Eventually, every business reaches the point where it needs dedicated SEO support, ensuring a high level of visibility among targeted search engine users. This presents CEOs and business owners with a basic decision: Is it more logical to hire an inhouse SEO expert, or to outsource to an external SEO agency?
This is a question without a single, clear-cut answer. Both an inhouse SEO expert and an SEO consulting firm can provide various strengths and weaknesses. To make the best decision, it’s important to carefully explore the pros and cons, and to make a decision that takes into account your business’ needs, goals, and budget.
I have been doing SEO professionally since the mid 2000s, and have been on both sides of the divide, serving both as an inhouse SEO manager and as a consultant. As such, I can speak to a few benefits to each approach.
The Benefits of Hiring an Inhouse SEO Expert
To begin with, here are some of the advantages of putting an SEO expert or SEO manager on your payroll.
An In-house SEO Expert Offers Easier Access
Since the SEO manager is on your payroll full time, you’ll have better access to him or her during normal business hours. For example, if you request an ad hoc report for your next ELT meeting, you can probably have it generated much more expediently than if you had to submit a request to your external firm. Having an in-house SEO expert allows a lot more flexibility and convenience.
Having an Inhouse SEO Manager Makes it Easier to Pivot
Because your in-house SEO expert is more accessible, it also tends to be easier for you to pivot, or to adapt your strategy on the fly. If you need to change your approach to adjust your strategies, you can do so simply by calling for a quick huddle with your internal SEO team. In other words, having an in-house SEO expert allows you to be more agile.
Hiring an Internal SEO Manager May Be Cheaper
Having an in-house SEO manager may actually be the most cost-effective option. According to Glassdoor, on average, in-house SEO managers make a little over $70,000 a year in the US, based on seniority and experience. Working with an enterprise SEO agency may be a bit more expensive. (Of course, having an internal SEO manager also means extending benefits.)
An Inhouse SEO Expert May Have Deeper Knowledge of the Industry
Unlike SEO consultants, inhouse experts won’t need to balance the needs of multiple clients, nor understand the application of SEO across different industries. They can focus solely on your field and on your company, which might mean they develop an invaluable depth of knowledge. This, in turn, can yield more out-of-the-box thinking.
The Advantages of Outsourcing to an SEO Agency
There are some definite advantages to hiring an internal SEO manager, but before you make your final decision, it’s also important to note the benefits of outsourcing to an SEO agency.
With an Agency, You’ll Have Access to a Wider Range of Skills
One thing to keep in mind is that, when you hire an inhouse SEO expert, you tend to get a generalist… someone who has a decent, overall understanding of SEO. However, SEO is a pretty vast and complicated field, and you may run into scenarios where you could really use someone with more specialized expertise. By hiring an SEO consulting firm, you can gain access to a broader team of SEO specialists. For example, you can benefit from access to a technical SEO specialist, a PR specialist, a link building specialist, a content marketing expert, and so on.
Outsourcing to an SEO Agency Will Provide More Resources
Again, it’s important to remember that SEO is a big field… and to do the job well, especially at an enterprise scale, it requires access to the latest technology. Generally, this is where SEO consultancies will really shine. When you outsource, your agency will likely provide you with access to:
- Extensive, cutting-edge digital marketing tools
- Advanced dashboard and analytics
- Relationships with bloggers, PR firms, and other key vendors or influencers
- Streamlined workflows and project management tools
The bottom line: An SEO agency will have all the resources needed to do their job, and to avoid being stretched too thin.
Enlisting an External SEO Agency Will Help You Avoid Internal Drama
One of the biggest knocks against hiring an inhouse SEO expert is that doing so will risk disruption due to office politics. I am not saying there’s no drama or politics in the agency world, but generally, there’s not a lot of room for consultants to get involved in workplace drama. Simply put, they need to stay focused on their assignments and projects in order to maximize their output and to improve efficiency.
SEO Consulting Companies Will Stay on Top of the Latest Trends
The world of SEO is evolving all the time because of changes to the search engine algorithms, changes to consumer behavior, and changes to the technological landscape. To get the results you want, it’s vital to stay abreast of all the latest developments. An in-house SEO expert can accomplish this to some extent, but an SEO consulting firm will have more bandwidth and more resources to stay plugged into the industry.
Consider Taking a Hybrid Approach
Clearly, there are pros and cons to hiring an inhouse SEO expert, as well as to enlisting the services of an SEO agency.
As you weigh these pros and cons, it’s also worth noting another option that’s available to you: Embracing a hybrid model.
Using this model, you’ll hire your own inhouse SEO manager to set a vision, liaise with the rest of the sales and marketing team, and to interface directly with business leadership. However, for time-intensive or tactical work, the SEO manager can recruit the services of an SEO agency, making use of their improved resources and advanced capabilities.
In other words, enlisting an external SEO agency doesn’t have to mean replacing your in-house experts. On the contrary, it often makes the most sense to synergize the two, allowing the SEO agency to provide much-needed support to your in-house SEO manager. You may find that this hybrid model offers the best results in the most cost-effective way.
Work with Sefati & Co, an Enterprise SEO Agency
To learn more about this hybrid model, I invite you to contact us.
Sefati & Company is led by me, Al Sefati. I’m an SEO veteran with more than 18 years of SEO and SEM experience, and I have seen the best and worst of both the agency and in-house worlds. Sefati & Company is also staffed with very experienced and smart marketers who can help you with all of your digital marketing needs.
Set up a 15-minute discovery call to see how we can help your business grow and achieve your goals.