But now, when everybody knows what does link mean or keyword or meta tag or ... are they specialists now ? Obviously not.

Well, probably some of them have more knowledge. They read patents, they're following every news about search engines, they are in the industry 24/7. But obviously these knowledge are not enough to build successful web business. Otherwise why they haven't built it for themselves ? I doubt they just prefer to be SEO instead of CEO )

In every popular industry you can find people, who know how to build something successful, but surprisingly they prefer to be hired by others. Consider Forex or stock market advisers. The same story here.

You have to know these basics by yourself.

The specialists will be needed to bring your existing startup to the next level. But this startup you have to build by yourself.
(I suppose you have no tens of millions to invest).

2. It isn't worth. Waste of money.


P.S. Such forums are not the best place for such questions. Most of these guys consider themselves as SEO. They need the SEO myth to be alive )

P.S.1 Read about the latest Google movements and ask yourself : "How can somebody optimize users behavior ?"

[edited by: ak_web at 2:59 pm (utc) on Apr 13, 2012]

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 2:39 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

P.P.S. However many people respond to this post - that's how many opinions you're gonna get.

Go with your gut.

Andy Langton

WebmasterWorld Senior Member andy_langton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 2:56 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

"SEO is dead" is a rather catchy old refrain with quite a long history - SEO has died more times than I can remember.

In any case, a professional SEO should be able to do two initial things for you, usually without charging you for this information:

- Tell you what they can do for your site
- Tell you how much they will charge to do it

It's then for you to decide whether this is an acceptable investment, with an acceptable return. There should be no mystery about it, and it doesn't make any difference whatsoever what Google is up to or what algorithm changes happen. You should simply pay for a service that meets your expectations.

It can be a bit of a murky industry, unfortunately, so you need to be cautious about choosing a supplier. But that's true in many industries, and also one of the reason why decent SEOs usually get their custom via word of mouth rather than other forms of marketing.

In terms of ongoing SEO, it's a similar story - you should know what you are paying for, and what you can expect in return. The vast majority of SEO companies will use any ongoing spend to just buy links and slice some profit off the top. Personally, I think you should have better expectations than that!

You could also find a supplier who is willing to help you learn as you go, and explain what they're doing or provide training.

Of course, these are all part of the remit of a "professional SEO" - the idea that you could get all of this done reading forums or asking your web designer is all well and good, but it isn't too different to the idea that if you can learn car maintenance, then mechanics are in a dying trade. Not everyone wants to learn to fix their car, or has the time or inclination to do so. That's why professional services exist ;)

To briefly address a couple things from above:

>> How can somebody optimize users behavior ?

The importance of this in SEO is vastly overstated. For a typical website, there is no huge need to change user behaviour in order to rank. But even so, if optimising user behaviour is a way to rank on Google, then that's what good SEOs will do. It isn't hard ;)

>> They were specialists. But now, when everybody knows what does link mean or keyword or meta tag or ... are they specialists now ?

To use your own example, if everybody knew car maintenance, does that mean there is no need for mechanics any more? What's happened is that a very basic level of SEO is commonplace. But most are vastly overstating their abilities. Some now blame their lack of performance on Panda or user behaviour or lots of other things. But when it comes down to it, good SEO is about what's successful, and professional SEO is about delivering value. How complicated or otherwise that is doesn't really enter into it.

ak_web



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 3:15 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Andy Langton, good post. I even partly agree with you.
And since the question is very dependable from tens of factors I have just one question to you.

I assume you're in SEO. Right ?
Do you own the website, ranked in 5000 by Alexa ?

StoutFiles

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 3:39 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do you own the website, ranked in 5000 by Alexa ?


Alexa rating doesn't mean anything.

SnowMan68



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 3:43 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Alexa rating....LOL

ak_web



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 3:44 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Alexa rating doesn't mean anything.


Absolutely. But we need kind of level to understand website popularity/success. Especially keeping in mind, that this thread is read not only by professionals.

Andy Langton

WebmasterWorld Senior Member andy_langton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 3:55 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I assume you're in SEO. Right ?
Do you own the website, ranked in 5000 by Alexa ?


It's an interesting question, but it isn't relevant to the discussion at hand. Look at it another way - is owning a website in the top 5000 in Alexa a way to judge a good SEO? I can't think of any reason why that would be the case. And we should also remember that this thread is not about any individual's particular qualifications.

