SEO Ins and Outs
There are lots of SEO agencies around now.
When I first heard of them, I was baffled. Optimizing a site for search is something I consider an everyday part of my job. The thought of paying an external agency a small fortune to review my work seems like a waste of money.
Having now worked with a couple of these agencies, my view hasn't changed. However, I have come to understand a little what they might be useful for.
There are lots of complex issues the tech lead will bear in mind throughout a project. Towards the end of a project it can get tense, and so a review of SEO post-launch is often a good idea. Your tech lead can do this for you. If he can't, get a new tech lead.
No special skills
An SEO company will review your site and present a report on what they find. What you have to remember is that these guys are no smarter than Google's own Webmaster Guidelines. They have no clever inside knowledge about Google's actual algorithm.
Some of the items in their report are valuable. If you don't have sensible title tags, urls or header tags, then you are not optimized. Your tech lead should hang his head in shame.
Wasting time and money
However, some items are simply irelevant. Meta keywords tags are laborious to produce, but are largely disregarded. Absolutely perfect markup is a great thing, but not something Google will rank you higher for. A little embedded script will not hurt. In fact, Google hire large numbers of engineers to make sure that web pages are scanned correctly regardless of markup.
Now, there are sites which are not Search Engine friendly. Flash builds for example. Or, simply, badly made websites (with unaccountably ajax-loaded navigation, for example). Your tech lead has failed you here. And, brilliantly, your SEO might not help - he won't fix it, he'll just point out your mistakes.
Now, my perspective here is as a professional web programmer in a large digital organisation. Our clients are destination brands. By this, I mean that people actually searched for our sites, and it's our job to make sure they find us. This is great - we build a good site, and Google will ensure we are top of the list. No problem.
Others will work for distraction brands. By this, I mean that they will try to sell you something when you're really lookign for something else. Either a competitor, or something else entirely.
These guys need the SEO companies to find their target list of keywords, and sometimes even to produce landing pages (as much as I hate this concept).
So SEO agencies have a use. But only in certain circumstances.
My recommendation is: don't duplicate. If you have a decent tech lead, ask them about SEO. If not, consider hiring one. If it's content/targeting issue, call an SEO.
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