In-House or Outsourced SEO: What's Right for your Business?

One of the best ways to ensure your website ranks well in search engine results is by investing in search engine optimization (SEO). Smart Insights reports that SEO is actually one of the smartest methods to getting in front of new customers, as 58.4% of consumers purchase a product or service online each week.

Whatagraph team

Oct 12 2022 10 min read

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    One of the best ways to ensure your website ranks well in search engine results is by investing in search engine optimization (SEO). Smart Insights reports that SEO is actually one of the smartest methods to getting in front of new customers, as 58.4% of consumers purchase a product or service online each week. 

    However, search engine optimization requires a lot of time and effort and can be hard work, especially if you have a business to run. Although many brands can learn the basics of SEO or use SEO tools to run campaigns, SEO is often more effective with the guidance of an expert such as an agency or an in-house SEO professional. 

    As a result, outsourcing your SEO strategy to a qualified SEO provider can often help you increase organic traffic faster without needing to bring anyone in-house. However, there are pros and cons to both options, and it’s important for a business to consider which is best for their growth strategy and their marketing budget.

    Here is a guide on whether in-house or outsource SEO is the right choice for your business. 

    What Is Outsource SEO?

    Outsourcing SEO is the process of hiring a digital marketing agency or freelancer to create and execute your digital marketing strategy. 

    Search engine optimization is similar to the stock market - you get out of it what you put into it. It takes a good six to nine months of consistent content production, local SEO optimization, link buildingkeyword research, and social media posting to even start seeing results. 

    So, for business owners who are already overwhelmed with their own business operations, SEO may seem like too much to take on, despite its numerous benefits. Plus, it can be overwhelming to learn all the ins and outs of the multiple marketing channels and the best practices that come with them.

    Should My Brand Be Outsourcing SEO? 

    It's important to think critically about whether outsourcing your SEO is the best choice for your growth strategy. 

    Here are a few details to think about before making the decision, and how to better understand whether in-house or outsourced SEO may produce the best SEO results.

    1. Determine all the digital marketing tasks you need to outsource 

    The reality is, SEO is multidisciplinary and requires a variety of activities. Executing an effective SEO campaign may require the cooperation of: 

    • Content writers
    • Web developers
    • SEO Experts
    • CRO specialists
    • And others!

    So before you make your decision, determine what tasks you need to outsource. It may be more affordable for you to outsource certain tasks to an SEO or digital marketing agency. 

    Also, some SEO tasks are very time-consuming, such as content creation, on-page optimization, keyword research, and off-page strategies link building outreach. If you can find an outsourcing option that helps you accomplish digital marketing tasks faster, it may be the better choice for your business. 

    2. Determine the goals you want to reach 

    It’s always a good idea to consider the specific growth goals that have been set for your digital marketing teams. 

    If your brand is liable to investors, you may need to do some SEO tasks at scale to grow more quickly. Digital marketing and SEO agencies usually have the infrastructure to do those tasks more quickly, which is why outsourced SEO is often the choice of startups and enterprise brands.

    But if it’s more important for your business to stay within a specific marketing budget, you may not be able to be as aggressive with your SEO strategy. So take the time to clearly define your goals: 

    • Do you want to increase your organic search traffic with more content assets? 
    • Are you looking for a high-performing website design so you can pass Google’s Core Web Vitals?
    • Do you need to build your Domain Authority with high-quality backlinks and link building outreach?
    • Do you want to increase conversions or drive clicks through PPC campaigns?
    • Are you an e-commerce website wanting more prominent and clickable SERP results?

    Regardless of your goals, they will most likely impact whether you choose to outsource SEO tasks or keep them in-house.

    3. Determine how hands-on you want to be in the SEO work

    Some business owners want to be incredibly involved with the SEO process, from helping develop a keyword strategy to having weekly SEO reporting.

    Others just want to see the results happen and have a few check-ins with an SEO outsourcing company here and there. One is no better than the other, it’s just important that whoever you outsource your SEO to can meet these demands. 

    If you want to be highly involved in the daily SEO tasks, it may be better to bring an SEO strategist in-house that you can communicate with on a daily basis.

    Types of SEO Outsourcing Services

    Not all SEO outsourcing services are the same - there's so much variety in what you can do! 

    Typically, SEO outsourcing services can be split into two categories, on-site and off-site optimizations, which can both be done by hiring SEO freelancers or by working with SEO experts at a full-fledged marketing agency.

    On-page SEO

    On-page SEO focuses on areas such as keyword research, content marketing, blogger outreach, user experience, and website design. Basically, anything that your consumer would see on your website is considered on-site. 

    On the other hand, off-site optimizations happen within the backend of your website or on other websites. They include link building, technical SEO, Google My Business listings, and guest posting.

    Here are some of the options available if you determine that outsourcing is the right choice for you.

    Hiring SEO Freelancers

    Outsourcing SEO services via freelancers can be a fantastic cost-efficient option, depending on your business model. 

    Working with a freelancer or a SEO consultant is a good idea for small businesses that need SEO but not on an enterprise level. This means creating content at a slower pace, managing a few paid search ads here and there, and maybe creating a social media post once and a while.

    There is only so much one person can do and accomplish in any specific timeline, so consider this when weighing your needs. While a contractor can easily create and execute a SEO strategy from start to finish, they may not have the bandwidth or knowledge to create the quality content you may need.

