Digital Marketing is not just your company website. It's a comprehensive full review of your multi-channel approach that complements your sales plan by setting your business apart from the competition.
Said differently, all of the marketing tasks that are not directly helping engaging clients needs to be stopped and the extra time captured, re-dedicated to support sales goals.
Chances are if you are not online, intentionally writing, tagging and coordinating the use of keywords and phrases describing your business values, then someone else is already doing it. They may even be using your company name and maybe your products names to promote their rankings in returned search results. To check, run a Google search on a popular, relevant term and see which competitors appear on the first page of results with an "AD" indication located on the lower left side of the search entry. These companies are not listing in the top 10 by accident. They have approached the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) thoughtfully and are making serious headway.
Good news! It's not too late.
In the article How to Hire for SEO… In Googles’ Own Words posted
on February 17, 2017 the author refers to an embedded 11-minute video, featuring Maile Ohye, a senior Google developer. In the video, Maile goes on to describe how to hire an SEO resource including requesting, often at a cost, an audit from any potential SEO suitor. I suspect any company looking to improve their digital presence is willing to pay for such a service. For a guide, plan on 2-3 hours of effort to complete the review.
Too often proposals provide tactical specifics with enough detail to create a roadmap for the company to proceed without hiring the Search resource. Consider this process as the vetting of a skills-set instead of a planning session that might reveal not just the desired outcome of the marketing activity but also the approach that is planned to make it happen.
Many companies, as described above, are uninformed regarding the nuances of creating an effective Search plan. Optimizing keywords presents various Marketing challenges as well as Technology hurdles and finding an experienced, skilled resource that spans both disciplines is rare. Just search a solution provider’s website and read what is possible, then decide if that is something your team can accomplish without assistance or at what level of engagement would be appropriate.
Don't let the size of your company deter you. Businesses of all sizes are in desperate need of skills to optimize digital delivery. For the smaller companies, it is a cost/resource issue, and for larger ones, there are competing priorities.
Restated, Search typically remains an after-thought as the marketing department emphasis shifts to focus on content creation without a plan for distribution and syndication. Climbing the uphill Search Results page path to achieve a louder voice online is akin to scaling Google to access the Mountain View.
Using external solution and service providers is not a new phenomenon. However, with the race to compete in Keywords and ranking on the first page of results so important, companies are awakening to the fact that there are specific activities that will boost their position. It does not occur overnight. A best practice of placing relevant content in front of the appropriate audience in some different venues will improve the reputation and placement in search results. The Google developer Maile Ohye estimates the process takes between four and 12 months to see results. If you receive faster estimates for results from vendor proposals, be wary. The rate of customer disappointment is so high in the SEO market that payment processors require a 20% hold-back on revenue to pay the refund.
Choices are numerous for selecting the right person possessing the proper skills from an array of competent solution providers. More prominent agencies are not always better. Review the results of prior work and spend time interviewing, not the company, but the actual person that will be servicing your account. Leave open the idea that in many cases engaging an independent consultant provides a direct way to give your company the lift in digital prominence without over-investing. Independent experts can offer practical, measurable insights, allowing companies to avoid subtle risks and pitfalls frequently experienced by other competitors attempting to stand out in the digital crowd.
With so many areas of Marketing falling under the banner of Transformation, it is no wonder that consulting companies are re-targeting sales opportunities in search of new business by explaining how they are experts in online media including Paid, Ad Exchanges, SEO and SEM and programmatic marketing. The real question to pose to these providers is what differentiates them from the others competing for the same work. We recommend that you do your due diligence and find the right fit for your business.
There are a few steps that can ease the engagement of Search experts.
Larger marketing / SEO companies require a commitment of staff. Assess whether you can dedicate the time away from other projects to take on all of the activities of Search at the same time. Listed below are advantages achieved by engaging independent contractors.
Check the Google Webmaster tools as you start the review of suitors to assist you in building your online voice or at least amplify your message, as it is well explained and available at either no or low cost.
Other resources include the SERP (search engine results page) checker. SERP is a consistent way to see the display of the Alt-Descriptions added to the page content in HTML. It’s free to register, and you can add multiple domain names to keep track of your digital footprint. This site also offer a Keyword density checker.
Prices for expertise vary which is not surprising. For a small Marketing shop located on the east and west coasts, expect to pay between $150 and $225 per hour for someone with specific experience and explainable expertise. In the middle of the country expect to pay 75% of that fee for a similar experience. For engagement with larger marketing firms, this cost can rise to $5,000 per month or more for just SEO. Add other services, and that price can increase dramatically. A face-to-face meeting with the person assigned to the account can usually confirm the real deal. Ask about Per Hour Billing v. Value Pricing as it is also a way that affects the expense of the work.
So regarding scarcity, most of all, when searching for digital talent, if you are not up to date on SEO best practices ask for help from either a knowledgeable co-worker or an acquaintance that has the background you need. As a way to illustrate the point, if the role requires expertise in complex online experiences then a junior person with 3-5 years will typically not have enough exposure to all of the aspects of work required to deliver a quality product. A more seasoned professional is likely to be your best option.
Today, self-appointed Search experts are marketing their skills to uninformed buyers. Select experts with a high degree of skepticism. Although asking for an audit in advance of the engagement is awkward and not recommended, at Carnegie Agency, we suggest that you have a discussion with the person assigned the client relations role and ask them to describe the process of completing either an audit or assessment of your digital footprint. Measurement and reporting are essential to getting the most for your Search investment.
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