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Can Small Business Owners Do Their Own SEO?


‘Can I do my own SEO’? It’s a common question among people looking for affordable small business SEO. The idea is appealing because you can save a lot of money on hiring a professional service to do it for you. However, many small business owners don’t have the know-how or the time to do SEO themselves. Getting it wrong could result in being penalized or even having your website banned by search engines, so it’s important to get your small business SEO right.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about SEO for small businesses and how to decide whether to do it yourself and when to call in the professionals.

What is SEO for small businesses?

The first thing you need to understand is what SEO for small businesses actually is. SEO refers to any strategies used to improve a website’s ranking in the list of search engine results, making it more visible to potential customers. Good SEO helps to build your business, which is why you should prioritize it as a small business owner.

There are various types of SEO that you need to be aware of. Understanding the difference helps you to decide which types of strategies you should be considering and what to avoid. The main types of SEO are:

  • White hat SEO

This type of SEO is used by the best small business SEO companies. White hat SEO uses ethical and legitimate strategies to help boost you online visibility. These include content optimization, link building and HTML optimization.

  • Black hat SEO

Any business owner wanting to build their company long term should never use black hat SEO techniques or allow a company to use them on their behalf. However, you should know what black hat SEO is so you can avoid using any unethical techniques on your website. For example, keyword stuffing and links hidden on the page are black hat techniques. Using black hat SEO can be tempting because it tends to produce quick results. However, it can result in your site being penalized or even banned by search engines.

  • On-page SEO

This term refers to any method used to optimize your website pages to help them rank higher. This could involve clever use of keywords, improving site content and including internal links in your pages. These techniques also help to give your customers a great experience when they use your website.

  • Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO directs meaningful leads towards your business website by building your online presence away from the site. This could include posting links on other high-quality websites, advertising or social media campaigns. These are all great ways of helping potential customers find you, although the majority of your site hits will still come from search engine keyword searches.

As you can see, SEO isn’t simple, and it takes a lot of expertise to understand the different techniques involves and use them effectively. So, it’s important to decide whether you have the knowledge and time to create an SEO campaign that will succeed in growing your business.

Advantages of doing your own SEO

Doing your own SEO can be a good idea if you have the skills. There are several reasons that taking a DIY approach could be advantageous to your business. These include:


This is the number-one reason many business owners consider doing their own SEO instead of using a low-cost SEO firm for small businesses. It’s much cheaper to learn to do SEO yourself or train an employee. However, make sure that the person responsible has enough time in their schedule to devote to doing the job properly, as good SEO takes a lot of time.

Some aspects of SEO are quite easy to learn to do yourself. For example, creating quality blog posts can be done by a non-expert with a little education about SEO practices. Instead of paying a small business SEO company to do these aspects for you, you can save money to reinvest in your business.

Boosts your skills

If you choose to do your own SEO, it gives you the opportunity to add a valuable new skill to your arsenal. Business owners who understand about SEO know how to drive quality traffic to their site and how to build their business further. They also understand how to make their site easy and appealing for users to navigate.

You’re in the driving seat

Doing your own SEO allows you to have total control over your site’s content. This means that you can react quickly if you have an idea for new site or social media content without having to wait for your SEO service to produce it. It also means that you can make sure all the content on your site is in your brand’s unique voice, which is important for creating a cohesive message.

Disadvantages of doing your own SEO

While this may all sound great, it’s important to understand that there are some key drawbacks to attempting to do your own SEO if you’re not a professional. These include:

Time consuming

Good SEO has to be carried out consistently over a long time period if you want it to work well and grow your business. This means that you need to be constantly be producing great content for your users. Many small business owners post sporadically, without the regularity needed to build a strong following. However, it’s important to keep the quality high. Spamming your followers with lots of poor quality or irrelevant content won’t work either.

This means that you need to have a lot of spare time and the determination and discipline to maintain your site and social media day-in, day-out. If no one in your business can commit to this long-term, you may decide it’s best to outsource your SEO to a dedicated small business SEO firm.

