In House vs FreeLance vs Agency: Which is best for your Business?

Imagine that your car has broken down in front of your home. After frantic Googling, you have found the issue. There are hundreds of YouTube videos online that can assist you with nearly every aspect of car repair. But do you have the time, technical skills, dexterity and, frankly, the elbow grease to tackle a project like this?

Search Engine Optimization, like car mechanics, deals with many moving parts and there is a certain barrier to entry if you are on the other side of the fence, looking to develop your brand’s digital marketing presence. In both car mechanics and SEO, you can dive in yourself or hire a professional.

Here we arrive to our age-old question: Does your company or brand need an internal SEO Team or is hiring an SEO agency a better decision? What about a Freelancer? Each choice has distinct advantages and disadvantages, making the decision quite difficult.

We, as SEO professionals, have worked in many different settings and we’ve tapped into that knowledge as well as discussions on the web to compile this information.

In-house SEO Teams

An internal SEO team is just that — it’s a group within your organization that’s dedicated exclusively to developing your unique digital marketing strategy. Win or lose, it’s all in your court, and that has some pros and cons. 

Advantages of In house Digital Marketing Teams:

They’re right next door.

Digital marketing is changing at exponential speeds. Your business needs to keep pace to be successful. With an in-house SEO team, you can shift focus on a dime without waiting for an agency to catch up to your needs. Walk down the hall for a quick confab — no appointments or out of office meetings are necessary.

They understand your brand.

No one knows the nuances of your brand better than the people closest to it. Use their knowledge to your advantage while maintaining oversight over content creation.   

You have internal support.

Businesses have singular missions but many moving parts. The more your product development, IT and SEO teams support each other; the more unified your long-term digital marketing strategy will be.       

 Your needs are the only ones that matter.

Why wonder if the agency you hired is giving priority to the competition’s account when you can get individual attention from in-house staff. No one will be a better advocate for your success than the people who share in it. 

Disadvantages of In House Teams:

Developing the right team takes time and know-how.

Growing an SEO team is playing a waiting game. You can start hiring today, but do you have the expertise necessary to choose the best candidates? Do you understand what makes or breaks SEO? Bringing in the right talent is no small feat, and when you make mistakes, your needs wait. Can they afford to?

It isn’t cheap.

Assigning ad hoc SEO projects to staff who are neither skilled nor motivated enough to give them the attention they deserve doesn’t cut it in today’s ultra-competitive business environment. But creating a dedicated SEO team means more people on the payroll, and it requires a permanent budget. 

Getting everyone on board is a challenge.

Allocating resources to creating an in-house SEO team can seem like a snub to existing staff who may not grasp the value of digital marketing. You’ll need to educate employees across the board about the value of SEO and create a culture of cooperation between departments. It doesn’t happen overnight.  

SEO Agencies

SEO agencies are private digital marketing firms. Can hiring one be a better choice than going it alone?

Advantages of SEO Agencies

Agencies offer comprehensive solutions. 

It takes more than SEO to drive traffic to your website — it takes a complete digital marketing plan.  Agencies are independent. They can audit your current strategy and create measurable goals based on hard data. They never lose sight of the big picture.

Progress is monitored, and approaches that don’t work are revamped or replaced. From website design and content creation, agencies offer one-stop solutions to building better brand awareness. 

They’re staffed by experts.  

It can take months — even years — to build a well-qualified in-house SEO team, but agencies are staffed with well-seasoned professionals ready to work for you on day one. They hire people who bring experience and the right tools to the table. You benefit from their diverse skill sets without overhiring.

Services are scalable.

Agencies can tackle one project at a time or work on a contractual basis. Use only the services you need. Hiring an agency costs more per hour than paying in-house staff, but there are no offices, equipment or employee benefits to pay for. Its scalability can make it a more affordable choice.

Disadvantages of SEO Agencies

It can be a time suck.

Your business is unique, and you want to keep it that way. So you’ll need to invest time in helping agency staff learn more about your company’s mission and culture. That means plenty of meetings, e-mails and phone tag.

Their time isn’t exclusively yours.

Agencies make money based on the number of clients they serve. They divide their time among a range of accounts. When crunch season comes, will they devote the necessary resources to your needs, or focus on a more lucrative account belonging to your competitor?

SEO Freelancers

FreelancerSEO

SEO freelancers are self-employed individuals with top-tier digital marketing skills. It’s like hiring an agency of one, and it could be a good fit for your needs. Why?

Advantages of hiring an SEO Freelancing

It’s a bargain.

Competition among freelancers is stiff and overhead is minimal, so rates tend to be lower. Among the three ways to approach SEO planning, it’s usually the cheapest option. 

There’s no job too small. 

Freelancers are more likely to see small projects as worth their time. They won’t insist on binding contracts or large volumes of work to take you on as a client. Like agencies, services are scalable — pay only for what you need.

The best individuals are on your side. 

Do you need an SEO strategy for two entirely different product lines? Working with freelancers allow you to choose the most experienced individuals for each project.

Disadvantages of SEO Freelancers

Juggling projects by the hour is time-consuming.

Most freelancers work by the hour. That makes it easy to refine your budget, but planning and tracking several hourly projects concurrently is challenging. In-person meetings are rare, but reading and responding to email will take up a chunk of your day.

Learning your company culture takes time.  

As individuals, freelancers can learn about your company quickly — but only if they have time. It’s not unusual for them to be working on dozens of projects simultaneously to make ends meet. You won’t always be at the top of their list.

Conclusion

Whether you opt to keep SEO in the family or go with outside experts, certain skills make some digital marketers more successful than others.

Choose people with curiosity. If they’re not nosy about what you do, you’re more likely to get a generic SEO strategy instead of the laser-focused plan you want.

Go with pros who are up to date on the latest in digital marketing technology. The online environment changes quickly. A freelancer working on Windows Vista may not be the best choice.

Finally, find mavericks willing to take chances. In this world, it’s nothing ventured, nothing gained. Staying atop your field requires taking thoughtful, calculated risks.  

 

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