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The Big, Bad List of Pre-SEO Questions You Need to Answer, Part I

When contemplating an online marketing campaign there are dozens of questions that will start swirling through your head. Each question, in turn, creates more questions, and those questions create others that all will need to be answered before you are able to make a smart, sound business decision.
Over the next several days I'll outline some of these questions and provide a quick analysis to help you answer them sufficiently for yourself. Hopefully this list of questions will help you develop your own questions specific to your situation. In the end, the goal is to have taken a full and complete objective look at the tasks before you in order to be able to a best determine the right course of action.

Questions I need answered if I in-source my search marketing

To in-source or outsource? That's the first big question you may face. But you can't answer that until you have a good idea what it means to follow either path. If you're heading up a large company, outsourcing may be the way to go. Or do you hire your own expert? We'll look at questions for outsourcing later, but for now, if you're contemplating in-sourcing, ask yourself these questions:
Question 1: Do I do it myself? This is no small matter. Thinking through the process of whether you are able to manage the SEO for your site is an important one. While you can always "try", in some cases, failing at SEO can be worse than not having done it at all. So before you decide that you can do it yourself, answer these questions:
Question 2: Do I have the time? As a business owner your time is your most valuable asset, and the simple fact is: you can't do everything. You have to prioritize your time and think about what you can and can't do, and where productivity--and results--will be the greatest.
Question 3: What is my time worth? Take an objective look at the value of your time. Now, if you're the business owner and you crunched the numbers you'll probably find that you make somewhere close to minimum wage. But that's just because you are a hard worker determined to succeed. The value of your time can be better assessed by looking at what you charge for your product or services. If you can put a dollar amount for what your time is worth that can help you determine if you can make time for SEO.
Question 4: Is my time better spent on other things? Just because you have time to work on something doesn't mean that you should. We can all make time for the urgent/important tasks, but that isn't to say there are not more important tasks or tasks better suited for our skills. You may find that you are more adept at (and therefore your time is better spent on) customer relations. Or perhaps you're an idea person, therefore your time is better spent developing new products, services or tools. Think about what you can do that provides the greatest benefit for the company before you decide that you should allocate your valuable time to the SEO.
Question 5: Do I have the knowledge and skills to do it right? SEO, on the surface, may not be inherently difficult, but there is considerable knowledge needed in order to do it right. And some of the more technical aspects of SEO often require someone with more in-depth programming skills. Gaining the knowledge and skills necessary is no small task.
Question 6: Do I have the time to stay up to date in critical knowledge? The basic information on SEO remains pretty consistent, but there are often new developments, technologies and strategies that can become important for the long-term success of your marketing campaign. Keeping abreast of this information can consume a considerable amount of time, not to mention the time implementation and testing of these ideas can take as well.
Question 7: What if I screw up the site? There are many easy ways to screw up your optimization campaign. Sometimes it can be the wrong character in a robots.txt or .htaccess file. Other times it can be from bad advice you were told or read about online. Not all screw ups will be make or break, but there are some that can cause significant long-term and potentially permanent harm to your efforts. Sometimes the risk simply isn't worth it.
Question 8: Is this something I really want to do along with my regular work? SEO isn't your "full time" job. You've got a business to run and we shouldn't be afraid to admit that it takes the majority of our time. You need to consider if you really have time to add another time consuming task to your already full plate. Anything new you add will take away from other, possibly more important tasks. It'll do you no good if you SEO the site if you can't handle the business it brings.
Question 9: Will this take me away from my family? If adding something to your plate increases the amount of time you spend "at work," how will this affect your family life? Are you willing to add more to your plate if it means less time with your loved ones? Even if you don't have family conflicts, you also need to consider how much time this will take away from your own leisure activities. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
Question 10: Is this worth the cost of NOT hiring or outsourcing? Overall, you need to consider if the cost of doing it yourself is worth the sacrifices you'll have to make. If you outsource, it's just money. If you in-source its your time, your skills, your knowledge and even your sanity at stake. Don't lose out on other important things just to save a few bucks.
Question 11: Will this diminish my capabilities at being effective that my primary job?Finally, you need to consider if doing SEO yourself means you become less effective in other important areas. The worst thing you can do is skimp on quality--whether its quality of customer service, quality of products, or quality of results. SEO is important, but not if it causes you to lose value in other areas. Getting people to the site does you no good if you can't properly engage with them and meet their needs.
In Part II I'll look at questions you need to ask if you choose to in-source your SEO hiring someone to do it rather than doing it yourself. You'll find there are a number of questions that need to be asked and answered to determine this is the right course of action for you.

(Author: Stoney deGeyter)