inhouse vs outsourcing

Considerations When Outsourcing Your SEO

Cyberspace, the internet, the world wide web.

Call it what you will, but ever since the first search engine (W3 Catalog) was introduced in 1993, the world has quite literally been available at the touch of the button.

But with that accessibility came competition, and nowadays there are billions of businesses all vying for the attention of consumers in the digital marketplace.

So how do you cut through the noise to ensure that your business stands out?

The answer is simple:

Search Engine Optimisation, otherwise known as SEO.

There’s no doubt that SEO is a term that you have heard of before. But hearing about it and implementing it, are two very different things – with the latter often leaving many people confused.

After all, algorithms change so quickly that just when you think you have your SEO strategy sussed, a new update drops, often taking your efforts with it.

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However, all is not lost—because, with the help of a SEO specialist, your strategy can evolve as the times do.

But before you embark on the quest of finding such a specialist, the first question you should ask yourself is this:

Should I Outsource SEO?

There are a variety of differences between in-house development and outsourcing SEO, which we’ll explore more throughout this article.

But it’s important to know that it isn’t as simple as pitting them against each other in a heavyweight “SEO: In-house Vs Outsourcing” type of way.

In-House Vs Outsourcing SEO

The reality is that it’s a lot more nuanced than that.

There are an abundance of perks which come from having your SEO managed in-house.

Not just because of faster reaction and implementation times, but because an employee will (usually) already have an understanding of the industry, the business and what the company is hoping to achieve.

As a result, they can create a bespoke approach that suits the businesses objectives, whilst maintaining consistent brand identity across all touch points.

But whilst in-house SEO management has its strengths, it can also have a lot of weaknesses. First and foremost: hiring an SEO expert often comes with a hefty price tag, something that not all companies can afford.

An alternative to this is to train existing staff members, but doing so is time-consuming—not just in terms of training, but because they’ll just be starting out in SEO and therefore will have limited knowledge of the industry and experience in implementing the best practices.

There’s also the possibility that they’ll leave the company, taking the knowledge you’ve invested in, with them… which leaves you back at square one!

These are some of the many reasons why so many companies have begun to outsource SEO services to freelancers, consultants and specialist agencies. But that doesn’t mean that outsourcing your SEO is as simple as handing over your business details, credit card info and sitting back whilst the rankings creep up.

SEO is a collaborative effort that spans a variety of elements. The number and quality of inbound links, website design, site speed, bounce rate and relevancy are all just a few examples of segments which can affect your SEO score, and as a result, there are an abundance of things which can go wrong if you hire the wrong person or company.

Blackhat practices such as buying links or keyword spamming can leave you with more than just a bad taste in your mouth, they can leave you with lasting damage to your site, such as penalisations for certain keywords, or being removed from search engines completely.

These can be hard to recover from, and so if you’re planning on outsourcing your SEO services there are a variety of things you will need to consider.

3 Things To Consider Before Outsourcing Your SEO Strategy

Having the ability to outsource certain activities has enabled many a business to grow.

Not just because both small and large companies alike are able to utilise years of knowledge and experience, but because they are able to pay for projects as and when they need them which provides businesses with flexibility in cash flow.

But SEO is still a specialist subject which involves a lot of work to get results, which is why it’s important to ask yourself the right questions to ensure that you pick the right company to outsource your SEO requirements to.

1) How Important Is SEO To Your Overall Marketing Objectives?

Nowadays, it feels like every business needs to be online to succeed. Whilst this is partially true, the extent of which varies depending on the type of business.

For example; an online retailer with worldwide shipping will have very different requirements to a local village takeaway. The online retailer may require regular SEO assistance to ensure that their products and website obtain as much visibility as possible.

This could include image alt tags, meta descriptions and optimised product descriptions. Whereas the village takeaway may use an SEO-specialist to optimise their website, but they may only use the service once as SEO isn’t as important to their business model because the majority of their customers come from direct mail or local advertising.

2) Employee, Freelancer or Agency: Who’s Best?

Understanding what level of assistance your business requires in order to develop, will help you to evaluate what type of service you require. Which, in turn, helps you to narrow down who will be the best fit with regards to implementing it.

For example; if your SEO plan required a very hands-on approach, an agency might not be the best option as they tend to have a variety of clients on their books at any one time and may not be able to commit to the level of attention that your business requires.

Therefore, in this instance, it may be more beneficial to hire an employee who is specifically dedicated to that role.

A different example is if you needed assistance with your link-building strategy. An SEO Agency, which offers digital PR packages, may be the most suitable option as they can utilise their network to obtain relevant backlinks in relevant publications in a way that doesn’t break any rules or guidelines.

Can You Afford To?

The real question is can you afford not to?

If you’ve already established that SEO is a vital part of your marketing strategy, then it’s worth the investment, without a doubt. Upfront costs when hiring a specialist can be daunting, but it’s important to understand cost vs. value.

Because whilst it may cost four digits to hire a specialist, it could go on to generate six…

Of course, the upfront cost will vary upon whether you build a team in-house, or outsource the work to a freelancer or specialist agency.

Building a team can be a worthwhile investment, but when analysing your options and comparing costs it’s important to take the following perks which occur as a result, into consideration:

You will have access to specific SEO focussed software and tools that you wouldn’t usually use – partly because it often comes at such a large cost!

Outsourcing enables you to hire experts in each aspect of your marketing and SEO plans, rather than hunting for the employee (who doesn’t exist) who can do it all.

Website development, link-building, copywriting – you name it, there’s a specialist who does it externally!

If you outsource your optimisation requirements to a specialist SEO agency you will have a breadth of knowledge available at your disposal.

In addition to this agencies are often the most up-to-date resource on market trends and as a result, can offer new techniques and unique collaborations as you will have more than one expert on hand to help.

3) How Should A Company Select An SEO Provider?

I’m sure you saw this answer coming, but… research, research and research!

The price point isn’t the best indicator in this instance, as it isn’t always reflective of service quality or results. Which is why it’s important to search for a provider who takes the time to understand your business, its identity and what you’re trying to achieve.

There are many providers out there which give the SEO industry a bad name by trying to use a cookie-cutter method—which is not only unoriginal but doesn’t work.

Each business is unique by nature and as a result, requires a tailored approach in order to accomplish the goals that are set out.

Therefore, it’s important to find a provider who respects your business and doesn’t overpower it with their own company identity.

The best way to see if a provider is capable of this is to look at their portfolio.

What are their past clients like? Did they leave a testimonial? Does the provider specialise in a particular industry? Have they written case studies on their client’s results? Did the provider come recommended to you?

These are all important questions to ask to ensure that you and your provider are truly aligned.

Matt Cayless is the Director of SEO at Bubblegum Search. He is an expert in Search Engine Optimisation having worked on campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands and has a passion for helping businesses grow online. When he’s not chasing the Google algorithm he can be found training for his next marathon. Follow him on Twitter 

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