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posted on February 15th, 2012

The When and Why of Hiring an SEO Agency vs. Doing SEO In-house

If you’re running a business that sells through the web either directly or indirectly, you would definitely look at search engine optimization as a crucial technique to build your website traffic base and for lead generation. Correctly implemented search engine optimization can bring new visitors to your website and if your site is well designed and is conversion oriented, you can convert these visitors into paying customers.

However, as the marketing manager of such a firm, you need to take decision of whether to hire someone to manage the SEO in-house or to hire an SEO firm to work on all the intricacies of search engine optimization. Here are some of the pros and cons of hiring vs. outsourcing your web marketing requirements.

Pros of In-house SEO

The biggest advantage of keeping an important activity like search engine optimization in-house is the focus which it can get. Not to say that an agency would not focus, it may perhaps more than you can get, However, if you get to hire a competent in-house SEO manager, she would only be focusing on your company, a handful of online properties (yours) and your own industry with a bunch of competitors. She will understand the online set up of your industry and would know in and out the main blogs, forums, listservs, news sites and influence makers in your industry.

Your in-house SEO expert would have a smaller basket of keywords, content responsibilities and even competitors that she needs to research. She most probably knows more about the company than an outside firm would know. This would help her get more done in less time and the physical presence in your company premise itself would mean that she can get along with the creative, the server team and the company decision makers to keep the ball rolling.

Cons of In-house SEO

You can’t see the forest for the trees – that is the saying which does rounds within an SEO agency. Anyone who has worked for an agency understands that it can become myopic when you’re focused on one company, one industry, and ten competitors. There is no dearth of very smart people in every industry and your SEO would miss the opportunity to learn from them.

More often than not, in-house SEO is plagued with high turnover too. Your in-house SEO may not see benefit in working on a mundane job every day. Unless, you the marketing manager know SEO and can lead the creative and innovation in SEO, she can leave to work for an SEO agency. This would help her learn more in depth and wide too

Pros of Agency SEO

SEO agencies present themselves with new challenges in different industries almost every day. The best of the SEO agencies solve complex SEO issues and get client websites ranked across a set of industries. This breadth of SEO offering is their primary strength. When these agencies monitor hundreds of Google Analytics accounts, they can see patterns of search engine ranking updates and decipher what works and what not. This collective intelligence coupled with their project management skills makes them a force which churns rankings easily.

When you hire an SEO firm, you tap into their collective intelligence and expertise. With an agency you benefit by having teams rather than individuals. A results-driven SEO company would do much more than just “optimize” your website for web rankings. They understand your industry set up and take corrective actions on your website too so that it can perform better and get a better ROI which beats the industry standard.

While your in-house SEO expert may deliver results, an agency with a successful track record would bring a visible difference to your online presence in a smaller timeframe. They know what works and what doesn’t and hence unlike an in-house SEO focus only on things that get you the best return for your investment.

Cons of Agency SEO

With agencies, you fail to understand who is involved in what work. Yes, you do get the time sheets and the hours on a monthly basis but you do not know if the one with ten years of experience worked on it or was it the new “brilliant chap”. 

Where to Go?

For an enterprise-level agency a dream SEO team comprises of a small in-house marketing staff that has at least one trained SEO on-board and an SEO agency working on their SEO. This offers the best of both worlds as the agency can focus on achieving the SEO excellence and train the in house team. The in-house SEO members can learn from the SEO agency and can report the SEO work to the management, increase the speed of the required SEO implementations and suggestions and communicate with the agencies to find new content and linking opportunities that exist for the company.

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