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Is ongoing outsourced SEO work a waste of money?

Long-time readers will know that I believe all website owners should learn about SEO (“search engine optimisation”) and possibly use the services of a specialist SEO practitioner from time to time. It’s always worth seeing if your pages conform to the latest best practices in terms of titles, “meta tags”, headlines and all the other attributes which contribute to getting better rankings in Google and Bing. However, this is mainly an occasional one-off exercise, and long-time readers will also know that I’m skeptical of whether most businesses need outside SEO help on an ongoing basis. The other (and possibly more important) part of successful SEO is building links to your site, and I simply don’t believe outside agencies can do a particularly effective job here, especially for businesses in specific technical industries. The reason is that good link-building requires a good knowledge of your business; few (and probably no) SEO consultants will have this. The best which most of them can do is to create links all over the place in unrelated sites, which at best will only have a minor impact, and at worst can be positively harmful in the long term.

Link-building is best done in-house. You need to pull in favours from contacts. Lean on suppliers. Take opportunities (such as exhibitions and conferences) as and when they arise. You need to know the good news websites – or even blogs – in your sector, and write content for them in exchange for links in the article. Outside agencies can do that, but it’s a PR agency you want there, not an SEO consultancy. There are lots of opportunities around, and links from closely-related sites are what’s going to make your site move up the search engine rankings. But nobody’s going to be able to identify these better than you can. The worst SEO consultants will take money from you every month in exchange for nothing more than vague promises of the results which might be achieved at some unspecified date in the future. Spend your money where it gets real results.

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