In this, we’ll discuss the 5 key things to consider when deciding between outsourcing vs. handling SEO in-house.
Quick Breakdown: Outsourcing SEO vs. In-House SEO
|In-house SEO||Outsourced SEO|
|Cost||Full-time role(s) with additional benefits||Scale up & down as needed|
|Dedication||In-house SEO team focuses on your exclusively||SEO contractors juggle multiple clients|
|Expertise||Hire for expertise or hire a T-shaped SEO specialist||SEO agencies work with specialists in various SEO areas|
|Training||You need to provide training, so your team is up-to-date||Dedicated specialists who keep up with recent developments|
Does Your Marketing Rely on SEO?
Depending on the maturity of your business, SEO may be a small or a significant part of your marketing strategy. For a new company, SEO is a way to start generating organic traffic. But the stakes are much higher if most of your revenue comes from organic traffic.
(Chances are, you’ll also want more control over campaigns and implementation.)
When you outsource SEO, you need to be flexible. You will share your key goals with the implementation agency, but they will have their own approach (one you may not necessarily agree with). As they handle multiple clients at the same time, they won’t be able to respond to your needs as quickly as your in-house team.
When you handle SEO in-house, you hold the reins. You’re working with your internal team, so you can meet as frequently as you’d like, evaluate results regularly, and iterate until you’re completely satisfied with the approach.
If you spot a problem in the way they’re implementing your SEO, it’ll be harder to course-correct a contractor on the go.
SEO Expertise vs Industry Expertise
Next, think about your SEO needs:
- On-page optimization
- Off-page optimization & backlink building
- Technical SEO
SEO agencies typically have different employees for different areas. For example, they may have an employee dedicated exclusively to structured data, redirects, canonicalization, and other aspects of technical optimization.
However, outsourced SEO providers don’t have your team’s industry expertise. They can improve your backlink profile, but they’re not immersed in the industry and your business the way your in-house team is.
On the flip side, if you want to do SEO in-house, you’ll either have to:
- Hire an entire SEO team, or
- Hire an SEO generalist, or
- Provide SEO training to your existing employees, or-
- Pick your top priorities
You’ll still get the advantage of working with a team that understands your business and industry.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to hire in-house or outsource SEO hinges on the complexity of your SEO needs:
- Do you do business primarily through your website?
- How competitive is your industry?
- Does your agency have experience in your specific industry or are they generalists?
It’s one thing to run a SaaS company and have an SEO specialist who also handles content marketing, provided they have the right tools. They might spend most of their day researching keywords with minimal technical SEO.
But if you run an eCommerce store, your complexity quickly rises. Your one-person SEO team could get quickly overwhelmed with all the different aspects of optimizing your online store for search engines.
How Quickly Do You Want to See Results?
SEO is a long-term strategy, but it can take even longer if you’re resource-constrained. Review your budget and goals before you decide to outsource SEO or hire a specialist.
An SEO agency will likely get you initial results faster in standard conditions; they have dedicated staff. If you’re first launching a website, they can get you off the ground faster than just one or two in-house SEO generalists.
(It gets trickier when you have ambitious campaigns. In that case, in-house SEO is almost always the right choice.)
However, as with any agency, their time isn’t exclusively dedicated to you. Review different agencies and providers, ensuring they have a proven track record.
Usually, a small SEO team or a person dedicated to SEO in-house SEO is the best way to guarantee results. As part of your company, they’re highly invested in your success, but your resources still dictate the timeline.
SEO Isn’t a Set-It-and-Forget-It Affair
Whether hiring an in-house SEO specialist or contracting an agency, SEO will be a long-term cost. Industries and consumer preferences change constantly; you need to optimize continuously.
If you handle SEO in-house, your employees will need training. On the other hand, an outsourced SEO provider handles training on their end.
After you establish the foundations, moving forward with your in-house team will be much easier. You’ll spot opportunities and act on them faster. SEO will be a native addition to your marketing campaigns. After all, coordinating different teams is easier when you all rally around company objectives.
It’s much harder to coordinate with an outsourced SEO provider. Since they divide time between clients, they won’t spot as many opportunities as a dedicated full-time employee might. You’ll need to keep an eye out for opportunities and liaise between them and your team when you launch campaigns.
Can You Combine In-House and Outsourced SEO?
Most companies choose one, but you can make in-house and outsourced SEO work hand-in-hand. In fact, if you’ve found yourself agreeing with both sides while reading this article, it’s a valid option.
With a combined approach, your in-house staff can focus on their areas of expertise or high-level initiatives. At the same time, an SEO contractor can complement your team with the skills they’re missing.
Then, you can hire outsourced SEO help on-demand for time-consuming tasks. For example, technical SEO or comprehensive website audits (unless you have a tool that automatically audits your site for you).
Verdict: Should You Hire or Outsource SEO?
Ultimately, the decision depends on your goals and abilities. Search engine marketing is one of the most powerful lead generation channels, so plan for the long term.
If you can’t hire but need the results - find a reliable agency with a proven track record.
But if you can hire - even if it’s just one person and a T-shaped SEO specialist - take the leap. You’ll have a dedicated person whose sole focus is your company’s SEO. Then, simply complement their skills with the right tooling or outsource lower-value SEO tasks.
Here at SiteGuru, we specialize in helping marketing teams master SEO. Our tool regularly audits your website so your team doesn’t waste time and you avoid paying for an outsourced service that can be automated. You’ll get a report with clear action items so your team can focus on their highest-value task: growing your company.