A recent study released in early 2018 by BrandMuscle has revealed that only 3% of small and medium businesses in the United States are hiring experts or external agencies to do the marketing for their businesses, with over 60% choosing to do the marketing themselves, or relying on in-house "specialists". The study also mentioned SEO, or search engine optimization as one of the popular local business marketing tactics for SMBs because they find it to be one of the easiest strategies to implement. The report's authors however abstract that small and local businesses were getting miserable results and low return on their investment by taking the do-it-yourself route, especially regarding SEO.
So, why is it highly ineffective for local business owners to try and optimize their web properties themselves?
I have compiled 5 reasons why it is not only ineffective but risky as well for a small business owner to go the DIY route when it comes to optimizing their websites, Facebook pages, Instagram, etc for the search engines.
1. SEO is an ever-changing landscape and what works today may not work tomorrow. In other words it's not for the jack of all trades. As a business owner you would be well advised to dedicate any spare time you have to trying to get better at your business so you can get terrific reviews – not moonlighting trying to learn the latest website ranking tactics or how to beat the latest updates to Google's or Bing's search algorithm.
2. Bad SEO can harm rather than help your search engine marketing efforts. The search engines, especially Google are known to penalize websites for over-optimizing or for using spammy tactics designed to game their system. In fact, for local businesses, not optimizing your website at all may be better than for example spraying spammy backlinks all over the web to your web properties, or overly optimizing them.
3. Choosing the DIY route can get you trapped in a skills spiral -you learn to do one thing today and it leads you down another rabbit hole tomorrow – and a new learning curve. Before you know it you could be spending more time learning the web optimization game than running your business. Almost every month new tactics come along how to rank websites or how to drive traffic to your websites. You want to focus on your business – not run around chasing visitors to your web pages!
4. While your web properties are a good way to attract new prospects into your business, most experts agree that to multiply your profits, your time would be better spent "wowing and wooing" your existing customers. SEO isn't the game changer it's often billed to be, especially for local businesses. According to marketing guru Jay Abraham, author of "Stealth Marketing – How to Outmaneuver, Outwit, and Outmarket Your Most Formidable Competitors … Before They Know What's Hit Them", the key to staying ahead in competitive times is to tune up your marketing – "to make sure you're getting new customers coming in, old customers coming back, and customers purchasing more."
SEO will get you new customers but these are in many cases "bargain-hunters" -rarely your ideal customers. You get those through referrals, or by word of mouth marketing …
5. Lastly, even assuming you did the grunt work and learned the ropes of search engine optimization, a really good SEO should give you phenomenally better results, plus, outsourcing to a good provider is always a great return on investment because it saves you that most precious of commodities – time. Time you can use to get to know your customers better, to communicate with them, to improve their experience process when they buy from you.
In closing, as a small business owner you should learn what you can about web search optimization, just so you know what's good for you and how to tell a good SEO from a bad one. But you stand to gain more if you outsource this part of your marketing efforts; both in terms of time you can save, as well as costly mistakes you can avoid – and ultimately, to ensure you get good return on your investment.