In-House SEO or SEO Agency: Which Is Right for Your Business?
Devising or revising an SEO strategy for your business and wondering whether or not to go with an in-house SEO or an SEO agency? It’s a common – and good – question to be asking. The answer depends on your budget and on your goals.
Each option comes with its own benefits – and in a perfect world you would likely have both. Here’s Bruce Clay’s take on the issue: “It’s crucial to stay current with the latest SEO methodology – that’s very time-consuming, though. It requires several hours a day that a solo in-house SEO probably doesn’t have. A consultant can be a powerful ally, filling in the gaps by mentoring and guiding an in-house SEO.”
If it’s a matter of one or the other, however, it’s important to align the benefits of each and determine which is a better fit for your needs. Read on to find out more about the benefits of each option, with food for thought from our SEO manager, Robert Ramirez.
SEO Agency Advantages
An SEO agency is basically a think tank of highly experienced, savvy analysts. Their experience and talent, coupled with carte blanche access to premiere tools and extensive data, is an invaluable resource for any business. And there’s no surprising a strong SEO company — they are, after all, consumed with every aspect of SEO day-in and day-out.
“An SEO agency is entrenched in the industry,” said Ramirez. “They’re on top of all algorithm changes as they happen. Part of an agency’s job is to know everything about search engine optimization as it happens. Bruce Clay, for example, spends two to three hours a day reading.”
SEO agencies usually produce faster results because they have more experience. They’ve worked with hundreds (or thousands!) of clients in many industries. Search engine optimization agencies have a bird’s eye view of search.
“There’s less guesswork because — whatever the problem is — they’ve probably encountered it before,” Ramirez said.
Moreover, because SEO agencies work with multiple clients, they avoid the tunnel vision that an in-house SEO can be vulnerable to.
“Sometimes it can be hard for an in-house SEO to see a site’s issues because they’re looking at it too much. An SEO agency can offer a fresh perspective,” said Ramirez.
As far as cost is concerned, sometimes the hourly rate that an SEO agency charges can seem high. But with an SEO agency, you avoid the higher cost of maintaining an in-house SEO as an employee. An in-house SEO costs more than just salary alone — along with the salary, you are responsible for equipment, tools, education, benefits, etc. With an agency, those costs are not part of the package — you pay for the SEO agency’s expertise and time.
In-House SEO Advantages
An in-house SEO is thoroughly devoted to a business and focused on your brand 100 percent of the time. This SEO pro will have a robust knowledge of your industry, as well as your business’ unique needs. He or she is a go-to expert on search engine optimization and your business. Furthermore, the in-house SEO will have the advantage of working on-site with other team members.
“An in-house SEO is able to build relationships with other teams. They might have a stronger influence on IT or marketing, etc., since they’re in the building and have a day-to-day relationship with them,” said Ramirez. “On the other hand, an agency typically has the ability to escalate things to the C-Suite when teams are unresponsive. If an in-house’s words are falling on deaf ears, the agency can be the outside voice that their company will listen to. The agency can be key in making the higher-ups fall in line.”
For businesses who are in the process of building brand identity, an in-house SEO can make a lot of sense. An SEO working in-house is up to his elbows in your business’ message and methodology.
“They live and breathe your brand, which naturally makes them better equipped to represent the company’s message in marketing,” Ramirez said.
Which Is Right for You?
At the end of the day, it all boils down to your budget and needs. Whether you choose to work with an SEO agency or work with an in-house SEO, make sure you do your homework and find an experienced, ethical, and effective agency or individual. When interviewing a prospective analyst, we recommend asking these “25 SEO Interview Questions” pulled straight from Bruce Clay, Inc. interviews.
If you’re looking to vet an agency, remember that a strong digital marketing firm should have an impressive track record of successful projects, longevity in the industry, seasoned SEO consultants on staff that are recognized leaders, and a reputation that speaks for itself. Our How to Onboard an SEO Agency checklist has got you covered on all that you need to consider during the selection process.
In your experience, what combination of in-house and consultant works for getting search marketing initiatives done? Share in the comments! And for more talk on in-house vs. agency, check out this recent discussion from #SEMRushChat.