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Local SEO: To DIY or Not to DIY?

After reading up on Google’s countless webmaster resources, you’ve managed to put together a pretty decent-looking Maps listing for your local business. Feeling confident, you wonder, “How hard could the rest of my online advertising really be?” This is usually the gateway that leads small business owners into handling their own local SEO and online advertising. Some business owners who take the DIY route wind up realizing they bit off more than they could chew. Yet, others discover a hidden talent for online advertising and learn that they’re more tech savvy than they thought. It can go either way. If you can’t figure out whether you should try your hand at DIY online marketing or bite the bullet and hire an outside company to do it for you, this post is for you. We’ll highlight the major pros and cons of each avenue to give you a better idea of what you might be getting into. Let’s jump in.

DIY: Pros and Cons

Pros

Performing all of your own local SEO and online advertising can be a big money-saving measure for small business owners, helping you avoid monthly payments to an outside company. Other benefits of DIY SEO include:

  • Having intimate knowledge of your business’s online advertising strategies, since you’re the only one working on them.
  • Having immediacy when it comes to online advertising work. You can make any desired changes without having to wait for someone else to do it.
  • Having complete oversight (read: control) of your company’s online strategies. You can easily keep track of all of your logins, directories, and other pertinent info because you’re the only one who has access to them.

Cons

However, many small business owners decide the above perks aren’t worth dealing with the numerous obstacles that come with performing your own SEO. Some of these obstacles are:

  • Only working with one data point: yours. For SEO, where you need as much data as possible to monitor trends and conduct A/B testing, this can put you at a disadvantage.
  • Not devoting enough time or attention to SEO. Since you’re balancing this work with running a business full time, you may not notice any issues or strange hiccups in your campaign right away.
  • Diverting time away from your job. You essentially lose revenue every time you work on your online advertising instead of providing service for a customer.

Internet Marketing Company: Pros and Cons

When a small business owner decides the obstacles facing them in DIY online advertising are too much, they usually opt to hire an Internet marketing company instead (or they forego online advertising altogether).

Pros

So, what are the benefits of hiring an outside company that appeal to small business owners?

  • More data. The Internet marketing company probably has hundreds of other clients, which means hundreds of data points to pull from and sharpen their expertise. They can tell if something is an isolated case or a broader trend.
  • Optimal strategies. A professional company will have developed multiple approaches to maximize efficiency for various online advertising needs.
  • Combined experience. Because it’s a team made up of multiple individuals, the online marketing company has lots of combined experience and various fields of expertise to draw from.
  • Constant monitoring. It’s their full-time job to monitor online advertising campaigns, so they notice right away when a new issue crops up. They also know as soon as Google updates its algorithm and can determine how wide-reaching the update is.

Cons

Hiring an outside company may sound like an ideal scenario, but, as with anything, it does come with certain drawbacks. For example:

  • Waiting period. Depending on the size of the company you’ve hired, it’s unlikely you can get immediate results for whatever work you need done. You’ll almost definitely get someone on the phone, but you won’t necessarily be able to see the work instantly completed. (Note: A smaller company can probably provide you with a faster turnaround time.)
  • Less control. When you hire an outside company, you don’t have much control over your online advertising strategies. Plus, you won’t be able to replicate their system on your own because each marketing company uses its own “secret sauce” when performing local SEO.
  • Monthly payment. If your budget is super tight, then it might be difficult to afford a premium SEO service. Luckily, some of the smaller online advertising companies offer packages that tend to be more budget friendly.

Do a Gut Check

Ultimately, the decision between doing your own web marketing or hiring a professional comes down to your gut. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How comfortable do you feel learning the numerous webmaster tools involved?
  • How willing are you to devote your leisure time to online advertising tasks?
  • How much wiggle room is in your monthly budget?

If the mere thought of spending hours on Internet directories, social media, and Google Maps makes you cringe, then maybe the DIY route isn’t for you. But if you enjoy learning and challenging yourself and you’ve got plenty of spare time, then it just might be worth a try.