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Outsourced SEO Experts vs In house SEO Team: Takeaways From Enterprise Perspective

Published on June 6th, 2022

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Search engine optimization is a complex and never-ending process, and contrary to popular belief, for SaaS, it’s not just about the “keywords.” Since it’s regularly changing, SaaS companies often find themselves at crossroads between hiring an in-house team and outsourcing SEO. Any team, whether it’s an external or internal team, should have the following roles to handle and boost your search engine ranking:

  • SEO Team Lead, a.k.a SEO Manager
  • Outreach / Link Building Specialist
  • Content writer or copywriter
  • Technical Dev Team Member
  • Data or SEO Analyst

Important Considerations

To decide whether to outsource or build an in-house SEO team, there are a few questions that you need to answer to set a reasonable expectation:

  • What are your SEO expectations?
  • What impact should SEO make on your business?
  • How much revenue are you expecting SEO will contribute to your company?
  • What is the minimum investment you can make to generate that revenue?
  • How long will SEO take to make any impact?

Here’s a list of factors you should consider deciding:

Factor #1: Company size

For larger enterprises, building an in-house SEO team might be better than outsourcing because it’s easier to get quick solutions from them especially when it comes to enterprise SEO that needs a lot more domain knowledge (heterogeneous & wide range of solutions). Agencies can always be helpful for off-page SEO. However, for smaller companies, since they have a lot to focus on, product design, customer service and retention, growth, etc., outsourcing their SEO might be a more feasible option as they will have preset monthly or quarterly goals they would need to fulfill to get the payment cycle going.

Factor #2: Budget allotment

A monthly or quarterly budget is a decision-making point. For this, having set a marketing budget will come in handy. And although both SEO agencies and in-house teams range in prices, you would want to reassess your monthly budgets, try to cut corners and then decide which one of the two you should go for.

Factor #3: Need for expertise

Before deciding who to hire, you need to have a quick conversation with both and assess where the right expertise lies. For in-house recruitments and SEO agencies, review their portfolio, resume, past recommendations or client testimonials, etc.

Now that we have listed the points to consider for your SEO needs, let’s dive into the pros and cons of hiring in-house vs. external SEO agencies.

Getting together an in-house SEO team

An In-House SEO manages SEO using office tools and with the help of other employees who you hire on monthly payments. Whether you are planning to expand an existing team or want to build one from scratch, here’s what you need to know.

Benefits of having an In-house SEO team

The in-house team is more committed.

The in-house team better understands your business priorities and objectives as they are there for the whole experience. They are usually more focused and committed to achieving a website rank higher and better conversion rates.

Adaptability is crucial for growth.

Having in-house expert resources can help you tackle website SEO issues anytime. You can share your requirements with them anytime something pops up and quickly resolve issues without waiting for them to respond.

A better choice for larger enterprises.

Big companies usually need to have an in-house SEO team because they have more ongoing requirements and need to implement solutions faster.

SEO agencies have their way.

Getting SEO agencies to implement customized solutions isn’t always an easy task, mainly because businesses are also trying to make a name in a competitive market. Additionally, with the evolution of SEO and the algorithm changes the search engines go through yearly, some SEO agencies might still use outdated solutions. They might not always have the time, proper resources, and team to serve you. You are not the only client of your outsourced agency, so you might not always be on the top of their priority list. On the other hand, an in-house team is always at your disposal and can sit together anytime to make well-informed and result-driven decisions.

Challenges of In-House SEO

You need to ensure that your team is updated.

There’s no doubt that an in-house team will increase your wage bill. Additionally, SEO is an ever-evolving industry. When you hire an in-house SEO team, you hire a specific skill set that may become obsolete with just one algorithm update. So, to ensure your team has an updated skill set, you need to invest in tools, technologies, training, and resources, which can be costly at times.

Not getting the desired quality.

