In-house or agency; it’s the age-old question. As the emphasis on digital becomes ever-more apparent in today’s society, it’s not a decision brands should take lightly. Make the wrong choice and your digital performance could suffer, so it’s important that you fully weigh up your options.
Below are the pros and cons of employing in-house SEO specialists as opposed to an external SEO agency. If your company is considering which way to turn, then read this first before taking your next steps…
External agency pros
Although agency outsourcing is sometimes perceived as expensive, this is often not the case. Employing an external agency to take over your SEO can work out cheaper than employing an in-house alternative.
External agencies will be well aware that your reputation is at stake so will often be much more careful with your finances than an internal team. Agencies also want to show off and prove that they’re the best in a hugely-competitive industry. Let them show you what they can do and get in touch with any current or previous clients to get some genuine feedback on their results.
When employing an external SEO agency you also get to choose the level that you’re willing to buy in to. There’s often a choice of services that provide you with a pick and mix element to get the right balance of what your business needs. A quick meeting with an account manager should allow you to find out what’s the best package for you.
External agencies can often employ hundreds of staff members to deal with individual facets of SEO, so it’s reassuring to know that there’s an expert around at all times to help you with any queries.
Once you’ve built up a level of trust you may be surprised as to what else an agency can offer your site and business. With the tools, staff and proven results in place, employing an external agency can alleviate a lot of hassle and remove the weight of SEO from your shoulders.
External agency cons
You won’t be surprised to learn that external agencies have multiple clients which means that you may find your valuable time being shared, especially if you’re considered to be a ‘smaller’ customer. While agencies are well-versed in making sure all clients get the time they’ve paid for, this could mean that your account manager or contact isn’t always instantly available.
It can also be difficult for other staff members to quantify the value and justify costs. ‘Invisible’ employees within an agency can make SEO appear detached from other departments whereas it should be an integral part of your whole business.
It’s also important to bear in mind that even external agencies will need support in-house to help you get the most out of your money – the “set it and forget it” approach rarely works, so you’ll still need to have resource available to liaise with your agency and work closely with them to push the campaign forward.
If you already have the right team in place then setting up an in-house SEO function makes a lot of sense. There’s no need to train, recruit or integrate into the workplace and you can hit the ground running as your team should already be completely comfortable with your site and its SEO needs.
There’s also potential to recruit staff from within the company e.g. a content writer within the Product team may jump at the chance to start writing blog posts and learn more about the social media side of your business.
Having your own team in-house makes it easier, in theory, to communicate brand values and develop relationships with other departments so everyone feels that they’re pulling in the right direction.
Costs can also be kept under control and a level of trust will already be in place, which can take years to develop with an external agency.
SEO shouldn’t be seen as a faceless commodity that costs a lot but without any return. If you have an internal SEO team then colleagues can ask questions and regularly sit in on meetings and presentations to help them understand, respect and acknowledge what’s going on behind the scenes.
If you don’t already have SEO experienced staff working for your company then you’re going to have to recruit externally, which can prove difficult. Putting together an in-house team can take a while to get the right mix. From project managers and team leaders to content writers and technical wizards, it doesn’t always pan out as you’d hoped for so constant monitoring in the early stages is always required.
A new team doesn’t come cheap either. It’s often just as expensive to put together a crack team of SEO experts as it is to go outside the company. And, there’s always a risk that they won’t gel or deliver on expectations.
If you’re putting all your SEO eggs into one basket i.e. employing one guru to be your in-house ‘team’ then you’re just relying on one individual to come up with the goods. For example, they may be great at tech, but not so good at presenting findings or writing content. Finally, there’s also an element of cost when it comes to buying enterprise level tools which are most definitely required for an SEO specialist to do their job.
Whatever you opt for, in-house or external agency, one thing is for sure, focusing on SEO is vital for promoting your business and pushing your brand to the fore. It will take time, money and patience but there’s nothing better than seeing those positive results come rolling in no matter who has hold of the reins.