Improving your website’s SEO has become a core element of running a business. Once you’ve decided to take steps to develop an SEO strategy and make the effort to execute it, you may find there are several ways you can go about doing this.
Below we will go over whether hiring an SEO agency or a freelance SEO expert is the right fit for your business. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and offer some advice on how to choose the right one for your business.
Hiring an SEO Agency
Unlike freelancers, who tend to work alone, an SEO agency consists of a number of experts working together to provide SEO services for their clients. These agencies can range from a small team of former freelancers to huge businesses working on hundreds of projects at the same time.
There are two main types of agencies that deserve your attention, depending on the needs of your company. Boutique agencies offer a smaller team of digital marketing specialists. These can be hired to manage your SEO strategy or work in conjunction with any SEO talent you might have in-house.
Another option is to hire an ad agency offering a full digital marketing service. This is the best option is SEO is only a part of your marketing strategy and you want to hire someone who can take care of all the aspects of your business’s branding and advertisement.
Generally speaking, hiring an SEO agency is the most cost-effective way to have a larger team of SEO experts at your disposal. It can also save time in the long run, since you will have a group of people with various levels of experience, so you won’t have to spend time and money hiring your own team.
Related to what we just mentioned, SEO agencies also tend to consist of people experienced in various aspects of SEO. This means you will have access to link builders, content producers, and technical SEO experts. Because of this, an SEO agency is more likely to create a comprehensive SEO strategy tailored to your company’s needs.
This diversity of expertise also means that if a member of the team decides to leave or change careers, there won’t be any significant changes to your SEO rankings. An agency can simply bring in another expert to work on your project, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
All this expertise and dependability comes at a price, and you’ll find that hiring an SEO agency can cost significantly more than turning to a freelancer. In fact, a lot of agencies will have you sign a contract for several months of work beforehand, making sure you don’t back out if there aren’t any immediate and obvious results.
Another possible disadvantage of hiring an agency is the fact that the multi-faceted approach to SEO they use can take some time to produce a noticeable result. If you think your business simply needs a quick boost in SEO rankings in order to gain significant growth, you may be better served hiring a freelancer.
There is also the matter of large agencies working on a number of projects at the time. This can mean that your business isn’t getting the level of support and dedication you may be able to get from a freelancer or an in-house SEO team.
Hiring an SEO Freelancer
If you haven’t done any SEO work on your website up to this point, then hiring a freelancer may be the cheapest way to give your search engine rankings a significant boost. Even if you already have a basis of SEO in place, finding a freelancer with deep technical knowledge can still be beneficial. Individual experts are more likely to be able to focus on the details of your SEO strategy and make tweaks that agencies might miss.
Since hiring SEO freelancers is usually more affordable than hiring a full agency, this can be the best option for smaller businesses. Also, as we mentioned above, a freelancer will usually be working on fewer projects at a time than an SEO agency. This means that they will be able to more fully devote themselves to working on your project.
This also means that you will have more control over which techniques and methods are used to increase your SEO score. Freelancers will generally be more flexible in their approach, so if you only need a short-term boost in rankings, they will be able to employ gray-hat techniques that agencies may not be comfortable with.
This flexibility also means that you don’t have to have a freelancer on hire at all times. You can hire them for a limited time or on a project-to-project basis. You’re not required to hire them once you no longer need their services, and can rehire them later when you do.
It can be difficult to find a good and trustworthy SEO freelancer. Most of the dependable and knowledgable ones already have a steady roster of clients they can devote their time to, and finding ones that fit your business may take a bit of digging.
Freelance SEO experts will generally focus on building skills and knowledge in one area of SEO. If you want to achieve the all-in-one convenience of an SEO agency, you may have to hire several freelancers at the same time. This can be a daunting task, as combining freelancers from different parts of the world (and thus, different time zones) takes plenty of patience and coordination. In this scenario, you would also have to act as the team manager, which can take time away from running your business.
Apart from this, the specialized nature of many freelancers and their skillets can result in ones that will only sign up for consulting roles, or those that are only interested in implementing an SEO strategy that has already been developed. In this case, it’s best to combine a freelancer with an in-house SEO team.
A Third Option: Building Your Own In-House SEO Team
Building an in-house SEO team for your business would be the ideal option for long-term SEO score increase. An in-house team combines the expertise of individual members with a deep understanding of your business goals to tailor a comprehensive SEO strategy for your company.
On the other hand, this is a long-term and expensive solution, and thus not suitable for many businesses out there. Simply assembling a team of experts can put a major strain on both your budget and your HR department. In reality, having an in-house SEO team will only work for large companies with enough money and time to invest in hiring and maintaining a team of experts.
Choosing the Right Option for Your Business
Now that you have an overview of the available options, it’s time to choose which one would be the best fit for your business. There are a number of factors to consider when making this choice.
The first and most obvious thing to take into consideration is your marketing budget. Different options require different funding, with hiring an SEO agency or building an in-house team being far more expensive in the long run. Hiring an agency will usually cost upwards of $3,000 per month, which can be a prohibitive cost for smaller businesses. At the same time, while hiring an SEO freelancer will be much more affordable in the short run, having them work on several back-to-back projects for your company can quickly add up.
The best option will also depend on the complexity of the work you need done. If you feel like your website only needs a few minor tweaks when it comes to SEO, it might be better to simply do them yourself with the help of online tutorials. If you need someone to take a deep dive into the technical side of your website, a freelancer might be the best choice, while SEO agencies and teams can offer a more comprehensive service.
Another point to consider is how important SEO is for your business. If you’re running an online business, then having an optimized SEO strategy will be crucial to its success. Other business models might not require the same focus on SEO. If you feel SEO is critical for your business, having an in-house team will probably give you the best results.
In the end, there may not be a clear-cut answer to which path you should take. In an ideal world, an in-house team would always be the right answer. Unfortunately, this would also require you to have an unlimited budget.
In reality, you will most likely have to tailor your approach to the specific needs of your business. This might mean one of the options outlined above might suit your needs perfectly, but you might also have to mix different approaches in order to find the right combination.