The Pros and Cons of an In-House SEO Expert
If you’re going to run and SEO campaign, chances are you’ll need someone to help you do it. As a business owner, you don’t have the time or resources to train yourself on the process of SEO, nor can you rely on some other random team member to shoulder the responsibilities. Instead, you’ll be faced with three main options: hire an in-house SEO expert, outsource your work with an agency, or come up with some kind of hybrid of the two, potentially leveraging independent contractors or consultants.
In-house SEO experts can seem like the wisest choice, since there are both good and bad agencies out there (and good agencies tend to be expensive). But as you might imagine, there are pros and cons to in-house SEO agents, just like any other option.
In-house SEOs can help your business in many ways:
- You’ll remain in full control of the process at all times. Most SEO agencies will offer transparency to their clients, and strive to get direction and guidance from business owners. However, most agencies also have tried-and-true operations and practices that aren’t easily movable. An in-house SEO expert guarantees you some level of transparency, and gives you near-full control over what strategies get implemented (and how). As long as you trust your expert, you’ll be in a good position.
- You’re guaranteed to have a representative fully immersed in your brand. An intimate knowledge of your brand is necessary to complete SEO work successfully. Ideally, you’ll be producing content, social media posts, and maintaining relationships with external sites throughout the entirety of your campaign, so if you’re using someone who lives and breathes your brand, you’ll have a greater chance at keeping everything consistent. This advantage is weakened if you also use contractors for your work.
- You can always outsource parts of the work. Using other contractors is also an inherent advantage of having an in-house SEO agent. Because agencies generally take on all SEO responsibilities at once, you don’t have many options when it comes to work orders. With an in-house agent, you can find other experts and contractors to bring on for portions of your strategy. For example, you can mix and match a team of writers and link builders to suit your strategy best.
- In-house SEOs can collaborate with your team. The best SEO strategies involve the entire team—designers can make more appealing websites, developers can include more SEO-friendly architecture, and even account managers can help your social media and external link building efforts. Having an in-house SEO means hosting more SEO-related collaboration within your organization.
- You’ll benefit from cross-training. Your in-house SEO expert might be able to take on some peripheral responsibilities, giving them a dual role, or might be able to impart some knowledge on another one of your team members. Either way, your team will improve through cross-training.
There are also some serious disadvantages that come with in-house SEOs:
- You’ll probably end up spending more money. Agencies take a lot of flak for being expensive, but the reality is, most are inexpensive compared to the cost of hiring someone full-time. A full-time salary for an experienced guru could easily be more than $3,000 a month, while agency costs for lower packages start below $1,000. Consider all the costs and benefits thoroughly before making a decision.
- It’s impossible to have one person who’s an expert in everything. SEO involves a lot of moving parts; you’ll have onsite SEO, content writing, social media, link building, and dozens of other small strategies making up your overall campaign. It’s impossible to hire an in-house agent who is an expert in everything. Compare that to an agency, which deliberately hires individualized experts in each of those fields to rely on.
- There’s little accountability when something goes wrong. If your strategy doesn’t work with an in-house SEO expert, you can fire him/her, but that doesn’t exactly help your position and there’s little accountability beyond that step. With an SEO agency, you can point out a lack of progress and force them to step up their game if they want to keep you as a client.
- You won’t be able to grow as quickly. It takes a lot of time for an in-house agent to ramp up a strategy from scratch. Agencies generally move quicker, with more resources and more experience to get the job done.
- Your strategy won’t be quick to evolve with the times. Agencies are serving a variety of clients and competing with other agencies. They have to stay well-versed in the latest SEO best practices if they want to stay alive. In-house SEOs, on the other hand, can easily sink into a habitual pattern of work that never grows or changes. There’s little incentive to change or adapt, which means your strategy could quickly become stagnant.
The Bottom Line
There’s no right or wrong answer to which SEO solution is right for your business. Every business is different, and every business owner will have unique priorities. If your ultimate priority is getting hard, measurable results and growing with the times, an agency (or hybrid model) might be better. If you prefer to have more control, transparency, and brand immersion, there’s nothing that should stop you from hiring someone in-house. Weigh your options carefully, but don’t be afraid to trust your gut. If something doesn’t work out, you can always switch.
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