If you’ve tried your hand at search engine optimization (SEO) for your clients but you haven’t quite gotten the results you wanted, or if you find your agency strapped for resources, you might consider outsourcing your client’s SEO.
Every SEO firm is unique in terms of service, experience, and price, so if you want the best possible results for your budget, it’s important to understand why outsourcing is beneficial, and what types of firms tend to see the most success.
Throughout this guide, we’ll help you understand the main motivations for outsourcing your client’s SEO, the considering factors for choosing a firm, and best practices for working with a firm moving forward.
The premise of SEO outsourcing is simple. You’ll work with a third party to get access to SEO services on your client’s behalf.
This agency will optimize your client’s site, write new content, and build links to help your clients earn higher search engine rankings and get more traffic. Depending on the agency or individual you’re working with, different services may be available. In most cases, these services will be white labelled—meaning your agency can take credit for the work, and present all information with your own branding.
Most of the time, agencies outsource SEO with one of two main options:
Now, the obvious question: what’s the benefit of outsourcing SEO?
There are actually many different benefits, assuming you’re working with a quality SEO provider.
First, let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you decide to hire an outside firm. Outsourcing your blog writing or link building work isn’t always the best option, and before you choose a firm, you should know exactly why you’re looking for one in the first place.
Before you get any further, it’s time to consider what your long-term goals for the campaign are.
You should also consider whether you’re interested in outsourcing the entire SEO campaign, or just a fraction of it. If you already perform some tasks yourself, you should outline a list of services you’ll need from an outsourced firm.
Comprehensive SEO outsourcing services typically include:
However, you may only need some of these options.
Once you have a loose idea of your main goals and needs, you can start looking for an SEO agency that can help you get the work done.
First and foremost, you need to find a firm that offers all the services you need to have performed. Not all SEO agencies are full-service, meaning there are some firms who specialize in content marketing or exclusively deal in outsource backlink building.
For the average outsourcer, a full-service firm is usually the best option, since it covers the full scope of work needed to achieve the best results, but for an account manager who already has specific services covered, a specialty firm might be the better choice.
You’ll also need to consider the flexibility offered by this agency. Some firms are resolute in the types of packages they offer their customers, using inflexible package plans to sell services. Others offer more of a give-and-take, constructing a custom plan to serve your needs specifically.
Next, you want to consider the cost of outsourcing. You probably already have a general idea for your budget, but it’s important to make sure you get a good deal and spend enough money to get a quality service. Spend too much, and you’ll end up compromising your ROI. Spend too little, and you won’t get any meaningful results.
SEO firms that advertise themselves as extremely cheap generally deal in poor practices, such as spamming backlinks or writing low-quality keyword-stuffed content. These obsolete SEO strategies could actually harm your campaign in the long-term, so it’s important to invest money in a quality firm. More money doesn’t always mean better service, so do some research, ask for some client references, and find the best firm you can for your target budget.
You’ll also you want to get a feel for your firm’s expertise and working relationship. Any SEO firm that guarantees a specific result, such as a number one ranking by a specific date, is probably lying in order to get your business. With the ambiguity of Google’s algorithm, constantly arriving new updates, and the unpredictable factor of competition, it is impossible to make any accurate prediction or guarantee of results for an SEO campaign.
If you’re outsourcing your client’s SEO, you need to find a firm that understands this and knows what type of results are the most valuable for businesses. You also want to find a firm that’s easy to work with, and one that has your client’s best interests at heart.
Look at online reviews and testimonials to get a sense for how this firm has performed in the past. Do they have a consistent track record of providing clients with optimal results? Or are there a number of complaints lodged against them?
It’s also important to review and analyze your own experiences with this company. Do you find it easy to get in touch with someone? Are you satisfied with the level of service you’ve been getting in the presale process?
Ideally, you’ll work with an agency that offers transparency. The results they get shouldn’t be mysterious—you should know exactly what tactics they’re using and exactly why they’re using them. You should also understand their pricing model, and how they arrive at these prices.
If your SEO agency tries to keep secrets, or appears to be intentionally misleading you, you’ll want to work with a different firm.
You may have a good understanding of your current clients’ needs and your current desires as an agency, but how are those going to change in the future?
Most companies appreciate working with an agency that affords them some flexibility. Will you have the option to scale these services in the future? Can you change your service plan in response to changing client needs without much of a hassle?
Finally, consider whether this SEO agency offers white labeling. Most SEO outsourcing providers do, but this isn’t a guarantee.
White labeling essentially allows you to present this company’s work as your own; you’ll be able to provide reports to your clients with your own branding, and present all results and communication as if they came from within your company. It’s a great way to ensure client loyalty, and make your brand look even better.
Once you’ve selected a firm to work with, it’s a good idea to go over a few things at the beginning of your working relationship to ensure a positive and mutually beneficial path forward.
The most important item? Make sure all of your expectations and goals are clear in the beginning. The more proactive you are, the less likely you’ll be to miscommunicate in the future.
Some topics you’ll want to cover include:
Ideally, this will be a long-term partner. Over time, you’ll get to know each other better, you’ll collaborate more efficiently, and you’ll ultimately see better results.
Outsourcing a client’s SEO isn’t the best strategy for everybody, but if you’re looking to get better long-term results and you have the budget to support the transition, it could be the right solution.
Finding a trustworthy, reliable partner to build your client’s search engine dominance is the key to success. It might take some time, but once your partnership is established, you’ll be in a much better position to help your client grow.