When contemplating an online marketing campaign there are dozens of questions that will start swirling through your head. Each question, in turn, creates more questions, and those questions create others that all will need to be answered before you are able to make a smart, sound business decision.

Over the next several days I'll outline some of these questions and provide a quick analysis to help you answer them sufficiently for yourself. Hopefully this list of questions will help you develop your own questions specific to your situation. In the end, the goal is to have taken a full and complete objective look at the tasks before you in order to be able to a best determine the right course of action.

Questions I need answered if I in-source my search marketing

To in-source or outsource? That's the first big question you may face. But you can't answer that until you have a good idea what it means to follow either path. If you're heading up a large company, outsourcing may be the way to go. Or do you hire your own expert? We'll look at questions for outsourcing later, but for now, if you're contemplating in-sourcing, ask yourself these questions:

Question 1: Do I do it myself? This is no small matter. Thinking through the process of whether you are able to manage the SEO for your site is an important one. While you can always "try", in some cases, failing at SEO can be worse than not having done it at all. So before you decide that you can do it yourself, answer these questions:

Question 2: Do I have the time? As a business owner your time is your most valuable asset, and the simple fact is: you can't do everything. You have to prioritize your time and think about what you can and can't do, and where productivity--and results--will be the greatest.

Question 3: What is my time worth? Take an objective look at the value of your time. Now, if you're the business owner and you crunched the numbers you'll probably find that you make somewhere close to minimum wage. But that's just because you are a hard worker determined to succeed. The value of your time can be better assessed by looking at what you charge for your product or services. If you can put a dollar amount for what your time is worth that can help you determine if you can make time for SEO.

Question 4: Is my time better spent on other things? Just because you have time to work on something doesn't mean that you should. We can all make time for the urgent/important tasks, but that isn't to say there are not more important tasks or tasks better suited for our skills. You may find that you are more adept at (and therefore your time is better spent on) customer relations. Or perhaps you're an idea person, therefore your time is better spent developing new products, services or tools. Think about what you can do that provides the greatest benefit for the company before you decide that you should allocate your valuable time to the SEO.

Question 5: Do I have the knowledge and skills to do it right? SEO, on the surface, may not be inherently difficult, but there is considerable knowledge needed in order to do it right. And some of the more technical aspects of SEO often require someone with more in-depth programming skills. Gaining the knowledge and skills necessary is no small task.

Question 6: Do I have the time to stay up to date in critical knowledge? The basic information on SEO remains pretty consistent, but there are often new developments, technologies and strategies that can become important for the long-term success of your marketing campaign. Keeping abreast of this information can consume a considerable amount of time, not to mention the time implementation and testing of these ideas can take as well.

Question 7: What if I screw up the site? There are many easy ways to screw up your optimization campaign. Sometimes it can be the wrong character in a robots.txt or .htaccess file. Other times it can be from bad advice you were told or read about online. Not all screw ups will be make or break, but there are some that can cause significant long-term and potentially permanent harm to your efforts. Sometimes the risk simply isn't worth it.

Question 8: Is this something I really want to do along with my regular work? SEO isn't your "full time" job. You've got a business to run and we shouldn't be afraid to admit that it takes the majority of our time. You need to consider if you really have time to add another time consuming task to your already full plate. Anything new you add will take away from other, possibly more important tasks. It'll do you no good if you SEO the site if you can't handle the business it brings.

Question 9: Will this take me away from my family? If adding something to your plate increases the amount of time you spend "at work," how will this affect your family life? Are you willing to add more to your plate if it means less time with your loved ones? Even if you don't have family conflicts, you also need to consider how much time this will take away from your own leisure activities. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

Question 10: Is this worth the cost of NOT hiring or outsourcing? Overall, you need to consider if the cost of doing it yourself is worth the sacrifices you'll have to make. If you outsource, it's just money. If you in-source its your time, your skills, your knowledge and even your sanity at stake. Don't lose out on other important things just to save a few bucks.

Question 11: Will this diminish my capabilities at being effective that my primary job? Finally, you need to consider if doing SEO yourself means you become less effective in other important areas. The worst thing you can do is skimp on quality--whether its quality of customer service, quality of products, or quality of results. SEO is important, but not if it causes you to lose value in other areas. Getting people to the site does you no good if you can't properly engage with them and meet their needs.

In Part II I'll look at questions you need to ask if you choose to in-source your SEO hiring someone to do it rather than doing it yourself. You'll find there are a number of questions that need to be asked and answered to determine this is the right course of action for you.

See Questions 12-17
See Questions 18-24
See Questions 25-32
See Questions 33-40
See Questions 41-47
See Questions 48-54
See Questions 55-61


March 4, 2009





Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.





Comments(15)

Stoney,

This is a very well thought out post and is resourceful for the small and large business owner and C-Level people too. It's so so important to consider the insource/outsource question and to get that right. sometimes too, hybrids work well.

