In-House SEO or SEO Agency: Which Is Right for Your Business?

Wondering if you should run SEO in-house or hire an agency? It all depends on your budget, goals, and understanding of each option. In this post, we will explore the pros and cons of both of your options, helping you make an informed decision that aligns perfectly with your business objectives and resources.

SEO in-house or agency

SEO Agency Advantages

An SEO agency consists of highly experienced analysts who possess valuable expertise. These agencies have access to premier tools and extensive data, making them an invaluable resource for any business. Agencies stay up to date on SEO changes and trends.

SEO agencies have it down to a science and can produce fast results. After all, they do this for a living for a reason. They tend to have a comprehensive understanding of all things SEO and this allows an agency to optimize your brand’s strategy effectively.

Additionally, SEO agencies provide a fresh perspective that can be lacking with an in-house SEO. In-house professionals may become too immersed in their organization’s website, making it difficult to identify issues. With an outside agency, you benefit from a new set of eyes that can offer valuable insights and solutions.

From a cost perspective, while SEO agencies may have higher hourly rates, they eliminate the additional expenses associated with maintaining an in-house SEO as an employee. In-house SEOs come with costs beyond their salary, such as equipment, tools, education, and benefits. By opting for an agency, you pay for their expertise and time without incurring these additional expenses.

In-House SEO Advantages

An in-house SEO brings a deep commitment to your business and can focus solely on your brand’s needs. They possess extensive knowledge of your industry and understand the unique requirements of your business. In addition, they become a go-to expert for all search engine optimization matters related to your organization.

One of the advantages of having an in-house SEO is accessibility. Being on-site, they can collaborate with various departments, such as IT or marketing. This close proximity fosters day-to-day collaborations and facilitates effective communication.

In-house SEOs also excel in representing your brand’s message and methodology. Their constant exposure to your business allows them to truly understand and embody your brand identity. They live and breathe your brand, making them better equipped to communicate your company’s message effectively in marketing campaigns.

Which Is Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision between an in-house SEO and an SEO agency depends on your budget and specific needs. Regardless of your choice, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and select an experienced, ethical, and effective agency or individual. To aid in the selection process, we recommend asking the “25 SEO Interview Questions” provided by Bruce Clay, Inc.

If you decide to work with an agency, look for a digital marketing firm with a proven track record, longevity in the industry, seasoned SEO consultants, and a strong reputation. Our comprehensive “How to Onboard an SEO Agency” checklist can guide you through the selection process, ensuring you make an informed decision.

In your experience, what combination of in-house and consultant works best for your search marketing initiatives? Share your thoughts in the comments section! For further insights on the in-house vs. agency debate, check out the recent discussion from #SEMRushChat.

Ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level? Whether you’re leaning towards an in-house team or an agency, make an informed decision that suits your business goals—explore, collaborate, and elevate your brand’s online presence. Let’s talk.

FAQ: How can I decide between in-house SEO and an SEO agency for my business?

Businesses seeking digital success must decide between managing SEO in-house or partnering with an SEO agency, and we’ll explore its nuances so that you can make an informed decision that fits with your goals and needs.

Understanding Your Business Needs

To determine the most suitable approach, start by evaluating your business requirements. In-house SEO provides direct control but demands extensive time and resources. Conversely, an SEO agency offers expertise and scalability, ideal for businesses seeking efficient solutions without the overhead.

Expertise Matters

SEO is a nuanced field that demands up-to-date knowledge of algorithms and trends. In-house teams may struggle to keep pace, while agencies often have a diverse team of specialists. Consider the complexity of your industry and the need for specialized skills, ensuring your chosen path aligns with your SEO objectives.

Scalability and Flexibility

The scalability of your SEO efforts is a pivotal factor. Agencies offer flexibility, adapting strategies based on your evolving needs. In-house teams, while committed, may need help in handling sudden surges in workload or adapting swiftly to market changes.

Budgetary Considerations

Financial implications play a pivotal role in this decision. In-house SEO involves fixed costs, including salaries and training, whereas agencies often operate on a more flexible, project-based model. Carefully analyze your budget and weigh it against the value each option brings to the table.

Measuring ROI and Success

Determining the success of your SEO efforts is essential. Agencies often provide transparent metrics, making it easier to gauge ROI. In-house teams must establish robust tracking mechanisms to ensure consistent measurement and optimization of strategies.

Deciding between in-house SEO and an SEO agency hinges on your business’s specific needs, expertise requirements, scalability demands, budget constraints, and the ability to measure success effectively. It’s a nuanced decision that warrants careful consideration. Remember, the optimal choice is the one that aligns with your business goals and sets the stage for sustainable online growth.

