It seems every small business owner knows they should be doing search engine optimization. Anyone in there right mind would LOVE to get more web traffic to their business website.
Since typically web traffic converts to sales at about 2%, it simply makes sense that more traffic = more sales.
But most traffic isn’t free. SEO is different however.
- Sources of web traffic
- Do you need to hire an SEO specialist
- Hoe much does an SEO specialist cost?
- Is an SEO specialist a full time job?
- What should your SEO specialist be doing?
- Basic prep work
- Link building
- Managing content
- On-page optimization
- Decision time!
- I’m not quite ready to hire an SEO specialist
- Yes, I need an SEO specialist!
Before we go any further, let’s look at the different ways you can get traffic to your website, and what it costs, so we can compare it to SEO.
Sources of web traffic
Paid Search – A click from a Google Advert typically costs a few dollars, but can cost up to $20 or more if you are in competitive fields (think lawyers, insurance brokers, dentists etc). If there are hundreds of searches for your service each day, then the cost to stay competitive using Paid Search can add up quickly! With Paid Search, it isn’t a one-off up-front investment. You have to keep on paying to get results.
Display Banners – These are the image-based adverts that you typically see on news or magazine type websites, and the advertiser is either charged each time they are click, or for each 1000 views of the advert. Again, this ads up over time, and you have to keep paying to get results.
Search Engine Optimization – Unlike paid search and display banners, SEO has no ongoing costs once you start getting more and more ongoing traffic to your website. Some may argue (and rightly so) that SEO should be an ongoing investment, but you can also spend a good 6 months setting your website up really well for search, and reap these rewards for the next few years with no additional costs.
Unlike other forms of digital marketing, investment in SEO is something that continues to work for you long after you have made the investment. The effort you put into SEO today, will continue to be earning your traffic in 18 months time.
Based on this quick summary alone, SEO is looking like a pretty appealing way to get more traffic to your website.
So, do I need to hire a specialist?
There is no quick yes/no answer to think, except “if you have excess budget and are looking for somewhere to spend it, then yes, hire an seo specialist or agency”.
But really, who has excess money to spend without thinking the purchase through thoroughly. Let’s break down the three main pillars of SEO to help decide whether you need to hire an expert.
The three pillars of SEO are: Link building, Quality Content, and Page Optimization
Link building simply refers to getting other high quality sites to link to your website. This is actually much harder than it sounds. Sure, anyone can ask their blogger friends to link to them, or submit their website to a few dozen free directories, but there is a different between quality links, and low quality links.
A high quality link, which will help your website rank higher in the search results, is a link from an authoritative website which is viewed highly in the eyes of Google. You don’t need to be an expert to figure out if a site is quality. Getting a link from your national news website is amazing, and getting one from your local news website is great. Getting a link from your neighbors baking blog isn’t great, unless she has hundreds of thousands of avid readers each month.
So unless you have some real hustle in you, it can be tough getting these high quality links, because every other clued-up website owner wants them too. For this reason, an SEO specialist can help when it comes to link building.
Content refers to the written content that is on your website. The more quality content there is, the more likely you are to rank well. It comes down to this, if the first 10 results are well-written 3,000 word guides on a topic, and your website has a 300 word guide, there is no way your site well rank above the others.
You need to blow the other sites out of the water. If there guides are 3,000 words, then your guides need to be at least 3,000, with great images and other media, to outrank them.
How much does an SEO specialist cost?
To employee an SEO specialist you’ll be looking to pay a salary of $40,000 to $100,000. That range probably isn’t much help, since the real price you’ll pay depends on how much experience the person has, and which country you are in.
According to Glassdoor, the average base page for an SEO Specialist is $66,848 annually.
Keep in mind, you get what you pay for. I probably wouldn’t hire an intern, or recent graduate, to manage my websites SEO unless they have proven skills in ranking websites which they can showcase to you (eg a domain name which ranks highly for a sought after keyword). This doesn’t need to be for a large website, or for a paying client, it could be a website they have made in their spare time.
If I say you should go cheap with your hiring choice, but you only have the budget to hire an entry level person, then I’d advise to look for someone with quality writing skills, and a bit of web admin experience (eg using content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla, Kentico, Silverstripe, etc). As I explained above, having quality content on y
Is an SEO specialist a full time job?
If you have a substantial website, then yes an SEO specialist can be a full time job. For the purposes of this article, we will consider a “substantial website” either an eCommerce store with over 1000 products, or any website with over 250 pages of content.
What should your SEO specialist be doing?
We can tackle this question by revisiting the three pillars of SEO:
- Link Building,
- Content, and
- On-page Optimization.
