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Should You Do Your SEO In-House Or Hire A Marketing Agency?

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Tiny human figurines standing around wood blocks that spell out 'SEO'

One of the first things business owners ask after learning about SEO is whether they should outsource it or not.

Is it better to set up your own SEO team, that is, or to hire a marketing agency?

Despite the fact that we’re a marketing agency ourselves, we’ll be up-front: it depends.

For some businesses, it really does make more sense to do their own SEO in-house. For others, on the other hand, the resources they would expend on that wouldn’t be worth it.

To help you figure out which path to take here, we’ll go over some of the benefits and drawbacks of either option.


Why do your SEO in-house?

You get exclusive, focused services

People working on laptop

Because the SEO professional you’re working with is actually your employee, you can tell them to focus exclusively on your projects or business.

Compare this to a marketing agency, which usually has several clients.

Your own team can reserve all of its efforts and brain power for your organisation, by comparison.

Having an in-house team also lets you dictate the terms of SEO projects or campaigns more easily, obviously.

Since they work for you, you technically have more freedom to specify what they should or can do for your business.

That doesn’t mean you should micro-manage the team, of course. It just means you can more closely align their work and processes with your needs.

You can get progress updates and interact with them anytime you want

Woman changing time on big wall clock

While most good marketing agencies make a point of updating their clients regularly, there are still limitations to this.

They usually won’t entertain you if you demand progress updates beyond their usual reporting schedule, for example.

But if your SEO team works for you, you can ask for updates whenever you like.

If they’re in an on-site setup, you can also monitor them as they work. This is especially useful if you’d like to learn more about SEO yourself.

At the same time, you can build stronger relationships with your actual SEO team.

If you prefer to cultivate in-house talent as well as interact with people face-to-face, that’s a big advantage.

You can get a team that understands your brand better

Hands high fiving

Yes, marketing agencies can and do strive to get to know their clients’ brands, vision, and situation.

But there’s no denying that a team that actually works cheek-by-jowl with the rest of your employees is more likely to achieve that, and faster!

They’ll be more familiar with your goals, resources, and even clients as well. All of that can help them with their SEO.

You can expect your SEO to be more aligned with your other digital marketing efforts

Two hands piecing together puzzle pieces

It’s pretty obvious why this would be the case. Generally, an in-house team in an orderly business has more exposure and direct contact with the rest of your organisation than an agency.

As we also just mentioned, they’re usually more familiar with your company goals.

This means they can more closely align their own efforts for SEO with those as well as the rest of your digital marketing campaigns.

They can easily check in, collaborate, and basically work with the rest of your company to that effect.

Why hire an SEO marketing agency?

It’s often cheaper than going in-house

White piggy bank on yellow background

The cost of setting up an in-house team is often drastically higher than the cost of outsourcing your SEO.

Think about it: you’ll have to pay for recruitment, training, tool or software acquisition, salaries and benefits (significant if you want to hire good talent), office or desk space if they’re working on-site, and more.

These can represent a big chunk of money - money you could spend on other things to grow your business.

By contrast, there’s no need to go through most of that with a marketing agency. They already have the talent, the tools, and even the space to work in.

It often offers better scalability

Miniature figures sitting on a metal ruler

Whether it’s a case of needing more people in your SEO team or needing more work

and resources invested in a particular SEO project, marketing agencies usually make it easier than in-house teams.

That’s because scaling with an agency can often be as simple as requesting it or moving to a higher-tier package than what you’re currently on.

Compare that to scaling with an in-house team, where you’d incur further costs to recruit more talent, set up a bigger team and process capable of doing what you want, etc.

It gives you a bigger pool of options and talents to work with

Colorful blocks with people icons

For one thing, it’s not hard to find marketing agencies now. So, you already don’t need to spend as much time finding one as you would on building your own team.

For another, most marketing agencies have large teams with a diverse set of talents and specialities.

That’s especially useful when you need varied perspectives, creative takes, and different experts to pitch in on your project.

That also gives you an easy way to branch out into other marketing ventures. Most SEO agencies typically have specialists in other types of marketing, e.g. social media, pay-per-click, etc.

It offers another perspective and a more balanced relationship

Text bubbles

One of the advantages to having an in-house SEO team is also one of its drawbacks.

Since you not only have greater control of your team but also act as their main source of income, they’re more inclined to agree with your requests… even when what you want isn’t actually best for your SEO.

A marketing agency, on the other hand, isn’t fully dependent on you for income.

Hence, its people are more likely to push back when you demand something that they know isn’t wise, based on their own expertise.

They’re also more likely to offer new perspectives for marketing, since they’re outside of your organisation.

This can be useful at times, because it can help you identify opportunities or weaknesses someone close to the business wouldn’t normally see.

So which one is right for you?

Wooden cubes with arrows pointing in opposite directions

This tells you that there are definitely situations when one option is better than the other.

It’s hard to generalise, of course, but typically, doing in-house teams is best for businesses that actually have a lot of capital, given its cost.

It may also be wiser if your business is in an extremely niche, technical space that would be difficult to grasp for an outside team (unless it specialises in serving clients in your space, of course).

Otherwise, most businesses - especially small and medium ones - are probably better off going with marketing agencies at the moment.

Assess your situation and needs to figure out what exactly would serve you best.

If you think you need help with that, by the way, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can set up a consultation and chat over what agencies like ours could do for your business, and whether or not it’s the right call for you.

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