SEO In-House vs. Outsourced: Should You Hire an Agency?

February 6th, 2024 by Michelle Neuhoff Boyd

Search Influence SEO

Key Insights

  • SEO is crucial for online visibility, increased website traffic, brand recognition, and revenue growth.
  • While it may be tempting to handle SEO in-house, it’s essential to recognize that effective SEO requires meticulous attention to detail, constant monitoring, and adaptation to evolving search engine algorithms.
  • When deciding between in-house and outsourced SEO, consider your budget, the need to stay updated on SEO trends, your SEO goals, and the tech necessary for effective SEO.

Incorporating SEO into your digital marketing strategy is paramount in today’s fiercely competitive online arena. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the driving forces behind your business’s online visibility.

It’s the key that unlocks the doors to higher website traffic, increased brand recognition, and, ultimately, greater revenue.

When deciding the best route for your SEO success, it might be tempting to take SEO efforts into your own hands, especially if you have an in-house team with some digital marketing know-how.

After all, who understands your business goals better than your employees? But before you embark on the journey of handling SEO in-house, it’s crucial to pause and reflect.

Effective SEO isn’t just about understanding your business; it’s a multifaceted discipline that demands meticulous attention to detail, constant monitoring, and adaptation to ever-evolving search engines.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the debate of SEO in-house vs. outsourcing, offering insights and compelling reasons why entrusting your SEO efforts to a specialized SEO agency may be the smartest move for your business’s growth and online success.

Skills & Knowledge for Effective SEO

SEO Workbook for Higher Education Websites

If you’re considering taking your SEO efforts in-house, the SEO skills you need to drive results include:

Research and analysis

Crafting a successful SEO strategy hinges on thorough research and analysis. This entails extensive keyword research and competitive analysis, the basis for well-informed SEO campaigns.

Content writing

Content remains central to SEO, demanding the creation of SEO-friendly materials. This encompasses everything from on-page optimizations to new content marketing pieces. Proficient content writers produce high-quality, engaging content that resonates with your target audience while also favorably positioning your site in search engine results.

Technical SEO expertise

Technical SEO is a critical facet of the SEO landscape. It involves optimizing website structure, enhancing loading speeds, and ensuring search engine compatibility.

Website development

Proper SEO goes hand-in-hand with seamless website development. SEO success often requires collaboration with web developers and graphic designers to create a user-friendly, visually appealing website. A well-designed website improves user experience and plays a pivotal role in SEO rankings. Search Influence’s web development team works with your existing website to execute our SEO recommendations.

Outreach / PR for link building

Link building is a fundamental element of SEO. Building valuable backlinks demands skillfully executed outreach and PR activities. These high-quality backlinks enhance website authority and visibility in search results.

Data and analytics

Data-driven decision-making is at the core of effective SEO. Leveraging advanced analytics tools, SEO practitioners monitor the performance of strategies, providing insightful reports.

Analytics and lead tracking allow for adjustments and alignment of SEO efforts with your business objectives.

These skills and knowledge areas are essential for anyone looking to successfully navigate the complex world of SEO. Whether you choose an in-house SEO team or partner with an SEO agency, understanding these foundational aspects is crucial for achieving favorable results in the digital landscape.

Time Commitment for Successful SEO

Effective SEO isn’t a one-time task; it’s an ongoing commitment that demands significant time and effort. Typically, you can expect to allocate anywhere from 25 to 50 hours per month for SEO-related activities. This allocation includes time spent on strategy development, execution, and continuous evaluation.

SEO campaigns require meticulous planning and execution, involving keyword research, content optimization, technical SEO enhancements, and link building efforts. Managing this workload can overwhelm a small business or those with limited resources.

Plus, SEO isn’t static. Search engine algorithms evolve, user behavior changes, and competitors adapt their strategies. To remain competitive, you must update your SEO strategies and tactics every three months. This iterative approach ensures your SEO campaign stays aligned with industry trends and search engine updates.

It’s essential to take a step back and assess the performance of your SEO efforts annually. Determine which pages are excelling in search engine rankings and which are not. This evaluation allows you to reallocate resources and update your priorities for the following year.

For many businesses, maintaining this level of commitment and staying up-to-date with the SEO world can be challenging. This is where SEO agencies and their teams of SEO experts come into play, offering the time commitment required and the expertise and ongoing training needed to ensure your business grows and thrives in the digital marketing arena. An agency’s dedicated marketing manager or SEO team can handle specific tasks and provide the time and skills to drive your business forward online.

What You Get From a Skilled SEO Agency

Outsourcing SEO to a skilled SEO agency offers many advantages that impact the success of your projects.

