I know it sounds strange—an SEO firm telling potential clients to NOT outsource their SEO? What kind of business sense does that make? Shouldn’t I be trying to get as many clients as possible? Here’s the catch, I only want to work with clients that I know I can help! Otherwise, it’s a waste of my time and their money. New site owners (even if they are lucky enough to the have the startup funding) shouldn’t be outsourcing their SEO for at least the first year of their site’s life.

Here is my advice for new site owners looking to start their SEO:

1. Learn the basics of SEO for yourself
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free SEO and Internet marketing guides out there for site and business owners looking to learn the basics of SEO. If you really want to get your hands dirty, you could take an SEO workshop or hire an SEO consultant to train you. Understanding what SEO is, how it works and what it entails will help you down the road when it’s time to outsource your SEO. You’ll know what is considered white hat, so you won’t be easily duped by a spam company. You’ll also be able to more effectively communicate with your SEO firm, and move onto to more involved campaigns.

2. Start blogging today

If you want to host your blog on a separate domain, it is going to need time to age, just like your main website. Even if you keep your blog attached to your main site, the search engines need time to crawl and index each post. It takes a long time (anywhere from 6 months to a few years) to really develop a good blog, attract loyal readers and find your niche. If you start blogging now, by the time you are ready to outsource your SEO your blog will be much more valuable. Your SEO company will be able to better leverage it. You’ll have a good idea who your reader is and what kind of content they want.

3. Worry about on-site optimization first
To be totally honest, the first year of a website’s life is pretty useless when it comes to SEO. It just doesn’t have the trust factor with the search engines to engage in any valuable link building. You’re better off optimizing your site and focusing on design, navigation and user-experience. Get your site to the best it can be on your own. Then, when you outsource your SEO, the SEO company will have a finished product that they can really work with. Nothing kills a great link building campaign faster than a bad website!

4. Set the foundations for social media marketing
Social media marketing might be even more long term than SEO. You don’t build a relationship with your target audience overnight. Before you outsource your SEO, make sure you’ve laid the groundwork for a social media marketing campaign. Build your profiles, find niche networking sites to create a community on, attract a few followers/fans. Social media and SEO are more entwined every day. If you can get the ball rolling now, when the time comes to outsource your SEO, the SEO company will be able to pick up your campaign and really run with it!