    Working with a Digital Marketing or SEO Agency

    On the other hand, working with an SEO agency will bring your digital marketing strategy to a whole new level. Digital marketing agencies have full teams dedicated to all the facets of digital marketing. 

    They also have the tools available and the SEO expertise needed to manage a fantastic marketing strategy from start to finish and maximize your online impact.

    If you want many SEO deliverables and to grow as quickly as possible, an agency partner gives you access to a whole team of experts, from content writers, data analytics, link builders, web developers, and even graphic designers that are dedicated to your SEO efforts. 

    The digital marketing landscape is always changing. A digital marketing agency can stay on top of industry trends and constantly work to enhance its internal resources to meet SEO best practices. 

    Plus, you are more likely to see faster progress and better results for your SEO campaign when more people work on it!

    Automating SEO with Enterprise SEO Software

    You don’t always have to outsource your SEO tasks to people. Many SEO and digital marketing tasks can be automated with the help of enterprise SEO software platforms.

    Automating SEO with Enterprise SEO Software

    Some SEO tasks that can be automated with the help of digital marketing software include: 

    • Keyword Research and Clustering: Many keyword research tools will suggest keywords based on semantic relevance and related subtopics, helping you find and choose the keywords that are the best choice for your business.
    • Content Optimization: Tools like the SEO Content Assistant will identify the terms and phrases that you should include on the page to improve semantic relevance, topical depth, and quality of your web content. 
    • Site Auditing: A site auditor tool can crawl every page on your website and identify any issues preventing your web pages from ranking in the SERPs. Simply pass over the report to your web development team and have them make the suggested changes and optimizations.
    • Content Planning: With the help of a content planner tool, you can generate content marketing calendars to hand off to your in-house writers or freelancers. These tools use a combination of NLP algorithms and AI content generation to make content planning simple and far less time-consuming.

    Another benefit of SEO software is that it is far more affordable than hiring freelancers or bringing an expert in-house and simply requires a monthly subscription cost.

    Bringing SEO In-House: Pros and Cons

    Thinking about bringing your search engine optimization efforts in-house? Here are some pros and cons to consider.

    Pro: You will have a dedicated employee to understand the ins and outs of your business.

    While you can onboard an SEO consultant and talk to them all about your business model and goals, they won't be in the thick of things with your everyday business operations. 

    If your brand is competing in a highly competitive or technical industry, it may be beneficial to have an SEO strategist who really understands your target market and competitors.

    Although agencies can certainly self-educate on your industry, hiring a full-time marketing team member can provide a very close and specialized perspective that helps you compete better.

    Con: It is expensive

    Outsourcing SEO professionals can be much more cost-effective as you will not have to spend money on a full salary and benefits if you bring a team member directly to your staff.

    Also, employees do come and go. You can work with a digital marketing agency for years and trust that your SEO strategy will continue forward no matter what employees are on your in-house team.

    Pro: You can see their daily progress.

    Having someone right in your office can be beneficial in that you have quick accessibility for any questions about strategy. Also, an in-house team member can also provide more regular or consistent reporting if you desire weekly insights into your SEO or digital marketing progress.

    An SEO or digital marketing agency can offer some visibility on their deliverables or campaigns, but nothing nearly as transparent as someone who works in your office.

    Con: They may not have the tools you need.

    Oftentimes individual SEO professionals do not have access to enterprise SEO software options or have an expert understanding of how to leverage them. 

    In addition to a salary, your in-house strategists will likely require a budget to get access to these tools, where an agency will already have them. Some might provide you with a dashboard of their own tools that you can access as well as a part of your campaign. 

    Outsourcing SEO: Pros and Cons

    Here are some potential benefits of outsourcing SEO as well as potential cons.

    Pro: It is cost-effective.

    Working directly with an SEO agency will bring you access to a full team of SEO professionals dedicated to SEO projects. 

    They have the enhanced software and internal tools needed to amplify your digital marketing strategy to new levels, and all of this comes at a cost that is most likely cheaper than paying the salary of a new addition to your team.

    Con: You may not have access to daily reports and metrics.

    The entire point of hiring an outsource team is so you can trust them to create effective SEO. 

    But for some business owners, it may be hard to let go of the reins and not get daily updates about deliverables or campaigns. Some business owners like to be extremely hands-on, and this can be hard to do when you outsource SEO to an SEO agency.

    Pro: You'll stay on top of industry trends and the latest software

    It is your digital marketing agency's job to stay up-to-date with new digital marketing trends, Google algorithm updates, and the competitive landscape of search, meaning less research and work for your team.

    Because digital marketing is their bread and butter, they also will have access to enterprise SEO software solutions to leverage for your benefit, and make sure your marketing strategy is data-driven and scalable.

    Is Outsource SEO the Best Choice for My Business?

    As stated earlier, the answer to this depends on your business's unique needs and goals. 

    Taking the time to fully understand your options, your budget, and what will produce the best results is worth the effort.

    Whether you find the right partner to bring in-house or to outsource to, you’ll be glad you invested in SEO to help your business grow.

    Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, a full-service SEO and digital marketing agency. He is also the creator of the enterprise SEO software platform, SearchAtlas. Through his agency work, thought leadership, and speaking engagements, he helps brands of all sizes grow their digital presence.

    Published on Oct 12 2022

    The Whatagraph blog team produces high-quality content on all things marketing: industry updates, how-to guides, and case studies.

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