Renting vs. Buying Your SEO Solution
If you’re a renter like me, you’ve heard this from well-meaning homeowners: you are “wasting your money” renting instead of taking advantage of this all-time-low housing market and its super-low interest rates. You could be putting all that rent money into a mortgage and soon enough you’d own that house instead of walking away with nothing.
And okay, I get it. For a long time, owning a home was an Investment. It was meant to be not just a place to live, but also a place that you could, one day, hand down to your children. (Or at least mortgage the heck out of it for your children’s college education.) You were building equity and the home was gaining value and some day, perhaps many years from now, you would get more out of the house than you put into it.
I live in California. The average home valuation in my city, even in these times, is $463,000. Using the handy NY Times calculator and putting that housing cost against my current rent, do you know where I am at the end of 30 years? $200,000 poorer (but with a house for my trouble).
Emotionally, having a home may seem like the right thing to do but that’s clearly not the case for me.
In a way, this is a problem that small business owners face as well. Do you contract an agency or SEO consultant for your search marketing efforts (rent) or do you put a ring on it and hire an in-house employee (buy)? Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons to get started.
Rent an SEO – Agencies and Consultants
Controllable cost — You’re a small business who can’t afford to hire, train and maintain another person on staff. Hiring an agency gets you an expert who is ready on Day One to make improvements to your site and help you build traffic and brand. You don’t have to pay health insurance on your rented SEO. That’s someone else’s problem.
Short-term relationship — Feeling confident about your ability to do it yourself? Unhappy with the results you’re getting? Contracts with consultants and agencies are usually designed with end dates in mind. You’re not locked into anything.
Only 20 hours a month! — Your SEO campaign isn’t going to happen overnight but that’s okay. You only need a few hours a month to keep going and you’re only paying for what you’re using.
No buy-in — The agency is in business to help your SEO efforts but they are not living and dying by your success.
Short-term relationship — Some people stay with their agencies and consultants forever but that’s not always the case. Agencies go out of business or raise their rates, consultants move away, change their specialties. You have no obligation to them but they have no obligation to you either.
Only 20 hours a month? — Your SEO campaign needs attention but you can’t afford any more time this month, so you don’t get any work done.
Buy into the SEO Dream – Hire In-house
40 hours a week – For what is usually far less an hour, you can hire an employee to devote every waking hour to making your site succeed and there’s no arguing about who’s the boss.
SEO, Web designer, fetcher of coffee – Your inhouse employee can wear as many hats as she has time in the day. Don’t need 20 hours of work this month on SEO? That’s okay, she can also write up some PPC ads, run your analytics program, write press releases, help out with customer support, even make coffee in the morning.
In-house means in the building – Your in-house employ, the one making coffee, is literally in the house. When something goes wrong or you have a question, it’s a matter of walking down the hall not calling across the country. Their schedule is your schedule.
SEM Training – it’s a rare hire that comes in with 100 percent knowledge. Your best case is picking up a consultant who wants to go in-house; but most of the time, hiring an SEO means hiring someone with knowledge of the Internet that you can train to be an SEO. So you end up spending time and money on SEO training courses.
Search Industry Research – Keeping up with Digital marketing is a full-time job, one that you’ll be footing the bill for. Search marketing changes every week and that means constantly doing research and testing to keep up. While agencies and consultants absorb this cost as a matter of staying in business, a small business may not be able to support the cost of staying on the cutting edge of the industry.
Desk space – the flip side of your SEO being in your building is that he’ll need a place to work, he’ll need equipment, he’ll need all sorts of things. If you’re a small business and your office is just the space you’ve cleared in the backroom, you might not have space for an SEO, even if he does make a mean latte.
Obviously, the answer is going to depend on your business, your market and your life. What makes sense here in California might not make sense in Ohio, and the right choice for Beth’s Auto Emporium might not work out for Todd’s Teahouse and Spa. The one option that isn’t on the table is going homeless. You need an online presence and that means investing in SEO.
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