Businesses can benefit from an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy made by a professional, especially small businesses.
Today, the internet has become a game-changer for marketing your business to your target consumers. A strategic SEO and digital marketing plan make the smallest businesses visible to relevant users globally, which can help them compete with even bigger brands. However, this is only effective when you have an experienced SEO specialist or a team of SEO professionals working on your side.
Small business owners must choose between hiring an SEO expert or outsourcing their digital marketing services from a local SEO marketing company. These come with different SEO advantages and disadvantages, such as having dedicated talent and working with the best SEO company for small businesses. Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of SEO agencies and in-house teams.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization or SEO improves the different aspects of your website to improve its visibility on search engines like Google and Bing.
Think about the last time you searched for something you wanted to buy online. You went on a search engine, typed what you were looking for on the search bar and clicked on one of the top results. This is SEO at work: You want your website to be recognized as a top result for relevant searches that get you at the top results.
SEO services cover different aspects of your website that affect how search engines see its quality and relevance to user searches, including:
• Keyword and Research Strategy: Defining your business’s top keywords that you should rank for to get relevant users and quality leads onto your website.
• Link Building: Backlinks to your website signal to search engines that your website is an authoritative source for information in your industry.
• Technical SEO: These are the technical aspects that affect user experience, such as user interface, loading speeds and the parts of your website that users can’t see but search engines like Google consider.
• Local SEO: Local SEO services optimize your website for users looking for your product or service within your specific location or service areas. Your local SEO marketing company targets those looking for your store.
• On-Page SEO: Optimizing the content of your website based on your relevant keywords. This includes tweaking your product pages, category pages, homepage and meta descriptions.
• Off-Page SEO: Guest posts and other content marketing strategies on social media, news sites and other websites that increase your industry and domain authority.
• Franchise SEO: Handling different locations’ SEO and ensuring every franchise is visible on search engines.
• eCommerce SEO: Special SEO strategies to help boost your sales on your website or your stores on platforms like Amazon.
An SEO specialist can cover one part of these factors and work with other specialists to ensure your website is optimized for both search engine algorithms and users.
Hiring an In-House SEO Professional: Pros and Cons
Through this option, you or your recruitment team will have to scout for potential candidates to hire as employees. Depending on your SEO needs, you may employ one inhouse SEO specialist or a whole team to handle the different parts of optimizing your website’s SEO strategy.
Make Quick Changes to Your SEO Strategy
Having an inhouse SEO specialist on your team lets you change your strategy instantly. They’re paid to focus exclusively on your business’s SEO marketing efforts, so you can slim down your turnaround time before your changes reflect.
Focused Team Dedicated to Your Website
SEO agencies have multiple clients, so it’s highly likely that your point of contact (POC) and everyone involved in your SEO strategy is also handling other projects. If the agency you’re working with has bitten off more than it can chew and is struggling with the many clients they’re taking, there’s a risk of your business’s SEO marketing strategy getting overlooked.
You don’t have to worry about this risk by hiring your own team. As long as you hire quality talent to handle your website, your SEO marketing strategy can boost your business’s online reach.
In-House Office Collaboration
This doesn’t necessarily mean working from an office – one of the benefits of an inhouse SEO team is that you can see how they collaborate to achieve a common goal. Many SEO agencies provide results but won’t show you how they came to those results. You have to trust that their team collaborated as best as possible and that what you get is the best result.
Some business owners might want to avoid taking this risk, so they prefer having their team. Their team is aligned with the same goal and has access to the same resources and information about the industry and the business. As a result, some companies prefer being able to oversee their team’s process.
Costly Hiring Process for an Entire SEO Team
You only have to pay for their service when outsourcing your SEO team. As an employer, however, you’ll have to shoulder all the costs of finding a skilled employee.
The average employer spends $4,000 and takes around 24 days to hire a new employee, Glassdoor finds. Consider the following costs, as well as the time and effort required to hire an employee:
• Job sourcing
• Pre-hiring assessments
• Background checks
• Recruitment outsourcing
• Job boards fees
• Referral awards from employees
• Sign-on bonuses
Once you’ve hired an SEO specialist or an entire SEO team, consider the recurring and one-time costs. These include:
• Benefits (i.e. 401k, allowances, monthly rewards, etc.)
• Statutory benefits (i.e. insurance, paid sick leave, Social Security, etc.)
• Equipment costs
• Paid SEO tools and other office software
On top of these expenses, you also risk the costs of a bad hire. These are employees who, despite a promising application, fail to meet the minimum performance and quality standards. This means incurring the costs of hiring them and then quickly replacing them.
Your SEO Specialist Must Wear Many Hats
You must choose between hiring a singular SEO specialist or an entire team. Hiring many employees means the added costs of onboarding more employees. But employing one or two means that they will have to be a jack of all trades regarding all the different aspects of SEO.
Rather than working with experts on one area of SEO, you’re working with a team with many responsibilities.
Slower Work Because of Multiple Responsibilities
Your SEO strategy can only go as fast as your employees can. With so many aspects of SEO needed to establish a successful SEO marketing strategy, your team may be limited by their responsibilities and the tools they have on hand.
This can put you at a disadvantage as your team will have to prioritize specific tasks. While one of the benefits of an in-house agency is making quick changes to your SEO strategy, this also means pushing back some tasks in favor of prioritizing others.
Hiring an SEO Agency
Alternatively, you could hire an SEO agency for their services. These agencies have a team who handles the necessary SEO tasks, but you pay only for their services. The quality and performance you receive can depend on which SEO agency you work with. So be sure to shop around and browse customer reviews, services offered and other factors affecting your decision.
