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.
Outsourcing SEO can help you and your clients in many ways. Successful search engine optimization requires implementing a specific strategy, and if your in house team doesn’t have much experience, an SEO outsourcing company can get you the results your clients want.
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 SEO 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 an SEO company, and best practices for working with a firm moving forward.
Table of Contents
The Basics of SEO Outsourcing
The premise of SEO service outsourcing is simple. You’ll work with a third party to get access to SEO services on your client’s behalf.
This agency will use search engine optimization best practices to optimize your client’s site, write new content, and build links to help your clients earn higher search engine rankings and get more organic search traffic.
Depending on the agency or individual you’re working with, different services may be available. Often, SEO outsourcing services can provide you with more than your in house SEO team.
In most cases, these services will be white labelled meaning your agency can take credit for the work and present all information to your clients with your own branding.
Most of the time, agencies outsource SEO with one of two main options:
- Independent contractors/freelancers. Hiring independent contractors for search engine optimization can have its advantages. You can assemble your own team of specialists with varying levels of SEO expertise. Outsourcing SEO work to contractors can save money in most cases. You can also provide more overarching direction. But at the same time, independent contractors with SEO expertise can be hard to find, and they tend to be less reliable. Additionally, you won’t have much help with the high-level strategic direction of your campaigns.
- SEO companies/agencies. A better option is to work with an SEO company or agency. These organizations exist purely to provide outsource SEO services, and they tend to have access to a robust number of resources, including specialists in many areas related to SEO. These companies are true SEO experts. You’ll pay a bit more to work with an SEO agency, but it’s well worth the money to get access to their expertise, reliability, and resources. Especially if you have multiple clients who need SEO.
The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Client’s SEO
Now, the obvious question: what’s the benefit of outsourcing SEO?
There are actually many different benefits to outsourcing SEO, assuming you’re working with a quality SEO provider.
- Save time. First, when you outsource SEO services you’ll save time. This is a great benefit when you’re working with multiple clients. You won’t have to follow tedious steps like spending hours on keyword research, nor will you need to invest as much time in strategic planning to execute a complex SEO process. When you outsource SEO, you can focus on customer service and providing services in other areas.
- Save money. Outsourcing SEO will cost you money, but don’t forget about the money you’re saving—by hiring an SEO agency, you can avoid hiring a full-time in house team, and spend fewer man-hours on each client campaign. Ultimately, many providers end up saving money by outsourcing SEO work.
- Get better results. Outsourcing SEO gets better results. Your outsourcing partner is an expert in SEO, so it’s likely that outsourcing will get you better results. Your client will climb rankings faster, get more organic traffic, and earn greater brand visibility. This is one of the best benefits of outsourcing SEO because it validates your status as an SEO specialist.
- Offer more services. If your organization is limited in the range or volume of services it can offer, outsourcing SEO is the best way to expand your offerings. You can offer your existing clients more support and make a better pitch to new clients in the future. Also, SEO outsourcing companies often have access to more SEO tools that can help with conversion optimization and other SEO efforts. In other words, you’ll be providing comprehensive SEO services to your clients.
- Skip training and education. Succeeding in SEO requires you to constantly train and educate yourself. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the latest Google updates and the latest white hat SEO trends and keep improving your technical skills. While it’s still a good idea to do this to some extent, outsourcing SEO allows you to push this burden onto a third-party SEO expert.
- Free up internal resources. If an SEO outsourcing agency is handling the bulk of your SEO campaign, you can free up your internal resources to focus on other responsibilities. That could mean managing an internal digital marketing campaign or working on other important matters. This is why outsourcing SEO can be an excellent part of scaling your business.
- Get access to better reporting. Many SEO providers struggle to provide adequate reporting to their clients, but reporting is a critical component in the SEO process. They aren’t sure what metrics to report, or find it difficult to put together consistent report documentation. When you outsource the work, your SEO expert partner will be responsible for generating and distributing these reports. Outsourcing SEO doesn’t mean you’re not responsible to your clients for results, but you won’t have to do the work.
- See faster progress. Though not a guarantee, in many cases, you’ll see much faster progress when working with a white hat SEO outsourcing agency. When outsourcing SEO, you’ll have access to more resources and more expertise, so there are fewer errors and less troubleshooting to deal with.
- Collaborate with an outsider. Even if you’re an SEO expert, you won’t have all the information—and you’ll suffer from your own cognitive biases in marketing. Working with an outsider on your clients’ SEO campaigns can introduce you to new perspectives, and help you come up with better ideas for the campaign. It’s also one of the reasons we advise outsourcing your Chief Marketing Officer role to an agency. It typically costs less overall, but the input from multiple members of your team cannot be understated.
- Earn a better reputation. Outsourcing SEO to an SEO partner, you’ll provide better SEO results for your clients. You’ll be able to focus more on customer service. And you might even be able to save your clients money. This will work wonders for your online reputation and can help you attract even more clients in the future.
Critical Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing
First, let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you decide to pursue outsourcing SEO with an outside firm.
Outsourcing your blog writing or link building work isn’t always the best option, and before you choose a firm to outsource SEO services, you should know exactly why you’re looking for one in the first place.
- How long have you been working with your client? SEO is a long-term strategy. If you’re frustrated at not seeing results after a month of work, it might be a little too early to escalate your campaign by outsourcing your SEO work.
