Agency 101

7 SEO Tasks to Complete Before Even Thinking about Hiring an Agency

There are many small business owners that try to find a balance between hiring an SEO agency and trying to do a few things on their own. It makes sense to want to have control over your website, and it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the process first so that you can hire a great agency. However, there is a fine line between what SEO tasks a company should perform first and what SEO tasks a company should leave to the experts. If you’re trying to figure out what you should do before you hire an agency in order to keep this control, don’t sweat it. Below lists seven things to keep in mind:

  1. Have clear goals in mind. This might be a no-brainer to most, but it’s worth mentioning just in case. Before you set out to hire an SEO agency to help your efforts, make sure that you have clear goals in mind. This doesn’t necessarily mean SEO goals (rank number one by this time, earn this many backlinks, etc.), but rather means goals for your company in general. Who is your audience, what do you want your audience to gain, etc.
  2. Hire your own great content writer. Understanding great SEO doesn’t mean much if you don’t understand great content. Most SEO agencies will be equipped with content writers, but it’s helpful to have your own writer that you hired working with your company. This will help you begin to understand what it is you truly want out of your content, and it helps give you control at the start. It’s tough to know what you want until you really get going, so hiring your own writer is a great way to make that happen.
  3. Begin building links. Some might advise against this because there is a chance that a company will start building bad links, but the majority of companies can handle building links for a short while before consulting the help of an agency. Starting to build internal links as well as linking out to other websites that are well known is a good way to build up your PR and credibility before an agency gets to you. It will help speed things up.
  4. Foster relationships across the web. It’s never a bad idea to get started talking with others across the web. Write guest articles and start establishing those relationships. This will also help speed up your agency’s efforts when it comes time.
  5. Dabble in social media. Set up a social media account for your company on all the big networks—Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You might not know exactly how to optimize them, but at least having a presence will help give you a jumpstart.
  6. Install an SEO plugin. Installing an SEO plugin to your site will help give you an idea about what it takes to optimize a piece of content. This will help you know what to look for when you do hire an agency.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the source code. This is a bit trickier, but some aspects of web development aren’t too difficult to understand. Do a little bit of research on the canonical tag and familiarize yourself with what it looks like and why it matters. Hint: This is the tag that deals with duplicate content!

Of course, many people are able to complete all SEO tasks without the help of an agency or an expert. It is usually a good idea to consult one or the other and/or attend seminars to make sure you’re on the right track; however it’s incredibly possible to complete these steps listed above and then just keep going.

Have you hired an SEO agency in the past? Did you find that there were SEO tasks that you wish you had completed first? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: aacable.wordpress.com

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Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country. Connect with Higher Visibility on Google+and Twitter to learn more!
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18 thoughts on “7 SEO Tasks to Complete Before Even Thinking about Hiring an Agency

  1. Excellent Tips but i would add one more to this list that is “Reading SEO blogs like SEJ” so that you know, what’s happening in the industry and what’s working and what’s not.

    1. Definitely. I first learned about SEO by doing just that, and it wasn’t until much, much later that I actually started working with my own website and doing things for myself. Reading was a huge help!

  2. I’m a do-it-yourselfer so I’ve always thought hiring out for SEO would be great but I could never justify it. Maybe these steps will put me on the right track, or show me that it’s not just a luxury ;)

    1. Yes definitely! It’s always best to try a little bit yourself first (as I’m sure you’ve done) and then realize just HOW MUCh you really can be doing. It’s not only a full time job for one person, but for several people. Thanks for reading!

  3. This might sounds like “well, duh!” advice, but it’s so important that your business understand where it fits into the market space. What are you selling exactly? Who are you trying to connect with? Who actually buys your product/services and how do they use it? You need to have a firm grasp on what you “are” as a company before you can ever worry about SEO otherwise your campaign will splinter.

  4. I agree with all of these but – #3 “Begin building links.”

    I believe the best link built is the one you didn’t.

