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When to Hire a Professional SEO Firm?

by: Corey Wenger
In efforts to increase sales and profitability, more and more companies are turning to online marketing initiatives � specifically, search engine optimization. Search Engine Optimization or (SEO) is the art and science of blending technical and marketing skills together into a finely tuned website that is both search engine-friendly, ranks well for specific keywords and phrases, and is tailored to your audience from a buyer and seller perspective.

According to a recent U.S. study, only 20% of all businesses outsource search engine optimization programs to professional SEO firms. The remaining 80% either do not conduct search engine optimization at all or they believe they have the resources and skills to do it in-house. Of this 80%, it is probable that 90% of these companies can�t be found on the web � they don�t exist. In order to generate any amount of significant web visibility, your website must typically rank within the top-30 results.

So, the question comes down to what is in your company�s best interests?
Conduct your SEO program in-house or out-source it. To answer this question, let�s first take a look at the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to implement and maintain a successful search engine optimization program.

SEO knowledge and skills required

1) Basic understanding of how search engines and directories work.
This may seem overly obvious, but you would be amazed how many people do not understand how they actually work. This knowledge provides the foundation for your SEO program.

2) Website design
Although SEO is not completely a technical marketing process, it does require a fair amount of technical knowledge of what constitutes search engine-friendly web design. Certain web design elements can either help your search engine rankings or hurt them. You simply have to know which is which.

3) SEO experience
This is the most important and most difficult knowledge to obtain. If you have never implemented a SEO program, then you are in for a big surprise. Search engine optimization programs require a lot of research and are extremely time consuming. Most importantly, they require actual SEO experience. This means knowing what SEO strategies and tactics work and which ones don�t.

In-house vs. out-sourced SEO programs

If your company is considering conducting your search engine optimization program in-house, here are some questions to consider.

� Who will be responsible for analyzing, developing, implementing and measuring the success of your SEO program?

� Is this considered the role of your IT department, Marketing department or some other individual(s) within your company?

� Do they have the time, knowledge, and resources to successfully implement and maintain your search engine optimization program? And do they really care if it works or not?

IT Department

Typically your IT department handles multiple daily tasks from trouble-shooting your company�s LAN or WAN to fixing the sales department�s laptops? Out of a busy IT person�s day, what priority and focus do you think he or she will commit to for your SEO program? And even if your IT department has some skills in web design or development, these skills make up only a small percentage of the knowledge required for a successful search engine optimization program.

Marketing Department

Typically, your marketing department juggles many marketing projects at once and faces strict completion deadlines. From handling new print collateral campaigns to getting ready for new product or service launches, marketing personnel�s time is spread very thin. In addition, how knowledgeable is your marketing department in the technical aspects of web design and search engine optimization? Do they have the time to become well-versed? Do they have sufficient internal resources? Often the answer to both questions is no, they do not.

Other individual(s) within your company

Ok, so the responsibility falls onto someone outside of your Marketing or IT department. Who will that be and why are they responsible for your SEO program? Providing these individuals with a new �project of the month,� will typically result in another check mark off of their monthly to-do list and frustration by top management of why their website is not producing any sales results.

Summary

From a business standpoint, it makes sense to try to leverage internal resources to maximize your company�s productivity and profitability � whenever possible. However, there must be a line drawn in the sand between knowing what your organization�s capabilities are and what they are not.

As you can see, there is more to search engine optimization than meets the eye. In order to implement and maintain a SEO program, you must acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources. This can be done by hiring a professional search engine optimization firm. Professional SEO firms have dedicated resources and experience to support your company�s web marketing initiatives. By leveraging their experience and know-how, your company can quickly and more efficiently implement a successful search engine optimization program.


About the author:
Corey Wenger is owner of Key Position Web Marketing and is a professional Search Engine Optimizer and Consultant who has over three years of experience in helping companies increase sales and profitability through strategic web marketing programs. For more information, please visit www.key-position.comor email him at corey@key-position.com