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DIY SEO and PPC? Don’t do it!

Gemma Holloway

by Gemma Holloway on 19th November 2013

SEO PPC DIY‘At least give it a go!’ – A statement you probably heard during your first year of school and have continued to hear throughout life.  After all we learn best from trying and failing right? The idea of at least trying something has been drilled into us since the early ages by teachers, parents and other figures of authority.  But is this always the best way to approach things?

You may be considering trying to do your own SEO or PPC.  After reading a few blog posts this can seem easy and after all it’s cheaper than paying a professional right?

I’m here to strongly recommend you don’t do this.

Whilst small scale DIY projects and experiments to prove the concept and try new things can be beneficial (after all it’s how many of us learnt the craft) what really worries me are larger projects or when brands try to do their own SEO and PPC with a little knowledge or the wrong intentions.

Badly implemented SEO and PPC can not only mean that your website performs badly in the present, but it can also stop your website from ever performing well in the future and on top of that, could even end up costing you more.  And here’s why…

DIY SEO Problems

There’s a common misconception that SEO is easy.  A keyword here, a link there and hey presto you’re ranking number one on Google.  Wrong!  I’ve heard ‘well I read..’ so many times I’ve lost count.  Unfortunately, reading something doesn’t make you an expert in it, especially when there’s so much to read and know about SEO that a little information can give you a very skewed perception of the practice.

This is where the problem begins.  Website owners read a few blog posts, maybe a book or two and decide SEO looks easy so decide to save a few pennies and give it a go themselves.

There are two main algorithm updates which can cause this to go horribly wrong; Penguin and Panda. It is likely you are aware of these by now, but if not; Penguin targets websites with poor link profiles and Panda targets poor quality content and page architecture.

Being affected by either penalty can mean that your website either experiences some quite severe drops or worse still, drops out of the rankings all together. Time to go to a professional right?  But here’s the problem;

No Google penalty is easy to recover from (as Emma illustrates here).  That’s not to say it’s impossible, but there have been many cases where brands have never managed to recover. Hiring a professional will mean they can carefully monitor any movement in the search engine rankings so that any negative activity can be addressed proactively as opposed to trying to recover from a full blown penalty.

Problem #1: If you don’t know exactly what is beneficial and what is not, you may land yourself in a penalty you simply can’t recover from

On top of the issue of indefinite recovery, you must also consider the extra cash you are going to have to spend in an attempt to climb back up the rankings.  So let’s have a look at the individual penalties.

Firstly, Penguin.  Whilst you saved yourself a couple of months’ worth of SEO bills, you now not only need to pay for professional time to analyse your backlink profile, but also to remove the links and potentially put together a reconsideration request (or twelve!) on your behalf.  And that’s just what you have to pay in an attempt to get you out of the Penguin rut, let alone what you now need to pay on top of that in order to regain some decent search engine rankings.

Problem #2: You now require a larger amount of time at the beginning of your project which costs you more initial investment

By hiring a professional from the beginning of your SEO project, they carefully select what links are built to ensure only the most beneficial ones are secured.

Now let’s have a look at Panda.  Without a professional overseeing your website during the design stages there are a whole host of aspects which could lead you to being hit by Panda; thin content, duplicate content and many more.  Hiring a professional from the beginning means that the professional can ensure all the necessary on page SEO is satisfied at the beginning as well as offering advice to improve other indirect ranking factors such as on-site engagement.

If not hired until a major drop in traffic is detected, you may find yourself having to not only pay an SEO to analyse what exactly it is about your site that has caused you to be hit, but also having to pay a web developer to carry out more hours of work to correct the things that have caused the issue.

Problem #3: You not only have to pay an SEO for the analysis but also a web developer to redo their original work

Hiring a professional from the beginning puts you at much less risk of being hit by a penalty in the first place.  They work to secure you the high value links and put the necessary on-page infrastructure in place meaning you are less likely to see yourself go plummeting down the search results. This is not to say that it is impossible to be hit when a professional is managing your SEO, but it does make it far less likely due to their knowledge of what is best practice and their ability to spot the early signs of a decline.

