Developing or acquiring good search engine optimization practices has become a critical aspect of business today because search engine rankings can literally make or break your business. That’s why the decision of hiring an SEO agency vs an in-house specialist is an important decision which you must get right.
In this day and age, SEO is not something you can just opt out of – bigger, better sites born before the time of SEO are struggling with improving and even maintaining their current rankings. On the contrary, fresh sites who know the right strategies to employ are killing it in the SERPs. So hitting the ground running with a fully-fledged SEO plan should be the first concern for any business owner.
‘But’, you might be saying to yourself, ‘I don’t even understand what SEO is, so how am I supposed to do it?’
The answer: you don’t.
SEO can be handled in-house, by a dedicated SEO specialist, or by a for-hire SEO agency who make search engine optimization their bread and butter. In this article, we’ll be breaking down the pros and cons of hiring an SEO expert or agency versus going for an in-house approach to help you make the best decisions for your business.
At Switch, the agency powering BeeWits, we know how to do SEO right, so if you’re looking for SEOs based out of Malta, we’re the right choice for you.
Table of Contents
- IN-HOUSE SEO Specialist
- SEO AGENCY
IN-HOUSE SEO Specialist
Are you more inclined to hire an SEO specialist in-house? This section’s for you! Let’s discover what the benefits and drawbacks of such a decision can be.
1. Better understanding of the company
In-house SEO specialists will almost certainly have a better understanding of the product or article you’re trying to boost, as well as an overall approach to the way the company functions, time constraints, and budget restrictions, too. Hiring outside the company means that all of that will need to be explained, and no matter how thorough you are, there will always be miscommunications.
2. More time given to projects
In-house SEO specialists will be able to dedicate up to 40 hours a week on SEO-related projects; that means that the project will get done faster, or more effort is put into it, even if they’re split between multiple accounts. SEO agencies don’t tend to distinguish or prioritize one project over the other, which means that it might take longer to get done. But you’re definitely not going to get 40 hours/week unless you’re paying an arm and a leg.
3. Easier collaboration
If your team works like a charm even when the boss isn’t in the office, chances are that your SEO specialist will already know where to go and who to talk to to get all related material done; that means everything from product development to customer service. Team members are more likely to engage and collaborate with someone they can chat with at the water cooler, too, where there is less of a barrier between them and an outside hire.
4. Promote change
SEO optimization tends to galvanize a company, and having the opportunity to control and slow the pace of that change from within will allow your company the wiggle-room it needs to adapt. Ultimately, in-house SEO will give your company a much-needed boost.
In-house SEO agents cost you a salary and benefits: if you’re prepared to pay out that amount of money per year, it’ll work out a little cheaper in the long-run as you’re not hiring someone specifically for a single task, but appointing an existing employee to the role of search engine optimization specialist. That said, if you don’t have an employee on SEO, there might be inherent risks to appointing one at the eleventh hour before a project is due.
1. Project delays
Yes, having an SEO specialist in-house means that there will be more time dedicated to your ranking projects, however that is only one aspect of the business. Chances are, organizations can still stagnate and slow progress through time or budget issues, thereby delaying a project almost indefinitely. This isn’t an unmanageable issue, however, it’s definitely a concern, as there will almost inevitably be a stop at some aspect of the project.
2. Lack of resources
SEO specialists in-house might not actually have the resources they need to complete the task given, whether that’s a result of technical components or just a lack of development expertise.
Furthermore, there’s another aspect to consider: in-house SEO will not always be able to acquire the services, assets, and expertise that an SEO agency possesses, as these things cost time and money, and for most small businesses, it would be way over their budget.
3. Difficult to consider the outcome
In-house SEO specialists could struggle with immediately pinpointing the direction a strategy or project should take, especially if they haven’t yet worked on a project of the same caliber. In the long run, they’ll learn, however, expect initial roadblocks in the development of an SEO strategy.
4. Tunnel vision
Getting people out of their heads is a problem most businesses struggle with, and SEO specialists are no different. They might find it difficult to put themselves in the role of the outsider at the culmination of a project, and could definitely misstep in the process of developing SEO for a project.
Okay – we’ve said hiring an SEO specialist should be more cost-effective than an agency, and that is true. However, consider the idea that you need a team, not a singular person: most big projects need more than one person to run their SEO strategies, and even if it is a singular person, the up-front cost could cripple small and medium businesses before they’ve even gotten themselves off the ground.
And that isn’t even getting into the cost of development, buying tools, services, and gaining sufficient industry experience and expertise – all of that adds up to a lot of money, way more than it would cost to just hire an SEO agency in the first place. Because SEO agencies operate at scale, the costs are split between multiple clients; on the other hand, in-house agencies only have one client – themselves.
