It is likely that you have heard of or tried search engine optimization (SEO), the process of getting your website to rank well in the search engines for queries related to your products/services. What you may not know is whether you can actually do SEO yourself.
Some people, mostly SEOs themselves, describe the service as the equivalent to hiring an accountant or attorney. In fact, most SEOs charge $76-$200/hour and charge between $1,000-$7,500 per project or as much as $5,000 for a monthly retainer.
SEO is a highly specialized skilled but is a skill that can be learned. Here’s some considerations for those entrepreneurs wondering whether they can save money on outsourcing this vital cost.
SEO is very time-consuming because much of it involves getting the search engines to trust your website. As Google, the most popular search engine, uses about 200 algorithms to determine how you rank for various searches, you’ll spend a great deal of time reverse-engineering these algorithms to determine the best approach to gain some traffic share.
Google and other search engines index all the webpages on the internet sort of like a library indexes all the books in its system. The search engine “robots” crawl through your site and “read” your content, using it as a major factor in your ability to rank. Because real people will also be reading your content, you’ll need to learn how to appeal to both search engines and people.
It’s good to know that a substantial correlation study revealed that the average content length of the top 10 search engine results was over 2,000 words per page.
Once you create good articles, blogs or visuals, you’ll want to actually get some eyeballs on them. If you spend time reaching out to other people in your industry – and especially those influential people with large social media following – you’ll have a great chance of getting more traffic to your website. The idea is to have a big social network yourself and have people with a large social network share links to your content on their networks.
Correlation studies of top ranking sites reveal that backlinks are amongst the most important ranking factor for SEO. The sheer number of backlinks, the quality and relevancy of the pages they come from, and the words used in the hyperlink text to link to your site are all important factors that will contribute to increased ranking.
Then there is the fact that Google became the world’s most popular search engine because it greatly bases its ranking criteria off of following links from site-to-site.
At the end of the day no amount of SEO can help save a bad product, service or business model. SEO helps people who are looking for your products or services – through searches – find you. If they don’t like what you’re selling them it might not be an SEO issue but a business issue!
Entrepreneurs, and especially those on a budget, tend to wear a lot of hats. More often than not, a small business entrepreneur will be the one responsible for branding, marketing and promotion. Because the hiring of outside professionals is usually not within the budget, many small business owners are tasked with handling these things on their own.
Fortunately there are a lot of online marketing resources that you can use to help you look like a pro and hold onto some of the cash that is so important until you start landing those big clients.
One of the newest and most cost-effective branding tools entrepreneurs can use is Canva, simplified graphic design software with lots of pre-made templates that allow you to easily cut and paste your content. Canva is free to use and you can easily design social media graphics, marketing materials or ads in minutes. If you want to use some of Canva’s stock images, simply pay the $1 for what you need and you’ll save yourself $100s, maybe even thousands, on graphic design costs that go towards creating a professional brand.
A really useful online marketing resource for entrepreneurs is Fiverr, the marketplace for creative and professional services where most things cost just $5. Here you will find cheap content writers, graphic designers, voice over and media production specialists, developers and more.
One of our favorite things we recommend to B2B businesses is to use Fiverr to help you find, and connect, with other professionals on LinkedIn. Using a simple search for “LinkedIn connections” you’ll find a wealth of professionals who can help you build your professional network to 500 or more industry-relevant professionals in a short time.
Now that you have successfully used Canva to create professionally branded materials, Fiverr to outsource your content or web project, and have a strong foundation in which to compete in your industry, now it’s time for promotion.
Some of our favorite online promotional tools are those available from SumoMe. Some of SumoMe’s must-have free tools include their list builder, share and heat mapping tools. The list builder is an email newsletter collection tool, the share tool is a unique social sharing tool designed to get you more traffic, and the heat map tool is a tool that allows you to see where people are clicking, or not clicking, on your website.
Whether you are a one-man band or have a business partner, there may come that point in your business’s life where you’ll consider bringing on additional part or full-time team members. Then there are the sorts of team members that are purely outsourced but still play a vital role in the success of your business.
In today’s post we take a look at some of the lessons we’ve learned from building teams – internal and external – and how you can avoid some of the mistakes many business owners make when building their team.
Many small business owners begin to consider hiring a new employee when they get so busy they don’t have enough time in their day to do the things they need. Just because you are really busy – most entrepreneurs are – doesn’t mean this merits the hiring and training of a new employee.
However, if you are turning down work because you can’t handle it or you know you could get more clients if your new employee helped with some of the smaller stuff then you probably have some indication that a new hire is a good idea. This does of course imply that you want to grow your business. You’ll also have to weigh the potential income you’ll make with the new hire versus how much you’ll need to pay your new employee.
Two of the most common issues entrepreneurs have when building an external team are reliability and communication. It’s funny how cost is one of the least common issues as sometimes the case with outsourcing, and especially through websites like www.elance.com, www.odesk.com or www.fiverr.com, is you get what you pay for.
The expectation of a $5 piece of content, the $300 website or instant response to your email for that logo design you needed three days ago should be on par with where you are finding your outsource team. One of the primary reasons small business owners outsource is to save money but if delays or incomplete projects hinder business growth they can sometimes outweigh the cost savings.
When outsourcing here in the US or overseas, do your due diligence and vet your external team before trusting them for solid work. Take a look at their portfolio, ask them about their turn-around times, view their reviews or talk to their previous clients if possible to get a better understanding of what you can expect from them. Manage your outsourced team as you would an internal team in your office by touching base with them every day, monitoring their progress and clearly communicating expectations from day one.