The DIY PPC Problem

Ok, so that’s the main issues with not hiring a professional to do your SEO from the beginning, but what about PPC?  It’s no surprise that a poorly managed PPC account can end up wasting a lot of money – You show for irrelevant traffic, get poor quality visitors which don’t convert and so on.  That’s fine if you have the money to experiment right?  But what about when you don’t have the budget to fund it any more? You hire a professional, but what if it’s too late?

Problem: A low account quality score can stop your PPC campaigns performing as well as they should

A poorly performing PPC account means that the overall quality score of your account is going to be low.  Any work that is carried out from this point onwards is going to be affected by this poor quality score, whether it is optimisation on your existing campaigns carried out by your newly appointed PPC agent or a completely new campaign that they build.  This means your account will not perform as well as it could, meaning that not only have you spent more money than you needed to in the past, but you’re also less likely to make as much money as you potentially could due to the poor quality score holding back the progress of your account.

Ask An Expert

So there you have it – it is best to hire a professional from the beginning, not only to save yourself money but also because if your project fails, it may be too late to recover; whether this is for SEO or PPC.  So don’t take the risk by trying to give it a go yourself.

Maybe you have seen a case where this has happened?  Or even perhaps the opposite? Have you done your own SEO/PPC and it’s worked?  Let me know in the comments.

Image Sources

Ask an expert chalk illustration via BigStock
Laptop via BigStock

Gemma Holloway

Gemma Holloway

Gemma has amassed a broad range of marketing experience having worked in competitive sectors including leisure, computing and shipment. With a degree in Marketing with Psychology, she has enthusiasm for Digital Marketing and a strong understanding of user behaviour.

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  • Sarah 19th November 2013

    Or you get a recommendation for a ‘name’ SEO who promises you everything but ultimately does absolutely nothing whatsoever for you – this is my experience!

    Never again, I’ll do it myself – if I fail then I fail, better than spending a fortune for somebody who did zero for me, and was more interested in Twitter and writing for seo websites to further his or her name!

    Reply to this comment

  • Sam Mazaheri 20th November 2013

    Hey Gemma, I have to disagree with your point on PPC account quality scores.

    Every new account will be at a disadvantage with quality score because it has no history. That’s true even if a professional or agency creates your account. But if you start your bids high enough and write relevant ads, you’ll boost your quality score very quickly.


    Reply to this comment

    • Gemma Holloway

      Gemma Holloway 20th November 2013

      Hi Sam,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I completely agree with the fact that all accounts start with a low quality score for this reason but my point was that if not done correctly in the beginning, badly implemented work can hinder this quality score further – Making it even harder to recover from.

      For example, let’s say a new PPC account starts with a quality score 4. If a professional works on the account from launch it is likely they will be able to increase this quality score quite quickly.

      Whereas, if someone that doesn’t understand PPC works on the account first (i.e broad match keywords, no negatives, irrelevant keywords etc), their CTR is going to be low, say 0.34%. This is likely to drop the quality score to lower than three, say 1. Then when going to a professional, the professional has to start the new campaign at a lower starting quality score which means it is less likely to perform well.

      Hope this helps clarify where I am coming from.

      Reply to this comment

  • Sarah 20th November 2013

    Love the fact you’ve not approved my comment, it wasn’t aimed at you guys btw if that is what you are worried about!

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 20th November 2013

      Hi Sarah, sorry for the delay in making your comment live, that’s my fault. Rather ironically given your comment I hadn’t had chance to make it live as I was swamped with client work ;)

      Reply to this comment

  • Kirsten Meyer 21st February 2014

    Enjoyed your post. Made me think, yesterday my client’s exact words regarding wasting $1500 on Adwords in a month was, “I figured, let’s just get something up, throw some spaghetti at the wall, and see what sticks.” LOL. Quality Score of 1, needless to say. I’ve now moved on to looking at his site’s SEO, (poor performance in SERP led to “the spaghetti incident”) and find he’s painstakingly plugged the identical list of 10 KW terms into about 85% of the site’s hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of page meta tags and meta descriptions. Yikes.

    Reply to this comment

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