There is a slightly broader question which comes up in SEO fairly frequently, and is perhaps what you were driving at. That is "if people are good at SEO they would just do it themselves".

There's perhaps a hint of truth in this assertion, but it's still faulty logic. SEO is, perhaps, a part of running a successful website, but it is by no means the whole picture. So unless the assertion is that "you can only be good at SEO if you are good at every aspect of running a successful website" then it falls down pretty quickly. Put it at the other extreme - is it possible for someone to be good at SEO but terrible at running a business or running an entire website? Well, I think that's perfectly possible.

If you wanted an opinion as to why I personally spend more time working on other people's websites than my own, then a big reason is that I like variety. I like the opportunity to work with a range of sites and businesses without the need to be running every aspect of them myself. I have a reliable stream of income doing things I like. It's not the only thing I do, but even if it was, I don't see any connection between that and ability or credentials in SEO.

ak_web



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 4:42 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

is owning a website in the top 5000 in Alexa a way to judge a good SEO?


For me - yes, this is the only motivation to buy such services.

I would never buy financial advises from the person wearing cheap flip-flops or with bad teeth. Would you ?

Would you bring your vehicle to the repair shop, knowing that the shop's owner is driving his vehicle with broken lamps, no brakes and without the exhaust system ?

Well, probably this is more a psychological question. I'm pretty sure there are some people who consider a religion as the best SEO adviser )

As for me, I would like to get the consultation from the real, long time successful web specialist (call it SEO or whatever). Unfortunately for me, all such specialists I know (not personally) are too busy with there own projects.

And we should also remember that this thread is not about any individual's particular qualifications.


Correct. But the industry consists from the individuals. And if everybody, who knows what does meta tag mean consider him/herself as a SEO specialist and furthermore, is trying to sell advises, then the industry in general become a "murky industry", as you agreed above.

But again, this is probably mostly a psychological question. The question of your beliefs )

Andy Langton

WebmasterWorld Senior Member andy_langton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 5:10 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

But theses are emotional appeals rather than having any logical - or business - basis. I don't doubt that emotion plays a big part in people's decisions about suppliers and purchases, but that doesn't necessarily make those decisions better.

Would you bring your vehicle to the repair shop, knowing that the shop's owner is driving his vehicle with broken lamps, no brakes and without the exhaust system ?


Strangely enough, the mechanic I use is quite similar to your description. He buys dying cars, drives them for a few months, scraps them and then repeats the process. His explanation is that the last thing he wants to do is spend his time maintaining his own car, as he does that all day. Seems reasonable enough to me, and I don't really care - he fixes my own car well and charges a price I think is reasonable.

In fact, what's important is that the mechanic has worked on similar cars, knows what he's doing, and charges acceptably - not that he owns the same or equivalent car as me or you.

So:

is owning a website in the top 5000 in Alexa a way to judge a good SEO?


You should care about whether your supplier has experience with such sites or sites similar to your own, not that they own the equivalent website themselves.

And besides, by definition there are only 5000 sites in Alexa's top list, and millions of sites who want SEO. Alexa is a measure of popularity which has very little to do with SEO in the first place. SEO is usually about profit and ROI, which is often in conflict with pursuing popularity.

And if everybody, who knows what does meta tag mean consider him/herself as a SEO specialist and furthermore, is trying to sell advises, then the industry in general become a "murky industry", as you agreed above.


I would encourage anyone looking to buy professional SEO to look carefully at the credentials and experience of any potential supplier. While their Alexa rankings may not be the right question, you should certainly be able to see evidence that they are able to do what they are offering to do. And if there is insufficient evidence for your own tastes, then you can look for an alternative supplier.

As for me individually, I'm not pitching to supply SEO, and so I don't think my own credentials are relevant. In the context of this thread, this is an online forum, and like any site posters should be judged on their contribution. With all the contributions being free, it's down to individuals to judge for themselves whether to listen to any advice they find here!

scooterdude



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 5:14 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)



Still, after 13 months, thousands of $$$ in high quality web development, several hours per week of original multimedia content writing, and my own white hat SEO promotion... VERY few backlinks and maybe average 400 uniques/mo? Realistically, I need 100,000 uniques/mo MINIMUM to recoup my investment.


you are getting say 400 uniques per month and require 100,000. Is that traffic available to your niche ?

