Last week I published a blog post explaining that most SEO services are a scam (I won’t repeat myself; you can find out about the SEO scam here).
I want to explain another way businesses can avoid getting ripped off: by understanding the role of page optimization.
There are essentially two sides to Search Engine Optimization: on-page and off-page.
On-page optimization is how you code your Web site, essentially putting keywords into appropriate places in the site, making sure the site is readable by search engines, adding an XML sitemap, and so on.
Off-page “optimization” is not really optimization per se … it’s getting links pointing from other Web sites pointing to yours. I’m not going to discuss that in this post, just let me say that off-page work–linking–is in many cases the most complicated, difficult, frustrating part of SEO, and yet for most sites it’s the most important work, too. If few sites link to yours, the major search engines are not going to care about your site much, so won’t rank it highly (unless you have little competition in the search results for the keywords you care about … but that’s another subject for another day.)
So, today let’s consider on-page optimization … and why you shouldn’t pay an outside service to “optimize” your Web site.
Many SEO firms offer page optimization as a service…they will, in theory, come into your site, and “optimize” the pages periodically.
On-page optimization is, quite simply, making sure your site can be read properly by the search engines, and that it has the correct keywords in the correct places (such as folder names, filenames, H1 tags, body text, internal links, and so on) … and various ancillary items, such as the XML sitemaps I mentioned earlier. The details don’t matter for my argument today. Let me simply explain why you shouldn’t pay a third party to do this work for you.
1: It’s Easy
Despite all the blinding-with-science going on in the SEO arena, on-page optimization is surprisingly easy. It is not brain surgery. It’s not rocket science either. Once you understand it, it’s disturbingly simple… you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. So…
2: Whoever Builds Your Site, Needs to Optimize It
For years I’ve been dissuading my consulting clients from paying SEO firms to optimize their sites. Why? Well, why duplicate the effort? You already have someone tinkering around in your site, why not have them optimize the site while they’re building it?
They don’t know how to, you say. That’s true, they probably don’t, and as I mentioned in my post last week, Web development firms are notoriously bad at SEO. But see my Point #1 … It’s Easy! Page optimization is not brain surgery, so you don’t need to hire a specialist. You do, however, need to make sure who ever is building the site knows what he or she should be doing to it. But again … It’s Easy!
For many clients, I have given “tutorials” to Web-development staff, a very specific run-down of what they need to be doing. I’ll do a keyword analysis first, then I’ll discuss basic optimization techniques–“create an optimized page for each of these keywords…put the focus keyword in the URL, put it in an H1 heading near the top of the page, scatter it throughout the page, create a link from another page using the keyword as anchor text,” and so on.
Once developers understand simple optimization, they can run with it. And it doesn’t have to take weeks of work to learn how to do it.
3: No Third Party Will Optimize Your Site as Well as You or Your Staff
There are always exceptions, I guess, but in general no third party will optimize a site as well as an insider. This is based on my experience of seeing the results of “page optimization” done by SEO firms. (And assuming that the people building the site are willing to educate themselves properly.) I haven’t seen a third-party service do a good job of page optimization. In fact, they often do more harm than good.
4: You’re Continually Adding Content, Aren’t You?
Every time you add content, you should optimize the page the content sits on. Why wait for a third-party to do it for you, when it’s so simple anyway? And if you’re not continually adding content (and, by the way, not every site needs to … but that’s an argument for another day), then why would you need a third-party optimizing your content? Oh, because they told you that you need to tweak the site every month, did they?…
5: You Don’t Need to Continually Re-Optimize
Many SEO firms sign clients up for long-term, monthly contracts, in which they charge a fee for going into the clients’ sites once a month and “optimizing” them. But this is nonsense. Once a page is optimized, it’s optimized…there is no need to go back and re-optimize it, unless of course it wasn’t properly done in the first place! The constant tweaking provided by these firms is for the benefit of these firms, not your Web site.
Now, this isn’t to say you should never hire outside SEO services. I’m talking about on-page optimization here … whoever builds the pages needs to understand SEO and do the work (did I mention it’s not hard?). But there’s also off-page services…getting links pointing to your site. That’s where a third-party service may be useful. (But before you jump in make sure you read Small Business Beware! The SEO Scam.)
Need a simple outline of how to optimize a site’s Web pages? See my Udemy SEO course, which covers both on- and off-page optimization. 4.6 Stars out of 5, $10, you can’t go wrong!