Requires skill

Understanding how search engines such as Google work is very complex, and you’ll need to keep up to date with the frequent changes made to their systems. Most small business owners won’t have the expert knowledge to keep on top of search engine algorithms. This means that you could accidentally use SEO techniques known as ‘black hat’, landing you with a penalty or even getting yourself banned.

For instance, it’s important to use the right keywords in the correct quantity. You want your potential customers to be able to find your website following a keyword search, but you don’t want to be hit with a penalty because you stuffed too many in. It’s a delicate balance which SEO experts are highly familiar with.

Any small business owner planning on carrying out their own SEO campaigns needs to either have a background in Information Technology and web design or spend a significant amount of time educating themselves. It’s important to remember that even major brands sometimes get it wrong when it comes to SEO on their websites. If in doubt, it’s probably best to call in the professionals.

Should I hire a small business SEO company?

If you’re in any doubt about your ability to do your own SEO, it may be time to call in a low-cost SEO company for small businesses. Unfortunately, this means making a regular financial commitment as results won’t materialize overnight. However, an SEO campaign carried out by a professional company is more likely to be successful. This will help to build your business. Over time, hopefully your increased revenue will outweigh the amount you spend on SEO and you’ll actually be better off.

Using a professional company also frees up your time to attend to other aspects of your business. Unless you’re an SEO expert, your time may be better spent looking after the areas of your company in which you are an expert and providing great customer care.
There are various other key benefits of employing an SEO professional for your small business. These include:

Experience: As long as you choose a firm that’s been in the business for a while and has shown success with other businesses like yours, you’ll benefit from their experience. They know what to prioritize and what to avoid, saving you from making rookie errors.

Technology: Most small business owners don’t have tools at their disposal to gain meaningful insights into their business and customers. Professional SEO companies have a variety of tools and technologies available to them to help them plan a successful campaign and grow your business.

Up to date: Search engines and social media channels are constantly updating their algorithms and systems. It’s understandable that many small business owners find it hard to keep on top of these changes and what they mean for their business. Hiring professionals means you don’t have to worry about any of this- a good SEO company will have a secure grasp of any algorithm changes and how they affect their clients.

White hat SEO: Although it takes longer to see results, it’s absolutely vital that you only use white hat SEO techniques if you don’t want to damage your website. It’s alarmingly easy to accidentally use black hat techniques if you’re inexperienced, which can seriously damage your online visibility (although you may see results at first). SEO professionals know exactly what techniques will yield the best results without getting you penalized.

Problem solving: In a digital world, issues with your website can be a serious problem, for example if your customers can’t make purchases. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it could be a while before you’re back up and running. Using an expert company means that any problems will be solved swiftly before you lose revenue.

Are there drawbacks to outsourcing SEO?

Although there are many great benefits of using an expert SEO company, it’s important to understand that there are some unscrupulous companies out there. If their claims sound too good to be true, for example by claiming they can get you to the top of Google search results very quickly, you should steer clear. These claims may be false, or they may get speedy results by using black hat techniques that could damage your site in the long term. Always make sure that a company is committed to using white hat techniques only for their customers.

Before you choose a small business SEO company, it’s important to do your homework. Check out their social media and make sure that their followers are real. Also, read their reviews to make sure they have a history of providing great service to their customers. You should also arrange to meet with them to make sure you’re satisfied they are a genuine company. If you can’t attend their offices because you’re outsourcing overseas, video messaging is a good way to do this.

The bottom line

The truth is that it is possible to do your own SEO. However, it takes a lot of time and expertise to do it well and boost your company’s sales. If you make a mistake, it could prove to be costly in terms of your online revenue and damage your visibility to new business leads. If you’re in any doubt about your ability to do your own SEO, we recommend using a professional firm that specializes in small business SEO. These companies have the expertise to help you improve your site’s ranking using legitimate methods that won’t land you with a penalty.

If you decide to outsource your company’s SEO, Small Business SEO can help. We provide a range of affordable small business SEO services using only white hat methods to help you boost your online visibility and grow your business. Get in touch with a member of our team today to find out how we can work with you to help you meet your business goals.

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