Should Your Business Be Doing SEO In-House vs. Outsourcing?


Attracting organic traffic to your website is valuable, but generating visits from your target customers will always come at a cost. Whether you’re doing SEO in-house or outsourcing, you’ll spend a significant amount of time, money, or a combination of both to get the high-converting traffic you seek.

As a marketing manager or small business owner, you’ve got to decide how to best invest in generating organic traffic. Hiring an SEO expert is the best way to attract the right people at the right time, but should you rely on SEO outsourcing or hire an SEO specialist for your internal team?

What Is SEO Outsourcing in Marketing?

SEO outsourcing is the process of engaging a contractor or agency to manage your website’s on-page and off-page search engine optimization. This may include the creation and execution of SEO strategies, content marketing, link building, digital PR, local SEO and web design.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Outsourcing SEO

The biggest benefits of SEO outsourcing are expertise and cost-savings. This seems counterintuitive at face value because hiring an SEO agency requires more capital than doing SEO yourself.

However, this comparison is between hiring in-house vs. outsourcing marketing for search engine optimization – without considering DIY for SEO traffic generation. At the time of this writing, hiring in-house SEO experts requires paying an average salary of $51,000 per year in the U.S.

This only factors in the employee’s salary. Employees actually cost your business about 25% more than their salary because of benefits, FICA, FUTA & SUTA, Workers’ Comp, etc. In the end, a staff SEO specialist costs your business around $64,000 a year… on average!

SEO Benefit = [SEO Value] / Cost

Once you crunch the numbers, that price is equal to a $5,300 retainer when you outsource SEO services to a full team of strategists. It is my opinion that the benefit is greater when you outsource this marketing function to SEO agencies with experienced specialists. Be sure you understand how to choose a good SEO company for your business before you make such a critical investment.

Outsourcing your SEO is a great way to access different strengths for every subfield of search engine optimization. An agency typically has UX and graphic designers, content marketers, website developers, PPC professionals, and SEO strategists that all have unique insights on how to help your business thrive.

Agencies can tailor budget spend based on the strategies that will have the best impact for your business. If different software tools or third-party subscriptions help improve your rankings, a marketing firm will make that shift – but you will never be able to decrease an in-house SEO professionals salary to free up budget for other expenses.

What Is In-house SEO?

In-house SEO is hiring internal staff (partially or fully) to build and execute a business’s search engine optimization strategy. The term “in-house SEO” also refers to the staff member in charge of this marketing function. An SEO professional either works alone or as part of an internal marketing team.

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what is SEO outsourcing?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring an In-House SEO Expert

A big advantage of hiring an SEO expert for your business is their proximity to you and your business goals. A staff member will grow to have a deep understanding of SEO best practices and how to communicate the unique selling proposition of your product/service offering. This can be a major point of friction for outside firms.

Unlike some search engine optimization agencies, in-house SEO specialists can build beneficial relationships with internal web designers and developers, and writers to execute a more personalized output.

Like we mentioned above, hiring an employee is very costly compared to outsourcing SEO. Not only do you have to pay salaries, but you have to match Medicare, Social Security, and incur unemployment insurance and workers’ comp costs.

An additional disadvantage is that your in-house SEO professional will have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that aren’t always softened by their team. For example, SEO writing and keyword research might be a point of strength for them, but poor link-building and web development could impede their ability to really get results.

Should I Outsource SEO at My Company?

Your decision to do SEO in-house vs. outsourcing depends largely on your preferences between budget and control. If you prefer high levels of control and have a bigger budget, in-house SEO will suit you best. If you’re flexible and your budget is limited, you will probably prefer outsourcing search engine optimization.

outsource search engine optimization services

The last dimension to consider is whether you need ongoing SEO services a one-time project.

Ongoing SEO Services

The most effective SEO strategies require ongoing services. Ongoing SEO agreements are structured as monthly retainers and usually require a set contract length or cancellation notice.

Outsourcing SEO services on an ongoing basis can include content marketing, link-building, on-page and technical SEO, local SEO, and digital PR to reach your goals and drive revenue for your business. Ongoing search engine optimization is especially important for success in highly competitive industries.

One-time SEO Projects

Outsourcing SEO projects are not as common. I only recommended this option if you have an internal marketing team that can manage your search engine optimization strategy, but needs help for certain tasks.

For example, if your marketing team doesn’t do technical SEO, you might outsource a one-time SEO audit that your internal marketers or web developers can use. A few sessions between a trusted SEO consultant and one of your staff members can also help improve your internal processes.

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