In-House Vs Agency SEO – Which Delivers The Higher ROI?
Before getting into the arguments for and against agencies and in-house SEO teams, let’s discuss the elephant in the room.
We’re an agency.
But – spoiler alert – we’re not going to end this article by saying agencies deliver better return on investment. Our job here is to supply you with an honest appraisal of when agencies and in-house teams can deliver better ROI, and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
So on that note, let’s get straight into the benefits and hazards of relying on an in-house team for SEO services.
It’s becoming more and more common in the industry for businesses to hire great SEO minds to work internally. But what do businesses stand to gain from this practice?
Pros of In-House SEO:
- Same minds, same eyes – It’s not uncommon for agencies to change how staff are allocated. With an in-house team, you can ensure the same mind and eyes are kept on the job. This typically makes longer projects more feasible.
- Clearer communication – When you work with an agency, communications can be cloudy. Emails and the occasional phone call can’t offer the same convenience as chatting to someone in-house. And with clearer communication, you can tackle the logistics of bigger projects more simply.
- Faster progress – On that note, getting approval for things like resourcing, decisions, and budgets is often significantly faster in-house. If an agency wants to propose a new budget allocation or strategy, the delay in approval can cause problems.
Cons of In-House SEO:
- Stale eyes – The counter argument for having the same eyes on a project long-term is that it can lead to stale perspectives. New eyes will bring new strategies, and new opportunities. This isn’t just a symptom of in-house teams – even agencies can fall into routines, and stop hunting for new opportunities.
- Strategies are subbed for skills – Typically, people are hired for their technical skills. This can sometimes create a lack of strategy within internal SEO operations.
- Employment gaps – When someone leaves, their position needs to be filled. During that time, there’s likely to be a reduction in productivity, as the new person learns the product and brand they’ll be working on.
For the sake of a fair argument here, we’ll be looking at SEO-specific agencies and products. After all, we’re comparing the hire of an SEO Manager to the agency resourcing of an SEO Manager, isolating their employer as the only variable.
Pros of SEO Agencies:
- Tried and tested strategies – When you work on a wide client portfolio, you tend to trial new strategies constantly. That experience can be applied to your brand and deliver great results.
- Process over person – Agencies prioritise tasks, whereas in-house roles tend to focus on the capacity of the person. That means that if the specified account manager takes leave, the process is completed by someone else in the team.
- Life goes on – If your SEO Manager does leave the agency, someone can slot straight into their role. A well-executed handover to an equally-skilled SEO expert will leave your account in safe hands and keep progress on track.
Cons of SEO Agencies:
- Communications are slower – Let’s be frank, you’re not the only client on their books. That means they’re balancing communications with other clients, handling other work, and generally dealing with more delays. Whether it’s general work, communication, progress or strategy, agencies can fall behind quickly.
- The cost – Agencies can be cheaper than making an internal hire, but when you consider the hourly cost of agency work vs an internal hire, internal often works out cheaper.
So which delivers the better ROI?
Both in-house and agency SEO can deliver great ROI, but both can also potentially be a burden to your budget. It all comes down to what works best for your business. To identify the right option, it’s important to understand the gaps in your business, and where SEO can help. And, in most cases, how internal teams and agencies can work together to achieve the greatest ROI.
How can agencies and internal teams work together?
- Training and workshops – If you already have a talented team, an agency that performs training sessions and workshops can help empower them and drive greater results. This can also minimise the costs of employing an agency.
- Stronger influence on executives – Convincing your C-suite executives to change tactics can be difficult coming from an internal team. But from an experienced, trusted technical advisor in an agency, change may be easier to bring about.
- Fit pieces to your internal puzzle – It’s not uncommon for businesses to have a strong internal SEO team while paying separately for SEM services. A strong digital marketing agency should be able to help you float your budgets, and integrate your SEO or SEM strategies.
With Brisbane’s finest minds in Data and Analytics, SEO, Paid Media, Content and Design, we can enhance the potential of your current digital marketing plan. To chat about how you could be delivering a better ROI from your current marketing budget, chat to a member of our digital marketing team today.