Should You Hire a Keyword Research Service?
We’re willing to bet we know what you think of that headline. If you’re like many marketers and know even the smallest bit about Woodruff, you’re having one of the following reactions:
“Seriously? Of course you’re going to tell me to outsource keyword research. Woodruff provides digital marketing, SEO (search engine optimization) and content marketing services. Of course the answer is yes.”
“I don’t need an agency to do keyword research. There are plenty of how-to guides and free tools available online. I can either do it myself, have someone in the marketing department do it or hire a freelance SEO consultant.”
“My website is already optimized for search. Why do I need keyword research now? And why should I hire someone other than my web developer to do it?”
LET’S GET TO THE POINT. SHOULD YOU OUTSOURCE KEYWORD RESEARCH?
Yes — but that’s a qualified yes. Woodruffians involved in SEO, content and digital marketing believe marketers should work with an agency that has digital marketing and SEO specialists who know the ins and outs of keyword research — unless (here’s that qualifier) a company can hire a full-time in-house or contract SEO specialist (or more, depending on the size of your company). Our rationale isn’t simply because Woodruff offers those services — although we do and we’re always interested in working with forward-thinking people and companies.
More importantly, our reasons for outsourcing keyword research — and all SEO activities to one agency, for that matter — has everything to do with the nature of keyword research and SEO. You see, we believe thorough keyword research and analysis are fundamental to a strong, well-executed SEO program. We also believe that SEO and keyword research are not “one-and-done” search marketing strategies. SEO isn’t “finished” — it’s always changing. Keywords need to be reevaluated and fine-tuned based on how they perform, when changes in their popularity occur and when new keywords appear. We’re talking about time-consuming processes that need to be done properly if you want to see a positive return on investment and business growth.
WHY HIRE A FULL-SERVICE DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY FOR KEYWORD RESEARCH?
An agency can help you find the right keywords for your company, brand and products, and can help maximize their value by optimizing your website for the chosen keywords. Digital marketing and/or SEO firms are typically staffed with a team of experts with different specialties that can be focused on your search marketing needs. They also invest in and develop the expertise needed to use specific digital marketing tools that might be too pricey for a single consultant. And an agency can work alongside your in-house marketing team to ensure marketing activities are integrated.
If you’re now convinced that your company needs an agency for keyword research and SEO, you can stop reading here. But if you or other members of the C-suite need more reasons for outsourcing these activities, consider these three reasons for hiring an agency.
- KEYWORD RESEARCH IS FUNDAMENTAL TO STRONG SEO EFFORTS
Targeting the right keywords and keyword phrases is at the heart of effective SEO programs, so skimping on keyword research should never be an option. Why? Keywords are the connection between a searcher’s query and your website. With more than 80 percent of shoppers conducting research online before making a purchase decision, being seen in SERPs (search engine results pages) is vital to your company’s online presence. If you want to be found online, if you want more traffic to your website, you need to know which keywords will attract the right visitors and prospective customers. Keyword research that’s rushed results in poor-quality keywords and keyword phrases.
- SEO AND KEYWORD RESEARCH ARE LONG-TERM STRATEGIES
SEO done right takes time to produce meaningful results — that is, results that increase relevant traffic and leads. These key performance indicators (KPIs) are driven by the right combination of keywords that increase your visibility to your best prospects. These keywords are best selected based on search volume, keyword competitiveness, your website’s current performance for the keyword and the user intent implied in the word or phrase.
As campaign information is collected, a digital marketing/SEO agency will use it to improve short- and long-term search marketing efforts. Strong- and poor-performing keywords will be identified and their emphasis adjusted. In addition, as website traffic is evaluated, page content and offers can be adjusted to improve lead generation.
- YOU AND YOUR MARKETING TEAM HAVE LOTS OF OTHER DEMANDS ON YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION
From keyword research to content creation to link building, SEO requires time. Some aspects, such as link building, can take months. And to top it all off, search engine algorithms are complicated and constantly changing.
Consider this: in 2018, Google reported it made 3,234 updates to search. That’s an average of nearly 9 updates every. single. day. Most of the algorithm changes are minor. But as we all know, Google also likes to occasionally roll out major algorithm updates (e.g., Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon) that significantly affect search results. SEO specialists must stay on top of these updates and their impact on website rankings and organic traffic, and then determine what, if any, actions are needed. Do you really want to add more tasks to your to-do list?
SELECT AN SEO SPECIALIST OR AGENCY WITH CARE
When retaining the services of an SEO consultant or agency, be sure to properly vet your prospective candidates to avoid the costs of a poorly executed initiative. The cost of choosing the wrong consultant or firm is more than you think. First, a failed SEO campaign leaves you with little to nothing to show for your marketing dollars. Second, your new SEO initiative will cost more than it otherwise would have since the new agency will have to spend time undoing previous mistakes.
We’ve prepared a list of questions that we think you should ask prospective digital marketing partners. You can probably think of a few more that are specific to your company’s needs.
GO BIG OR GO… NAH, JUST DO IT RIGHT
Keyword research, especially the intent behind that keyword, is critical to your website’s potential SERP ranking and ability to drive organic traffic. Some SEO experts suggest it’s more important today than ever before, so you need to be extra careful with how you interpret and choose keywords. Agencies with SEO and digital marketing specialists can help you make the most of your company’s online presence — not to mention keeping your website from being penalized by Google.
You shouldn’t settle for “just okay” or “good enough” keyword research. If you’d like to learn more about Woodruff’s SEO, keyword research and digital marketing services, give us a call or drop us a note. We’d be happy to help.