Pay for the Service, Not the Experienced Team
An agency is as good as its team, which means that any quality SEO agency worth its salt has an experienced team with expertise in their services. While you have to make above-average offers to lure that kind of talent into your in-house team, you only have to pay for the services you’re receiving.
Considering the costs of hiring and retaining an in-house team, some small businesses are better off outsourcing their SEO strategies. An SEO agency is a cost-effective solution as it is responsible for providing its team with the necessary tools and equipment.
Dedicated Industry Knowledge in Specific Areas
If you’re dead set on outsourcing, you might explore cheaper solutions like hiring a freelancer or a one-person team. However, there’s some risk to hiring an SEO expert over an agency. Your entire SEO strategy relies on one person’s performance, so any issues on their end mean there’s no one to shoulder the responsibility in case they cannot deliver.
Also, a good SEO strategy is a multi-faceted plan, and you’re unlikely to find an individual who is an expert in all aspects. For instance, someone who is an expert in technical SEO may not provide the same level of service for local SEO services. With an agency, you’re working with a diverse team of professionals who excel in the various areas of SEO. Someone will always handle the workload and provide effective solutions for your website.
Faster Turnaround Time for Deliverables
After setting expectations with your local SEO marketing company, you can expect to receive deliverables on or before the provided turnaround time. Agency employees are experienced in their field, allowing them to provide on-time work that doesn’t miss out on quality.
Compare this with in-house teams; having your own team may be less efficient. If you can only hire one or two people to handle specific tasks, the work will have to be divided between the two. Established agencies, however, have a wider pool of professionals and can deliver the output within one go.
Work With Teams Outside Your Full Control
Your SEO strategy determines your online visibility. So having little control over what goes on with the agency’s team can be an uncomfortable notion for some business owners. Some SEO companies provide updates and take the time to answer your questions, while others ask you to accept their deliverables as the best possible results.
If you want to avoid this scenario, it’s best to work with a results-driven agency that shows you the hows and whys of their SEO strategy. An agency that fosters regular communication makes it easier to trust that you’re getting the best value from your partnership.
Finding a Reliable SEO Agency
While issues within the agency, like bad hires and poor retention rates, might not seem like a problem, they can be a red flag of matters that could affect your agency’s deliverables down the line. Some red flags you should consider when shopping for an SEO agency include the following:
• Lack of Clients and Client Reviews: While you don’t want your agency to have too many clients that they’re spread too thin to focus on your work, an agency that doesn’t have any prior clients or good client reviews is a red flag. You’ll want to work with a team with experience to maximize your SEO.
• Unrealistic Guarantees: No matter how good an agency claims they are, it’s impossible to guarantee your website will reach top-ranking results organically within a short time frame. Paid ads could get you to the top, but these aren’t rankings – and a company that tricks you with this wording is a bright red flag.
• Low Visibility: How can you trust an agency to help you grow your website when they can’t do the same for their own? SEO agencies can be very competitive with the top rankings, so those that fall below or are difficult to search on search engines may not use the best SEO practices on their website.
Not All SEO Agencies Offer the Same Results
No SEO agency can guarantee results. At the same time, though, not all companies can offer the best results. Factors like the tactics they use, the equipment they have and the best practices agencies use all vary, so “the best” of one agency isn’t necessarily the same result as another.
As a business owner, you must be very careful about hiring an SEO company. To find the best SEO company for small businesses like yours, consider factors like their client reviews, case studies, rates, custom package solutions and other factors that could affect your results.
Hiring an SEO Expert Team vs. Hiring an SEO Company: Which One Should I Choose?
Choosing an inhouse SEO team or an SEO digital marketing agency has many benefits. It all comes down to which of these benefits you need. Consider these factors when making your decision:
• Budget: Hiring an in-house team is the more significant investment, but you could see your return on investment once you’ve got your team up and running. Working with an SEO company is more cost-effective and allows you to only pay for the service.
• Talent: SEO agencies have experts in different areas of digital marketing. They tend to hire employees with experience in various SEO tools and industries. Working with an agency that provides comprehensive SEO services is much easier than hiring in-house or outsourcing your services piecemeal.
• Scalability: As your business grows, so do your SEO needs. Agencies allow you to scale efficiently by upgrading your package. They will handle the scaling within their own company as necessary to deliver the results you need.
• Responsiveness and Turnaround Time: Your in-house team will be solely dedicated to your business. Agencies, on the other hand, have multiple clients. It ultimately depends on which agency you work with.
• Training: The most effective SEO strategies are constantly changing, so your SEO team has to stay updated on the latest news and practices. You or your HR team should provide training opportunities. Otherwise, it’s best to work with agencies that have industry professionals and offer their employees regular training.
Thrive Is the SEO Digital Marketing Agency That Delivers Results
If you’ve opted to go with an agency and are hiring an SEO company, you should keep in mind that not all agencies are alike. When you choose to work with an SEO digital marketing agency like Thrive, you get the SEO advantages of cost-effective service.
Thrive is a results-driven SEO digital marketing agency. We are the best SEO company for small businesses. We have helped many establish their online presence through practical solutions and services like local SEO services, technical SEO and other digital marketing techniques. Through our SEO services, we can bring more value to your investment by getting you outstanding results that translate into better visibility, quality leads and increased conversions.
Get in touch with us today to receive a free proposal on our services.