Your answers to these 7 questions can help you save money in the long run.

So business has been slow and you are wondering whether it’s because there is no traffic to your website. Maybe you’ve talked to an SEO consultant who convinced you that the solution to your problem is to invest in SEO services.

You should already know that quality SEO services can bring more search engine traffic to your site; but you should also know that SEO is a long term process. Being the ever prudent businessperson, you want to make sure money is well spent.

Remember: saving money doesn’t mean spending on cheap, low quality SEO services. These are 7 questions you should ask yourself first if you want to save money on SEO in the long run.

1. Which types of SEO services do I really need?

If you’ve ever asked why SEO is so expensive, you should be glad to know that you can save money by only getting critical SEO solutions. (Note that this applies to businesses who have a very limited budget. In the best case scenario, you definitely want to cover all aspects of SEO and online marketing. )

  1. Do you need on-site optimization to solve technical side problems, and to ensure search robots can crawl your site efficiently?
  2. Or do you need to improve the content on your site?
  3. Perhaps you need more quality links pointing at your site?
  4. Maybe you need to get out of a manual penalty first?

Finding out the answers to questions like this will help you decide what services you really need. It also helps you avoid sellers who lump things you don’t need into an expensive package.

 2. Are there any tasks I can easily do myself?

Why spend money when there are some fixes you can easily do yourself? Some marketers charge an admin fee for setting up accounts, tweaking certain settings, or other minor tasks – rightfully so, because it does take up their time. You can save some money by doing these yourself first:

  1. If you run a blog, there are a few minor tweaks you can make yourself to improve the SEO on your site.
  2. Are you connected to your Google Webmaster Tools account? Verify your website on it, and use the tool to locate Crawl errors, HTML improvements, or to know whether you are under any manual penalties.
  3. Use an On-Page SEO Optimization Analysis Tool to check for basic on-page SEO problems on your page.
  4. Can you work on low-effort/high-yield pages yourself?

3. Is investing in SEO services cost effective for my niche?

There are certain niches that have such little market demand, that it doesn’t make sense to spend too much on marketing to drive traffic. You might be selling something highly customized, like “custom design toothpicks”, or you provide a highly specialized service, like “space shuttle repairs”. Of course, those are exaggerations, but it always pays to look at the search volume for your product before deciding whether it is worthwhile to allocate a huge SEO budget.

space shuttle repair keyword planner

Hmm I wonder why no one in Singapore are looking for space shuttle repairs.

Use Google’s keyword planner to find the search volume for the different ways people might search for your product/service.  Make the best case scenario assumption that you will get 75% of the traffic from those keywords, and see if your potential revenue makes sense for you to spend a whole lot on monthly SEO services.

If your market does not make sense to invest in long term SEO, perhaps Pay-Per-Click advertising is better for you.

4. Can I use my unique selling point to stand out from the competition?

Striving to be the best in an industry can be a very expensive process. Instead, try to be the most different. Some businesses hire top SEO companies and run expensive campaigns to rank for the most competitive keywords. To compete with them is a money wasting proposition.

Identify your greatest strengths, and make them obvious to your customers. That way, you can carve out a niche in competitive markets, and target search terms that aren’t targeted by your competitors. You can easily save money by not fruitlessly trying to chase the most competitive keywords.

gShift is one such company that knows its unique selling point well, and has used that to become a rising threat in the field of SEO software solutions dominated by mainstays like Moz and Raven Tools.

5. Is the design of my website preventing me from getting the traffic I could have gotten?

I have worked with clients who hired me to improve their SEO, but the first advice I gave them was to do a complete website revamp. Why? Because I felt their previous design was holding them back. I felt they would get a higher ROI if they invested in a website redesign first. An example below.

Chère Weddings old design

Before the redesign. Used Flash and plenty of Javascript on their Homepage.

After the redesign.

After the redesign.

On top of the website redesign, I just did some very basic SEO to make sure the website was properly structured and keywords were properly targeted. The result was quite impressive.

Not bad!

Up to 650% increase in impressions, 100% more clicks, and improved clickthrough rates for relevant terms. I’d say it’s not bad just for a website redesign!

The problem is that there are many Web designers who aren’t very well versed in SEO. When they design a website for you, they make search robot ‘crawlability’ and internal link structure an afterthought (since making the site ‘nice’ is their main priority).

A redesign might help you get more click-throughs, and help search engines index your content better. Getting the advice of an SEO when you do a redesign would help tremendously.

6. Are my current visitors converting enough?

This can be an extension of the problem in point 5 – bad website design.

Sometimes, it seems like you are getting the traffic, but no one is buying anything! Spending a lot of money on SEO services to drive  more traffic to a site where people aren’t interested in buying just leads to lower profits.

Factors other than bad web design such as unclear instructions for visitors, low trust signals, overly complicated forms, or being un-optimized for mobile devices; they can all hurt conversion.

low converting form

A form like this can put off people.

Conversion is not only about buying something online. It could be account sign ups, subscribing to a mailing list, or downloading something. If your website converts well, it will have a positive spillover effect when a successful SEO campaign brings in more traffic.

Before you invest in SEO services, first make sure you are not making landing page mistakes that will negate the benefits of more traffic.

7. Am I currently penalized by Google?

A sudden HUGE drop in search traffic might be a sign of a Google Penalty; especially if you have been hiring low quality cheap SEOs to do your link building.

If you see the following in your Google Webmaster’s Tools account for your site:

partial manual penalty google

Penalty due to unnatural links

or if you get the following email from Google:

unnatural links warningthen yes, you’ve been penalized.

Getting out of penalty is a long and painful process – but it is something that HAS to be done if you want to continue using the same website.

Knowing that you are penalized, you should concentrate efforts on getting out of penalties first. If your current SEO is the one that got you into this mess, the worst thing you can do now is to heed his advice to build more links. Save money by first prioritizing your funds into removing the manual penalty. This can be in the form of hiring someone to remove spammy links, or check for duplicate content on your site.

Any other questions to add?

The reason I came up with the Website SEO Review was because I wanted to help small businesses identify the areas where they can better allocate their resources, and save money on SEO in the long run. It helps to answer those questions that will determine your SEO expenses.

What else do you think you should consider before getting SEO services? Do share in the comments below.