If you need to optimize your website for search engine visibility (and let’s face it — most companies do), there are only a few main ways to go about it:
- Learn SEO yourself and apply it to your business
- Hire a full-time SEO analyst
- Hire an agency that specializes in SEO
All three options are viable, depending on what resources are available to you and what stage the company is in. However, from any and all perspectives we have evaluated, it would seem that hiring a SEO agency is the most logical and reasonable option to consider.
Why? Let’s see!
1. Greater Knowledge & Experience
SEO is more than just knowing the right way to research keywords and which content management system to adopt. A typical agency will bring an array of knowledge and expertise of the digital marketing realm that you could not possibly fathom alone or with an analyst.
There are multiple SEO professionals who grow alongside each other and can build on their network to gain greater insight, compared to an analyst who doesn’t share an working environment with other marketers and is limited to their own devices. With an analyst, you’ll have to maintain their education. Because SEO practices are constantly changing, it’s hard to simply hire a person and be done with it. Any education they have from a degree isn’t going to be modern within a year or so, thus further investment into their education will be necessary sooner rather than later. Agencies, on the other hand, are self-learning professionals who don’t do so on the clients’ dime. You can expect them to keep their education and skills up to date. They are the first line in learning what’s changing within the industry. They have the tools and resources to ensure your website is always using the most modern SEO techniques and tools. And, they tend to be at the cutting edge of implementing new methodologies before others, giving you the edge.
SEO agencies live and breathe digital marketing. They know what works, what doesn’t, and how to get there effectively. A high quality agency will also have experience working with many clients across various industries, giving them a unique perspective needed to apply their know-how of SEO to your business — there is a high probability they have previously worked with companies similar to yours, almost certainly assuring you will see results by hiring them.
2. Streamlined Complimentary Services
If you hire someone to work in-house on your SEO campaign, your gains are often limited to their knowledge. The services they offer are also limited to the individual.
With an SEO agency, however, you can be offered services that go hand-in-hand with SEO, including (but not limited to) content marketing, design, analytics, paid search, conversion optimization and email marketing to name a few.
Some agencies like to offer these services to better serve their clients, if they so need it. In this way, if you are happy with an agencies performance SEO-wise, you can simply request additional marketing services and not need to worry about hiring another analyst and going through the usual routine of having to recruit, interview and ultimately take a risk on hiring an applicant when you can be focused on growing your business instead.
3. Enhanced Accountability & Performance
This is a big one. Accountability can assure your goals are being met with hard numbers and dates, which most agencies will set at the beginning of a campaign. When you work with an SEO agency, there are deliverables based on an agreement you sign regarding what will be achieved and by what date.
In-house analysts don’t have performance-based incentives. They get paid whether they deliver results or not. They get paid whether a task takes them a few days or is stretched out over a number of months. There is little accountability that can truly be enforced on an analyst, whereas with an agency, it is almost always identified early on and can be directly tied to their performance review, which allows you as a business owner to minimize your risk while maximizing your return.
An outside marketing team can (and will) inject new, exciting & profitable ideas into your organization you could not have conjured up with a lone analyst. With more eyes on your project and hearing a new perspective you can break out of the tunnel vision that may be inhibiting your innovative progress, as this is a common issue for many modern businesses. When you are so immersed in the management of your business, it’s often difficult to see past the weeds to understand the bigger picture. With a third-party SEO agency, however, you gain access to a fresh, new, unbiased perspective by listening to experts who are outside of your bubble.
If an analyst is sick or on leave, there is not much a company can do but wait for them to return to work or hire someone and train them up in the interim. With an agency, however, another professional can share the load with a team member and there will never be a break in performance due to someone always being available to you at any given moment — #winning.
4. Financially Superior Model
There is no denying the cost savings of hiring an agency over a full-time analyst.
Full-time analysts can be expensive, and not just because of the higher salary you’ll need to pay them. There’s also the costs of:
- Health insurance
- Unemployment insurance
- Hardware (computer, peripherals etc.)
- Software (email, crm, tools, etc.)
- Pay raises
- Sick leave
- Risk of theft/litigation
And a host of other miscellaneous costs. According to Indeed, a junior SEO analyst will cost you approximately $40,000 a year base. When you add in the aforementioned costs, it could be well over $60,000. Evidently, bringing in an in-house SEO specialist can be extremely expensive and carries a considerable amount of risk with it, especially if you hire the wrong person.
Most SEO agencies, on the other hand, only charge a flat monthly fee which usually equates to a few thousand dollars per month. That’s it. No extra fees. No hidden charges.
So ask yourself — which would you rather hire: a full-time junior analyst who will cost you a pretty penny, or a team of experts for a fraction of the price?
5. Simplified Support & Termination
Issues may arise while working with your SEO agency. You may have a disagreement about a term in the contract or if your agency contact isn’t answering emails or calls. During this time, your campaign could suffer during the dispute.
With an agency, though, there’s a simple solution – if your current contact is a problem, let their boss know. You can go up the chain of command with an SEO agency to get the answers and help you need. With an agency, you are going to find it’s much easier to get back on track.
If the same issues were to arise with someone in-house, the only recourse you may have is to let them go. At this point, your entire SEO campaign is stalled until you find and train someone new. This is time-consuming and expensive.
Agencies deal with issues all day long and usually have a streamlined process on how to handle them and resolve the issues quickly. They are ready for them and can deal with them effectively.
And if an agency isn’t performing, you can let them go with ease.
Agencies tend to outline what the SEO strategy will be and what they plan to accomplish by what date. If they miss the mark, there is grounds for dismissal with almost no recourse. Agencies understand they are being paid for performance and will do everything they can to keep you (the client) happy. If they are not delivering, they know it!
While you can also let an in-house employee go, this may cause more issues, including lawsuits if the person believes they were unfairly terminated. They could even take some intellectual property with them, along with any negative feedback they could manifest through any online platform or word-of-mouth.
The other benefit of an agency is that most contracts are set on a month-to-month basis. There is no severance or period where they are paid for work they are not doing. They can be let go and it will be a clean break since there are no contingencies in such contracts.
As you may have observed, working with a SEO agency offers several advantages over an in-house analyst. Agencies are better in almost every single way, offering a wider selection of services, more affordable prices and a higher level of expertise with a level of experience that is almost impossible to mirror through other models.
Understanding that going with an agency, though, is merely one side of the coin. There is also the concern of knowing what to look for when hiring one. Once you have identified what you are looking for, you can reach your business goals in a simple and straightforward manner.
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Sebastian Hovv is the CEO & founder of SEO 101 and the author of the book, The Little White Book of SEO. With over 13 years of experience in SEO, he has become an expert in the field and a contributor to the world of online marketing education through the online courses and learning material SEO 101 provides.