Well that's my question. When CAN they do it better than me? ;) More generally, how does someone know when it's appropriate to hire and when it is more time and cost effective to study up on one's own?
My initial thought would be - let the numbers do the talking.
You have one of the most active PC Forums around, if this has all been done by yourself - I see no reason for you to hire an outside affiliate. I would base outside hiring more towards
A. Someone who has been live for 6 months to a year with no traffic
B. Someone who feels like they have the extra money to throw around and promote.
I actually don't have plans of hiring any SEOs for myself. Some of my best friends are SEOs, and I've received quite a good number of SEO-related job offers myself. I'm just tired of reading webmaster forum after webmaster forum where the #1 question in an SEO forum is "Do I hire someone or try to do it myself?" So I thought maybe we could get into a good discussion to clarify, or at least help clarify, the matter, for everyone out there who is contemplating the decision.
And just for the record, DaniWeb was alive for nearly a year before we had any sort of decent amount of traffic at all :)
I've considered it myself. Though, we have only been up a month so far so I am not too worried about the lack of traffic. We had some issues with the sitemapping, I am hoping that is squared away and makes a difference. Being a Sys Admin - I get alot of calls from SEO's wanting to push our works website, so I considered talking to them about helping mine out.
I am in it just for the learning experience and the fun - webpage development was cake, so I thought a Website would be, definitely hit alot of walls, but enjoyed every minute of it so far :)
Sounds awesome, good luck, Demented :) Remember ... the secret to search engine optimization is to pretend the search engines don't exist. Code your site cleanly and efficiently and the rest will just fall into place. The search engine spiders are designed to work optimally when a site is coded for the readers and not the robots.
I get approached for SEO jobs once in a while, I usually just give a few pointers, send them to a couple of forums and Usenet groups and let them go at it on their own. If they come back within a month, I check their work and make a suggestion or two then tell them to be patient and wait out the baby steps. Away they go. I check up on them after a couple of months. I give them an additional courtesy email and telephone call a few months later. That is generally enough to get them going in the right direction and they are feeling pretty good about themselves.
That's the ethical way of going about it. We know that their are no instant cures in SEO. If they are looking for the quick fix, well, there's tons of services available that offer just that. I wouldn't feel good about myself to just take whatever money is dangled in front of my nose. Perhaps I am blessed that way to be in a position to be very picky about what and how I touch things.
Then there are the rare cases, when a web site owner understand the degree of expertise and time required to successfully attain top positions in a competitive keyphrase arena because they have been trying for a significant period of time. They have tried to do this themselves and they have wasted much money on the quick fixers and the self-promoters. Additionally, they have acquired a sufficient amount of penalties. Even they are aware of their bad choices of the past. These people need an SEO specialist because otherwise, they are out for the count. To be out of the top SERPs can equate to being out of business.
Most web sites however, don't require an outside SEO at all. The web site owners simply needs to develop a little bit of confidence in himself and get some education, which are both available for free.
I don't think so :) There are no hidden secrets or tricks. Anyone can read up about it and with a good amount of time, SEO yourself. It's really a matter of the price you put on your time and whether it's worth it to make the time investment learning and doing. Essentially, SEO is an ongoing effort, so it's not something you can just spend a weekend reading up on, applying the techniques you learned, and then forget about. You really do need to do at least a constant bit of reading to keep up with the latest trends as well as a lot of time applying the techniques you learn. To reiterate, it's a time factor above all else.
Hiring an SEO to evaluate your site is a good idea. Someone to check your links, content and structure. But that's it. Don't hire an SEO with the expectations of getting great SERP's for organic ranking. No one can do that with any degree of certainty. This is because search engines re-arrange the playing field.
Build your site for your users or visitors - not search engines and it will stand the test of time as search engines strive to build an algo based on a more pure Semantic Search
Yeah, a lot of times I'll outsource things that I am perfectly capable of doing myself just because of the time factor. Either they're too time consuming or way too tedious to spend my time doing them, to the point where it becmes cheaper in the long run to outsource, because then I can spend my time focusing on more important work. Sorry for the run on sentence!
Like you all have said there are no great secrets in SEO. Most companies want to make you think there are so they can profit form it. Mind me, I do not think it is a bad thing to profit from SEO. I have done a good number of SEO work myself but all my clients were all aware of what I could and could no achieve. It is a matter of deciding if you have the time and desire to do it yourself or you would rather pay someone to do the boring work for you ;)