As any company experiences growth, there always comes that awkward time. Various responsibilities need to move from in-house to the hiring of outside experts. Though growth itself is a highly desirable outcome, it can be challenging to know when the time has come to let go of absolute control of anything. It’s no different when it comes to the subject of knowing when the time is right to hire a national SEO agency.
In days gone by, for example, your company might have gotten by admirably in-house. Perhaps you delegated the social media responsibilities to someone you did not hire for that specific purpose. As your niche market expanded, competition intensified. Before long, other companies that did not provide equal value to yours were capturing eyeballs and, ultimately, poaching customers.
Sure enough, it’s tough to let go of anything that started out as “your” baby. However, wisdom is to be found by watching for the signs that change is needed. As your market expands, a national SEO agency can help you navigate unfamiliar terrain.
While market pressures vary by industry and location, there are specific vital indicators that anyone can use as a template. More and more consumers are migrating their shopping habits to the laptop or smartphone. As a result, it’s critical that your company not miss out.
Use the following “Top Ten List” as a measuring rod for gathering more data and determining when the time is right to engage with a national SEO agency.
Top Ten Signs You May Need to Invest in a National SEO Agency
1. You don’t have a content marketing strategy.
If you don’t yet have a content marketing plan — or aren’t sure what that even means — don’t spend a lot of time beating yourself up over it.
Many, many thriving businesses were caught off-guard by the dizzying speed with which online marketing has developed. Today, any number of otherwise-successful entrepreneurs are still underestimating the value of a clear, cohesive content marketing plan that encapsulates every single customer touchpoint.
You’re an expert at what you do. However, that expertise may not extend to content marketing, and that too is OK. Keep doing what you do best.
The main takeaway here is to realize that almost every business, regardless of niche, needs a content marketing plan. In our increasingly online world, not having one is running the risk of being buried by your competitors as you expand. Working with a national SEO agency can help you uncover opportunities you might miss otherwise.
2. You’re not showing up in SERPs, not even at the local level.
Search engine results pages, or SERPs, are the de facto marketplace of the 21st century. Whether we like it or not, the simple fact is that an ever-increasing number of consumers are using their smartphones to scan for possibilities before they make a commitment of time, treasure, or talent. Businesses that ignore this reality or delay any sort of content marketing plan simply aren’t likely to thrive long-term.
For example, let’s say you operate a woodworking supply store in Peoria. Think of your city as the bullseye on a target. You might be doing OK if a potential customer in Western Australia doesn’t find your business. Still, you should be concerned if enthusiasts in central Illinois type in the search string “woodworking supplies” but miss your business altogether.
As your sphere of influence radiates outward, you’ll most likely need a national SEO agency. They can help you start showing up in online searches conducted in central Illinois, the entire Midwest, the continental U.S., and beyond.
3. Marketing costs have gotten out of hand.
The old adage went something like this: “Advertising doesn’t cost…it pays.” But maybe you’ve noticed that you’re not so sure that’s true anymore. You can look at your numbers at the end of every month and see clearly that you’ve been spending more and getting less in return.
If your ROI seems to be decreasing over time, it may be that your messages simply aren’t being seen. The simple fact is that audiences are skipping from one media outlet to the next with a flick of their thumb. This phenomenon can prove highly frustrating for companies trying to get their voice heard above the din. It’s especially true when expanding to the national level.
The good news is that this new openness in the media landscape is a lot less pricey than many traditional outlets. Your company might do better spending hundreds for an online placement than thousands for a billboard on the interstate. The key is to “spend wiser,” not spend more. A national SEO agency can help coach you as you shift your marketing budget around.
4. People who want to find you…can’t.
Panic is never a good thing, of course. However, suppose you are out to dinner with friends, and they struggle to find your website or social media channels even as you are sitting across the table from them. In that case, it’s probably time to drop back and seriously reconsider how things are going with your online marketing strategy.
Pay attention when prospective customers struggle to find you online or complete a transaction. Statistics such as website bounce rates or abandoned carts can help pinpoint exactly where you are losing someone. However, you should balance those statistics against anecdotal evidence you and your team gather day by day, week after week.
The temptation, of course, is to dismiss observations and complaints as “user error,” but this is unwise. More likely, it simply means your SEO needs tweaking…or maybe a complete overhaul. What has always worked well may fall flat as you expand into new markets. You may need to work with a national SEO agency as you strive to avoid these common pitfalls.