There’s always a chance that the results of your in-house SEO team efforts aren’t anywhere near your estimations. Moreover, there isn’t a guarantee that your in-house team will be at your beck and call to get things done. In contrast, SEO agencies have clearly defined targets and results they want to achieve for a client in a particular month, and more often than not, they adhere to them as their business thrives on pay per result. However, hiring an in-house SEO team is a better solution for companies looking for more control and adaptability. Additionally, agencies are more connected and can bring more value during link building.

Employee retention

Having a reasonable employee retention rate is a tough nut to crack, as you need to create a balance between offering perks and growth to keep them satisfied, which can get very expensive.

Hiring an external SEO agency

There are a bunch of SaaS SEO agencies out there that can help and yield better results than an in-house SEO team. For companies with the size and budget, outsourcing SEO is a common practice.

Benefits of outsourcing SEO

Focused strategies

Hiring an external team with years of experience in SaaS SEO will help develop and implement laser-focused strategies for better SEO results. Also, they can see things from different viewpoints that can help them come up with an out-of-the-box strategy.

Better market knowledge

SaaS is a highly competitive industry. Since the external SEO agency works on multiple projects simultaneously, they see the market from different angles and are more adept at sensing risks and threats to your SERP rankings.

Outsourcing is a money saver

Hiring experienced professionals for an in-house SEO team can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Along with that, you need to invest in the required SEO tools and training so that your team skills are constantly updated. On the other hand, outsourcing can help you access diverse skills at almost the exact cost.

Constantly updated

Since the external agencies work on multiple projects simultaneously, they stay updated on the latest SEO trends and algorithm updates.

A pool of talent

Outsource companies work with different clients, sometimes from the same industry if not from the market. This requires a diverse knowledge set and experience performing the exact service you need. Their skills and knowledge can surpass that of an in-house team any day.

Ease of scaling

An outsourcing company can grow with you as your enterprise grows. You don’t need to worry about hiring new professionals and more resources, and it’s all taken care of by the external agency.

Access to the right tools

Since external agencies are well-experienced and have worked in the same industry for quite some time, they are pros at using various tools to help optimize your growth. On the other hand, in-house teams might take some time before they figure out the right tools, which will not be easy on your pocket.

Challenges of outsourcing SEO

Values disconnect

Choosing the right outsourcing agency can be a head-scratcher for many companies. You need to ensure that the external team you are shortlisting is the right one for your company and they share your values.

You are not the only one

Your external SEO agency will also have other clients. And since they handle multiple clients at a time, it’s not always possible for them to be prompt with their responses.

No knowledge retention

If you plan to completely outsource your SEO to an external agency without having a point of contact within your team or an experienced individual who is well aware of their activities, your organization will not retain any of the knowledge or gain any experience during the SEO process.

Communication can be tricky

While communicating with an external team, you need to be more proactive, and you need to ensure that a good pattern – weekly or monthly meetings, are discussed beforehand.

Final thoughts

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing between an in-house and external SEO agency. However, the one thing that’s common for all businesses is the focus on getting a higher rank in SERPs and attracting the right audience to grow revenue ultimately. The path to achieving this can be different for everyone. 

The decision relies on how important organic search is to your overall marketing goals. For many enterprises, a hybrid approach can be more successful. Having a small team of qualified internal SEO staff or at least a managerial level SEO professional can help you navigate and drive SEO with your strategic partners. This will allow you to steer the SEO goals and ensure that they are aligned with your business objectives.

At Firstprinciples, we offer an extensive experience that can’t be replicated or surpassed by hiring an in-house SEO person or team. We provide small and medium-sized companies with unparalleled value for their money, accompanied by guaranteed SEO results.

About the Author

Heebatullah

Technical Content Strategist and Inbound Analyst at FirstPrinciples, Heba is a motivated self-starter with a knack for analyzing and solving tough business problems. When not working, you can find her either reading a book, painting landscapes or sketching places she yearns to visit one day.

@Heebatullah

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