Here’s another truth: if you’re a webmaster with a lot of time on your hands, you can easily outperform SEO agencies.
This is not to say that those who work for SEO agencies aren’t good at what they do. On the contrary, many who work for SEO agencies are some of the industry’s shining lights. However, there aren’t exactly a shortage of SEO agencies worldwide, and it stands to reason that they can’t all be equally good. Some will be downright terrible, and can cause you a lot more harm than good, or, at best, make no difference whatsoever. You’ll almost certainly be left out of pocket.
Here are five advantages open to the determined webmaster:
- Avoid Poor Metrics – How does a ranking report really benefit you? On its own, it means virtually nothing. Without a page view metric, you don’t know if anyone actually saw your listing. Without traffic measurement, you don’t know if anyone is visiting your site. If your competition is only measuring rankings, it should be easy for you to run rings around them in terms of performance. There is only one measurement that counts: ROI.
- Determination – Who has the right incentives for SEO success? The webmaster who will only gain income if their site is a business success, or an employee on a fixed income who measurement of success may have nothing to do with improving a clients bottom line? Again, measure true performance metrics. That usually means subtracting the expenses from the income and counting what remains.
- Time – if you don’t have a lot of money, go time. Even the top agencies don’t spend all day, every day on an individual client site. The determined webmaster can devote a lot more time building content and links, over a long period, than most agencies can. A lot of value can be extracted out of SEO when it is seen as a long term publishing and networking strategy rather than a quick fix.
- Get Good Advice On Strategy – some agencies do not have your best interests at heart. They may be more interested in billing as many hours as possible, which is good for them, and possibly bad for you if the strategies they are using are no longer effective. SEO can have a steep learning curve, and the jargon is cryptic, but essentially there are two things you need to do. Produce crawlable content and get links. Repeat. I’ll post an up-to-date, easy-to-follow strategy for SEO in the next few days.
- Don’t Believe The Hype – Visit forums, or read blogs, and you’ll come across a LOT of theory masquerading as fact. Be careful who you listen to as much of what has been said is the result of an echo chamber. Try to test theories yourself and see if they stack up.
Having said that, many sites benefit enormously from the services of a good agency. Good SEO agencies can be cost effective, save time and effort, produce better results than in-house employees due to specialization, and provide great return on investment.
But the little guy can still compete with them on an equal footing. Big money doesn’t necessarily provide the best SEO solutions.