Should You Outsource SEO or Hire an In-House Team?

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For every business owner, a high return on investment is the number one priority. Marketing takes up a big chunk of that investment. For the more internet savvy business owner, online marketing is critical to the business’ success.

Online marketing is an umbrella term that covers a range of specialty areas. SEO remains one of the essential elements that has defined online marketing. A brand must recognize the importance of high-quality SEO to achieve a robust online presence

Search engine optimization is a complex process. To that end, company heads have to make tough calls. Do I develop an in-house SEO team or do I look outwards for the company’s SEO needs?

You need to look at these factors before deciding to hire an in-house SEO team or outsource SEO services.

Talent Pool

SEO has become a buzzword in the current business world. And while entire enterprises have mushroomed around it, SEO professionals aren’t as widespread. In some areas, SEO is still a fringe industry.

The more digitally adept in those places are heading into more traditional areas such as system auditing. Some areas have a vast resource of brilliant SEO minds.

To hire an in-house SEO team, you need to look at the talent available. Since SEO encompasses some intricate details about it, you may be limited by what you get. It might also tie company resources training entry-level workers on the intricacies of the business.

It would make more business sense to outsource SEO services. This is because an SEO agency has taken time to develop teams that have specific professionals for specific tasks. They match client needs and client campaigns to the teams they select.

As the client, you get to reap the benefits of a robust SEO campaign while focusing on other aspects of the business such as business development.


There are cost implications whether you settle on in-house SEO or you outsource SEO. Depending on the budget you have set aside, you can decide your route. SEO professionals do not come cheap.

An expert will cost your company upwards of $50,000 or more a year. And since it is not a one-person job, you are looking at about $250,000 a year for a small team of SEO specialists. There are also additional expenses such as benefits and cost of training.

Your wage bill goes up by a substantial margin if you need seasoned professionals. An SEO expert with a few years under his belt will cost about $75-125,000. The cost of employee retention, in this case, may eat into your revenues.

There are a few start-up SEO entrants that might claim to give excellent results. These entrants might entice companies under the guise of accepting up to $35,000 a year. Arguably, some of them may be decent workers looking to get a foot in.

But as a company, you may not have the luxury of intense training costs of resources and time.

If we’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. The data shows “it costs more to hire an amateur than it does an expert.”

On the flip side, when you outsource SEO, you pay only monthly fees for services provided which are much less than the costs to sustain full-time employees. SEO fees may range from about $4000 going up and the way Riserr SEM creates packages based on client budgets is what will give the best ROI. It is in the best interest of the client to compare figures to see the most cost-effective way.


A short-term SEO strategy does not require a long-term approach. You do not need to hire a team of in-house professionals whom you will not need in a few months. For new businesses, putting together teams of in-house SEO experts might seem like a good move.

However, that move may impose on other mission-critical activities that could have helped the business in other ways. It is more useful to concentrate on strengthening other areas of your business while letting an agency handle the marketing for you.

You might introduce experts to work on other components such as web development. Once your sites are up and running, you can redirect resources to boost your search engine positions.

Here, it is all about working smart. The right SEO agency has probably worked on campaigns similar to yours. They can offer insight into the most efficient way to level up.

What you would have spent months on can be achieved in less time. The downside to outsourcing your SEO work is having some disconnect.

You may feel like the agency is not echoing your brand identity as strongly as you would like. However, these are concerns you can raise.

In-House Strong Points

Below are some of the benefits of an in-house SEO team.

Company Culture

When you hire an in-house SEO team, it is more likely to integrate with the company needs and objectives. The team’s vision will be achieving company goals and propelling the company forward. An in-house team gives you a unique brand identity that is easily identifiable.

Being in tune with the company’s identity will reflect on the packaging of your content. In-house teams have the time and freedom to tailor the tone of online marketing campaigns.

Easy Oversight

Having your own SEO team gives you an eye over the delicate bits of your SEO strategy. Due to reduced channels of communication, companies can control some factors of their online marketing. Easy oversight also means that you can spot problem areas faster.

The sooner you can point out problem areas in your campaign, the faster you can resolve them. It becomes easier implementing changes.

Seamless Channels

Some projects are time-critical. Sometimes you will need a team that can deliver results quickly. This is where an in-house SEO team becomes an advantage.

You can communicate what your team needs to achieve. By the team understanding how time-sensitive the task is, it can streamline communication channels. Messages are passed faster, and changes take less time to effect.

That way, you can achieve business targets within the shortest time possible. Follow-up with outsourced teams can cause a strain, especially on expected times. However, with an in-house SEO team, there may be additional approvals needed before reaching a consensus is reached.

That takes up more time and drags out marketing campaigns.

Where Outsourcing Wins

There are many advantages of outsourcing your SEO needs.

