Should you hire an in-house employee, a freelancer or an SEO agency?

Digital360 on 25 August 2017

Do you run an SME with a modest-sized budget? If yes, what are your options for SEO providers?

There are three types of SEO providers you can hire, each with its own benefits. But how do you pick the best option for you? Should you hire an in-house SEO or outsource SEO?

The key is to align these benefits with your company’s SEO goals and budget. Here's we'll take a look at your options so you can discover the best marketing solution for your business.

Option #1: Hiring an in-house SEO specialist

The pros

Hiring an in-house SEO expert gets you a dedicated specialist who is focused on your brand, 100 per cent of the time. This means your SEO has the time to experiment with different SEO strategies to find the best solution for your company.

An in-house SEO will get to know your company inside out. He or she will become familiar with your company’s vision and unique point of differences. This can better equip them to deliver work that aligns with your brand’s messaging. If your company is in its early stages of building your brand, hiring an in-house specialist might be an ideal option for you.

Part of an SEO’s job scope is to work closely with different departments such as IT, marketing and analytics. By having the advantage of working on-site, an in-house SEO specialist can build strong relationships and influence with the various departments.

This also makes communication between you and your SEO a lot easier. All it takes is a short walk to him or her to brainstorm new ideas, discuss new strategies or revise old ones. This is a luxury you will not get with the other SEO providers.

The cons

The best SEO experts are armed with a range of skills. This can make the process of hiring a great in-house SEO very lengthy, not to mention costly. When you do eventually find one, you should be prepared to pay a lot for their expertise. Couple that with training and tools you will need to provide, an in-house SEO can be the most costly option.

Consider the workload you have for the SEO. If it is insufficient for a full-time SEO specialist, it might be more cost-effective to outsource your SEO instead.

Option #2: Hiring an SEO freelancer

The pros

If you can’t find an in-house SEO with generalist skills, you can look to hire freelancers with different skill-sets to fill the gaps in your strategy. For example, you can use the services of an SEO freelancer who specialises in link building to complement that of a freelance SEO writer.

Compared to an SEO agency, an SEO freelancer has fewer overhead expenses and can charge a lot less than they can. They are also a good option for your company if you don’t have a consistent stream of work. They can be hired on a project or monthly-basis, depending on what your business needs. And because you are getting an external party in, you might even get a fresh perspective on your site’s issues.

The cons

If you hire the wrong SEO freelancer, you can put your website and SEO in jeopardy. Those websites that advertise SEO experts overseas usually over-promise and under-deliver. You will need to vet each freelancer you hire. This can be especially time-consuming when freelancers come and go.

An SEO freelancer who works remotely might find it challenging to communicate with other staff members, especially if they are in a different timezone from you. If you hire multiple freelancers, you will need someone to manage them so they are on the same page.

Option #3: Hiring an SEO agency

The pros

Hiring an SEO company will provide your SME all the talent you need, even ones outside of the SEO field. You will get to work with a team who can provide you with an all-round business strategy, from copywriters to SEM specialists to a data analytics team. If your company doesn’t have the resources to house its own a marketing department or a team of developers, outsourcing to an SEO agency might be the best option.

What’s more, they are always up-to-date on the latest algorithmic updates and have access to tools that can be too costly for individual SMEs to implement. This makes it an attractive option for companies who cannot afford an in-house SEO specialist, much less provide training and tools to them.

An SEO agency also works with a diversified portfolio of clients. They have encountered all sorts of SEO challenges, likely even one similar to yours. With their experience and expertise, they require less experimentation and guesswork. They will be able to produce results faster than an in-house specialist or freelancer.

The cons

While an SEO agency has a range of digital skills, they also cater to a range of clients. When researching and shortlisting your new SEO company, be sure that they'll have the resources to dedicate to growing your business. You don't want to spend a year with an SEO agency only to realise they had produced very little for your investment.

Communication with an SEO agency is very important. If you are not meeting in-person,you will be corresponding through emails and phone calls. So be sure that your new SEO agency has a good standard of reporting tools or software to keep them accountable to your business growth goals.

Consider what your business needs

At the end of the day, you want an SEO which is the right fit for your company. It comes down to your business priorities, your budget and your strategy for growth.

If you are not equipped with the resources to hire an in-house SEO specialist, you might want to consider outsourcing your SEO to a freelancer or agency. A freelancer will be a better option for your company if you have a lower budget.

An SEO agency, however, gives you access to a wide range of skills, premier tools and latest industry updates.

Want to know the types of services you can get with an SEO agency? Talk to one of our specialists today.