If you’re going to run and SEO campaign, chances are you’ll need someone to help you do it.
As a business owner, you don’t have the time or resources to train yourself on the process of SEO, nor can you rely on some other random team member to shoulder the responsibilities.
Instead, you’ll be faced with three main options: hire in house an in-house SEO expert, outsource your work with an external SEO agency, or come up with some kind of hybrid of the two, potentially leveraging independent contractors or consultants.
In-house SEO experts can seem like the wisest choice, since there are both good and bad agencies out there (and good agencies tend to be expensive).
But as you might imagine, there are pros and cons to in-house SEO agents, just like any other option.
In-House SEO Advantages
In-house SEOs can help your business in many ways:
- You’ll remain in full control of the internal hiring process at all times. The best SEO agencies will offer transparency to their clients, and strive to get direction and guidance from business owners. However, most agencies also have tried-and-true operations and practices that aren’t easily movable. An in-house SEO specialist guarantees you some level of transparency, and gives you near-full control over what strategies get implemented (and how). As long as you trust your expert, you’ll be in a good position.
- You’re guaranteed to have a representative fully immersed in your brand. An intimate knowledge of your brand is necessary to complete SEO work successfully. Ideally, you’ll be producing content, social media posts, and maintaining relationships with external sites throughout the entirety of your campaign, so if you’re using someone who lives and breathes your brand, you’ll have a greater chance at keeping everything consistent. This advantage is weakened if you also use contractors for your work.
- You can always outsource parts of the work. Using other contractors is also an inherent advantage of having an in-house SEO agent. Because agencies generally take on all SEO responsibilities at once, you don’t have many options when it comes to work orders. With an in-house agent, you can find other experts and contractors to bring on for portions of your SEO strategy. For example, you can mix and match a in house team of writers and link builders to suit your strategy best.
- In-house SEOs can collaborate with your in-house SEO team. The best enterprise SEO strategies involve the entire marketing teams—designers can make more appealing websites, developers can include more SEO-friendly architecture,web development and even an account SEO manager can help your social media and external link building efforts. Having an in-house SEO means hosting more SEO-related collaboration within your organization.
- You’ll benefit from cross-training. Your in-house expert might be able to take on some peripheral responsibilities, giving them a dual role, or might be able to impart some industry knowledge on another one of your in house team members. Either way, your in-house SEO team will improve through cross-training.
In-House SEO Disadvantages
There are also some serious disadvantages that come with in-house SEOs:
- You’ll probably end up spending more money. Agencies take a lot of flak for being expensive, but the reality is, most are inexpensive compared to the cost of hiring someone full-time. A full-time salary for an experienced guru could easily be more than $3,000 a month, while SEO agency costs for lower packages start below $1,000. Consider all the costs and benefits thoroughly before making a decision.
- It’s impossible to have one person who’s an expert in everything. SEO involves a lot of moving parts; you’ll have onsite SEO, content writing, social media, link buildings, and dozens of other small strategies making up your overall campaign. It’s impossible to hire an in-house agent who is an expert in everything. Compare that to an SEO agency, which deliberately hires individualized experts in each of those fields to rely on.
- There’s little accountability when something goes wrong. If your strategy doesn’t work with an in-house SEO specialist or many SEO specialists, you can fire him/her, but that doesn’t exactly help your position and there’s little accountability beyond that step. With an SEO agency depends, you can point out a lack of progress and force them to step up their game if they want to keep you as a client.
- You won’t be able to grow as quickly. It takes a lot of time for an in-house agent to ramp up a strategy from scratch. Agencies generally move quicker, with more resources and more experience to get the job done.
- Your strategy won’t be quick to evolve with the times. Agencies are serving a variety of clients and competing with other agencies. They have to stay well-versed in the latest search engine optimization (SEO) best practices if they want to stay alive. In-house SEOs, on the other hand, can easily sink into a habitual pattern of work that never grows or changes. There’s little incentive to change or adapt, which means your strategy could quickly become stagnant.
There’s no right or wrong answer to which enterprise SEO solution is right for your business.
Every business is different, and every business owner will have unique priorities.
If your ultimate priority is getting hard, measurable results and growing with the times, an SEO agency (or hybrid model) might be better.
If you prefer to have more control, transparency, and brand immersion, there’s nothing that should stop you from hiring someone in-house.
Weigh your options carefully, but don’t be afraid to trust your gut. If something doesn’t work out, you can always switch.
Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization)
- including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.
Over the years he's written for publications like Forbes
, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite
and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin
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