Search engine optimization (SEO) is the difference between a fantastic company website that yields quality leads and a mediocre or lousy website that only gives you an average online presence. Knowing SEO makes or breaks your business, so you must carefully consider who you put in charge of your SEO strategies. And this all comes down to choosing between SEO in-house vs. outsourcing.
It’s a weighty decision that’s consequential to the growth of your entire business. You must clearly understand and compare/contrast all the hits and misses of SEO in-house vs. outsourcing SEO before deciding, lest you pay top dollar for average SEO results.
To help you make a solid decision that takes your business to the next level, we’ve researched the pros and cons of hiring an SEO agency versus hiring in-house and prepared this detailed overview for you. So read on.
What Is an In-House SEO Team?
An in-house SEO team means having dedicated staff members executing your SEO strategies. Your in-house SEO team may be structured differently depending on the number of resources at hand and your company’s SEO needs.
If you’re a well-established business with an ambitious budget, you can assemble an entire team with several SEO specialists. This could include a separate department with a Head of SEO or assigning the SEO specialists to your digital marketing department.
Each specialist would handle specific SEO processes like link building, keyword research, page optimization, and website architecture optimization, or content SEO in such an arrangement. Given the many moving parts of SEO, it may be the ideal structure.
But suppose you’re a small or medium organization with a limited budget. In that case, assigning SEO tasks to your in-house marketing team may make more sense, or hiring an SEO expert who doubles as a digital marketer.
Hiring an SEO Agency Versus Hiring In-House
Before building an SEO team from square one, you should first assess the impact such a team will have on your overall SEO strategies. Start by reviewing the benefits and pitfalls.
Pros of In-House SEO
Here’s what you stand to gain:
1. An In-House Team May Know the Business Better
The core purpose of SEO is marketing your company’s products and services online so prospective customers can find them fast on search engines. This means SEO should be customer-focused as much as it’s process-focused.
It takes a team of SEO experts who know your business and customers inside out to tailor SEO strategies that enhance your customer experience substantially. An in-house team of SEO professionals is typically better placed to achieve this, as they have first-hand experience dealing with your customers.
2. Communication Can Be Quicker
Preparing a long-term SEO strategy takes a lot of planning and forethought. Moreover, the team executing this strategy requires much flexibility to adapt to constant search engine updates that influence SEO trends.
Managing all these important deliverables calls for expedited and streamlined communication to ensure no details fall between the cracks. It’s much easier and faster for an in-house team to handle the constant back-and-forth communication without veering off-track. And if there’s a communication breakdown, you can spot the barriers promptly and fast-track solutions.
3. You’ll Have a Team Solely Focused on Your Site
On-site and off-site SEO are two main parts of an SEO strategy. On-site SEO is the most process-intensive, as it involves optimizing webpage elements, such as page load speed, schema, and URL structure.
Executing these components successfully takes time and steadfast commitment. Because an in-house SEO team will focus on your site exclusively, it’s better placed to deliver fast and quality results.
Cons of In-House SEO
Here’s the downside of hiring an internal SEO specialist or team:
1. It’s Usually More Expensive
The average base salary for an SEO specialist is $53,918, with $84,883 on the higher side and $34,249 on the lower side. The more experienced SEO experts can command salaries way above this range. For quality results, you’ll want to hire seasoned SEO experts, as you’ll be counting on them to design and implement your company’s SEO strategy.
And when you hire the most skilled SEO specialist (which is the ideal thing to do), you’ll likely spend more on benefits and insurance to retain them in your company. On the other hand, if you hire a less-experienced SEO and pay a smaller salary, you may pay more to train them or wait longer to get results.
2. You’ll Have To Rely On Your Team’s Skillset
SEO is broad and dynamic, and workloads typically pile up quickly. Unless you have a big enough team that can handle snowballing tasks as they come, you’ll soon experience challenges. Expanding your in-house team in real-time is more difficult to sustain your ballooning SEO needs.
In cases where you need SEOs with extra or specialized skills or more hands on deck to handle increasing workflows, you’ll have to rely on your in-house team. This puts a lot of pressure on your team. And if the team’s skillset falls short, the quality of your SEO results will be curtailed.
3. There Are Fewer Opportunities for Brainstorming SEO Ideas
SEO strategy is only time-proof and foolproof. During implementation, your team sometimes has dead ends or new challenges. In such all-too-common scenarios, your team will need to brainstorm new SEO ideas to navigate obstacles. And this is where an in-house team often needs to catch up.
Generally, it takes fresh eyes or collaboration between several multi-skilled professionals to decode new challenges. As a result, your in-house team will likely need help with a challenge for longer, as they may approach it with an insider mindset instead of an out-of-the-box one.
