It drives photographers crazy when their clients think all they do is just put the camera on auto, run an action and POOF, a beautiful image is created. It makes us cringe when we hear that our “camera” takes good pictures.
So as photographers you’ll understand that when you ask your web developer to quick “SEO” your site and “how soon will your site rank #1” they will have the same reaction.
SEO is an ongoing strategy that takes some time to build. Setting up a website isn’t enough. That’s just the beginning. You need to continually create content, plan, link, post, optimize – it’s not set it up and forget about it. There’s no automatic button you can push.
WordPress is very SEO friendly, however that can be misleading if you don’t understand what that means. If your theme is optimized for SEO it means things like image optimization, good coding, site speed, search engine friendly page titles, and other more technical things. Out of the box however, WordPress still requires some settings for optimization that are not there when WordPress is first installed.
All of those things will help if you have good content to add to your site. The theme will not write your page title, do your keyword research or create your content. There are plugins that can automate a lot of the work and make it much easier – but there’s no getting around good content.
SEO: Should you do it yourself?
The short answer is yes – at least at first until you have a basic understanding about how it works. I am approached by small businesses who want help with their SEO and all but choke when I tell them the cost and time involved. The hours involved to build and manage an seo project can take anywhere from 30-50 hours upfront for keyword research and to optimize a website, then 10 – 30 hours a month for creating ongoing marketing strategies, linking and content.
Most people have no idea.
When you own a small business, you wear a lot of hats and you most likely don’t have the resources to to hire a reputable firm to do your SEO. That’s part of owning a small business, there are a lot of things you need to learn or do in order to run your business and SEO is one of those things.
Even if you do have the money to hire an expert, there is still a lot of value in learning about SEO. It helps you learn more about your business and your customers. In order to hire someone to do SEO work for you, you need to be able to communicate exactly what you need and what you’re about.
Unfortunately there are some SEO places out there that will promise you number one rankings overnight. And if you don’t know much about SEO, it’s tempting to want to try it because you’re desperate to do something with your web presence fast.
I don’t care what anyone promises you. If they tell you that you will rank number one, and they can get you to rank number one fast – they are most likely using “Blackhat” techniques that will cost your dearly in the long run. Don’t be tempted to hire an inexpensive service that promises you things like Rank #1 within in a month, or worse that you “only pay for performance.” That means they are using BlackHat practices that will most likely end up with Google severely penalizing your site. The short term gain you may get is not worth it.
This is right from Google:
[quote]No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever. Google[/quote]
Seo is a long term strategy and you won’t see results overnight. It can take anywhere from 6 months to as long as 2 years to see significant results.
What should you do?
Start learning about SEO, get the basics down. That way you’ll have not only a better understanding of how SEO works, it will be easier to hire someone. Learning about SEO will help you clarify your marketing goals and learn more about your customers.
Here are a couple of great links for learning SEO.
The SEO Beginners Guide is a great guide to SEO if you are just learning. The entire site is great for SEO knowledge, and the beginner guide is a great place to start.
If you want to hire an SEO firm, and even learn more about SEO, Pear Analytics offers a number of SEO services and they have a lot of experience with WordPress. They even have a free Analysis tool that will give you some good suggestions about your site.
Scribe SEO is a tool for WordPress that will help you optimize your content and find keywords. It’s not free a tool but a very good one that simplifies the process and it’s a great way to learn SEO.
WordPress SEO Plugin
WordPress SEO by Yoast is the best SEO plugin for WordPress, and it’s free. It’s the SEO plugin I use for all of my sites. It also has some page analysis and optimization features.