Digital Agency vs. DIY: Why You Need Professional Online Marketing Services

Digital Agency vs. DIY: Why You Need Professional Online Marketing Services

Homepage for an online jewelry shop that hired a digital marketing agency

If you are ready to get professional with your company’s digital marketing strategy, you need good information on what exactly a professional digital marketing agency can offer you and why it makes sense to hire those services rather than go without or take the DIY route.

A great way to understand the costs of not hiring an SEO agency is to look at the different online marketing services that a good agency provides, see how they add value, and draw conclusions about what happens when you’re missing those services. Let’s take a look at some core services.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization Is the Centerpiece of Organic Growth

You can have the best products or services in your industry, the lowest prices, the fastest turnarounds, or friendliest customer service—but being good at what you do is usually not enough to thrive online. In the digital marketplace, you also have to let potential customers know that you exist at all. This is where online marketing services enter the picture.

A Digital Marketing Agency Builds Visibility Through SEO

You have to be visible to your prospective customers, and that means being visible to the search engines where most customers begin their search for a product. No SEO, no visibility.

When it comes to web searches, this usually means Google Search, which in early 2023 is the preferred search engine of 89% of American users and 93% of users worldwide, according to GS Statcounter. Winning on Google has long been and still remains the fulcrum of online marketing services. The other major source of consumer searches is Amazon’s internal search engine, which according to market research firm Insider Intelligence is a starting point for around 60% of consumers in at least some of their product searches. Amazon SEO has its own strategies that a digital marketing agency can help you with—but this is only relevant if you’re selling on Amazon.

To be visible you need search engine optimization (SEO). Hiring an SEO agency is all about building up visibility over time by improving the rank of your website in the search results of Google and others. SEO is arguably the most important of all the online marketing services that an agency offers, because without visibility you won’t have the chance to make your sales pitch.

What SEO Entails and Why You Need It Done Professionally

SEO is typically divided into “on-page” strategies that involve the content itself, “off-page” strategies centered around link-building, and “technical” SEO which entails site functionality, usability, and accessibility.

Google uses five key factors in its rankings philosophy for search results: meaning, relevance, quality, usability, and context. Three of these are particularly important to the SEO online marketing services that a digital marketing agency provides:

  • Relevance: Does your website have what the user is searching for?
  • Quality: Does your website do a good job of giving that user what they want?
  • Usability: Is your website easy to use?

Optimizing for these three factors is not easy. It’s like building a well-oiled machine with thousands of nuts and bolts. Some of these “nuts and bolts” include keyword relevancy, keyword placement and density, content length and formatting, metadata optimization, conversion rate optimization, visuals, page loading times, site organization, site navigation, internal link maintenance, support for mobile (and desktop) devices, and dozens of other metrics. This is why hiring an SEO agency is so important. With professional online marketing services, you can be confident that nothing is being overlooked or done poorly.

Growing Your SEO for Long-Term Success

Performance metrics from a client utilizing Coalition SEO services

It usually takes six to nine months to reap the earliest benefits, organically raising your search engine rankings for high-performing product and category pages. Long-term SEO goals can take years, as your website slowly builds a relationship with the search engines as a trustworthy, preferred source for hundreds or thousands of different consumer-oriented search queries—both direct consumer queries, such as “best electric stove” and so-called long-tail queries such as “ways to improve home energy efficiency.”

It can be daunting to spend money for months without immediate results. But while some other online marketing services such as PPC can yield faster results, SEO can’t be rushed. Hiring out is a smarter choice than trying to do the work yourself. A digital marketing agency has the skillset, tools, and strategic vision to stay the course and achieve long-term results. A typical ROI on professional SEO is about $2.75 in expanded sales for every $1 you invest in online marketing services, according to Moz.

As the digital marketing leader, we here at Coalition Technologies tend to overshoot that benchmark—provided that you stick with us long enough for the garden to bear fruit. Check out our 700+ case studies of companies of all sizes across dozens of industries.

What Happens Without SEO?

A graph showing when a client stopped SEO work then resumed

In a nutshell, without SEO online marketing services your website will vastly underperform in its potential. Think about it this way: Would you go to all the trouble of bringing a product to market—all the design work, market research, manufacturing, and distribution—and then not bother to put labeling on the package you sell it in? Going without SEO is like selling a product in a brown cardboard box.

SEO is one of the costs of doing business online. You have to be delivering what the search engines are looking for, in the format that they are looking for it in. If you don’t, your search rankings probably won’t go anywhere.

It is possible to luck out. Sometimes our clients come to us from a position of strength, looking for online marketing services to build upon their existing success online. But, just like those diet commercials, “results are not typical.” Typically, you are not going to get very far online without SEO. And even if you do, you can achieve even greater success by hiring an SEO agency.

The Opportunity Is Real

Yahoo reported in 2022 that 47% of small businesses invest nothing into SEO. And many of those that do invest, only put in a nominal amount—using free online tools, or spending maybe a few hundred dollars a month. You simply cannot get good SEO for cheap.

That’s because it takes skilled human resources to implement and manage a long-term SEO strategy: When you hire online marketing services you are paying for developers, web techs, graphic designers, content strategists, all the different roles that it takes for SEO to work. So, if you’re a small business, by investing wisely and boldly in SEO you will be able to build an enormous long-term competitive advantage.