5. Your website analytics have plateaued…or nosedived.
If you’re interested in growing your business, you should take special note of overall website traffic trends. Reaching a plateau is only acceptable if you are hiking a mountain and need to take a breather. Similarly, a sharp decline in traffic is a serious indicator that something, somewhere, may have gone wrong.
Again, your primary expertise may not be reading website analytics. You want to focus on providing the best product or service at a competitive price. That’s what you should be doing. However, someone needs to be paying attention and drawing meaningful conclusions from your data. If that’s not you, then it might be time to outsource this vital task.
6. Social media efforts aren’t providing the bang you expected.
Perhaps the only reason you opened a social media account was to broadcast information about your business to the waiting world. The reality is that social media should be viewed as primarily a social endeavor. The vast majority of people don’t use social media as a substitute for reading ads. They use social media to interact.
Increasingly, companies are hiring social media specialists. These people are skilled at responding to user posts and elevating the reputation of their company as they do so.
However, many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are stuck. They’re in that space where they are too big to not have social media but too small to hire full-time staff to handle these messaging channels. Rather than act as a logjam, this situation could be a prime indicator that it’s time to bring in outside help. A national SEO agency fully understands this dynamic and can help you leverage it to your advantage.
7. Your online position does not match your level of expertise.
Have you ever listened to someone speaking directly to your niche and thought to yourself, “This person clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about?”
Of course you have. Who hasn’t?
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and pretty much every other platform have given anyone with an internet connection the ability to speak with impressive-sounding authority. The trick these days is to find one’s way through all the noise and static. It’s easy to miss voices that ring true with both authenticity and measurable results.
The savvy experts these days are focusing more on helping others solve problems than making sales. They’ve realized that garnering trust will, in relatively short order, translate into a healthier bottom line. Your company might be the best in its niche. However, if your voice is getting shouted down online by pretenders, you’ll need help. This is a strong indicator that it’s time to partner with a national SEO agency.
8. Your business struggles to form meaningful partnerships.
Trust-building takes place at both the micro level and the macro level. The micro level consists mainly of individual interactions. These include not only how customers interact with you or your employees but also what they say about you to friends and family.
It’s vital to understand that you simply cannot build long-lasting trust at the macro level if the micro-level foundation is unstable. When your business scores win after win at the individual level, you are far more likely to garner the attention of reputable business partners and investors.
Perhaps you enjoy a solid local reputation but find it tough to get investors and other strategic partners interested. This might be an indicator that “something not good” is happening online. A skilled national SEO agency will be quick to suss out why potential opportunities keep eluding your company.
9. Competitors are dragging down your online reputation.
For years, the successful restaurant chain Wendy’s has been doing a terrific job at using its social media accounts to take potshots at the competition. They’ve done this by using a successful mixture of good-natured humor, well-known facts, and their unique brand messaging to land bullseye after bullseye. The messages are amusing and fun to read, even if you don’t happen to like hamburgers.
And therein lies the key to a successful online marketing campaign. Boosting your SEO might be a matter of taking yourself less seriously…or it might not. There are literally thousands of variables that might come into play. Working with a national SEO agency can help you refine your message as you seek to broaden your appeal.
Because you are good at what you do, you shouldn’t feel obligated to become a Messaging Voice Expert. Lit up in an unguarded moment, you might even respond to online potshots in a manner that further degrades your online reputation or unintentionally validates the same critique you are seeking to answer. Frequently it’s tough to respond well, and this is why an outside agency might be able to provide critical distance and a higher-level perspective.
10. Your great local word-of-mouth is AWOL online.
This one is last for a reason. It’s the surest sign that you need a national SEO agency to help you translate your excellent local vibe into a broader online reality.
While an increasing number of people are slow to believe what they read online, that does not (yet) apply to everyone. A lot of damage can take place in a brief amount of time. If you’ve ever read a horrid review of a restaurant online only to have a close friend contradict it, you know exactly what this looks like. Online perceptions often don’t convey real-world reality.
Any reputable national SEO agency should be highly skilled at sniffing out unseen factors that might be affecting the quality of your online reputation. Agile, data-driven decision-making is the “secret sauce” that can help your business elevate both its reputation and its positioning on SERPs. Consumers these days have no shortage of options. However, a skilled national SEO agency can help you bring your product or service to the attention of the customers you are seeking.