If you are a small business owner it’s likely that you are already aware of your need for SEO to ensure an online presence. What you may be less convinced of is your need for an agency. Is it really simpler just to handle SEO in house? There are, in fact, many reasons why an agency is the way to go, no matter how small your budget.
You’ll Actually Save Money
If you just look at the hourly rate charged by an agency and compare it to hiring an employee, it may seem as if contracting an agency would be the more expensive option. Depending which market you’re in, hiring an employee costs around $50,000 per year, whereas using an agency costs around $5,000 per month.
This comparison fails to take into account the additional costs of having an employee, which include training, health insurance, retirement, paid vacation, and sick days. When you add this into the picture, costs increase to $61,575, according to a calculation from MIT. Depending on your needs for SEO, the cost of using an agency could be much lower.
You may decide to save money by using staff already on your team to handle SEO, but this incurs additional costs, too. Every hour an employee is working on SEO tasks is time taken away from critical business activities. Just to write a single blog post may take three hours, when you consider the keyword research, editing, and optimization involved. When you have a small business, every member of your team has a specific, and crucial, purpose. It is unlikely you can spare much time without impacting overall productivity.
Another place you’ll save money is on marketing costs. You may not realize just how much it costs to run an SEO strategy in house. Even supposing you already have a well-designed website, you still need to keep it optimized. A complex process, this requires a trained web developer.
You will also need to pay for a variety of tools — for analytics, keyword research, and content creation. Although free versions exist, paid options are of much higher quality and provide you with extra features.
You’ll Receive a Comprehensive Service
In addition to costing more, the quality of SEO tends to suffer when you rely on your own employees. True, they can learn plenty about SEO by reading advice online, but these tips only scratch the surface. Whereas your employees may be able to learn best practices for linking, how to add meta descriptions and title tags, and even how to do basic keyword research, they will likely to struggle with other elements of SEO — like optimizing site speed, adding schema markup, and responsive web design. These all impact your ability to generate traffic and leads.
Even if your employees possess all the necessary technical knowledge, you’ll get nowhere without quality content. An agency will have a team of creatives, including writers, editors, graphic designers, and video marketers, who can produce optimized content to your specifications. Although you may have employees skilled in some of these areas, the quality will be far from what you would gain with an agency. In fact, 75 percent of marketers say that their lack of skills is impacting revenue, according to Oracle.
Furthermore, an agency can use its experience to develop a strategy for your business, designed with your needs and budget in mind. Using analytics, the agency will constantly tweak tactics to achieve the best results. If you try to handle SEO alone, you will need to rely on a generic strategy and may need to make sweeping changes as you figure out what works. This means a long period of trial and error.
You Won’t Need to Manage the Team
If you choose to handle SEO in house, you will need to manage the team yourself. This means you will be responsible for training, monitoring work, and checking results. This will take up yet more time that could be spent making sales and running your business. Training and keeping staff up to date with the latest developments in SEO is another cost.
Alternatively, you could shift the responsibility for ensuring high performance to an agency. If you wish, you can maintain a close relationship with the agency, communicating your requirements and offering your feedback. If you’re fine with being more hands-off, you can leave it up to the agency to handle everything and just receive regular progress reports.
You’ll See Results Sooner
When you have a small budget, it can take time to see results from your SEO efforts, but it takes even longer if you try to manage everything on your own. This is especially true if you cannot afford to run a strategy that covers all the elements of SEO. As every aspect of an SEO strategy is interconnected, if you neglect even one element, the entire strategy suffers.
Without the support of an agency, you may also find it difficult to know what efforts are contributing to the results or, indeed, if SEO is contributing at all. You need someone to analyze the data to point out your strong points and show you where you are failing.
Why You Should Hire an Agency
For small businesses, an SEO agency should not be an option — it should be a necessity. If you have a limited budget, you are in even greater need of an agency. You need to stretch your funds as far as they will go, something only an agency can do.
If you are in a niche market or have a local business, you are in a better position than the biggest corporations to reach potential customers, as you know what matters to your audience. With the support of an agency, you can effectively deliver your message to the right people.