- What type of results have you seen so far? If you’ve already spent a significant amount of time optimizing your client’s website, what progress have you seen? There are many ways to measure the success of an SEO campaign, and one of the most common is also one of the least valuable. Many SEO amateurs measure success in terms of keyword rankings, when in reality, the better measure of your success lies in traffic—after all, ranking high for a set of keywords doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see more web traffic, and it certainly doesn’t mean those visitors are buying what your client is selling. You want traffic from organic search results because organic traffic will bring your clients targeted leads. Still, if you’re seeing lackluster results, outsourcing SEO could be the solution.
- What is your budget? Outsourcing your SEO will cost extra money, and cheap SEO services tend to do more harm than good. Make sure you have the cash to support your outsourcing efforts sufficiently and choose an SEO expert that gets results.
- What is your timeframe? Again, SEO is a long-term strategy. If you’re interested in finding a way to quickly or temporarily boost your client’s rankings, outsourcing may not be a good idea. However, if you’re looking for a several-month or several-year strategy to build a healthy authority, outsourcing SEO is a fantastic option.
- What services do you need? Are there specific white hat SEO services you want to provide, but don’t currently have the internal resources to support? Are you interested in outsourcing everything for your client’s SEO campaign, from top to bottom?
- What kind of interaction do you want? How involved do you want to be in your SEO outsourcing efforts? Some companies prefer a totally hands-off approach, saving time by allowing their chosen firm to handle everything. Others want to have weekly (or even more frequent) meetings on progress, working together to achieve their clients’ goals. Each SEO company is different, so be sure to find out how your interactions will go before making your choice.
- Do you have any special needs? Are there any other concerns or special needs you have? For example, is it vital that your outsourced SEO services are white labelled? Are you interested in a month-to-month contract to get more flexibility? Talk to each prospective SEO company personally first to make sure they can meet your needs.
Setting Your Long-Term Goals
Before you get any further with considering outsourcing SEO, it’s time to consider what your long-term goals for the campaign are.
- What metrics are you most interested in? Keyword rankings aren’t always the best measure of your SEO results. Are you interested in generating more organic traffic? Or are you interested in generating more relevant traffic, such as people who are more likely to buy your clients’ products? You can achieve both, but to make the latter worth your time you need to work on conversion optimization.
- What level of competition are you facing? An SEO firm might be able to help you answer this question, but it’s important to consider before you start looking. Is your client a local business, or are they competing with national enterprises? An outsourced SEO expert can help your clients rank for national and local searches, but if you need local results you need an SEO company that specializes in local SEO.
Outsourcing SEO requires some thought. 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, like on page optimization or keyword research, you should outline a list of services you’ll need from an outsourced firm.
Comprehensive SEO outsourcing services typically include:
- Strategy and planning. What are the goals of this campaign, and how will you get there?
- Keyword research. Which keywords and phrases are most important to target, based on their search volume, competition rating, and relevance?
- Competition analysis. What are your client’s competitors doing, and how can you counter their strategies?
- Market research. What does your client’s average searcher (or customer) look like, and how can you better target them?
- Technical SEO. Is your client’s website being accurately indexed in Google, and is it performing optimally on all devices? How is their on page optimization?
- SEO audit/analysis. How has your client’s website performed in the past, and which areas are most in need of improvement? Do they need more organic traffic?
- Onsite writing and optimization. How can you optimize your client’s site for your target keywords?
- Blog writing. Campaigns need some kind of ongoing content development strategy. Content marketing is an essential part of the SEO process.
- Local SEO. If your client depends heavily on local searches, consider adding local SEO as well. If you’re not experienced with local SEO this is a great reason to pursue SEO outsourcing.
- Link building. Link building is vital for building domain and page authority, and increasing rankings over time.
- Social media marketing. Some campaigns benefit from social media marketing as a way to distribute content and earn more links.
- PPC advertising and other strategies. Though they may not affect SEO directly, strategies like PPC advertising can serve a complementary role in attracting more traffic and yielding better overall marketing results.
- Reporting and analysis. You’ll likely need some way to report on your progress and ongoing results, including the development of key performance indicators (KPIs).
However, you may only need some of these options.
Outsourcing SEO: Finding the Right Fit
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 an SEO outsourcing 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 SEO company 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. Most SEO campaigns usually need some form of customization, so take this into consideration.
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 only want to work with white hat SEO firms.
Expertise and Communication
You’ll also you want to get a feel for your firm’s expertise and working relationship. Any SEO firm that who offers cheap SEO packages or guarantees a specific result–such as a number one Google 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 SEO 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? Have they gotten measurable SEO 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 SEO 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.
Some digital marketing agencies don’t have SEO expertise and their services are questionable. They usually don’t offer comprehensive SEO services. It’s pretty easy to spot these companies by asking questions and requesting verifiable results.
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. Sometimes it’s better to use a white label service when outsourcing your SEO because some clients don’t like knowing their agency is working with a third party company.
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:
- The main goals and needs of the campaign, including which services will be necessary and how much you’re willing to pay.
- The metrics of success for the campaign. You may have a different expectation than your service provider, in terms of metrics to measure as well as a timeline, so it’s important to agree on terms upfront.
- The frequency of reporting and reviews. Some people want to meet on a weekly basis while others would rather not meet at all. Different procedures work for different people, so make your desires clear from the beginning.
- The amount of posts, links, and other measurable activities you can expect. Several blog posts and dozens of backlinks per month is base requirement for most campaigns. No matter what your goals and budget are, make sure you get a firm idea of what level of work you can expect.
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 marketing through a white label SEO agency 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.
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