If organic search is a significant part of your digital strategy—and it almost certainly should be—then pushing your SEO responsibilities off to an external entity could be drastically compromising the effectiveness of your search investment and big-picture digital success.
To be clear, that’s not to say that independent or third party SEO expertise and support isn’t smart or capable or up-to-date. But the nature of modern SEO and the logistics of an agency or independent contractor relationship simply make a poor environment for SERP success.
Navigating a New World of SEO
Google’s expectations change on a near-weekly basis. Sometimes those demands are huge, like securing your site’s connections with HTTPS. Other times they’re relatively minor, like a preference for short and readable URLs. Regardless, they’re constantly changing and demand time and resources.
Organic rankings are already incredibly competitive, and that’s not a trend you can expect to ever reverse (it’s not like the internet is going to get less crowded with content). In order to win the race to the top of the SERPs, you must be responsive to changing demands and vigilant in updating your web properties with performance optimization and high quality content.
If you’re relying on an agency or other third party resource for your SEO, your ability to react to search algorithm changes and push changes live is usually dramatically reduced. An additional step between you and action means longer time-to-web and lost search rankings.
The best way to solve that responsiveness challenge is to cut out the middle man. Going through agency channels with a work order and going back and forth with account managers takes too long to keep up with an ever-evolving algorithm maintained by an advanced AI. But having an SEO expert (or team, depending on the scale of your needs) on staff full time or on hand through SEO staffing gives you the ability to react to anything Google throws at you and puts you in a better position to be proactive.
How to Make it Work
If you haven’t been handling SEO yourself so far, there’s probably a good reason. Maybe you thought it was too complicated to cost effectively handle internally. Maybe you didn’t have the budget to take on full-time experts in house. Or maybe you just wrote it off as “one of those agency things” like many aspects of digital marketing from email to social to PPC.
It’s true: SEO is complicated. Modern search optimization requires valuable content, advanced web development skills, an elaborate linking strategy…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The good news is that there’s still plenty of SEO expertise available outside of agencies that understand these complexities—if you know where to look.
It’s also true that elite SEO talent doesn’t come cheap. However, it may be more affordable than you realize. Certainly, not doing SEO is far too costly for most businesses to consider. Agency fees tend to be substantial, too. If your business is extremely cost-sensitive to SEO hires, there are contingent digital marketing talent solutions that you can still bring in-house without breaking the bank.
Finally, SEO is not an agency-exclusive digital strategy and hasn’t been for some time. Companies of almost any size have the capability to be active in SEO as long as they’re able to bring in the right expertise with the right strategy.
Exploring Insource Options Like SEO Staffing
So how do you go from outsourcing SEO (or having none) to building your own program from scratch?
That will depend heavily on your size, budget, the sophistication of your competition, and the current structure of your marketing and digital teams:
- If you’re a particularly large corporation and your needs call for it, the simplest solution may be to purchase an existing SEO agency and incorporate it with your digital team. Alternatively, you could turn to digital marketing RPO to quickly hire a large amount of SEO talent in a short amount of time.
- More intermediate needs may call for just a small team of SEO talent supporting your marketing team. For junior roles it’s often fine to recruit talent yourself, though for leadership and executive SEO positions it’s wise to consider a digital executive recruiter. During busy times of high demand, augmenting your team with SEO staffing can help meet your goals.
- If your business has a very specific niche with relatively low competition, or your resources are particularly limited, you may not even need to hire full time staff at all. Instead, a customized strategy developed by an SEO consultant and executed as needed by SEO contractors might be enough to give you an edge on the SERPs.
Whatever your position, it’s clear that SEO is becoming more important–and more challenging–than ever. Success will go to the firms who can find creative ways to access supreme SEO talent when they need it most.