What If You Try DIY SEO?

If you think SEO looks easy, you wouldn’t be the first. “Why pay for online marketing services when anybody can research a few keywords?!” Right? But more often than not, this is the pride that comes before the fall.

If you approach SEO amateurishly you can actually do more harm than if you had done nothing at all. Search engines like Google actually punish websites that do SEO improperly. You can also get unintended consequences from bad SEO that disrupt the visibility of your webpages to the people who are most likely to generate sales. So if you do your own SEO, you have to do it professionally.

Every business has to make its own decisions about what to do in-house and what to contract, but this calculus usually comes down to costs and process control. Online marketing services rarely make sense to develop internally, because SEO is a highly specialized and complex skillset that requires continual adaptation to evolving SEO best practices. Moreover, the principles of good SEO are mostly universal. Your SEO team wouldn’t just be up against your competitors in your industry: They would be up against the talents of the best SEO agencies in the world.

Sometimes, reinventing the wheel pays off. But most of the time, hiring an SEO agency gives you access to better tools, superior economies of scale, lower labor costs, and millions of man-hours of accumulated experience.

PPC: Pay-Per-Click Is a Fast Entry Point to Sales Growth

Performance metrics showing a jump in PPC

SEO is the crown jewel of most digital marketing agencies, but there are quite a few marketing opportunities that exist outside SEO work, and therefore there are other online marketing services that a good agency offers.

PPC Is Fast and Precise

Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, is a paid advertising strategy that lets you directly target your preferred customer demographics (or experiment with breaking into new markets). PPC’s “paid” traffic is contrasted with the “organic” traffic that SEO work cultivates. Organic traffic comes from people typing queries into a search engine and coming to your site on their own initiative. PPC traffic comes from people clicking on your ads on Google’s search results, social media sites, or other websites.

PPC is appealing to many businesses because, as Search Engine Journal puts it, PPC is fast. You can get results in a matter of days, ad spends are scalable to fit your budget, and the analytics are excellent: You’ll get a lot of insight into who is visiting your site, and from where. Not only will this help you refine your PPC ad campaigns, but it’ll also help you iterate and improve on your SEO strategy.

In this way, online marketing services are highly synergistic—which is why most digital marketing agencies offer them together rather than specializing in just one. And by hiring an SEO agency to manage your PPC campaigns wisely, you can take full advantage of these synergies.

The Costs of Not Doing PPC Advertising

PPC ad campaigns can be notoriously difficult to succeed with because the nuances are so important. You have to master Google Ads, Bing Ads, the ads for different social media platforms…and more besides. It’s a lot to handle, which is why PPC is often one of the first online marketing services that businesses turn to when they hire a digital marketing agency.

But there is a certain segment of customers you are simply never going to reach without paid advertising. Without PPC you are leaving money on the table.

In addition, by forgoing PPC advertising you are missing out on all of those consumer insights that we mentioned. This is a bigger loss than it might seem: It is hard to understate just how important it is for data to be the main driver behind any digital strategy.

These costs underscore why hiring an SEO agency is so important. PPC is arguably even harder to succeed at than SEO. It’s certainly more volatile. At Coalition Technologies, our online marketing services are always data-driven. We are constantly testing and fine-tuning our clients’ PPC campaigns. 

Other Digital Marketing Services: They Also Have Costs If You Neglect Them

There are many other online marketing services that a digital marketing agency can offer you. Here is a lightning round of real and opportunity costs that come from not incorporating them into your marketing strategy:

  • Web Design & Development: This includes both your company website and, if applicable, your e-commerce platform. Sharing a great deal of overlap with technical SEO services, web services make your website more robust and user-friendly. By doing it yourself, you expose yourself to problems such as outages, broken links, sitenav bugs, and other user-facing errors, as well as SEO-penalizing problems such as bad or missing metadata, or poor site hierarchy organization. Learn more.
  • E-mail Marketing: It may seem quaint in the 2020s, but e-mail is still a major vector for connecting with your customers and generating sales. By forgoing e-mail marketing you are missing an opportunity to capture emergent consumer intent from your existing customers. Learn more.
  • Reputation Management: This is one of those online marketing services that you don’t always need to have, but makes sense if you have been the victim of product recalls, bad publicity, or black hat SEO by your competitors. Going without it in those cases can delay your sales recovery or even cause your brand itself to lose value. Learn more.
  • Social Media: It used to be the case that, from a business perspective, social media was all about brand management and product awareness. These things are still true, but in the 2020s social media services are increasingly becoming a direct part of the sales funnel, because this is where more and more younger consumers are making their product purchasing decisions. Hiring an SEO agency to supplement your social media presence can make a lot of sense if your business relies on younger, more plugged-in customers. Skip this, and you may never gain access to those people. Learn more.

Grow Your Online Revenues with Coalition Technologies

If you’re doing sales online or want to move into that space, there are very few cases not to invest in high-quality online marketing services by hiring an SEO agency with a proven track record of success.

Coalition Technologies, based in Los Angeles and serving clients worldwide, can help you expand your online business and compete in today’s fierce SEO market. Check out our hundreds of customer reviews to see what other managers in your position have done.

Contact us today for a free consultation on your business goals and a free digital strategy review of your website.

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