Understand SEO Before You Outsource It

Written by Nick Stamoulis

While I applaud site owners that want to get their SEO off on the right foot and outsource it to an SEO provider right away, I firmly believe it’s imperative that all site owners learn the basics of SEO for themselves BEFORE outsourcing your SEO. You don’t have to become an expert, but you need to at least understand a rough outline of what SEO is and what it entails before you go looking for an SEO provider to manage it for you.

Here are 3 reasons it’s important to at least understand SEO before you start trying to outsource it:

1. Make sure you aren’t getting taken for a ride.
If you are looking to outsource your SEO to a bigger SEO firm, please keep in mind that the first person you talk with might not actually be an SEO expert; they might be a member of the sales team. And while I have nothing against sales guys, it’s their job to bring in new business and they are going to do/say everything they can to close a deal. You want to outsource your SEO to a provider that is right for your business, not just the one with the best sales pitch. Knowing a little bit about SEO will help you know what you really need from a provider and not fall hook, line and sinker for a great sales pitch.

There are also a lot of fly-by-night SEO consultants/providers that are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting site owners. No matter how big or small your SEO budget is, you don’t want to waste it on someone that’s going to cut and run as soon as they get your money. Understanding SEO will help make sure you outsource it to a reputable provider because you’ll know what to look for.

2. Be able to effectively determine if your SEO provider is actually doing the work.
I’ve worked with many site owners that have been burned after outsourcing their SEO because they didn’t know how to measure the long-term impact of their SEO campaign. What kind of data should they have been looking for in their Analytics account? What should a monthly link building report look like? How do you track which keywords are converting and which ones aren’t? If you don’t understand how to measure your SEO (at least a little) then it’s hard to know if what your SEO provider is doing is having any effect. While I wish I could say that you should trust the company you outsource your SEO 100%, there’s a reason why the SEO industry has a less-than-stellar reputation. You don’t want to become another website owner that was burned! Knowing the kind of effect SEO should have on your will help you determine if your SEO provider is living up to their end of your contract.

3. Know the line between white hat and black hat SEO.
Many site owners cry foul after a Google penalty, claiming they didn’t know what their SEO provider was doing. In my opinion, one of the biggest (and probably most common) mistakes site owners make after outsourcing their SEO is they wash their hands of it. However, at the end of the day Google doesn’t care who built those 1000 site wide directory links to your site, it’s still your site and you are responsible for it. Just because you outsourced your SEO that doesn’t mean you don’t ever have to think about it again. Understanding SEO can help you recognize any red flags or bad behaviors that might land your website in hot water.

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