Should You Hire a Pro for SEO?
By Mike Evangelist
Search engine optimization is tremendously important for Code 42 Software because most of our communications and sales take place through our website. For us to stand out in a crowded field and draw people to our product, we have to have an effective SEO strategy and work it pretty hard. But when I joined the company about four months ago, there was no SEO strategy, so that was the first thing on my agenda.
Creating an SEO Strategy
On my first day at the company, I sat down in front of Google and Bing and began searching terms that related to our products, such as “online backup.” Unless I was specifically searching “CrashPlan,” which is the name of our product, we were very hard to find. On some terms, we would come up around page 11; on others, not at all.
It didn’t make sense. Looking at our website, we had good content, a good domain name and many of the elements that I know search engines look for. And we’re a successful company with hundreds of thousands of customers. I knew we needed help, so I began putting out feelers and looking for an SEO firm to help us. We eventually settled on one, and it has been an eye-opening process ever since.
One of the problems had to do with the way our service is structured. As an online backup firm, we have servers in many data centers around the world. Since our service is partly hosted on our domain, we had six different servers hosting CrashPlan.com, and they would show up in a browser’s address bar as d2.CrashPlan.com, d3.CrashPlan.com, and so on.
That was a decision made long ago, and it makes the product run very well, but from a search ranking point of view, it was terrible. It made Google think that we were running six different websites with exactly the same content, which is a very bad thing, and that each of these sites didn’t get that much traffic. So when our SEO firm did its initial audit, that issue came out at the top of the list of things to fix. They told us it would be impossible to significantly improve our ranking until we changed this. And it took a great deal of effort, but we did fix it, and we’re already seeing the results. Just in the last three weeks, we’ve seen some very exciting movement. There are now a handful of key search terms where we’re on the third page, and a couple where we are finally on the first page.
If Nothing Else, Try an SEO Audit
We opted to have the SEO consultants help us on an ongoing basis, and it costs about $4,000 to $5,000 a month. But for a smaller firm that can’t afford that, I would still recommend having a SEO firm do an initial audit, which might cost $5,000 to $10,000. It’s worth it, though: For a relatively small investment now, you can reap very high rewards in the long run.
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