This is a guest post by Tim Brown
As an eCommerce business owner SEO is vital to bringing in the type of traffic that converts into paying customers. The reason for this is because people tend to search for products when they are interested, they don’t just meander around social networks or the web trying to find a solution.
Google is the go-to place and ranking at the top of the results for searches that are directly related to the products that you have for sale. For example; if you are selling leather apparel then you might want to rank for a term like ‘leather duffel bags for men’ because those searchers are ready to buy and know the type of products they already want.
Why Should You Bring Your SEO In-House?
Deciding whether you should bring e-commerce SEO in-house or continue to outsource is tough, and it hugely depends on what you’re aiming to do and how much you can afford to pay. The primary benefit of outsourcing your SEO is that you can jump in and out of the monthly cost without any dependency.
As an eCommerce business, this can be fantastic, especially if you’re having a lean month and need to pay for the stock or other commitments. Similarly, when you begin to transition to in-house SEO, you must invest upfront to hire the right people, create documentation and prepare for the future.
Assessing Your Goals
The first step before you can begin to take any serious action is to establish what your goals are. This step is vital because without knowing what you are aiming to achieve you can’t know what resources you will need and that makes it impossible to budget to bring e-commerce SEO in-house
If you’ve been previously outsourcing your SEO efforts then you probably already have a good idea of what your monthly goals are, but if you have done no SEO before this could take longer. To establish your aims, you should look at where you want to be one year from now realistically and then work back to identify what you must do monthly to achieve that.
This method works for all goals, and it’s a great way to ensure that you don’t underestimate the monthly work that must be done to accumulate in success at the end of the annum.
Hiring the Right People
Now that you know exactly where you want to be next year, i.e., how many visitors you want from organic traffic, which posts they will visit, you can start hiring employees. Breaking down the work that must be done to achieve your goals will give you a good idea of how many employees you need, but you might not honestly figure that out until you start working.
However, one tactic that can help tremendously is to hire your most senior member of staff first. If you know that you will need multiple SEO team members then hiring the most senior first allows that person to help you with future hiring decisions. Doing it this way can save you money on failed hired and will ensure you get the right amount of staff.
Not only that, but many SEO’s will have others that they prefer to work with and this can allow you almost to hire an in-house team by friendship.
Thirdly, you must work with your new employees to establish documentation that you can use in the coming months. These documents should include explanations of the tactics that will be used as well as the exact processes that are done to achieve results.
These documents are useful for your staff to follow, making their job more comfortable, but they are most important for transitioning new members into the team should somebody quit. The last thing that you want as an eCommerce business is to have your SEO reliant on a single member of staff who could leave at any moment.
Transitioning from Outsourcing
The next step is only going to apply to those eCommerce businesses that were outsourcing their SEO before, but very few people would consider bringing e-commerce SEO in house before at least trying to outsource it.
The difficulty is that you must make the transition from outsourcing to working with your team. This step includes breaking away from your agency, paying any final bills to them and ensuring that you have as much data and information about what they did as possible.
This information is going to give you more data to make decisions about what your team should be doing. By learning from your past, you can save money by avoiding mistakes and ensuring that you are as efficient as possible.
Measurement and Reporting
Finally, you should take some time to set up your measurement and reporting systems and protocols so that you can track what you are doing and the results you are getting. Without measuring and reporting it’s difficult to know which of your efforts are producing a positive ROI and which are a complete waste of money.
For an eCommerce company, you should at least be tracking the rankings for your top fifty products, your most popular blog pages and important category pages. By monitoring these rankings for vital keywords, you can estimate traffic for the coming weeks and also measure how effective your link building and on-page SEO efforts have been.
As a business owner, you will also want to have transparency as to what your new team is doing and how this work is going to affect your bottom line. The only way to get this transparency at scale is from automated reports that can be exported from your analytics and measurement software.
Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency- Minneapolis Web Design , and is a web designer and SEO Specialist out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tweet him at @hookagency