Table of contents
SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field and one of the most important online marketing channels. The challenge, as with paid PPC campaigns, is who to bet on to improve your site’s search engine visibility and achieve your goals.
There are usually three main options to choose from: an SEO agency, an independent SEO consultant/positioning specialist or hiring an in-house SEO specialist. All solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, so the final choice depends on your specific needs and what you are looking for in a potential SEO partner.
The choice will depend on your specific needs and what you are looking for in a potential SEO partner.
In the article, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the title options so you can make an informed decision for the future of your business.
We will skip comparing the qualifications of SEO specialists or agencies, because there are so many agencies and experts on the market and approaches to SEO strategy that it would be difficult to include them in a single blog post.
There are many different SEO agencies, but they all share some common characteristics. First and foremost, a good SEO agency focuses on helping its clients achieve their goals and raising the website’s position on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
This means that it will have an excellent understanding of how search engines work and how to optimize websites for maximum visibility.
In addition to knowledge of rankings, a good SEO agency will also have experience with other digital marketing channels, such as content marketing, social media marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
This holistic approach ensures that your site will achieve the greatest possible exposure online. By the time it gets significant organic traffic, it will be able to generate it from paid channels to drive your sales strategy from the start.
There’s a lot more to come.
And finally, a good SEO agency will be transparent in its pricing and the scope of services provided, so that you know exactly what you’re paying for and what to expect.
What distinguishes a marketing agency from an individual specialist is that an SEO agency will have a team of experts who specialize in various areas of SEO and more broadly all online marketing.
Benefits of an SEO agency
An SEO agency has a team of experts, so it can offer comprehensive services. Thus, it is more likely to be up to date with the latest trends and algorithm changes.
Marketing agency, among others:
- provides a comprehensive digital marketing strategy (creating synergies between channels, such as by analyzing keywords for their effectiveness in paid campaigns or using content marketing in SEO, PR and Google Ads);
- has a team of experts who specialize in various aspects of SEO (e.g. technical, link building, content marketing);
- has extensive experience working with different types of companies in different industries, so often has more knowledge of what currently works and what doesn’t;
- will most often be more affordable than hiring an individual specialist on an exclusive basis, but more expensive than working with an SEO specialist;
- is more likely to be up to date with new trends and algorithm changes;
Disadvantages of SEO agencies
The main disadvantage of working with an agency for SEO is less control over the work done and the results achieved. This is because the agency has many clients and can devote less time to each of them. However, a contract with an SEO agency will be cheaper than hiring your own positioner.
SEO agencies may not be as flexible as an individual consultant. Changing the rules often takes more time and can cause delays in achieving the desired results.
Agencies may not be as flexible as an SEO agency.
The agency’s SEO work also depends on the account manager assigned to the project. If it is an inexperienced person or one who is not very interested in your project, it will reflect on the quality of the work done.
The quality of the work will be affected.
Also, agencies may be more interested in selling additional services (such as PPC or social media marketing) than in doing the actual SEO work.
An SEO specialist is an expert who specializes in optimizing websites for better search engine visibility.
The term “SEO” here can refer to many different aspects of SEO, including its optimization (on-page optimization), link building or content development (a.k.a. content).
An SEO specialist is a person who specializes in one or more of these areas and has the knowledge and experience necessary to improve a site’s position in the SERPs.
An independent consultant or SEO specialist is a freelancer who, as the name suggests, works independently.
The benefits of an SEO specialist
The main advantage of working with an SEO specialist is that you have more control over the work done and can be more involved in the SEO process. An SEO freelancer will usually be more focused on your project and getting the job done.
The SEO specialist is also usually more flexible than an agency and can change the SEO strategy more quickly if necessary.
A freelancer is a great option if you have a limited budget (provided you are not hiring full-time) or need someone who will focus specifically on your project.
Disadvantages of hiring an SEO specialist
The main disadvantage of working with an SEO specialist is that they may not have the same resources as an agency, so they may not be able to offer as comprehensive services.
Another, perhaps even bigger, disadvantage of working with a freelancer is that he may not have the same level of expertise as an agency. There is also the problem of staying up to date with new trends and changes in search engine algorithms. This can become apparent over time, as people working in groups, as is usually the case in an agency, often share knowledge and experimental results.
Hiring an SEO specialist is also riskier because you rely on one person for results. If she is sick or on vacation, there is no one to replace her.
The risk of hiring an SEO specialist is also greater.
Full-time SEO specialist
A full-time SEO specialist is someone who works in-house or as a freelancer, but is involved in a client project (or projects) on a full-time basis.