Step-by-Step Guide: Choosing Between In-House SEO and an SEO Agency

  1. Assess Your Business Needs: Identify the specific SEO requirements tailored to your business goals.
  2. Evaluate In-House Resources: Determine if your team possesses the necessary skills and time commitment for effective SEO management.
  3. Explore Agency Expertise: Research and shortlist SEO agencies with a proven track record in your industry.
  4. Consider Scalability: Assess your business’s potential for growth and the flexibility required in SEO efforts.
  5. Analyze Budget Constraints: Compare the fixed costs of an in-house team with the potential variable costs of an agency.
  6. Define Key Metrics: Establish measurable goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for assessing success.
  7. Review Agency Portfolios: Scrutinize case studies and client testimonials to gauge an agency’s performance.
  8. Calculate ROI Potential: Estimate the return on investment for both in-house and agency options.
  9. Factor in Market Dynamics: Consider how quickly your business needs to adapt to market changes and trends.
  10. Consult with Stakeholders: Engage key decision-makers in discussions to align strategies with overall business objectives.
  11. Seek Recommendations: Leverage industry networks and peer recommendations to gather insights.
  12. Negotiate Contracts: If opting for an agency, negotiate contracts that align with your business objectives.
  13. Implement Tracking Mechanisms: Establish robust analytics to measure the success of chosen strategies.
  14. Adaptability Testing: Assess the adaptability of the chosen approach over a trial period.
  15. Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback loop for continuous improvement, whether in-house or with an agency.
  16. Regular Audits: Conduct regular SEO audits to identify areas for improvement and optimization.
  17. Training and Development: If choosing in-house, invest in ongoing training and development for your team.
  18. Communication Channels: Ensure clear communication channels with your SEO agency or in-house team.
  19. Stay Informed: Keep abreast of industry trends and algorithm updates to stay ahead of the curve.
  20. Review and Iterate: Regularly review your chosen strategy, iterate based on performance, and adjust as needed.

By following these steps, you’ll confidently navigate the decision-making process, ensuring the selected approach aligns seamlessly with your business objectives.

In the dynamic world of digital marketing, the choice between in-house SEO and an agency is pivotal. Success lies in aligning your decision with your business’s unique needs and objectives.

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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22 Replies to “In-House SEO or SEO Agency: Which Is Right for Your Business?”

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There is definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you made

I agree with you and I would suggest for hiring an SEO agency if you are startup or you have only one website. If you have more than one then you can hire SEO people but you may not know instantly that they will deliver the good job. Where as an SEO agency can give the best suggestions on having good SEO experts.

In my opinion in House SEO or SEO Agency both have advantages and disadvantages, so it totally depends on work.

I Would Choose In-house SEO over Seo Agency, because you can monitor their performance easily as compared to SEO agency.

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Thanks for the information and I think it depends on the situation what situation and you want!!

would choose SEO agency over in-house SEO and using the same. Because for me it involves SEO education from scratch, more time and not having proper understanding of current SEO trends like a professional. Very well differentiate advantage of both.

SEO strategy really helps certain websites if its complexities and particularities can be handled in properly.


Great post!

What I feel is we need in-house SEO in order to keep our website safe, because I feel an SEO person can make or break as he/she will have every credentials related to our website which can be dangerous some time.

What is your thoughts on that?


Myself Karen, First of all I want to say that this is quite interesting post. Now this is very interesting that why I am calling this post interesting. Because, I am working with the agency which is also confused between “In house SEO” or “Hiring SEO Agency”. I am working on Inhouse Projects. So, finally decided to work with “Inhouse SEO” Thank god my job survived Haha jokes apart….!! But, ultimately I personally think that Inhouse SEO is best because we know that which direction we need to go and which ideas and prospects works fast and better for our business success. And there are bunch of advantages as well which Kristi defines here very well.

I agree with you and I would suggest for hiring sep agency if you are startup or you have only one website. If you have more than one then you can hire sep people but you may not know instantly that they will deliver the good job. Where is SEO agency can give the best suggesitons having good seo expert.

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Very comprehensive article. Nice work on listing the pros and cons of both In house SEO and an outsourced SEO agency. I think hiring an professional agency will also enable anyone to get maximum result in minimum time. So, it also depends on how quickly and eagerly you want the SEO results.

Hi Kristi,

Thanks for the great post. According to me hiring a reputed and experienced SEO agency would work best where experienced professionals are working on many sites and have full knowledge of how of SEO. They can very well handle the sites efficiently and have faced challenges to bring the rankings and traffic.

And at the end as you said nicely that it depends on budget and needs of your site. Overall it’s very nice post with best suggestions for both the options.

Thanks once again for the useful post.

Hi Kristi,

I would choose SEO agency over in-house SEO and using the same. Because for me it involves SEO education from scratch, more time and not having proper understanding of current SEO trends like a professional. Very well differentiate advantage of both.


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