If you plan on doing your own search engine optimization or plan on hiring a professional it is important to know a few key details. With any internet marketing campaign getting to know the basics will go a long way to realizing a return on investment. In my opinion, a smart move may be to focus on on-site SEO first before spending a lot of money or time on any other advertising. Once that has been accomplished and enough time has been given for any changes to have an impact it will be easier to gauge any future off-site efforts.
It doesn't matter how long you have owned a website or how much content you have your first task is on-site optimization. This will involve making sure your website and all pages, titles, tags, and content are focused on the correct keywords. Keyword research is vital. Allow me to repeat myself. Keyword research is vital. You could improve the traffic to your website but it could be the wrong kind of traffic. If your website is about brake shoes but you have customers visiting your website looking for running shoes you have wasted your time. If it is done right the first time it is not something you will have to worry about again. You may have to tweak your keywords or content based on changes to your business model but for the most part you are finished.
Off-site SEO is all the things you do that is not directly related to changes on your website. This would include writing articles, social media, back links, or any other outside efforts. Anything you do to improve how your website appears when a potential customer does a search for the products or service you offer on your website but doesn't change any content. Off-site efforts are an ongoing pursuit. The major search engines often change their algorithm so where you rank today may not be where you rank tomorrow. This is most likely when you will feel the need to call a professional. The changes to your content and the research that needs to be done may be something you can do with a little help. Keeping up with the changing landscape of internet marketing is a full-time job in and of itself. The average business owner can be hard pressed to find the time to keep up with that kind of campaign.
The time it takes to better familiarize yourself with the concepts above will be time well spent. It is tough owning a small business when you have to be the expert in all facets but educating yourself will help in the long run when it comes to deciding when and if to hire someone to handle search engine optimization for your business.