DIY SEO Breakdown: Pros and Cons of Do-It-Yourself Contractor SEO
You can jump on YouTube and watch a million videos teaching you how to use SEO, so is paying someone to do it for you a smart move or are you better off learning to manage your own SEO?
If you care about growing your business, not growing your contractor SEO knowledge, hiring an SEO agency delivers higher rankings, more leads, and more customers. But if you want to learn about SEO and invest your free time in upskilling, doing your own SEO is possible (we’ll even show you how) though your results won’t match what an agency can deliver.
To help you get off the fence, here are the pros and cons explained.
We’re living in the age of DIY.
You can build your own garden shed. You can sand and finish your floors. You can rip up your entire lawn and relay synthetic turf.
And when it comes to your tradie SEO, you can do that too.
But does that mean you *should* DIY SEO?
We’re a contractor SEO agency, so you’d call us out if we said “no, don’t ever DIY your SEO”. For a start that would be a lie. It’s 100% possible to apply SEO strategies to your own trade, contractor or home improvement website.
We’re also big fans of educating trade business owners, not lecturing them, so if you want to learn about SEO and you have spare time then there are plenty of resources online to teach you how (like this one)
Keep in mind, every decision you make within your trade business comes with an Opportunity Cost. Doing your own SEO is within your control, but always take stock of what you’ll be giving up in return.
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“Can I do contractor SEO on my own?”
Yes, but there’s more to your question than a one-word answer.
You can do SEO on your own, but you’ll need to consider the Opportunity Cost – which is what you lose when you make a decision.
For example, If you want to take a day off work to duck to the hardware store and top up on materials and tools, you’ll lose the revenue from a day’s work.
In the long run, the extra tools and materials you picked up could help you make MORE money, but in the short term, you’ll be down a day’s wages.
If you’re going to do your own home improvement SEO, you’ll save money in the short term but the Opportunity Cost will be the revenue you miss out on if your SEO efforts fall short of what an agency could have done.
It’s up to you to weigh up what’s more important to you – saving money today or earning money tomorrow.
Keeping a few hundred dollars in your pocket each month feels great, but the Opportunity Cost isn’t the 5, 10, or 20 hours a month you’ll need to spend managing your contractor SEO. It’s the money left on the table in clients you miss out on if your DIY SEO doesn’t get the results you wanted.
There’s no right or wrong approach here, but it does help to look at the bigger picture.
Every decision you make within your business has consequences, and you’ll need to weigh up whether you want to spend your free time handling your SEO, or if it’s more valuable to you to pay an expert and increase your chances of making more money down the line.
The pros of DIY SEO as a contractor
SEO is complex at the best of times, but you can dilute the pros and cons down to a few simple results. Each pro comes with its own contrasting con – remember, there’s always an Opportunity Cost.
In short, you can save money but you’ll pay in time. And you can be in total control, but you’ll carry the risk of failure.
Check out the full pros and cons below and see whether DIY SEO is right for you.
DIY SEO PRO – You’ll Save Money
Not every trade, contractor or home improvement business has the deep pockets of a Bunnings or a national chain.
If you’re working to a budget you can save money by doing your own SEO. You won’t need to pay anyone to do it for you, which can keep money in your pocket that goes into other areas of your business.
Even better, the internet is packed FULL of DIY SEO articles so it’s not like you’ll be working in the dark. Google ‘How to do my own SEO’ and you’ll have plenty of free guides full of tips and tricks.
If you do go down this route make sure you choose guides and articles from 2020 onwards. SEO changes quickly and the strategies that were being used last year or the year before can end up hurting your rankings instead.
WHY THIS IS A PRO: SEO agencies charge anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for their services. By doing your own SEO you keep this money. That gives you more money to spend on your business in other ways which is never a bad thing.
DIY SEO PRO – You’re in Total Control
Not every trade business owner likes to relinquish control of their site. If you’re the type who’d rather have a crack at painting your entire house because you want to get the shade of colour juuuuuust right, then doing your own SEO might suit you.
As an extra bonus, being the only person who calls the shots will help you upskill as you go along. The basics of SEO can scare off a lot of contractor, trade and home improvement business owners at first, but once you’ve overcome that first hump it’s easy to pick up new skills faster.
With a 360 degree view of how SEO can help your contractor, trade or home improvement business, you can focus on any optimisation strategy you like. If you feel like your content needs to be more helpful to your customers, you can make that your focus. Or, if you think your website is loading too slow and it’s hurting your SEO, you can focus on that.