    Stay white / organic

    Your pal,
    Chenzo

    1. It’s definitely a fine line. Staying white hat is incredibly important, so if you’re a business that is unsure how to make that happen then I think you’re right–best to just keep that one on hold!

  5. We highly recommend great content as SEO strategy ,so when it comes to hire an SEO expert like us one should also decide the content development methedology.

  6. Hiya very nice blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb .. I will bookmark your website and everyday i read your blog I am happy to find a lot of helpful information right here within the put up, we want work out extra techniques in this regard,

    Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thanx for a great post. This backs up the FUFISM philosophy just a tiny bit, but every little bit helps.

    FUFISM is a new acronym that we at Info4u invented to help us explain the intricate relationship between SEO and the rest of your marketing team, especially since we keep hearing the story that SEO is DEAD.

    It should be remembered that SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the combined effort of all your staff and many others to ensure that your online materials are located by your intended customer base (Target Market) when they use search engines to locate information on the internet.

    For your SEO to be successful you will need to ensure that your team works as a collective unit and that everybody has a clear understanding of your product or service as well as who your target market is and how best to communicate with your intended target audience.

    Marketing staff need to work together with
    1) your web site team
    2) your blogging team
    3) your social media team
    4) your print media team
    5) your administrative team
    6) your sales team

    Your marketing manager also needs to hold regular meetings where all six teams mentioned above and senior management are all present to discuss co-operation and information sharing so that everybody can see what impact on the SERP’s their individual efforts are achieving so that they can better co-operate in areas of common interest.

  8. I tend to steer clients away from hiring their own content writer, simply because we’ve seen so many instances where their writer is great for some niche, but not for online engagement. Example: hiring a highly technical writer who has absolutely no capacity for writing to an audience other than others in their field. The content might be great, but if it doesn’t connect with the intended audience it’s not helping them achieve their online goals.

  9. We generally advise clients not to hire their own writer- we’ve seen a lot o in-house writers who don’t understand writing to their audience. Their writer may be the most technically savvy and verbose, but if they don’t engage the intended audience, they’re not helping them achieve their goals.

    1. Absolutely, and that’s definitely something to keep in mind. You want to recruit a writer who has both, and it’s certainly not easy. I’ve worked with quite a few writers myself and it takes a long time to get it right! Thanks for reading!

  10. Great site. Great article. I revisit often. The tips are very useful. Now, if there was just a way to keep those pesky so-called SEO Agencies from sending their version of ‘phishing’ emails claiming that ‘your website isn’t showing up on searches, but We can HELP’. My sites show up on page 1 of Google for the search terms we target.
    I know there is so much more reading to do on SEJ, so I’ll get back to it. Thanks for a great resource, and keep it up. Please!!

    1. Totally with you Terry, those emails are terrible. Mostly because the conform to boresome templates which have been churned out a million times. Anyone “ahead of the curve” should know for certain that people DON’T want to receive those sorts of emails.

      Equally bad emails go out to bloggers asking for partnerships, etc. It’s like; damn – treat people as human beings!

  11. The seven tasks for SEO to complete before thinking about hiring an agency are extremely informative. These steps are very useful for me to enhance my SEO skills a lot. But in present scenario the building internal links are very valuable . Please provide some more information about Importance of internal links and steps for enhancing them for a site in google ranking in your upcoming blogs. Thank you.

  12. Here’s something that might be good to include:

    “Get an idea of the SEO issues on your site”

    Okay, a full audit should be performed by a specialist. But you’d be amazed what you can get out of IIS Toolkit (Microsoft’s SEO toolkit, a free tool) and a myriad of pivot tables. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to draw up a pie chart of the proportional errors on-site.

    Spread-sheets are necessarry for this step because IIS toolkit’s definitions of “incorrect” items (Meta description too short, etc) are out of date so you need to do a lot of your own CountIF/Pivots

    Screaming Frog is superior but costs money. Not much really, though