Some of the benefits of hiring a skilled SEO agency include:

  • Access to and Knowledge of Tools: SEO agencies are equipped with a wide array of essential tools and resources for effective SEO management, such as Semrush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console. These tools aid in keyword research, competitive analysis, and performance tracking.
  • Staying Up-to-Date on SEO Trends and Changes: SEO is a dynamic field with frequent algorithm updates and evolving best practices. SEO agencies are dedicated to staying current with these changes, ensuring your SEO strategy remains effective and compliant with industry trends.
  • Established Processes for Implementation: SEO agencies have well-defined processes for implementing changes and optimizations swiftly and efficiently. This systematic approach ensures a seamless execution of your SEO strategy.
  • Experience: SEO professionals within an agency have extensive experience working on various SEO projects. Their expertise allows them to easily navigate the complexities of SEO, offering solutions tailored to your unique needs.
  • Skills Across Specialties: A skilled SEO agency boasts a diverse team of experts, including content writers, researchers/strategists, and technical SEO specialists. This multidisciplinary approach provides you with a range of skills at your fingertips without the need to build and manage an in-house SEO team.
  • Data-Backed Strategy: SEO agencies base their strategies on data-driven insights. They analyze performance metrics to gauge the impact of your tactics on rankings, traffic, and lead generation, ensuring concrete evidence guides your SEO journey.
  • Diagnosing Underperformance: When your SEO efforts don’t yield the desired results, SEO agencies have the expertise to diagnose underperformance and recommend corrective actions promptly. This proactive approach is crucial for maintaining and improving your organic traffic and search engine rankings.

Collaborating with an SEO agency grants you access to a team of seasoned professionals who can streamline your SEO efforts, enhance your online visibility, and confidently drive your business forward.

An outsourced SEO success story

The Tulane School of Professional Advancement (SoPA) partnered with Search Influence, an experienced higher education digital marketing agency, to enhance their online visibility and attract prospective students. Over this multi-year collaboration, Search Influence has implemented a suite of digital marketing strategies, including SEO, paid digital ads, and email marketing. These digital marketing tactics have increased enrollment across various programs, from bachelor’s to master’s programs and graduate certificates.

One of the standout success stories from this partnership came when Search Influence helped Tulane SoPA bring an underperforming third-party Online Program Management (OPM) built microsite back from the dead.

On the direction of Tulane SoPA’s former OPM partner, the private continuing education school hosted information about their information technology and cybersecurity degrees on a microsite separate from their main website.

Tulane SoPA came to Search Influence with the following concerns about their microsite:

  • The look and feel (user experience) was inconsistent across the two properties.
  • The OPM did not allow Tulane SoPA to apply edits to the microsite, adding another layer of complication that made it difficult to capitalize on the IT undergrad program.
  • It was difficult to holistically analyze data and performance.
  • The former OPM partner owned Tulane SoPA’s microsite, which meant that a vendor change would prompt the loss of any SEO authority gained from the microsite.

On top of the above concerns, Search Influence also recognized a separate set of challenges:

  • Running these two programs on individual websites proved to be a counterproductive strategy. The online visibility of both programs suffered as they couldn’t tap into the wealth of educational content available on the primary website. Conversely, the main website lacked the necessary depth of information about these programs and what they offered.
  • Both websites faced the risk of being flagged for duplicate content. Vital details such as tuition fees, the admissions process, and financial aid information were duplicated on each site, making them susceptible to search engine penalties. Neither site was positioned to organically rank well for IT or cybersecurity keywords, nor were they effectively nurturing prospective students interested in these programs to take the next step and apply.

Search Influence used an SEO-first approach to migrate the OPM microsite pages into Tulane SoPA’s main site. At the end of the project, the microsite was completely sunset.

As a result of this strategy, Tulane SoPA:

  • Enhanced their content’s richness by implementing comprehensive front and back-end content optimization and expansion strategies
  • Ensured the microsite’s search engine prominence remained intact during a seamless technical transition
    Solidified its position as a prominent leader by actively refining conversion strategies and introducing supplementary inquiry forms

Search Influence’s expert SEO knowledge and implementation fixed Tulane SoPA’s website woes and helped them drive more prospective students to their site.

The results below look at a year-over-year comparison to the three-months prior to the migration (to account for seasonality).

  • 90% increase in total organic traffic
  • 456% increase in organic blog entrances
  • 890% increase in organic blog traffic
  • 895% increase in new users to the blog
  • 54% of organic website traffic is attributed to the blog in this time period, compared to just 10% prior.

This success reflects the expertise of an outsourced SEO agency in driving targeted results and leveraging industry insights to optimize websites. It demonstrates the value of outsourcing SEO tasks to dedicated specialists and the potential for substantial business growth through practical SEO work.

Search Influence SEO

Questions to Ask Yourself When Making Your Decision

What’s our organization’s budget for SEO services?

