Search engine optimization (SEO) for your business can be handled in three different ways. First, you may decide to do your SEO in-house where you or an employee you designate takes on these responsibilities. Second, you may decide to hire an independent SEO consultant with more expertise and experience than anyone in your business. Third, you may elect to find an SEO agency instead of a single individual. There are pros and cons for all three of these choices. Below, you will find a discussion of these that will make it easier to decide what would work best for you.
The primary reason that most businesses decide to do their own SEO is to save money. However, if you or an employee do not have serious experience in this area, doing in-house SEO may actually end up costing you a lot more money than you think. To begin with, there is a very steep learning curve to learn even the basics of good SEO. Furthermore, it takes serious time to keep up with the latest trends and then make the necessary changes to your website and to important off site efforts. In other words, SEO is not a project you can do once and expect this to suffice for a long while. You and/or your staff must continue to dedicate serious time to it each and every week. For all of these reasons, in most cases, it is more economical and effective to go with professional SEO services. On the other hand, if you run a high volume business, it may behoove you to hire a knowledgeable SEO expert dedicated to work full time on this specific task. This is especially true if you want to engage your customers fully in all the major social media channels because this takes a lot of time to do it right and it helps to have someone on the “inside” who is fully familiar with all products and/or services, the culture of the company, and the needs and wants of your customers.
If you decide to hire an independent SEO expert, the main thing you want to avoid is “cookie cutter” SEO. Just because you decide to hire your SEO work outside your business does not mean you should settle on generic SEO. Look for an individual who has a really good knowledge of SEO but who is also interested in really getting to know your business from the inside out. This is particularly important for certain SEO tasks. For example, social media is becoming increasingly important in SEO. Your independent SEO expert will not be able to successfully engage with your customers if he or she does not fully understand their needs and wants. Furthermore, the task of choosing keywords and key phrases to use in new content may seem like a technical process, and that is the primary (or only) approach of many SEO experts, but you’ll have much more success if you work with an SEO consultant who selects these terms based in large part on your the needs and wants of your customers and not just on technical methods!
Some businesses prefer to hire a well-established agency to do their SEO work. If you choose wisely, there can be advantages to doing so over hiring an independent SEO expert. Probably the biggest advantage in some SEO agencies is they can divy the work up to sub-specialists. So, for example, one person within the agency may be a specialist in on page SEO and work on optimizing your directory structure and your internal linking structure while another specialist works on establishing more online reviews for your business. They may potentially have a dedicated copywriter and even a person who specializes in press releases. However, all this specialization can also have pitfalls. For example, you may have an account manager overseeing the project that you communicate with and you may never get to interact with the people actually doing the specialized work. So, in effect, all the information these specialists receive about your business is through a third party. SEO agencies, at least the good ones, also typically cost significantly more than equally talented independent SEO consultants since they have more overhead and additional layers to every project.
To summarize, unless you are a large business, it is likely cheaper to hire out your SEO work. It is also highly likely that you do not have the expertise needed to do a good job on your own SEO. There are some exceptions of course, and if you think you may be one of these exceptions, it may still be beneficial for you to consult with SEO experts from time to time on an ongoing basis to make sure you are staying current on important SEO trends and you aren’t making any mistakes that could hurt your business’ search engine rankings. Choosing between an independent SEO consultant and an SEO agency is largely a personal choice and the advantages/disadvantages of each will largely depend on the specific individual or agency so check out each thoroughly before you decide. It is also a good idea to avoid committing to a long term contract until you have worked with one or the other a while. You may also consider farming out different portions of your SEO work to different entities to get the best work in each area.
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