In-House vs. Outsourced SEO: Which Is Right for Your Business?
The average business spends 40% or more of their marketing budget on digital marketing and has done so for several years. This SEO statistic, combined with the fact that 72% of local searches by consumers lead to a nearby store visit, highlights how critical search engine rankings are to your business’s success.
How your business approaches search engine optimization is important, but the best method depends on your unique preferences and strengths as an organization.
This guide will help you evaluate whether performing your SEO in-house vs. outsourcing it is the optimal route for your company.
What Is SEO Outsourcing in the Marketing Industry?
Outsourced SEO is the process of hiring a specialized third party to manage the growth of your web page rankings in major search engines. Your business can outsource SEO to a U.S. agency, on offshore firm, or a freelancer. The performed functions can include web design, digital content marketing, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.
Benefits and Drawbacks of SEO Outsourcing
The major selling point for outsourced SEO services is their cost-efficiency. Many small business owners balk at this idea because they can update their page titles and meta descriptions on their own – why would they pay $4,000 or more per month for someone else to do it?
Keep in mind that this comparison is between hiring an in-house marketer and an SEO agency – not DIY search engine optimization. Further, modern SEO is very difficult, and simple on-page optimizations alone will no longer move the dial for business owners or marketing coordinators that are already spread thin.
At the time of this writing, hiring in-house SEO experts requires paying an average yearly salary of $53,437 in the U.S.
However, thanks to things like FICA, FUTA, SUTA, and other employer-sponsored benefits, your employees can cost you between 1.25 and 1.4 times their salary, according to the SBA. When all is said and done, hiring in-house SEO experts can cost you an average of almost $67,000… if we’re being conservative.
These numbers mean very little without context. With that in-house SEO cost in mind, take a look at the following benefit equation.
SEO Benefit = [SEO Value] / Cost
As long as the value you get from hiring an SEO marketer is proportionally larger than the cost, it can still be a sound investment. To get a more apples-to-apples cost comparison between keeping SEO in-house vs. outsourcing, let’s evaluate what retainer is equivalent to the cost of an employee.
After some quick calculation, the cost of an employee is equal to a $5,600 retainer when you outsource SEO services to a team of experienced strategists. After working in both in-house and agency settings, it is my professional opinion that the benefit is greater when you outsource to SEO agencies. An agency generally gives you access to experienced strategists, writers, developers, and graphic designers
However, this recommendation only holds true after you’ve researched how to find the best SEO company for your needs.
What Is In-house SEO in the Marketing Industry?
An in-house SEO marketer is a W-2 employee that is responsible for the on-page and off-page search engine optimization of your business website. This employee is generally responsible for content marketing strategy, on-page research and development, link-building, and communicating with the development team to implement aspects of technical SEO.
Benefits and Drawbacks of In-house SEO
In-house SEO means that your employee is closer to your team, and you have more control over their approach. If your SEO marketer needs to consult with your development team, it may be as easy as walking down the hall and having a quick meeting.
If they need to consult with an in-house writer or subject matter expert on your team, they likely already have a relationship built with that person and can easily access your existing human capital. As a bonus, the team around your SEO specialist will generally become more versed in the discipline, and your entire company benefits as a result.
A major drawback is that the entire cost of this position is for one person. An in-house SEO specialist making an average salary costs the same as a $5,600 retainer for an entire team of professionals that each have specialized knowledge and cumulative decades of experience. Even hiring a single external SEO contractor instead of an employee generally means that the individual is effective enough to make a living from their extensive knowledge.
Your single in-house SEO expert may be fantastic at search engine optimization, but do they also excel at writing, design, programming, and outreach? They have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that are not compensated for by a full team of complementary experts.
When Should You Outsource SEO at Your Company?
Now that we have an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of hiring vs. outsourcing your SEO, you can decide which option is best for you.
If you like control and have the budget to hire a W-2 employee, then hiring an in-house SEO expert is the best route for your company. If you are willing to surrender control to a team of experienced digital marketers and want to spend less than an employee will cost you, outsourced SEO services are the way to go.
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