A potential client recently contacted me for DIY SEO consulting work. We had a very interesting conversation and she shared two themes that I see common in many small business owners. The first is that she understands the importance of SEO but doesn’t have the money to outsource SEO and would rather do it herself. The second is that she wants SEO to happen automatically without investing a lot of time up front. She’s so busy she doesn’t have the initial time investment that setting a solid SEO strategy requires.
The truth is, her lack of SEO just wasn’t enough of a pain point at that time for her to do anything about it. Or rather, to prioritize it.
It’s rare these days that you’ll accidentally rank for purposeful keywords just because you write good content. That’s where the misguided notion, “just write good content and SEO will take care of itself” came from. Sure, you’ll probably start ranking for random non-competitive words, but that’s not exactly the point of SEO.
Fresh out of our recent Atlanta SEO bootcamp, I know that it is possible for small business owners to optimize their own web sites. I did it on my own and one of my SEO soapbox messages is that it IS possible to do SEO yourself without a huge budget. But, there’s no going around the fact that SEO takes an initial time commitment. You can get there yourself – by reading SEO guides, watching video tutorials, listening to podcasts, taking a training course or two, etc. – and then implementing action items from those resources. Or you can decide you want to SEO your site and then get there faster by hiring help. An SEO consultant, or SEO coach, can help you assess your site’s current position, develop an SEO plan/strategy, and guide you in implementing that strategy.
As for automating SEO, there lies the problem. You see, SEO is not a plug-and-play app. It’s not some plug-in that you install in your WordPress site and forget about. Yoast’s SEO plug-in is great, but it’s a tool that helps you implement your strategy. In and of itself it’s not a strategy (that’s a lot of pressure to put on one little plugin!)
Rather, it’s an active process that involves a lot of initial active, “thought” work – there’s keyword research, knowing why your competitors are on page 1 and what you’re going to have to do to outseat them, mapping keywords to content pages, understanding the actual creation and promotion of optimized copy and content, monitoring and analyzing your analytics, and tweaking your web site and strategies based on your analysis and off-page plan.
The SEO time committment also requires keeping this in mind:
“The real value of SEO efforts are, generally, not realized in the first month(s) of the effort.” It’s true. SEOs don’t wave a magic wand and get instant results. Instead, they perform extensive operations that will produce results months down the road.” – Mark Jackson, Search Engine Watch. If you want instant results, do PPC, or go out doing face-to-face networking
That’s not to say you can’t automate elements of your SEO. Sure you can. There are plugins and tools that help you promote your posts in social media. Google Analytics can automatically generate reports and send it to you by email. But that’s as far as automation can go. You’ll need to commit time to do the rest. Fortunately, you don’t personally need to do all this. You can delegate SEO-related tasks to members of your team, say a marketing intern or a virtual assistant, so you can focus more of your time on growing and managing your business.
The important thing to remember is this: SEO is not a relatively mindless check-list that you can plan for and execute in a snap. But after you get through the initial time investment of analysis and execution, it’s not too terribly time consuming because it’s more about optimizing your existing business practices and making them more effective. While also sprinkling in a new tactic or two that is more effective at driving traffic.
What Do You Think of the SEO Time Committment?
Is a lack of time what’s been holding you back from SEO? If you’ve optimized your site or a client’s site, what’s surprised you about getting involved? Was the commitment more than you expected? I’d love to hear your experiences so please leave a comment below.