In-House vs. Hiring an SEO Professional: Which Path Should You Choose?
Search Engine Optimization is an essential part of the marketing mix today – few businesses can afford to ignore or abdicate this tactic. If you have a well-optimized website, and a content-driven SEO strategy, you are guaranteed to improve your rankings. Yes, guaranteed.
Implementing a sound SEO strategy isn’t tough, but you need to do it right, which begs the question, “who should run and manage the SEO side of your business?”
Staying In-House vs. Choosing a Professional
It all comes down to the needs of your company. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s likely that one of your biggest pain points is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. There are few business owners who have the time to create content consistently while keeping up with day-to-day tasks of the company. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to kick off and manage an in-house SEO program.
While ongoing SEO tasks should be in every entrepreneur’s wheelhouse, it’s likely they’ll require outside professional help as well to ensure the program is successful.
Don’t believe me? Here is just a handful of the many tasks that should be considered for an effective SEO plan:
- Blog posts – at least two/month, but ideal 4-8/month
- Social media posts – 50-200 posts/month across major social media platforms
- Guest blog posts – Occasional for relevant third-party sites
- Ongoing reputation and citation management
- Ongoing backlink analysis
- Email marketing
- PPC advertising
- Marketing automation for lead capture and remarketing
That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the numerous tasks that need to be taken care of for an impactful SEO strategy.
Ignoring Google altogether is no longer an option. Business owners need to sit down with the people in their organization and decide if they are going to take on these tasks themselves, hire a permanent role in-house to dedicate to this or seek help from an agency.
This isn’t always an easy decision. As a first step, I’d recommend identifying your website goals and SEO budget. Consider meeting with an SEO expert to weigh in on what is possible within your budget so that you can properly set expectations. Keep in mind, the dollars you allocate to SEO are an investment, not an expense.
Once you have a good understanding of your budget and goals, you need to decide between staying in-house and going with an agency.
Why I’d recommend agency over in-house
For small businesses, I recommend going with an agency.because you don’t have any training or management responsibilities, and it is often the most cost-effective option, provided you find an agency that follows best practices and delivers consistent results. Business owners must do their due diligence to find the right SEO partner.
There are many reasons why I think going with an agency is the best option, but one is that when you hire an agency, you’ll have an SEO expert who will outline his process and strategy. He’ll have experience working with other companies and dealing with challenges in real-time. These experts are forced to stay on top of their game by monitoring SEO and Google updates on a daily basis. If you hire a person in-house, you’ll never know if they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, because SEO isn’t your area of expertise, it’s there’s.
Additionally, agencies take a team-based approach and are able to help you with a variety of things including content generation (which isn’t always in an in-house person’s wheelhouse). Working with an agency will also give you access to premium SEO, social media, and tracking tools that you would likely not justify spending money on if it was out of your own business’s pockets.
How to choose the right agency
There are many ways to screen an SEO agency before engaging with one. It’s important to ask for proof. Unfortunately, many companies misrepresent and their achievements and don’t practice what they preach. To make sure you’re getting the answers you need, below is a list of common SEO questions you should be asking:
- Have you done SEO for a business like mine before?
- What references can you provide?
- Can I see your recent case studies?
- What is the primary metric on which you focus your SEO? – Look for customer leads, sales, and conversions.
- What can you tell me about your approach to link building? – Look for quality over quantity.
- When will I begin to see results? – SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Expect initial results within 4-6 months.
- What type of marketing or SEO-related certifications do you have?
- How much does SEO cost? Expect to spend a minimum of $1000/month for basic local SEO services. Most legitimate SEO companies will charge between $2000-$5000/month.
That’s my two cents. You can absolutely find quality SEO professionals to hire in-house, but over the years, I’ve seen small businesses find much greater success going the agency route.
If you’re implementing an SEO program in your small business, did you hire in-house or hire an agency? Why?