Using In-House SEO Talent Versus Outsourcing:
Dynamics & Challenges
Once your organization has embraced the need for SEO, you must decide whether to hire someone in-house or work with an outside consultant or agency. The same decision must be made when the time comes to expand an existing SEO team. Here are the factors you should consider:
- Is there enough work to justify a full-time, part-time, or contract employee?
- Is in-house knowledge on SEO strategically necessary for the business?
- Are people with the right SEO skill set for your website available for hire within your target salary range? (What each company needs will vary.)
- Do you want to access and leverage experienced talent from an external agency to supplement an internal team?
- Is your organization so complex that it would benefit from the presence of an in-house SEO pro?
The Value of Bringing SEO In-House
One of the numerous blessings of in-house SEO is that the ability to access search experience whenever you need it. Some additional advantages are:
- A greater likelihood that SEO best practices will be integrated into the company culture.
- Greater accountability.
- Faster ramp-up time (familiarity with the core business).
- quicker implementation time (greater leverage within the development process).
- The ability to ensure that SEO requirements remain in scope (and raise the flag when they are descoped).
- The SEO expert can be tapped anytime and his or her work reprioritized immediately for quick deliverable turnarounds.
The Value of Outsourced SEO Support
Although it’s going to appear that in-house SEO is that the ideal resolution, there are also plenty of reasons to use an outsourced team instead of, or in conjunction with, an in-house team. Here is a summary of some of the best reasons to leverage outsourced talent:
- Finding expert-level (15+ years) SEO talent to hire is difficult, so it may be smarter to contract with such talent.
- It allows you to focus on your core business and outsource your non-core activities.
- Experts generally have a broader reach in the marketplace via industry contacts, and as a result of working with many clients.
- SEO is multidisciplinary, so using external people makes it easier to pull in components when needed.
- Outsourced teams don’t have the myopic focus that sometimes occurs in long-time in-house personnel.
- Outsourcing brings a fresh perspective and new ideas, and outsourced talent can often identify what in-house staff may have missed.
Many SEO consulting firms, such as those of the authors, are willing to take on contracts that include training in-house personnel. This kind of approach can give you the best of both worlds: the ability to immediately inject a high level of expertise into your organization (albeit on a temporary basis), and a long-term plan to bring the capability in-house, or at least build up the expertise with ongoing or occasional augmentation via outside consulting.
The Case for Working with an Outside Expert
You might need to figure with an out of doors knowledgeable if any of the subsequent eventualities apply to you:
- You don’t have any inside SEO resources, are not in a position to hire them, and need someone to work directly with your development and marketing teams to get your SEO campaign going.
- You don’t have any inside SEO resources, and while you want to build a team, you need to jumpstart the process in the meantime. You may also want to use your outsourced SEO practitioner to help train your team.
- You have an inside team but it is missing a key piece of expertise, or you just want to sanity-check the conclusions your team is drawing or see whether or not they square measure missing something. In addition, since SEO at its best involves several group action, an injection of fresh ideas can be just what the doctor ordered.
- You have an inside team but they are busy working on other projects.
Regardless of the state of affairs, an outsourced SEO professional can bring two assets to the table that will be difficult for your internal team to provide:
The power of external authority
If you rent associate degree industry-acknowledged knowledgeable, that person can often speak with a voice of authority that is not readily available to the inside team. This is not essentially as a result of the within team square measure less senior; it’s just because they are, well, inside. The view of an unbiased third party with industry credentials can be invaluable.
From management’s point of view, the opinion of a recognized authority can increase their comfort that the right path is being pursued. It is very common for in-house SEO professionals to engage an outside expert to help their cause. Engagements range from a presentation or training to site audits and quick consulting calls with IT.
The value of experience on multiple sites/campaigns
Outside experts will have the benefit of having worked on hundreds, if not thousands of different sites and SEO strategies. Each site’s SEO strategy is like a lab experiment in which the SEO expert can benefit from many different types of tests to learn what works well. In addition, if your outside expert is active in the SEO community, he or she may also benefit from discussing different experiences with other SEO experts.