You say competition is weak, do you mean you 're the top ranked site and still getting what you're getting

Or , is some one else getting a bigger portion of the 100,000 uniques you want.


I am on a voyage of discovery myself. After a long spell developing, I find myself scrambling to promote my sites and the results aren't pretty :)

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 5:38 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

The first thing a good, reputable SEO should ask you is why you think you deserve to rank, or get that much traffic.

If you can't tell him/her straight off, without hemming or hawing, then you're not ready for a good, reputable SEO.

(That is NOT a challenge for you to post it here, but I'm just sayin' you better know and be sure of it)

* business model before SEO, and I'm all about the business model

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 8:23 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

But Netmeg, *cough* mashup *cough*

If you're writing content about widgets vs a competitor who is equally superstar worthy you're both going to get trumped by someone who mashes up both sites content and 'adds' to it.

Example: Matt Cutts stated favorite website Hacker news(news.ycombinator.com) which discusses other sites content and often outranks it using the same titles (especially when Matt comments and SEO's link to the thread as a result).

londrum

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 8:37 pm on Apr 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

if i was in your shoes, and had done all the work that you've done so far, and i was only getting 500 uniques a month after a whole year then this is what i would think: either there is no traffic in your niche, in which case you want to stop throwing money at it, or you (or more likely your SEO company) have done something wrong up to this point.

i would start looking for glaring errors in the code that stops it being spidered/picked up, and any possible penalties that you might have attracted by (unwittingly) using dubious methods

chipdouglas

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4440321 posted 12:52 pm on Apr 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

I will say it is at least reassuring, in a perverse way, to see that most people seem to agree 400 uniques/mo is unhealthy/unusual for a site which has been up for 13 months--if it truly is competitive.

The only thing more maddening than failure has got to be uncertainty about whether it is in fact a failure--because it's too early, maybe the redesign set you back, blah blah blah.

It's been about 3 years since I first entered the "conference room" on this project, so to speak, and I have been able to reevaluate what I think about my niche and my efforts.

I am not a widget-information-affiliate site. My model is more about using timely news-based writeups in my niche to bring in the uniques and sell ad space--and no, not in a hyper-competitive genre like celebrity news, but also certainly not in an obscure genre.

I initially thought it was low competition because nobody else was doing EXACTLY that. I was at the intersection of two popular genres, but as I've come to discover, just because you specialize in something will not exempt you from having to compete with the 'generalist' sites which cover my niche and a lot more. You can see how the opposite would be attractive in theory, and I've seen how it's a bit too optimistic in practice.

Nonetheless, despite unrealistic ideas about how fast I would be cash-positive, I can personally confirm that there are multiple people who are in (or almost in) this genre who have parlayed it into substantial incomes. In fact, this is one of the reasons I got into my niche in the first place--it was an improvement on another idea, and I only chose to reverse engineer it, then make it better, because I saw someone was having success with it.

There is at least one person I know occasionally making north of US $300,000 annually, but always more than $200,000, and their monthly uniques are always between 100k and 300k, usually at the lower end. Note that this is not a guess. The kicker is that their SEO is horrible and they barely create content--but they've been around for 10+ years and manage to sell expensive, flat-rate ad space to the industry's lower- and mid-end suppliers who want to reach a very easily-converted audience but can't afford the six-figure monthly campaigns waged by the industry leaders.

This person is not the only one, but they are the most successful, and they have a hideous Web 1.0 product--so you can imagine my excitement at the thought of improving on it. Hopefully that puts to bed any questions of "maybe there's just no money in your niche." There's clearly loads, but like with any gold mine, you have to have the proper equipment and technique, and right now, clearly I'm missing something important.

Aesthetically, my product is already vastly superior, and I am quickly creating distance between the established players in terms of usable content, but the persistently low traffic is what is making me think about hiring out SEO.

In any case, as a result of this thread and other feedback and research, and my forthcoming money and time constraints, I will probably stick with cranking out content until my time and money constraints dissolve 12-18 months from now, then make SEO a priority. Since I have material evidence of how profitable the niche can be, I'm not talking about paying people $50/mo for gray hat backlinks either. At this point I'm honestly considering a monthly budget up to $2000.

At that point, obviously I won't post my results in the Google SEO forum but check in with my username month-to-month and see where I'm at if interested.

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