Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
The Case For Niche SEO Specialists
Columnist Jayson DeMers argues that when it comes to SEO execution, hiring a team of experts (rather than a single, well-rounded SEO practitioner) can make all the difference.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is comprised of dozens of separate, interlocking, smaller strategies. Google’s search ranking algorithm has evolved to a point where it incorporates millions of data points from all over the web to calculate the rank of each indexed website.
In the search engine’s infancy, SEO was a relatively simple, straightforward matter, and a handful of structural changes could easily get you on page one. Today, you’ll have to carefully navigate multiple landscapes in a consistent, organized way if you want to get the most out of your search visibility.
For most entrepreneurs and marketers, this is too much to handle alone. The usual solutions involve hiring additional team members, outsourcing portions of the work, or simply partnering with an outside agency that can handle all these individual tasks.
However, one of the most efficient strategies is to seek out individual experts in niche fields — people who have developed an expertise in one, highly specific area of SEO rather than a decent level of expertise in all of them. Some agencies operate by collecting masters of individual niches into one consolidated location; so whether you seek such an agency or hope to recruit your own team of niche specialists, these specific experts are the most efficient route to go.
Following are the main reasons why a team of niche specialists can be preferable to a generalist.
The Time Factor
First up, there’s the time factor. Trying to handle every task and every tactic in a broader SEO strategy is going to be a nightmare, especially for an entrepreneur trying to do everything alone. Working with a dedicated SEO expert will save you some time, but working with niche specialists will save you even more time.
With a generalist, you’ll spend time training and getting up to speed on new topics, while specialists tend to be better informed in their individual areas of expertise. Generalists also have to shift gears throughout the day, performing the roles of an entire team of people. Specialists are able to accomplish more in shorter stretches of time — after all, they’re more familiar with their territory.
The Skill Factor
Generalists aren’t always sloppy, but the nature of SEO work favors specialists when it comes to the accuracy and efficiency of executing tasks.
Here are the main problems with generalists:
- Generalists typically haven’t spent as long cultivating their skills in any one particular area, so they’re less efficient and less precise when executing tasks.
- Generalists tend to read general SEO news and can easily fall behind their specialist counterparts when it comes to new strategies.
- Generalists have less experience and familiarity with finding the best possible strategy for a situation and diagnosing problems when they come up.
In most scenarios, the sheer skill level of specialists will lead to fewer mistakes and greater results.
The Money Factor
The money factor can be a hindrance to some; after all, if you hire a full team of individual specialists to do your work, you’ll spend more money than you would spend hiring one or two generalists. However, if you’re smart and careful with your budgeting, you can make a team of specialists far more affordable.
If you segment your work and only hire specialists for what you need them to do (i.e., hiring part-time or contract-based work only for areas where your generalist is weak), you can save money in the long term. Partnering with an agency that exclusively uses specialists will be far cheaper and more efficient than any other strategy (for most businesses).
The Organization Factor
There is a downside in working with specialists: If you aren’t digging into everything yourself as a generalist, you might not be as in tune with the daily events of each individual area.
The flip side to this, of course, is that you’ll be able to look at your campaign at a higher level. You’ll get the 10,000-foot view of your SEO strategy, abandoning the organization and execution of smaller-level tasks in exchange for a bigger perspective.
5 Types Of Specialists
If you’ve landed in favor of hiring specialists to handle your SEO strategy, there are several types of experts you’ll need:
- Content Writer. Content writers are good at writing material that engages people. They’ll learn your target audience, develop your brand voice, and consistently produce content that gets people to visit your site and convert, which will increase your brand reputation and domain authority.
- Technical SEO. The technical SEO practitioner might double as a developer or designer. They’re good at making sure your site is structurally sound, with updated code, fast loading times, mobile optimization, and proper schema.org markup.
- Link Builder. Link builders specialize in off-site optimization, but be careful who you choose here. Low-quality “specialists” might focus on quantity over quality, but you want the opposite. Seek candidates who know what quality really means and how to acquire inbound links in a safe, effective way.
- Social Media Expert. Social experts are masters at building a following and generating traffic. They’ll take your content, learn your brand, and get involved on a social level to bring more attention to your brand and site.
- Local Reputation Specialist. Local reputation building is an emerging niche, but it’s an increasingly important one. These specialists will build your local citation profile and ensure your business’s presence on third party apps like Yelp and Google My Business is consistent with best practices.
When you start using niche experts to execute your business’s SEO strategy, you should notice an almost immediate difference. You’ll worry less about your performance on individual tasks, and you’ll see a bigger picture perspective on how everything else ties together.
Stay involved by reading SEO news and optimizing your own efforts for search engines when possible, but for the most part, choose your experts wisely and they’ll be able to handle the rest on their own.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.