We’ve spoken at length now about the benefits and problems of hiring in-house. But what about hiring an agency? Surely an agency would have an equal amount of issues? You’d be surprised!
Here’s what’s good about hiring an SEO agency:
1. Specialized expertise
SEO is a huge, broad field, ever-changing field, which requires somebody who has acquired knowledge over a long period of time and understands the nuances of search engine optimization – so don’t be surprised if your SEO specialist isn’t immediately familiar with the niche you are trying to build in. SEO agencies, on the other hand, have a team of dedicated people ready to research and produce results.
2. More than just SEO
Hiring an SEO specialist means that they come with perks – and one of those perks is the included talented of everyone else in their parent agency, which could be anything from product design to content marketing to promotion, to CRO (Conversion rate optimization). SEO doesn’t exist in a vacuum: just having the results won’t make them translatable into a higher ranking, but the added efforts of content marketing will definitely help!
3. Powerful tools
Besides the additional talent, hiring SEO specialists means that you won’t have to shell out for expensive software and licenses; they’ll have them already, as that’s what they do! Their bread and butter is SEO optimization, and therefore an SEO agency will have access to the services, assets, and tools that they need. In most cases, SEO agencies won’t even need to acquire any new tools for the purposes of your project – they’ll have them already!
4. Never miss a deadline
If you hire an SEO specialist and give them a deadline, chances are that they will commit to delivery by that deadline. They have other clients, yes, but it isn’t in their favor to miss the deadline that you have imposed – so outside SEO specialists will get their job done, and in enough time for changes or updates to the existing product!
5. Up to date
This goes hand in hand with tools: hiring SEO services means you also hire their equipment, which will almost definitely be in line with the latest industry updates and technological trends.
6. Outsider perspective
They can see what you’re doing wrong – and they can definitely fix it! Hiring SEO specialists means that, as they’re away from the daily activities of the office, they can give you a unique top-down look at your business and come up with an SEO strategy in line with what you want to deliver.
7. Immediately right
If you have an SEO team in-house, this could be the decision that gets you to invest in the services of ‘SEO for hire’: an already-established SEO agency has worked with thousands of clients, which means that their services are already a keenly-honed machine, and they’ll have a mountain of data about what works and what doesn’t to really get your strategy right the first time around.
As you can see, the benefits of hiring an SEO agency are numerous – but are there any downsides? Of course, there are, but far fewer than you think!
1. Snake Oil Sellers
There are a lot of so-called SEOs which wouldn’t know what they are doing. The niche is lucrative, so it attracts a lot of wannabes, so hiring somebody who really knows their stuff is not easy.
The thing is, because SEO is a relatively new field and is also ever-evolving and changing, a lot of people can claim that they understand the ins and outs of SEO better than their competitor – for example, how many SEO websites can you count that promise you the number one spot on Google?
Rankings are never guaranteed, and not up to an SEO specialist, no matter how good that SEO specialist is, and the industry is rife with snake-oil salesmen who promise the moon and deliver some moon-dust in a snow-globe — but if you’re not aware of how vast the SEO field is, how it works, how results are formed, and so on, it can be very difficult to tell apart genuine SEO agencies from people who just want your hard-earned money.
2. Choosing the right agency
There are hundreds of agencies who say they offer SEO, so separating the ones with a proven track record from the ones who just pay lip-service to SEO could be initially difficult.
Ensure you can see the track record of the agency and ask specifically for references and the ability to speak to satisfied clients.
3. Additional clients
If you hire SEO services, you won’t be their only account, but an account in a field of accounts. It doesn’t mean your project won’t get done – but it definitely won’t get done from day to night, which isn’t something you’d expect of an in-house SEO specialist either.
4. So what should I go for?
On paper, the answer should be obvious: hiring an SEO specialist is a much better choice than springing the cash for your own in-house SEO team. Keep in mind that if your company doesn’t have an established SEO team in-house already, then setting one up might be far, far more expensive than simply hiring an agency outright – and definitely something to keep in mind throughout the process of determining which form of search engine optimisation meets your expectations.
However, if it’s boiled down to just one simple reason, hire outside SEO services just for their expertise. SEO agencies specialise in boosting your website’s rankings, and ultimately your business: while that might seem obvious, it bears repeating that the purpose of SEO agencies is to become experts in your niche, no matter how selective that niche is. If you still aren’t sure, read this article we’ve previously published about offering search optimisation for boosting businesses! Switch specialises in boosting our clients’ Google rankings on the sites we work on.
Ultimately, in-house SEO vs SEO for hire is your decision and your decision only, but SEO for hire offers cheaper long-term costs, better expertise, dedicated tools and technology, and the benefit of hiring industry experts with a fail-proof plan for bumping up your Google rankings. Hiring SEO services should definitely be on your to-do list if you want to really make an impact!