Basic prep work
Every website needs the follow basics taken care of, and it is usually the SEO specialist or Digital Marketing Specialist who should be championing the installation and usage of these tools.
Setup Google Analytics – Google Analytics is the bread and butter web analytics platform, which the majority of websites choose to use. Best of all, it’s free. Google Analytics will be able to tell you what people are looking at on your website, what device they are using, which city they are in, and how they found your website (eg clicking a link from another site, finding you on social media, or via a search engine, amongst others). Your SEO specialist will be able to use this data to create their strategy. They’ll be able to see what content on your site is popular, and what content gets no visitors and perhaps needs to be removed or revitalized.
Setup Google Search Console – Google Search Console is another free, bread and butter tool, that all SEO specialists will want to have access to. Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster tools),
Content is king. It (nearly) always was, and still is. 10 years ago your website could get by with having sub par content, but these days it needs to be amazing.
Adding new content – Your specialist should be creating a calendar of new content to add to the website. For this, they may need to ask the experts within the business to help them. For example, if you own an architectural firm, and you want to rank for the term “fire engineering guidelines”, then your SEO specialist is most likely not going to be able to write a great article on this without the help of your other staff members.
Revitalizing old content – Now you know that your content needs to be better than the existing content from your highly ranked competitors, you may want to task your SEO specialist with reviewing your entire website, and revitalizing old content. This could be via adding more information to the pages, or adding more media such as images and videos to existing pages. It could even be simply updating the content to be relevant for the latest years news and trends, or adding more FAQs to your website if they feel some are missing
Removing thin or duplicate content – Thin content refers to pages which have little value to the user. It could be a page which is just 100 words which doesn’t really add any value, or is explained better elsewhere on the website. Your SEO specialist will be able to advise whether you should simple remove these pages, or merge them into existing pages. Similarly, if your website has duplicate content, such as the same article on multiple pages, it is worth removing the duplicates and just having one official version of the content. There is a few little nitty gritty things that are important to keep in mind when you remove content, namely setting up 301 redirects from the URL you plan to remove, to the page you want to redirect users to.
On-page optimization refers to dozens of little nitty-gritty things that most non-digital specialists probably won’t think about, or even know about. They include ensuring most of the following list of considerations are taken care of: meta titles, meta descriptions, H1 tags and H2 tags, page depth structure, redirects and redirect chains, page protocol, image filenames and alt tags, broken images, image size and compression, broken links, internal links, external links, URL length, URL quality….you get the picture.
SEO specialists will typically use a website auditor (such as Pulse site Auditor) to analyse their entire website, and provide a report on what needs to be improved from an on-page perspective.
Here are a few on the main on-page optimization tasks for an SEO specialist to take care of:
Ensure the website is responsive – These days, if your site isn’t responsive (meaning it looks and functions just as great on mobile and tablet as it does on desktop), Google isn’t likely to rank you high in their results pages. Making a website responsive isn’t something the SEO specialist is likely capable of doing, but they should be able to check its responsiveness, and badger the web developers to make it more mobile friendly.
Set enticing meta title and meta descriptions – The meta title and meta description are what appear in Google. Looking at Grey Lynn Dental below, the blue text is the meta title (“Grey Lynn Dental: Quality Auckland Dentists”) and the two lines below it in black is the meta description (“”Come and visit our gentle, fully qualified Auckland dentist. We offer general, preventative and cosmetic dentistry, tooth whitening, crown fillings, extractions.”). I probably don’t need to explain why you should make these as enticing as you can. Simply put, the more enticing they are, the more likely someone is likely to click on your business listing when it appears in the search results.
I’m not quiet ready to hire an SEO specialist
If you’re not quite ready to employee an SEO specialist, and don’t want to tackle SEO with 100%, but 70% effort (and there is nothing wrong with that! It’s better than no effort!), then we recommend finding someone in the business (or yourself if you are an owner-operator) and making them responsible for SEO. Depending on your business, this may be the web developer, the marketer, or the receptionist who has sufficient access to edit the website. If you are going this route, we would be stupid not to recommend arming them with our own product Pulse Site Auditor (you can get a 14 day free trial).
Pulse is a site auditor which is a fancy name for an automated tool that scans your entire website, and tells you what on-page aspects of SEO and usability you could, and should, be fixing or doing better.
With Pulse, we tell you what needs improving on your website, why it needs improving, and how to improve it. We also explain each issue in layman’s terms so you can explain it to someone else, such as your boss or web developer.
Yes, I need an SEO specialist!
Great! Next step is getting a job description written, and the hiring underway. We can’t advice on how much an SEO specialist should earn, and we’d be here all day listing thousands of cities average pay bands for this type of role. You could start however by going on your favorite jobs website, and seeing what comparable roles are going for in your city.