Search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary if you want your business to grow in the digital age. Is it better to bite the bullet, learn about SEO, and do it yourself? Or is it better to outsource SEO?
Outsourcing makes perfect sense if you don’t care to learn about SEO but simply want it taken care of. Keeping it in-house makes sense if you have the staff expertise and resources to devote to it.
A Quick Guideline
Here is a quick general guideline. If your budget for SEO is low and your need for control over the SEO process is also low, then outsourcing SEO makes sense.
Conversely, if your budget for SEO is generous and so is your need for control over the SEO process, then you should probably keep it in-house.
The combinations of low budget/high need for control or high budget/low need for control could go either way. Here is some information if you’re not sure what to do.
Keep SEO In-House
Keeping SEO in-house means you have someone on your staff to take care of SEO. They understand all aspects of SEO, including on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
It is not the type of work that someone can squeeze in when work is slow. Good SEO is both tactical and strategic.
Depending on the size and scope of your website(s), your SEO person will need to devote at least 20 hours per week to keeping everything up to date. If you have many websites, you may need more than one person dedicated to SEO.
The main advantage of taking care of SEO in-house is that you have access to your SEO professional at all times. If you notice a problem with one of your sites, you can ask that they analyze and fix it without having to alter your contract with them.
Another advantage of in-house SEO is that the person in charge of it understands the company. They know company history, what your brand is all about, and what tone your website content must have. They offer consistency across all your web properties.
The main disadvantage of taking care of SEO in-house is cost. If you don’t happen to have someone on your staff who knows how to implement SEO, you will have to hire someone.
Hiring an in-house SEO expert may make sense if you have an IT company or a publishing company. But if you’re a chiropractor or an insurance agent, it might be harder to convince those at the top that you need to hire someone to boost your website performance.
A second disadvantage is that keeping everything in-house increases the risk of a “claustrophobic” viewpoint. It may be harder to implement fresh ideas if your in-house SEO professional is used to doing things a certain way.
In a world where you can outsource everything from web design to grocery shopping, outsourcing SEO is a popular choice. Why add someone to the payroll when you can hire a company to do everything for you and then go away when they’re finished?
For one-time or infrequent SEO needs, outsourcing makes perfect sense. If it’s an ongoing need, the choice may not be quite as obvious.
Outsourcing is a clear winner when nobody on staff knows what to do to elevate your website in search results. You can focus on core business activities while someone else takes care of SEO. And it costs far less than hiring someone full-time.
Furthermore, an individual or agency specializing in SEO is likely to be up-to-date on all aspects of the subject matter. This is important since search engines frequently change the importance of the various factors used in determining rank.
One disadvantage of outsourcing is that you have less control over the processes your contractor uses. How can you be certain they’re practicing “white hat SEO” and not doing things that will ultimately harm your reputation?
And suppose your needs suddenly change. How easy will it be to get your outsourced SEO provider to pivot and go in a new direction? And how much extra will that cost?
Budgets and Need for Control
The two main factors most companies use when choosing whether or not to outsource SEO are their budget and their need for control (or confidentiality). Other factors exist, but they are usually less important.
First ask yourself, “Do we need to know what our SEO contractor does at every step? Are we happy with providing the information they need and stepping back to let them work their magic?”
If you need a lot of control over the process, then you need to take a hard look at your resources. Hiring someone may be your only satisfactory choice.
Some companies simply cannot hand over the data that an independent SEO contractor or agency needs in order to provide excellent SEO services. Handling it in-house is really the only choice in that situation.
Don’t Neglect Your Core Business Activities
Businesses must also ensure that they will continue to handle core business activities even if someone in-house dedicates their time to SEO. It may require doing more than giving someone SEO responsibilities and distributing their former work among colleagues.
Focusing on core business activities is one reason so many businesses choose to outsource SEO. This is particularly true in non-tech businesses that have few or no IT people on staff.
What to Look for in an External SEO Provider
There is no standard licensing for SEO professionals, so you have to perform due diligence before outsourcing. Not just anyone can deliver the SEO results that you need.
Here are some good questions to ask anyone you consider contracting with to provide SEO services.
- How long have you provided SEO services?
- Who are some former clients I can talk to?
- What results do you typically get for your clients?
- How much do you charge?
- What time frame would you need to take care of us?
- How do you communicate with clients and how often do you communicate with them?
When to Reject an External SEO Provider
If you find an SEO provider who does any of the following things, do not hire them.
- Keyword stuffing
- Using duplicate content
- Buying low-quality backlinks from link farms
- Using unoptimized images
- Writing low-quality SEO content
These are examples of SEO practices that can lower your search rankings or have you kicked off search engines altogether. The cost to your reputation would exceed the money you spent on the services.
You may only be able to find out about these “black hat SEO” practices from former clients. That’s why you should be wary if an SEO provider is reluctant to put you in touch with their former clients.
Smaller Businesses Often Outsource SEO
Small businesses frequently outsource SEO services, and it makes a lot of sense. After all, they want to focus on taking care of customer needs, not using keyword tools, and worrying about alt-tags.
If this is you, then maybe you should schedule a phone call with our team. We build only websites that are SEO-enriched from the start, and we are dedicated to ensuring that our clients’ sites conform to the latest standards in SEO technology.
Let’s talk. A 15-minute call can free you up to tend to your business, while we look after your website and SEO needs.