Focused Marketing

If you have your sights on areas that are more critical than the marketing bit of the business, outsourcing SEO works. This is especially important where the company has already gained some traction. You do not need to add an in-house SEO team to boost marketing.

You can hire an agency to handle the online marketing aspect for you when you need more visibility.

Competitive Edge

If you are in a high-competition industry, outsourcing your SEO needs might work better. This is because an outside company can see things from a different view. They can develop better, out-of-the-box strategies to put you ahead of your immediate competitors.

Lower Costs

One of the most enticing aspects of outsourcing SEO is the lower cost. Compared to the costs that come with a team of in-house SEO experts, agencies promise a better ROI. Once you outline the expectations of a campaign, an agency will take over everything else.

Other costs associated with the campaign can be discussed. You can deliberate on the validity of these added costs and decide whether they are significant to your business needs.

Keeping Up with Updates

An SEO agency is arguably better placed to keep track of any algorithmic policy changes. Because it is continually dealing with a myriad of different clients, an agency is likely to have a team that specializes in keeping track of new policies.

In SEO, staying in the dark about updates can make a difference in ranking. If your business is dependent on online presence, an unfavorable ranking can mean decreased revenues.

Better Talent

SEO agencies are meant to give the best output to their clients. They have the resources to train and retain their talent. Their clients are assured the best in the business are servicing their needs.

Since an agency is designed to offer SEO services, there is an added benefit of many professionals existing in the same environment.

This helps when dealing with challenging marketing campaigns that need a wider pool of same-field professionals. An agency can lead brain-storming sessions that can come up with new ways to market businesses.

Consolidated Reporting

SEO results involve more than just checking your site’s ranking on web pages. More processes go into helping a site’s ranking. To maintain top ranking, you have to keep reviewing reports to find out what works and what to change.

This is a task that may require a different skill set. Agencies typically have analysts that can compile results and present them in the quickest way possible.

The Downsides of In-House SEO Teams

There are two main issues with keeping in-house SEO professionals.

Employee Maintenance

While SEO is important to your business, maintaining an in-house team increases your wage bill. The salaries aside, you have to keep investing money to train the team on newer SEO strategies and tools. Each tool and strategy helps achieve better results.

However, these tools and strategies cost money both in acquisition and training.

It is better to outsource SEO to maintain manageable budgets. Agencies have the added benefit of collective ownership of these tools and spend less on training.

Long-Term Costs

There is a lot more involved in SEO than keywords. If you’re hiring a local SEO strategist, you will also need someone to oversee content, and another one to maintain your social media footprint. All these are highly sought-after professionals.

If your company strategy does not allow long-term engagements with these professionals, you will have people on your payroll carrying out redundant tasks. Ultimately, your returns will be hurt.

Does Outsourcing Have a Downside?

Unfortunately, even great options can have disadvantages.

Manipulative Contracts

Some rogue SEO companies will want to tie business to contracts to get more billable hours. These contacts have fine print that does not allow the industry any wiggle room. If you notice the agency with whom you are working is shortchanging you, you should provide notice of discontinuation.

Some of the agencies in this practice delay results or make unverifiable figures to hide their ineffectiveness. It is vital that you seek extensive legal advice before signing any SEO contracts. This will assist you to take legal action against any agency that tries to practice underhand deals with your business

Time Constraints

In some instances, dealing with an agency is an extremely tedious process. This is made possible by the agency failing to incorporate suggested changes on time. In other cases, the agency does not keep in line with your general vision.

This leads to a clash of ideas, and it either prolongs the campaign or waters down the strength of your intended message. If the damage is not mitigated, your brand suffers, causing you to lose clients or credence.


An agency deals with other clients as well. While they may turn in quick results, their results may not be in line with your ‘voice.’ If you have a long-term strategy that is supposed to be built around unique brand identity, you may have to do additional hiring.

You can outsource SEO to get you at the top of SERPs, but you may need a smaller marketing team to handle the image side of the business.

All factors considered, it is a wise investment to outsource SEO. You sacrifice on brand identity but maximize on time-conscious results. You also save money and concentrate on other business-critical aspects of your company.

However, you need detailed oversight to keep track of progress. At the end of the business year or quarter, you need to weigh your SEO allocation against the returns to see whether your strategy works.

Outsource SEO – The Take Home

Deciding between an SEO agency and an in-house team is a strategic team decision. It will take a while before settling on the best approach. To make sure you are not making any mistakes by leaning more towards one end, you can try both at varying times.

When you are drawing up strategic company objectives, have your team assess the pros and cons of each. You can then use each approach at different times before making a final decision. It might take a while, but you will know if you are making the right call.

SEO is a long-term endeavor. Correct SEO practices might help you achieve dominance in your field. Choosing the right agency to outsource SEO will help you avoid many pitfalls that come with quick, cheap agency solutions.

Do need help with your SEO campaigns? You can reach out to us for more information.