5 Reasons why Hiring an SEO Firm is better than an In-House Team

So, your business has seen the value of search engine optimization and needs to get on the SEO bandwagon to increase your Internet sales. For those traditional marketing professionals that aren’t familiar with SEO, I’ve compiled five valid reasons why hiring an experienced, reputable SEO firm is generally better than building out your own in-house SEO team.

Instant Team with Real Knowledge

Quite simply, when you sign up with an SEO firm, you already have the manpower on hand. This saves you days of sorting through resumes, interviewing and the back and forth of hiring. Also, if you don’t fully understand SEO, how can you be so certain that the person you’re hiring is actually the best person for the job? A reputable SEO company has dozens of knowledgeable members to aid in setting strategy or resolving any issues.

Proven Experience, Expertise and Education

Signing on with a proven SEO company not only gets your campaign moving quickly, but they’re also there to answer questions, consult and weigh in on other online marketing techniques. A reputable SEO company typically has a track record including case studies and a decent sized SEO team.

In addition, depending on the company, they will invest thousands of dollars in keeping their employees’ knowledge up to date by allotting time to research, testing and attending SEO conferences around the nation.

Connections and Collaborative Efforts

Along the same lines of experience and expertise that an SEO firm has, your project should be seen by many professional’s eyes. As opposed to creating your own team, the decision and strategy that is behind your SEO campaign gets looked at by other managers, directors and VPs. Putting all your eggs in one basket and trusting a single individual to market your products online is risky. The truth is, without multiple experienced eyes on a campaign, bad decisions from inexperience or lack of knowledge can seriously hurt your SEO both short and long term.

Much Easier to Manage

Reputable SEO companies should always be available. You should be able to pick up a phone and call them during business hours. For many companies, SEO can be very confusing and many don’t want anything more than phone call meetings and accurate reports to show value. The truth is, leaving your SEO project in the trusted hands of proven professionals is easier to manage. It doesn’t take as much time out of your day and you still get all the value.

Performance Driven

SEO companies will do whatever it takes to keep you on as a client. This mentality encourages an increase of productivity and a higher level of performance. All SEO companies should be tracking the progress of the campaign through analytics, rankings and overall return on investment. Hiring an in-house SEO can also achieve great results, but because the working mentality is slightly different, results can seriously vary.

Case Studies and Multiple Success Clients

When shopping around for an in-house SEO or an SEO company, make sure you see their previous work. Allowing a newcomer to this industry to handle your campaign can be disastrous. A portfolio of successful clients is essential and a reputable SEO firm is going to have many case studies to prove their expertise. Should the SEO firm that you’re looking at not have any examples of a successful campaign, keep looking.

Many will argue that building out an in-house team, though more work in the beginning, will be best for the long term and more cost effective. Reputable SEO companies can easily be long-term partners. In fact, many clients that I’ve dealt with have been working with us for close to two years and counting. To figure out which is more cost effective, consider that hiring an in-house SEO with experience is going to cost $60,000-$110,000 per year depending on the demand, state and level of knowledge, and that’s just for one person too. Then there’s the cost of the additional team members, company equipment, desk space and benefits. On the other hand, hiring an SEO firm and investing $4,000-$7,000 per month ($48,000 – $84,000 per year) into your campaign would be a very healthy budget, and more cost effective.

Many companies hire an SEO firm for the reasons I have just outlined, while others build out their own in-house team. Some larger companies have an SEO team, and an SEO firm to get the advantages of both worlds. Whichever route your company takes, make sure that the person or company you hire is reputable, proven and experienced.

Get Internet Marketing Insight For Your Company - SEO.com


  1. David Quaid says

    Too many companies think that they will save money by doing their own SEO – only a year later to have a 12-month opportunity loss and leaving money to their competitors.

    Worse still is that the “market rate” for an employed SEO outside of an agency is still below US$45k in the UK and Ireland – worse in Ireland where’s probably half that of the US. If an SEO can’t make $35k on their own, why do you want to add them to your organisation where they’ll need to make an awful lot more!

    • Kevin W. Phelps says

      Thanks David!