If you're a small business and have the funds to outsource your SEO... Go for it! But business owners should still take the time to learn it just to make sure they're not getting ripped off. Personally, it's more effective if I handle parts of it and outsource the more time consuming aspects of it. So I definitely agree with Jake's above comment mentioning the hybrid approach.

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I must admit that I'm guilty of trying to do all of my websites entire SEO. Not to mention their graphics, their content and their layout.

I've only recently started my quest to learn more about SEO and while I have the basics down (which is more that most people do anyway) I still have some more to learn.

I used to think to optimise a website it was all about meta tags, keywords and H1 headers, of course now we know off page optimisation is far more important.

I'll look into outsourcing in the future

Joel McHale fan

When I first started with SEO I was eager to believe that these so called "experts" hype with only working 3 and 4 hours a day. Little did I know (but I soon found out) the reason they work so little is because they have a army of paid employee's behind then doing all the so called grunt work. I attempted to do it all myself and it was a constant struggle to keep up with the work let alone keep up with the changes that happen to SEO as a whole.

All I can suggest is find a plan you like, stick to it and when in doubt...outsource. LOL

Darrel Glass

Doing SEO is just like a tree , it would take years to achieve good results .I always suggest to do SEO yourself is you have time to do it . as there is no guarantee even after paying money to so called SEO experts

Never thought of it that way really before I read your post. But it all actually made sense. Sometimes I tend to forget the value of my time, and if it's worth spent doing SEO for my own site or will it be better if done outsourced, while I'll do another thing.

But there seems to be a problem with outsourcing. It's mostly about trust and quality issues.

Can I add a question? "Is It worth the risk?"

Oh, one more thing.

We should also ask ourselves "Is Our Business Marketable?
" before we go to the whole process of SEO. Otherwise, it may just be a waste.

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This would be great to read out to clients and even answer a few of the rhetorical questions you pose.

@Jimmi - Good points. I think I covered the risk issue with question 7.

All questions are very valid, and most of them are questions that have gone through my head, but I haven't written them down and pondered.. just more chaotically gone over them :-)
However my experience is that SEO people seldomly deliver, and then I will have lost time, money and knowledge all at once (because I didn't do it myself). Not a good option to me.
So either way you will be spending a lot - either your time, or your money.

Since the various methods of SEO continue to expand into other areas, like social media, a number of these basic questions will have to be re-evaluated as time goes on. While it's certainly possible for a business owner to learn a lot and become a really good link builder, it would likely be very difficult for them to learn and keep up to date on all the other tactics. This means of course that outsourcing is required for many businesses to get involved on the cutting edge of internet marketing, making questions you pose in later posts far more relevant.

These questions are very basic, but also very useful for seo beginners.
Thanks for the good post.

Very good list for any small business owner or individual with a website. However, I personally struggle these days, as I have now for a decade, with the term SEO. If all you seek to do is drive traffic to your website through the search engines, whether that is with optimisation, PPC, article marketing, link building for Page rank etc, you will inevitably fail to look at your business and website in an holistic manner.

By focussing on SEO, and that supposed holy grail of a #1 SERP, people tend to lose sight of more important issues, as was brought up earlier in the comments - is my business marketable? Add to that: are my products or services competitive? Is my supply chain steadfast if I do increase my traffic? Is my copy clear and well-written? Are my graphics good enough to be seen by the public? What exactly do I want my website to achieve? Will it do that, and work for me as well as my visitors? How do I capture information from my visitors and then open discussions and create hopefully long-lasting relationships with them?

For much of the above, you don't need an SEO company. You need a company who can look at your business, your processes, your systems, your staff, your competition, your brochures and website copy, the integration between your on and offline marketing activities, creating unique content and landing pages with clear calls to action, and then, after all of that, bringing your now fantastic business and products to the attention of those customers who you want who will seek for you online. To me, only that very last is truly SEO. The rest needs a far broader term to encompass what a really good company will do for your business, or which you can actually do for yourself, if you aren't already.

SEO IMHO is an outdated term, and is just one strand of a tangled, holistic web of internet and business marketing which needs to be customised for each business.

@ clickthrough - I agree with you mostly. The term SEO was never intended to include a business plan. That is something else entirely. SEO is what it is... getting expsoure to a website via the search engines. Of course, good SEO also delves into other forms of online marketing and a better term would be website marketing, rather than SEO specifically, but SEO is still a sub-set of the big picture.

Back to your point of having a good business and business plan. All essential. No matter how good your SEO is, it won't matter a bit if the business plan is a stinker.

This is a great set of articles with plenty of food for thought! On the SEO side, I think people may want to seriously consider outsourcing (I have not done so yet, but I am starting to feel the I may). SEO does take a tremendous amount of time, and it is more of a marathon than a sprint - meaning that you are never really "done". It is a continuous, evolving task.

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