There was a time when I’d start an article like this by explaining what SEO is, why it’s important, and why you need an SEO consultant. I firmly believe those days are past. It’s all but impossible to put a business online today without being bombarded by unsolicited messages telling you the dire need for SEO.
“72% of people click on the first three links on Google.” “80% don’t go past the first page.”
I think it’s fair to say that by this point, we all understand that optimising your business’ online presence to be found high on search results is important.
Instead today we’re faced with a different argument to make: deciding when do you need to bring in an SEO consultant.
Some businesses wait much too long and suffer for it. Others bring them in too early, and end up paying money they could’ve better spent elsewhere while growing their business.
That second part might seem like a strange thing to admit for an SEO consultant in Melbourne of all places. We have many small businesses — over half a million, in fact. 14% of Australian startups have their office in Victoria.
Shouldn’t I be trying to get my claws into as many of them as soon as possible?
No, and there’s the problem. The more businesses realise the importance of SEO, the more SEO consultants and “experts” start to appear. Many of these are trying to make as quick a buck as possible using tricks and dirty tactics. They don’t care who they sell to, as long as they sell. If that means preying on startups and small local businesses, so be it.
As a consultant, this frustrates me to no end. All it takes is a few unethical people to ruin a profession’s image on a large scale. It also hurts those businesses; by being victimised by unethical SEO practitioners, they distrust the position and are less inclined to seek help when they do need it. This further hurts their business’s ability to compete.
The 5 Signs It’s Time to Find an SEO Consultant in Melbourne
0. Your Business Is Big Enough to Need It
I’m cheating with the “zero”, but there’s a reason.
This is the most important first step, and one I really feel the need to stress early. If you don’t hit this mark, feel free to stop reading — or at least, consider the rest of the article future reference material.
Since 2016, the government has classified any business earning AUD$10million or less annually a “small” business for tax purposes. Before that, the turnover threshold was AUD$2million a year.
My first rule of thumb when weighing up whether a prospect needs SEO consultant services in Melbourne is to see if they’re earning around $1.5million or more annually. I’ve found this to be a reasonable determining point for where a business is large enough to afford a decent advertising budget, and needs to spend a decent advertising budget to stay competitive and grow.
For example, you’ve opened a local cafe with modest turnover. You’re earning a profit, it’s mostly you and a few other people keeping things running. Most of your customers come from word of mouth and seeing your street signage. You’re decently busy almost every day of the week.
You don’t need SEO consultant services. Continuing to spend money on street signage or the look of your shop would be a better investment for your business to keep attracting customers. If you need an extra boost, a few paid ads will quickly help do the job.
And cost you less money.
But say you’re a dentist with your own dental practice. You make around $2million or more a year. It’s a highly competitive industry. People often like to research online before deciding where to go. You have a decent advertising budget set aside, and you certainly need to separate yourself from the crowd.
You do need an SEO consultant in Melbourne particularly. You need to attract and retain patients. There’s lots of competition in and around the city — and your competition also has a budget.
So if you’re earning less than $1.5million, chances are you can spend your money on more effective means of building your business rather than on SEO consultant services.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the main points:
1. You Can’t Keep Up With SEO Changes
SEO is not a fixed thing. In fact the only fixed thing about SEO is that nothing is fixed (ironically). Search engines are constantly refining their algorithms to produce better results for their users. It’s at a point where tactics that were highly successful less than ten years ago can actually hurt your search engine results today.
These changes happen quickly and frequently. Google has gone on record saying they update their algorithm over 500 times a year. Most of these are small changes, but each year they’ll make several big adjustments.
The second Google rolls out one of these larger adjustments, you can see your page ranking slipping dramatically almost overnight. A major update in August 2018 sent many sites tumbling, particularly in the medical industry.
Without someone in charge of checking over your SEO and keeping on top of algorithm updates, it can be very easy to lose your place and struggle — if not fail — to regain it.
An SEO consultant can quickly identify the problems caused by the new algorithm and set to work fixing them. The sooner problems are fixed, the less damage will be caused to rankings — and the less expensive it will be. Trying to restore your rankings days or weeks after a crash has happened can turn into an expensive, time-consuming, up-hill battle.
2. You’re Doing Everything Right With Content, But Not Getting Results
“Content is king”, the SEO consultants chant.
And it is. Great content that people engage with and enjoy is hugely important to SEO. Arguably, it’s the most important thing.
But it’s not the only thing. A large part of SEO is actually technical, and a lot of this gets neglected by businesses.