WHY THIS IS A PRO: You’re in control of everything you do. There are no delays or bottlenecks of having to go through an Account Manager. If you want to make a change or tweak your strategy, you can do it in a heartbeat.
The cons of DIY SEO as a contractor
DIY SEO CON – It Takes (Serious) Time
Saving money is obviously a win for your business, but it comes at a cost…
You will be keeping dollars in your bank account, but you’ll be trading hours and hours of your free time.
SEO is a complex strategy that marketers don’t just learn once, but relearn year after year to keep up with the changes in the industry. Google is always tweaking its ranking algorithm, so any professional SEO who thinks they’ve mastered the craft and stops learning will end up on the scrapheap 6 months down the line.
You can’t set and forget SEO.
That means you’ll need to find the time to learn the fundamentals, which comes with a steep learning curve. After that, you’ll be able to learn each new step and strategy as they become popular, but staying on top of these changes means you’ll need to devote a few hours each week to reading contractor SEO resources and blogs.
WHY THIS IS A CON:Expect to spend a few hours a night and plenty of time on your weekends for a solid month to learn the basics. Then a full Saturday arvo each week to read up on SEO and make sure your website is on top of the latest changes.
DIY SEO CON – It’s All On You
As we said, you’re in control of everything you do…which is a major concern for some contractors and home improvement business owners.
Handling your own SEO is exciting until something goes wrong or your rankings fall off a cliff.
Imagine waking up tomorrow and your website isn’t on Google, no one has requested a quote for a week, and your inbox is nothing but spam newsletters and junk mail.
If you’re the one calling the shots, you’ll also be the one who needs to fix each problem as it happens. That’s not to say SEO is one big landmine waiting to explode. But like any service, things can go wrong.
If someone tried to DIY their own bathroom renovation they’d have online tips to help them. But when the swing of a sledgehammer bursts the wrong pipe it’s up to that same person to fix the problem. Unless they have pretty advanced knowledge of plumbing, they’ll be out of luck (and underwater).
If you’re going to manage your own home improvement SEO, make sure you’re prepared when things go wrong. A website that’s no longer on Google or pages that won’t load isn’t just “technical glitches” – they’re massively frustrating for people who want to learn about you or contact you.
WHY THIS IS A CON: When you piss off your potential customers, you push them to be customers of your competition instead. Problems with your SEO don’t just go away, they need to be carefully fixed. This can end up taking even MORE of your free time, and every second your site has a problem is time you’re losing potential leads and customers.
We recommend hiring a contractor SEO agency over do-it-yourself SEO
We know, we know…
Recommending a professional contractor SEO agency is a bit rich when we ARE a professional SEO agency, but hear us out.
We’re not saying you have to go with us. If you feel a connection with another agency and you feel as though they understand your contractor, trade or home improvement business, that’s a good thing. But we do recommend you go with SOME agency at the end of the day.
Why? Because the most valuable SEO strategies are applied off-site.
“What is ‘off-site contractor SEO’?”
You’ve probably read an article or two on SEO and felt like you could handle plenty of the optimization tips you see.
If it’s about adding keywords to the right places or making sure your image file sizes aren’t so big they slow your site, you’re confident you can get the job done. These types of optimisation changes are known as ‘on-site’ because they’re happening on your visible site.
Unfortunately, it’s the ‘off-site’ SEO changes that get your rankings moving.
These off-site strategies include:
Technical Upgrades (how fast your site is, how mobile-friendly your site is, etc)
These changes take a ton of technical know-how, not to mention plenty of manhours to build relationships with other websites to create backlinks and publish citations.
Between the steep learning curve and the time needed, you’ll be lucky to have a spare minute to yourself when you’re not at work.
How to decide if DIY SEO is right for your contractor business
SEO is a skill anyone can learn, and if you’re willing to put in the time you can absolutely manage your own SEO.
Working on on-page SEO isn’t going to increase your rankings significantly unless you spend the bulk of your time working on your off-page SEO.
If you just want to learn contractor SEO basics, this won’t apply to you, and you can save money by doing your own SEO.
But if your goal is to move higher up Google to bring in more leads and customers, we recommend partnering with an agency. It’s true this will cost more, but the agency can focus on your off-page SEO to deliver better results, and in the long run, that’s how you earn back your money and make a profit.
At the end of the day, always think about the Opportunity Cost of self-managed SEO.
Think about the goals of your contractor, trade or home improvement business, not the immediate benefit in front of you, and you’ll be on the right track.