When deciding between in-house SEO or outsourcing SEO services, consider the following financial factors:

  • Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs: Understand the distinction between one-time setup costs and monthly or annual expenses. Also, consider potential overruns or unexpected costs that may arise during your SEO journey. You will be responsible for these unforeseen costs if you choose in-house SEO.
  • Cost of an In-House SEO Expert vs. Agency Retainer/Fees: Compare the cost of hiring and maintaining an in-house SEO team to the fees associated with an SEO services agency or freelance SEO expert. If you choose to outsource SEO, it may be more expensive upfront but will save you money and headaches in the long run.
  • Tools and Software: Evaluate the availability and cost of essential SEO tools and software needed for effective SEO campaign management. Can your in-house team afford the necessary digital marketing software?
  • Training and Conferences: If you choose an in-house SEO specialist, you must set aside funds for courses, webinars, and potentially attending SEO conferences for your SEO professional’s ongoing education and skill enhancement.

While hiring a skilled SEO agency for your higher education marketing can help you craft successful campaigns, Search Influence understands that might not always be in the budget.

That’s why we created an SEO workbook to help higher ed markets take charge of their online campaigns.

Do we know the latest SEO best practices and trends?

When deciding between in-house SEO or outsourced SEO services, you should consider the following:

  • Internal Expertise: Assess the current knowledge level of your internal teams or SEO manager and identify any gaps in expertise that might require external training or assistance.
  • Stay Up-to-Date: Recognize the frequency of search engine algorithm updates and the importance of staying ahead in a constantly evolving field.
  • Dedicated Learning Time: If you can’t allocate regular time for your team to learn and stay updated on the latest SEO best practices, ensuring continuous improvement, you should consider hiring an SEO specialist agency.

What are the goals of our SEO project?

When deciding between in-house SEO or SEO outsourcing, you should consider the following:

  • Short-Term vs. Long-Term Goals: Define immediate objectives and long-term SEO strategies to ensure your SEO efforts align with your business goals.
  • On-Page vs. Off-Page Optimization: Determine the balance between improving on-page website elements and addressing off-page SEO factors to achieve your desired results.
  • Local vs. National Focus: Decide whether to prioritize local search optimization or expand your reach to a broader national or global audience.
  • Integration With Other Marketing Efforts: Understand how SEO will fit into your overall marketing strategy, including its integration with PPC, social media, and email marketing efforts. Most SEO agencies can handle all your digital marketing needs.

What does a staff member or agency need to learn about our niche?

When deciding between in-house SEO or SEO outsourcing, you should consider the following:

  • Unique Challenges of Niche Industries: Recognize potential obstacles or limited resources specific to your niche sector that may impact your SEO strategy.
  • Specialized Knowledge: Consider the specific information needed to understand keywords, your target audience, and the intricacies of your industry, which will be vital for practical SEO work and content creation.

Do we have the technical skills and software subscriptions necessary for effective SEO?

When deciding between in-house SEO or an outsourced agency, you should consider the following:

  • SEO Toolkits: Review the availability of tools for keyword research, link building, and on-site optimization to ensure you have the necessary resources for your SEO campaign.
  • Website Infrastructure: In order to implement effective SEO, you must have someone who knows how to evaluate your current website’s SEO-friendliness and then determine whether migrations or significant overhauls are needed.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Ensure access to robust analytics tools that allow you to measure and report on the progress of your SEO efforts effectively.
  • Integration Capabilities: Before deciding to bring your SEO in-house, you should determine if you know how to integrate SEO tools with other marketing and analytics platforms to streamline your SEO operations and improve overall efficiency.

After considering your SEO goals and industry knowledge, it will be easier to decide between an in-house or outsourced SEO strategy.

Should You Outsource SEO Services or Build an Internal Team?

Considering that 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, you can’t afford to ignore SEO.

But should you build an in-house team or hire an agency?

Several key takeaways emerge when deciding between outsourcing SEO services and building an in-house team. Your choice depends on various factors, including budget constraints, existing expertise, the need to stay current with SEO trends, and your specific project goals.

One critical consideration is the remarkable potential of partnering with the right SEO agency.

When you collaborate with a skilled agency, they don’t merely provide services; they become an extension of your team. This partnership can yield immense cost savings, as agencies have the tools and expertise required for efficient SEO results.

Search Influence Can Help Your Business Grow

As a leading SEO agency in New Orleans, we understand the significance of being found online. That’s why we’ve spent nearly 20 years helping businesses just like yours find success.

Our dedicated experts have honed their SEO skills through years of strategizing, testing, and developing cutting-edge methods to ensure potential customers can discover your business.

If you’re ready to take your online presence to the next level and achieve remarkable growth, contact Search Influence today.

Your journey to digital success starts here.

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