Benefits of hiring a full-time SEO specialist
The main advantage of hiring a full-time SEO specialist is that you have someone who is always available to work on your project. He or she is fully engaged and has an excellent overview of all current tasks.
Hiring a full-time SEO specialist is also a great option if you need someone who deeply understands your industry and niche.
Disadvantages of hiring a full-time SEO specialist
The main disadvantage of hiring a full-time SEO specialist is that they are more expensive than an agency or freelancer. The second disadvantage is that if you are not satisfied with the performance of a contract expert, it is more difficult to replace him or her. Terminating an agency or freelancer is usually easier.
Hiring a full-time SEO specialist is also a bigger commitment than hiring an agency or freelancer. Office space, tools, and other resources may need to be provided.
The SEO specialist may need to be provided with office space, tools, and other resources.
The hiring process itself for an SEO specialist is also a problem. Candidates need to be interviewed and shortlisted, which can be time-consuming and requires specialized knowledge.
The process can be time-consuming.
How to determine whether you need an SEO agency or a freelancer?
When deciding whether to work with an SEO agency or freelancer, consider your budget, your needs, your goals, and how much you want to be involved in your SEO strategy yourself.
If you have a small budget, are working on a short-term project, are focused on acquiring organic traffic or want to contribute to SEO implementation yourself, a freelancer may be the best option.
If you have a slightly larger budget, need comprehensive services, or want to work with an expert who is always up to date with the latest solutions, an SEO agency may be the best option.
If you need someone who will fully focus on your project, you can consider hiring an in-house SEO specialist. However, recruiting an SEO will be a big challenge.
The best option is an SEO agency.
There are also intermediate solutions, when, for example, the implementation of SEO activities will be on the agency’s side, but at the same time controlled by an independent SEO specialist. Then we have more certainty in the implementation and quality of the various elements of positioning.
There are also intermediate solutions when, for example, the implementation of positioning activities will be on the agency’s side, but at the same time controlled by an independent SEO specialist.
Tips for maximizing SEO campaigns
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your SEO campaigns, whether you’re working with an agency, freelancer or full-time specialist:
- Set realistic expectations and goals. Don’t expect miracles overnight.
- Set up a plan.
- Verify whether the assumed budget will ensure that the goals will be met. If not, modify the goals (or allocate more resources for SEO).
- Be patient. SEO changes take time to start having an effect.
- Track your progress, however. Monitor your organic traffic. Watch your visibility increase in Google Search Console.
- Control the implementation of SEO elements in addition to eyewitness results. SEO work does not immediately translate into results.
- Be prepared to adjust your SEO strategy if necessary.
- Don’t bet on one horse. Consider using other marketing channels as well, such as PPC and social media.
- Collaborate with an expert you can trust. This is someone who is transparent, communicative and delivers on their promises.
- Try to be a mediator. Part of the SEO strategy is the technical optimization of the site, which will be carried out by the IT department. It is often necessary to explain how important these changes are and plan the work of the developers.
How to choose the right SEO agency or freelancer?
Now it’s time for some tips on how to choose the right SEO agency or freelancer:
- Get recommendations. Talk to friends, colleagues or other companies in your industry.
- Get recommendations.
- Check out the portfolios of agencies and freelancers. See what kind of clients they work with. Make sure they have experience in other projects (similar projects to yours have the disadvantage that they will have to compete with each other).
- Check the blog of the agency or freelancer. Make sure they are up to date with new trends in SEO.
- Check the website, verify certificates and awards in competitions.
- Check the company or specialist’s profile on social media (facebook, linkedin).
- When you already have a short list of potential agencies or freelancers (there is no point in sending a wholesale inquiry), contact them and ask for a quote. See how they communicate.
If you’re looking for someone to handle your SEO in the long run, an agency is probably a better option. Agencies have the resources and manpower to handle complex projects, and usually have a team of experts in various areas of digital marketing.
Complete implementation of digital marketing and collaboration between departments from web analytics to PPC marketing to SEO ensures synergy and consistency in the execution of the entire online marketing strategy.
Hello! My name is Piotr Starzynski and it's a pleasure to meet you in the SEO industry. I have been officially working in SEO since 2006, while I have been working in analytics for several years. I have about 400 analytics implementations for client websites, hundreds of SEO projects and dozens of analytics projects for mobile applications. At Up&More, I am responsible for the Search Engine Optimization and Web Analytics team. If you feel like working with me, I invite you to contact me!