Should you outsource SEO or keep it in-house?

SEO is a crucial marketing component for any company that wants to attract qualified leads organically and continuously. But it isn’t easy, for several reasons.

What works in SEO is constantly changing, which means you need to stay up-to-date and adjust when needed. Even when Google isn’t playing around, optimizing content, improving your site structure, and building links are just a few of the SEO tasks that will require your time.

Or shouldn’t it be your time that goes into it?

As with many of the activities that keep your business going, you have the choice to outsource SEO or to keep it in-house. Both options have their upsides and their downsides, and whichever is best for you depends on several factors.

Let’s have a look at those.

Things to consider when deciding to outsource SEO or keep it in-house

1. The importance of SEO for your business goals

First of all, you need to determine how big of a role SEO should play in your marketing strategy. If you’re a digital business, SEO will likely be a key element in how you drive qualified leads and so that should be reflected in your SEO budget and the various SEO tasks you plan to either outsource or hire for.

2. Your needs

But before you start looking for someone to help you with your SEO, it’s a good idea to get clear on your priorities as well. Should you be building backlinks at this stage? Do you need to optimize years worth of content? Maybe both?

If you don’t know, it’s worth it to have an SEO agency perform an audit so you know exactly what you need to start working on right now, and what you can leave for later.

3. Your budget

It’s important to know what you want to achieve through SEO and where your priorities should lie before you start looking for an agency or a new team member. Sure, you could decide on an SEO budget that simply “feels good” and spend it on the tasks that you can afford with that budget, but your results won’t be that great as when you first take the time to figure out what you need and then dedicate your budget toward that.

Expert tip: You may need to start working on several things at once, like backlink building and content creation. Don’t get tempted to pay a guy on Fiverr $150 to build you some links so you have more budget left to spend on content. He’s likely to damage your reputation with Google more than do it any good. Effective, clean SEO isn’t cheap and it’s better to take things a bit more slowly than to invest in the wrong things.

The benefits of outsourcing SEO

If you decide to outsource all or most of your SEO, you’ll want to hire an agency but if you’re only looking to outsource a very specific task, like writing or backlink building, hiring a freelancer can be an option as well. Do note that working with freelancers might require more management on your end, while an agency will give you one contact person, taking it on them to manage your project. 

The benefit of outsourcing your SEO to an agency is that instead of needing to find (and train!) that one unicorn who can do it all, you get a team of people with specific skills. Of course, it is still your responsibility to thoroughly interview the agency you intend to work with and make sure they can provide you with everything from technical SEO help to outreach and content marketing. You also want to make sure they don’t plan on passing your project down to a junior SEO two months down the line.

Another benefit when you outsource SEO is that an agency knows it needs to perform – and help you perform – not to lose its contract. While a good team member will have the same drive to keep their job, they might still feel a little bit more secure and, let’s face it: you may be less inclined to go through the hassle of firing someone until it’s truly necessary. Letting go of an under-delivering agency is much less of an emotional step for most business owners. 

Lastly, agencies usually have a large network of partners they can work with to build you solid backlinks. That means they’ll be both more efficient and more effective in their outreach, as they know who to contact for your specific company.

This all sounds great, right? So why would you want to bring your SEO in-house? 

The benefits of keeping SEO in-house

There is much to say for hiring an SEO agency, especially when your company is still in a relatively early growth stage. Yet there is one thing an SEO agency cannot be: a true team member.

While the best agencies will definitely feel like part of your team and will be highly motivated to get you results, they will still be working for other clients as well. So if you want people who are full-time devoted to your brand, it’s better to bring them in-house.

Because they are fully dedicated to your company, in-house team members will also likely know your product, brand, and market just a little bit better than an agency. However, this point is debatable as it depends on how transparent you are towards employees in regards to everything that’s going on within your company. On top of that, some SEO agencies are highly specialized in a specific niche, which can be more interesting than training a new team member from scratch. Flow SEO, for example, has years of experience working with digital businesses such as SaaS companies, e-learning platforms, and e-commerce stores.

The best choice for you

Whether you should outsource SEO or keep it in-house depends on your budget, the role SEO plays in your overall marketing strategy, and which projects or tasks you need to have taken care of. Simplified, it depends on which growth stage your company is in.

Startups and scaleups until a certain size will be better off outsourcing SEO in most cases. This allows them to adapt quickly as they grow. More established companies might want to start building their own SEO team. Once they’ve hired staff for all the skills they need, an agency can still be brought in to work on specific projects or simply provide a second set of eyes. 

At Flow SEO, we offer customized services to help digital businesses rank better, build brand awareness, and get more qualified leads. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you too.

Author: Sofie Couwenbergh

Sofie is an SEO-savvy content strategist, consultant, and writer. She helps brands generate more leads and keep customers engaged through clear, no-fluff website copy and in-depth articles like the one you’ve just read.