July 4th, 2007 - by Golgotha

If you spend time at some of the SEO forums on the web it is quite common to have people stop in and inquire about hiring someone to help their website achieve better rankings in the search engines. What’s fascinating is one of the popular answers is to not hire anybody – that if you want to achieve better results you should just do it yourself. I’ve always found this answer to be a bit surprising.

This will be a two part series. This first article will look at whether or not you should do your own SEO. In a follow-up article we will then look at what you will have to learn should you decide to do it yourself.


If someone at work were to ask you where the closest Grease Monkey shop was so that they could get their car tuned-up would you tell them to read up on how to change their own oil and to do it themself? If someone were to ask you if you know of a good plumber would you tell them to talk to someone at Home Depot and then do it themself? How about if someone needed a good physical therapist to aid them in recovery, would your response be, “just do it yourself?” Or if someone were to ask you if you knew of a good place to get barbecue ribs would you hand them a recipe and tell them to just make it themself? Probably not. So then why tell someone to take on all the design and marketing responsibilities of their website themselves?

I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking but they CAN do their own SEO. I don’t disagree. People can do just about anything they set their mind to; so I have no doubt they could do it themselves. But, the reality is that we pay for things all the time that we could do ourselves. In fact just recently I paid a good bit on money to have someone build a flagstone patio in my backyard. I could have done the job myself, the skills required to do the job aren’t great, but for me to do the job would actually cost me more money because my time is more valuable than that. In addition, the guys I hired are professionals; there’s no doubt they did a better job than I could have done. I also pay people to change the oil in my car and I even pay people to make and deliver pizzas to me. I pay for all sorts of things I could do myself, and so do you.

So just because they CAN do it themselves doesn’t mean they should. Before you tell someone to do their own SEO have them answer the four questions below.

Answer these four questions before you decide to do your own SEO:

1. Do I really have time to take on the development and promotion of a website?
Most CEO’s or entrepreneurs don’t have time to do optimization and marketing; they’re too busy running a business. They’re forecasting trends, cornering markets, and managing relationships — to suggest they should stop that to spend time on their website could actually cost them more money than if they hired someone.

2. How much is my time worth?
This is a question you should always ask yourself before starting any project. Remember, time spent doing one job is time away from doing another. Again, this could mean you are actually losing money by doing the job yourself.

3. How strong are my web development skills?
Really be honest, most CEOs I know are business people, not techies.

4. How good are your marketing skills?
Maybe you do have the development skills – what about the marketing skills? Marketing and promoting actually takes much more time than developing does. MUCH MORE! And it should never end!

After answering these questions you should be better equipped to decide if you are the right person for the job or if someone else is. There’s little doubt that some people could and probably even should do their own SEO – after all some of you like to change your own oil and some of you even like to make your own pizzas. But, often times you will be better off hiring a professional.


23 Responses to “Do It Yourself SEO?”

1 John

I’m with you on point 4 and maybe another point to add is how good are your statistical analytics skills? It’s one thing to know how to go about gathering meaningful data about how people interact with your site; it’s another altogether to interpret that data and react to it to make successful changes to a site.

2 Meble Biurowe

They say “you can do it yourself” becouse its better to sell information how to do it then spend their time optimizing someone else’s website. The key is first answear – the time and this means experience.

3 acute accent

SEO is getting too sophisticated to DIY, unless of course you don’t have any money and plenty of time. But if you do have time, then create original and interesting content. It will attrack more visitor than trying to rank better in search engines.

4 GnoZtiK

You just have to say that seo is a full time real job. Nevertheless, it depends on what is your target. Seo can be (in fact, is often) very, very expensive (time or money). So you must adapt your effort.

5 Antilogic

Hey guys,nice article. Point 3 is very valid. I have seen many people try and fail,if you are not “internet educated” and up to the challenge. Find someone with a good track record…

6 Golgotha

@acute accent: good point – not only is there design and development of the website and of course marketing, but there’s also copywriting. I will talk about this more in part 2.

@GnoZtik: it’s a labour of love and depending on your site, could very well be a full-time job.

@Angilogic: yep, that’s the point – and once you are “internet educated” as you say, it still takes time…

7 Gideon

Great article. I talk to many people who have SEOd their site and when you look at the site; all they’ve done is wasted a bunch of their time. Now, I have the answer – thank you.

8 Mark

I read an excellent article that did research into companies having internal/external SEOers. They found companies that took on SEO inhouse had much lower efficiency because of time-splitting and non-expert staff.

9 Golgotha

@Mark: give us a link to the article!

Most people are already juggling enough things at their jobs. They don’t need any more things to add to their juggling act.

10 SEO Ranter

Point 2’s a good one, but always hard to estimate in the early days!

11 Internship SEO

The way i look at it is:
An avereage person has got plenty of software skills to pick up the basics

An anverage company has a CMS (content management system).

So putting some time into learning the basic SEO is realistic.

Paid SEO is just a temporary solution.

[…] 10, 2007Do you need SEO (Do It Yourself or Otherwise)? Great post over at Search This on the myths surrounding Do It Yourself Search Engine […]

13 EZ Marketing Tool

The point is, you have a limited amount of time.

Money is a renewable resource… but once you’ve spent your time, there’s no way to get it back.

Even in the “early days” of building your business, investing your limited time and other resources into the most profitable use is the difference between business life and business death.

IMHO: If you want to make SEO your career, invest your time/energy/resources into learning what it takes to make that happen. If you want to build any other kind of business, hire others who already know what you need to know and let them do their job so you can focus on what you do best.

14 Golgotha

@EZ Marketing Tool: well said…

15 Do It Yourself SEO? Part 2

[…] is part 2 in the “Do It Yourself SEO” series. In part 1 we tackled the issue of whether you should do your own SEO or hire it out. In doing so we looked at […]

16 David

I think too much is made of SEO. It is expensive and most can be done by amateurs if they use well known common practices: content, inbound links, relevant title tags on inbound links, etc.

17 mark

thank you so much your adive has helped me greatly thank you again

18 raketa


19 Photoshop Tutorials

SEO is good, but you also need to use a number of other techniques. SEO alone wil not cut it.

20 Jess

Yes, doing it yourself takes time and a good understanding of the project at hand. If you have a 20+ page manual in front of you, then I would hire a professional (saves time). On the other hand if you have a 5 page (or less) manual in front of you, do it yourself.

We just need to keep things simple and anyone can do it. Here is an article I found that explains SEO in a simple mannor:

21 Adam

I think the “I can just do this myself” is a hang-over from the days when SEO was much less competitive. We find most of our SEO sales come from people who have actually tried it and get stuck on page 25 and realize: “Wow – There is something to this.” Yes, you can do it yourself. But just you like you mention with the patio, it won’t look as good (i.e., work as well)… People who do something day-in and day-out are just better at it.. Common sense.

I don’t think it will be long before this realization sinks in and the idea that every Fortune 100 company will have expert SEO teams (in house or outsourced) will be well accepted. It already is in many places.

22 Singapore web development

Hey there, thanks for info. Really helpd me ! Farewell, Adam

23 Smykker Online

Thank you for this article, SEO is hard work, but it´s also very rewarding. 🙂

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