When you start a small online business, one of the first things you’ll learn is that it’s incredibly difficult to do everything on your own. Between writing your site’s content, building relationships with other website owners and fulfilling orders, it’s likely that you have little time – or perhaps no time at all – for SEO. When you come to the realization that you’re going to need help if you want your business to keep growing, hiring an SEO firm is probably one of the first steps that’s going to come to your mind.
While it’s true that hiring an SEO company is an investment that can rapidly increase your business’s rate of growth, it’s also important to remember that SEO services aren’t cheap – and an SEO firm can only do so much for your business if your website isn’t set up to reap the maximum possible benefit from those services.
So, are you ready to hire an SEO firm to help with your website’s growth? Before you hire an SEO company, make sure that you’ve done these three things.
Audit Your Website’s Product Descriptions
If you have an e-commerce website, your product pages will always be the most important content on your site. When people search for keywords that are directly related to products, it often means they’re ready to buy. Therefore, if your product pages rank well on Google, it’s highly likely that your sales volume will be excellent.
New e-commerce business owners, however, often face one very large problem when they initially set their websites up. They have many product pages that they need to create, and they want to start selling products as quickly as they possibly can. So, instead of writing their product descriptions from scratch, they copy the text from other websites.
There are two problems, however, with copying your product descriptions from other sources. The first problem is that you don’t actually own that text. At any point, the text’s owner can file a DMCA complaint alleging copyright infringement and have your offending pages removed from Google’s index.
The second problem is that, even if your copied text does appear in Google’s index, Google has no reason to give your website a higher rank than the one on which the text originally appeared. If the products that you sell are available on many other websites, it’s likely that your copied product text is actually already in Google’s index dozens – maybe even hundreds – of times. In that case, it’s unlikely that your product pages will ever rank well enough on Google to generate organic traffic.
When you hire an SEO firm, the first thing that company will do is audit your website’s product pages. Next, they’ll give you a quote for rewriting your product text because no amount of technical SEO or link building will ever fix a website that has no original text. You don’t want to pay an SEO firm to rewrite your website’s basic text. If the job is so cumbersome that you can’t do it yourself, then it would be much more affordable to hire a freelance writer. Hold off on hiring an SEO company until the work is done.
Evaluate Your Website’s Buying Experience Honestly
If your website’s basic text is already on point and isn’t in need of replacement, the next thing an SEO firm will do is evaluate the shopping experience that you provide to your customers. The firm will come back to you with advice about the things that they can do to improve the shopping experience – but this is another area where you’ll really pay through the nose because most SEO companies aren’t set up to do website development in house. They’ll outsource the work to freelance developers and sell the work to you at a profit.
Instead of paying an SEO firm to improve the shopping experience that you provide to your customers, you should evaluate your website honestly and hire a freelance developer yourself if improvements are necessary. Here are a few of the things that you should include in your evaluation.
- Does your website load quickly and look good on all devices and screen sizes?
- Does your website have strong branding? Does its visual design stand out from other sites in the same industry?
- Is your website well organized? Is it easy to find individual products by clicking through your website’s categories, and does your site’s search function produce relevant results?
- Does your website have good product recommendation and discovery features? If the customer doesn’t want to buy the product currently being viewed, does the page recommend some alternatives that the customer might like?
- Is your checkout process quick and simple, or do you have a large number of potential customers who ultimately leave your site without buying anything?
- Do you have a good customer loyalty program that keeps people engaged with your brand and encourages them to make repeat purchases?
Research an SEO Company Carefully Before Hiring It
The final thing that you need to do before hiring any SEO company is spend as much time as possible researching that company and its business practices. Do you run a specialized business such as a vape shop? Most of the companies in the SEO industry are used to working with companies in general-interest fields and don’t know anything about vape SEO. If you hire a company like that, they’ll simply outsource the work to a firm that does understand your field. They won’t tell you that they’re outsourcing, and you’ll pay an inflated price for the services you receive. Make sure that an SEO firm has specific experience in your industry.
Another area to consider before hiring any SEO firm is transparency – especially when it comes to building links to your site. Link building is a necessary part of SEO, and one of the worst things that you can do is hire an SEO firm for that purpose and simply hope for the best. A low-cost SEO firm may deploy spammy links to your site that’ll end up hurting your rankings in the long run. If you’re going to use an SEO firm for link building, the firm should be able to tell you in advance precisely how their link building process works and who the publishers are that will be linking to your website.