How to Best Leverage Outside Help
As we discussed previously, there are several scenarios in which you might bring in an outside SEO expert. In all of these scenarios, you will benefit most by working with someone who is good with people, can effectively and diplomatically negotiate, and can teach. Bringing in someone you can trust is also a must. To leverage these skills, you need to put your SEO expert in a situation where he or she can succeed. A good candidate will tell you what will be needed from you to be successful. Take this input seriously. If you can’t provide the things you are being asking for, your ability to succeed will be limited. It is vital that management paves the way for successful SEO plan implementation. Although many managers may believe they are giving SEO projects what they need, this is not always the case, and as a result, SEO suffers. The key is for management to understand how to give the right type of SEO support. For example, the SEO expert may need time from your development team to implement the suggestions he makes. If the development time is not available, his suggestions will be useless to you. Prearrange time with developers to talk to the SEO consultant and work with project management to schedule time to work on the recommendations. On the content side of things, the SEO practitioner may define a content plan to support ongoing content development and marketing efforts. Before you commit to a new hire, make sure you have a rough idea of the scope of the content development and marketing efforts the individual thinks might be needed to support this.
Listen to Your Expert – That’s Why You’re Paying Them
Take the input seriously, because this is the SEO expert telling you what he thinks he needs to be successful. If he or she doesn’t get that support and ends up thinking he can’t win, what are the chances he will succeed? The thing to remember about SEO is that implementation is crucial – you cannot implement a partial strategy and expect to see results. Unfortunately, most companies implement only a fraction of what is needed and wonder why their traffic isn’t increasing, and it truly is a shame – which is why buy-in is so crucial. Remember, SEO is extremely competitive. There’s a reason Google makes so much money with AdWords – because not everyone, and not every business – has what it takes to make high volumes of organic traffic happen. To be competitive in SEO isn’t the same as finishing a 5k running race – it’s more like running a marathon and finishing in the top 0.001%. Do you think any of these top marathoners only implement 50% of their training, diet, and sleep regimens? Not a chance. Ultimately, the cost of hiring an outside SEO expert goes beyond the direct cost for the expert’s services. The SEO expert will need a certain amount of support to have a chance for success. Before you decide to hire an SEO professional, ensure that you have the internal support (and are willing to provide it) to make the recommended changes. You don’t want to be one of those companies that pays for SEO advice that sits on the shelf and collects dust – the authors have seen this more times than we care to count! You also need to have a plan to manage your outsourced SEO help, as high-quality SEO firms will also be placing demands on your organization. Quality SEO cannot happen in a vacuum. This includes content marketing, which requires high-quality content—content that represents your brand.
The types of internal resources you need to be able to provide include:
- IT and web development resources to implement the SEO firm’s recommended changes to the website
- Marketing resources to review plans and any content created to support those campaigns
- Content development resources to create any required content, whether it be adding copy to the website or creating content to support content marketing and the earning of links
- One or more project managers to oversee the entire process
Leveraging SEO Knowledge in an Organization
Although it makes sense to involve an experienced SEO professional (employee or consultant) in your optimization efforts, it is important to remember that for SEO to be successful in the long term, you need integrate SEO expertise into every aspect of your online business. A basic level of SEO knowledge within the software and website development departments can speed up the production process, as a well-educated development team already knows a lot about how SEO affects what they do every day and can modify their efforts in accordance, on an ongoing basis. They will also be more likely to make the right decisions when the person in charge of SEO is not immediately available. Ultimately, this can save a large organization hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars— because it won’t be necessary to do a large amount of extra work to make the site search engine–friendly. SEO is no longer merely about title tags and meta descriptions. Although this wasn’t the case a few years ago, user engagement signals and website usability play increasingly large roles in search engine visibility today. It is vital that website designers think about the experience of the user who comes to the site from a search engine results page, while social media strategies need to incorporate keyword themes and links that search engines are looking for as signals in their ranking formulas, as well as the overall element of social engagement that leads to natural link development and increased brand awareness.
Make Nice with IT—Or Bypass Them