In House SEO Vs SEO Agency Vs Freelancer Expert
by Mike Khorev
You’ve learned the principles of SEO and its benefits (link to the previous article if necessary), and now you’ve made up your mind about investing in SEO. However, now comes the next question: how should you manage your SEO efforts?
As we have understood, SEO is a long-term process that requires consistency. So, there are generally three approaches to managing your SEO: building your own in-house SEO team, working with an SEO company or hiring an SEO expert freelancer (or a team of freelancers) to do the job.
In this article, we will have an in-depth discussion of the three options: their respective advantages and disadvantages. The first thing you should remember is that there is no one right answer. Also, it is a possibility that using not just one, but a combination of two or all of the models can be the right for your business.
First, let us do a quick overview of the pros and cons of each model.
In House VS Outsource SEO Company VS SEO Expert Freelancer
In-House Model: Pros and Cons
- You can exercise more control of your SEO programs and strategies
- Generally, starting a small in-house team is more affordable than outsourcing
- More control in targeting your exact audience
- Easier time to measure specific objectives
- More flexibility to adjust your strategies on the fly
- If you need a large team, the HR cost can be expensive
- Building your own team can take a lot of time
So, the in-house model is generally the better choice if you want to start small. For example, if you feel you only need one or two SEO professionals, keeping them in-house will save a lot of money in the long-run.
Outsource SEO Company: Pros and Cons
- If you need a bigger team, outsourcing to an SEO company is generally more affordable
- Outside SEO company will be more objective with no pre-existing bias towards your business
- Generally, they’ll have more knowledge of the current SEO trends and strategies
- SEO agencies usually consist of content producers, link builders, and project managers so you’ll have everything you need
- Finding the right SEO company or agency that suits your business can be hard
- You have less control over your strategies
- Less time to communicate, so there’s less flexibility when you want to change strategy
Hiring an outsource SEO company will save a lot of time you will otherwise spend on recruiting and training. If you need a big team, it’s also a more affordable method. However, you will obviously have less control over your team, and it will take more time to do a strategic pivot.
Freelancer SEO Expert: Pros and Cons
- Generally cheaper than outsourcing to an SEO company
- They usually take fewer projects/clients compared to agencies, so they will have more time for you
- Generally, you will have more control and flexibility compared to outsourcing an SEO company
- Some businesses will do better with a freelancer compared to an agency atmosphere
- Some SEO expert freelancers only deal with consulting strategies, so you will need to have your own team to execute
- Finding the right SEO expert consultant might need a lot of trials and errors
SEO expert freelancers can indeed be more knowledgeable in SEO for SaaS, Technology, IT, Software and Startup companies compared to agencies, and they tend to be more affordable. However, freelancers generally won’t offer you the same all-in-one package offered by SEO agencies. Thus, you will most likely need to have an in-house team to execute the SEO strategy. Combining an in-house team with an SEO expert freelancer can be a viable choice for many businesses.
Factors to Consider
Now that we have learned the advantages and disadvantages of each model, there are several factors you should consider before making the final decision. We will discuss three key areas you should especially consider, starting with the first one.
Budget and Cost
The first thing you should consider is your available marketing budget, especially SEO budget. As we have discussed, building an in-house team is generally the most expensive option, especially if you need a big team.
As a benchmark, hiring a high-end SEO company as your outsource can cost at least $3,000 per month. On the other hand, hiring an SEO professional can cost you $50,000 annually including benefits, while more experienced ones can cost you $70,000 and above. Hiring an SEO expert freelancers, as we have mentioned, is generally more affordable than outsourcing an SEO agency. However, you might also need several in-house staffs to execute the SEO efforts.
Here is a very nice guide by Forbes on maximizing your SEO budget plan.
Required Expertise and Availability
There are many factors that can dictate the required expertise for your SEO strategy. For example, if your business is in a saturated industry and the keyword competition is high, you will need the help of an expert. On the other hand, if you feel the difficulty of your SEO shouldn’t be too difficult, you might as well do it yourself. To assess your own skillset, this is a very nice guide from higher visibility.
After you’ve understood the required expertise for your SEO, you can then consider both your budget availability with your required expertise. If you really need a high level of expertise with a limited budget, most likely you’ll get the most from a freelance SEO expert.
Is SEO a critical part of your business model or your industry? For some business model such as online retailers, SEO and online marketing can be mission-critical. However, other business models or other industries won’t require the same importance.
If SEO and digital marketing are absolutely critical for your business, consider increasing the allocated budget with a mission to build an excellent in-house SEO team in the long run. Initially, you may begin with outsourcing. However, in the long run, having an in-house team will give you more control and better ROI.
Bottom Line: What’s Ideal For Your Business?
In the end, there will be no perfect answer to this question. Ideally, an in-house team will always be the best choice, provided you have an unlimited budget. The best way to approach this question is to treat your SEO team -whether in-house or outsourced- as an investment. Which option will give you the best ROI? Assess all available factors depending on your business model and industry.
If you have a budget constraint and you are happy with the environment of an SEO company, it is definitely a viable choice. However, if you are looking for a dedicated person to handle your project, you might be better off outsourcing to a freelancer SEO expert.
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