4. Depending on Your Site’s Size, You Might Not Need an In-House Team
This is one of the major drawbacks of choosing SEO in-house vs. outsourcing, especially if you’ve just launched your company website, your business is still teething, and you’re on a shoestring budget.
Remember, your in-house SEO team will need enough SEO work to warrant their hiring. For instance, hiring a general digital marketer before assembling an in-house SEO team may be more productive if you have zero traffic, no blog content, and little online presence.
5. It May Take Time To Train or Find the Right Person
It takes months or years of practice for a person to become an SEO expert. Most entry-level SEOs need at least 18 months of serious practice to learn the nuts and bolts of SEO and become all-around professionals. Thus, training your in-house SEO team may take longer than you can afford.
Most experienced SEOs have specific niches and industries they prefer to work in. If your business isn’t within their preferred industries, convincing them to work for your company may be an elusive task.
Pros of Hiring an SEO agency
1. You’ll Have Access to a Larger Talent Pool
Agencies employ several professionals, each with expert knowledge in different facets of SEO. They include SEO engineers, web designers, account managers, content creators, search engine marketers, link builders, and more. And because agencies are well-known within the tech industry, they often receive job applications from SEO experts and beginners.
Consequently, agencies have a ready pool of talent to pick from when workloads escalate. When you outsource SEO to an agency, you can rest assured the top experts in each niche will handle your SEO work. And if there’s a challenge in the course of execution, these professionals will work together to brainstorm a flexible solution. For example, Sure Oak has access to a specialized team, allowing us to offer:
2. You Can Escalate Issues if You Need To
Most agencies will assign you an account manager who becomes your first point of contact. Usually, these managers work extremely hard to optimize your SEO campaign, communicate regularly, and promptly answer your queries.
But if you are dissatisfied with your campaign’s performance, you can contact the senior account manager to raise the issue. This open line of communication ensures all your concerns are resolved to guarantee your SEO campaign’s peak performance.
3. They Already Provide You With SEO Tools
SEO agencies leverage multiple SEO tools to deliver results to their clients. Most top-tier agencies like Sure Oak utilize a variety of tools such as:
- Screaming Frog
- Many More!
Creating these SEO tools is time and resource-intensive. If you opt for in-house SEO, you either have to pay a subscription to use these tools with all their features or have your team build them from scratch. But when you outsource SEO to an agency, you enjoy full access to these tools by default.
4. It Tends To Be the Most Affordable Option
SEO agencies serve multiple clients, enabling them to charge fair rates without compromising the quality of service delivery. Even if you hired an entry-level SEO professional and paid a minimum salary, it would still be costlier than outsourcing.
Besides cost savings, you get better returns in terms of quality service. Because agencies employ top talents with advanced SEO knowledge, you get better results from your campaign. It would cost you a fortune to assemble an in-house team with an equal knowledge level.
5. They Have Experience From Working With Similar Clients
SEO agencies have the advantage of serving clients from different sectors, meaning they’ve most likely worked with other companies in your line of business. This is a strategic benefit because it enables them to avoid common pitfalls and apply the most fine-tuned solutions, as they have first-hand experience of what works best.
Cons of Outsourced SEO
While hiring an SEO agency comes with innumerable benefits, it’s not all roses. Here are some of the drawbacks you should be aware of:
1. There Are Many Clients on the Agency’s Plate
Agencies must leverage economies of scale to charge fair prices and remain profitable. This means they must acquire more clients. But inefficiencies creep in and dilute productivity if an agency acquires too many customers without expanding capacity.
However, the good news is that the established SEO agencies have the resources and means to scale capacity as workload increases. This allows them to take in more clients and enhance their efficiency simultaneously.
2. It May Be Harder To Communicate Results to Others in the Company
Usually, your designated point of contact in the agency ad other team members will communicate with you via email and phone calls about your SEO campaign. While you may ask them to copy a few of your key employees on these email updates or call, it is up to you to bring your team on the company’s SEO progress.
Unfortunately, some details may get lost when disseminating information, particularly if you or members of your team need strong SEO knowledge. A good thing to ask for from the company is written updates or monthly reports, so you have the information to read off to your company.
In-House SEO vs. Agency: Which One Fits Your Strategy?
Ultimately, selecting the path that supplements your overall digital marketing strategy best is up to you when it comes to deciding between in-house SEO vs. outsourcing. Your resources, growth objectives, and budget availability will help determine which route you will need to take. The beauty of agencies, however, is that many are willing to grow with you.