Things like page load time and how available content is to search engine crawlers will affect your ranking. Whether your site’s code and semantic write up is up to par, or if the site’s architecture is appropriate — all of these highly technical details can make or break your site.
An SEO consultant will help you separate the content issues from the technical issues, and be able to advise you on how best to deal with them.
The consultant themselves might not be able to fix the problem, mind you; technical SEO requires technical skills resulting to programming and development, and sometimes design as well. Instead their role will be to audit the site, identify specific concerns, and produce a checklist you can follow for improving results.
When on-page SEO (content) and back-end SEO (technical) are aligned, that’s when the magic happens.
3. Everyone Knows How To Use Social Media. Not Everyone Knows How To Use It For Business
You’ve probably got a Facebook page or an Instagram page. Maybe a Twitter. Possibly Snapchat.
Even if you don’t, some or all of your staff definitely do. They might even have high numbers of followers and get lots of engagement (likes, shares, etc.) on their posts. This might then give them the impression they can totally run a successful social media page for the business.
At least, this is how the thinking for many Social Media management consultants go.
Social media and SEO are more linked today than many realise. It’s not just another ad platform, and it’s not just a way to drive traffic to the site. With a well-crafted Social Media strategy, it can be used to bolster your SEO, get content indexed, and have you show up on more Search Engine Result Pages.
The problem is, this kind of interlinked strategy requires quite a lot of time, effort and consistency. This can be made manageable with a social media marketing calendar as I’ve discussed before, but even making that can be a heck of a project.
Get an SEO consultant to help integrate your social media with your SEO for a powerful one-two-punch. An SEO consultant can help create a social media calendar that’s quick and easy for your existing staff to follow. This allows you to adhere to a consistent schedule without draining time and energy away from other important business tasks.
Content is either pre-made, or only requires minimum effort. Many of the posts can be scheduled in advanced, so weeks of content can be set up in a few hours on a single day. Your staff just make sure the posts are up when they need to be and let the strategy do the rest.
Revise, rinse, repeat.
4. You’re Doing Everything Right, But Struggling to Beat the Competition
You’ve got good content, you’ve got good technical SEO, your social media is doing well — and yet you can’t seem to get past your competition. Clearly they’re doing something you’re not, or at least, they’re doing something better than you are.
I see this a lot with cosmetic surgeons and dentists. There are so many in Melbourne, each vying for the top spot. With so much competition, simply ticking the boxes of SEO content and technique will only get you so far.
Obviously you need to find out what the difference is between you and them — but how much do you know about SEO, really? Would you even know where to start looking?
Enter the SEO consultant.
An SEO consultant knows what they’re looking for. They’ll analyse the competition’s SEO and compare it to your own. They’ll be able to work out what you’ve missed, or where their strengths are simply greater than yours.
Then, they’ll be able to come up with a strategy to address these gaps and give you suggestions for how to do even better. They’ll know the latest, effective SEO trends that you can use to give yourself an advantage that you might otherwise never be aware of.
5. You’ve Got Lots of Data, But Don’t Know How to Use It
Data is a major part of modern businesses. It’s really always been a part of business, but there is so much emphasis on it these days. Tools for tracking and analysing data about your business has become a huge industry in and of itself.
You might already be tracking data about your SEO strategies — how long are people looking at your pages? What’s the bounce rate? Where’s traffic come from? What are your SERP rankings? How do they compare to last year? — and that’s great.
But what are you doing with this data?
Is it working?
An SEO consultant can analyse and utilise your data more effectively than most, and give you greater, more accurate insight into what it’s telling you.
For example, you’ve received a drop in Google Rankings. Did you know there are at least six types of ranking drops, each with different causes and solutions? It might be easy to blame one thing for any drop — after all, I have scared you about algorithm changes as a bogeyman — but it’s more nuanced than that.
Sometimes a drop is an algorithm change. Sometimes your competitor just outranked you through a better strategy. Sometimes it’s just an arbitrary “Google flux” which might only last a day or so.
While you stress about why your ranking has dropped, your SEO consultant will calmly look at the data, find out the problem, and quickly set about fixing it for you.
If you’re a small business earning under $1.5million, you can probably spend your money better elsewhere than on an SEO consultant. Between paid ads, word of mouth, and basic SEO principles, you should be fine.
But if you’re hitting that $2million mark and can afford the ad budget, seek an SEO consultant. Whether it’s for longterm, hands-on support, or just to analyse your data and set you on the right track, an SEO consultant is a valuable asset to have.