      You you don’t know SEO yourself, hiring somebody to handle all the efforts just isn’t a good idea. SEO firms are the way to go for 95% of the businesses out there.

      • Donal Clancy says

        there is a bit of a flaw in your reasoning.
        If I do not have the skills to select an in-house staff member to handle SEO, what qualifies me to hire an SEO company to do it for me?

        Also, for me, a more powerful argument would be this: a dedicated resource in-house will most probably be underutilised. Working for a single client, they will not have a very broad view of the possibilties in the market, so they are a diminishing investment.
        If you select an agency, and work with them in the long term, they can allocate resources to your work in a cost effective way. More importantly, those resources are constantly learning from what they are doing for other clients. So they are a developing resource.
        Donal Clancy
        Chair of Digital Marketing, DCU Business School

        • Kevin W. Phelps says


          Picking a qualified SEO company can also be tough, I’m going do a follow up post on “How to Pick a Reputable SEO Agency” next week. That way, people who completely don’t understand SEO can choose with confidence.

          Stating that an inhouse team is underutilized and that an SEO firm can allocate resources in a more cost effective way can be very true for some companies.

          Thanks for adding your 2 cents to my post!


  2. Dan says

    Don’t forget that there are many companies out there that offer a free SEO analysis, like seoanalyser.net.
    Before you start thinking if you want to hire an in-house or go to a company, I say it’s better to use such a service. This way you can create a better image of what you need and you can make the proper choice: in-house or company.

    • Kevin W. Phelps says

      It’s definitely a great idea to get a free report, similar to the one SEO.com has on their homepage, but these analysis or reports just give data. Somebody that needs an SEO firm likely doesn’t know anything about SEO, making these reports fun, but not really useful.

      That’s where an SEO company steps in and offers their services.

  3. Anuj says

    I am currently working in-house and can honestly see advantages and disadvantages to both. I completely agree with your points. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kevin W. Phelps says

    I would say that you’re exactly right on those points. What I would add to this is that SEO firms can be very much involved with a companies processes, products, etc. I have several clients where I am incredibly involved in how they launch products and how their site is set up.

    It all depends on which SEO firm you hire. Just like if you hire an inhouse person, you can get a great worker or a flop. I’ll be following up on this post with an in-depth “How to Find a Reputable SEO Company” article next week.

  5. says

    I have done both.

    It’s an age-old question…to hire a person to do it in house or to hire an agency to handle it for you. LIke stated above their are many advantages and disadvantages to BOTH. The deciding factor will probably be the hiring manager who is reponsible for the work and how much time they have to manage the process.

  6. says

    I think this is like anything else-you need some knowledge before you can make a decision. If a client does not understand the difference between a quality backlink and a machine produced forum profile link then they have no way to tell a good SEO firm from a bad one or decide what part of their campaign if any they want to handle in house.

    • Kevin W. Phelps says

      Ah, so what you’re saying is a good SEO company not only has the track record and results, but they should also educate their clients.

  7. James says

    Well, I am an SEO consultant from sydney and have seen both sides, I agree both have their pros and cons.

  8. Gareth says

    While there are benefits both ways, it is very difficult to develop an in-house team from scratch if you have limited knowledge of SEO yourself.

    For small firms it is really difficult. To learn SEO themselves would rob them of time for their core business. I think that small businesses should focus on an AdWords campaign for their product/website.

  9. Ryan B says

    You did a great job breaking it down Kevin. I’ve seen once upon a time prospects come back months later after trying to do it internally.

  10. Kevin W. Phelps says

    If you’re thinking about an SEO campaign and want to get serious about your online marketing, I would strongly suggest avoiding using an SEO student. If they don’t have the experience and knowledge, it can be very easy for them to do more harm that good.

    Unfortunately, there are SEO firms that claim to know what their doing, but really they’re a scam. I can’t give you a safe answer as to a quality, small business solution out there. But, if you’re interested in speaking with somebody from SEO.com about possible options, I would love to set you up with one of our sales consultants.


  11. Seth says

    Its easier to hold a firm accountable rather than the cost of loosing employees that you have poured training and other resources into. The firm wants your business, an employee might not care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *