SEO is becoming a major part of any business. When it comes to online advertising, majority of marketers view SEO as a more effective strategy than PPC.

What’s more interesting? E-Commerce is growing at a fast rate. From USD 2.3 trillion in sales last 2017, it’s expected to double by 2021. That’s a whopping USD 4.5 trillion. It isn’t surprising how studies show that 95% of purchases will be generated from eCommerce come 2040.

So whether you’re an SEO agency targeting different niches or even if you’re a digital company offering SEO as an added service, it’s crucial to go beyond the basics of SEO. With the competition getting fiercer by the year, it’s better to always have an edge in your SEO campaigns. This is also the case for those thinking of starting their own SEO business. But should you get your own in-house team or outsource SEO? What should you outsource and what should you keep in-house?

Let’s find out.

1. Outsourcing vs. In-house

Outsourcing is the method of partnering with a third-party source to provide you with the software and services you need to run your agency. This is now a common practice in SEO. There are many benefits to working with an outsource SEO company that’s appealing to more and more agencies. From cutting labor cost to being able to fully focus on your business.

In-house is the practice of hiring your own personnel without outside assistance, and conducting operation within the company. You may also hear the term insourcing, which is the method of training your own people to perform the tasks you need outsourced. Think of it as outsourcing employees from your own ecosystem. Note that you have to bring in specialists to train them in order to do their new tasks.

So which is better for you?

The answer is both. But it’s not so simple. There are decisions to make and those decisions depend on what you want to focus on.

At the moment, SEO is only going to get bigger. An estimate of USD 80 billion is expected to be spent by 2020 in SEO-related services alone.

What this number spells out is that the focus will be directed more on organic traffic and as an SEO agency or a digital marketing agency, competition is only going to get fiercer.

2. What Should You Outsource?

Outsourcing is gaining popularity and becoming more important for businesses today. As a business offering SEO, it’s important to know what you should outsource and why it’s more beneficial for your business to outsource them.

SEO Services

SEO continues to boom to the point that white label SEO services are growing in demand. In simple theory, White Label SEO is a form of SEO outsourcing that gives SEO companies, digital marketing agencies,  or consultancy firms the option to sell premade SEO packages and bundles with the added benefit of rebranding them.

Advantages of outsourcing SEO:

  • Cost efficient. Having your own in-house SEO team will require you to hire additional personnel from a content writer to your very own SEO specialist. Hiring an SEO content writer can make for an additional cost of at least $36K, while an SEO specialist can cost more than $50K. If you’re thinking of hiring a full battalion, you’ll also need an SEO Manager and that’s an additional $62K. Compare that to outsourcing SEO and getting a $575 white label package that has everything from web audit, on-page SEO, off-page SEO up to technical SEO and more.
  • Broad scope of specialty. SEO isn’t an easy skill to master. There’s keyword research, content creation, on-page SEO, Off-page SEO, Link Building, Technical SEO and more. On top of mastering these, your SEO specialist should have the ability to read and analyze data in a way that will enrich SEO and marketing strategies. An experienced SEO company will have advanced resources and quality SEO specialists that should be able to provide you with the kind of expertise you need.
  • Access to SEO experts and specialists. There are the beginners, the intermediate and the specialists. You want specialists to handle your business. Someone who specializes in SEO or an SEO specialist is not only well-versed in on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. They not only have a discerning eye to spot opportunities and loopholes in the process. They are not only able to form effective strategies. Someone who specializes in SEO has the capacity to make an SEO strategy seamlessly integrate with a brand or business, at the same time, execute a campaign flawlessly. NOTE: Look for the type of SEO agency that offer SEO as their main service and who can offer services for different niches. This way, you know they can produce high quality services for an array of clients.
  • Reduces the burden of your key people in hiring the right staff. As an SEO agency, one of the most common problems would be hiring. You want to avoid a high turnover rate and this can happen when your hires aren’t able to perform at the level you expect them to.
  • Better Strategy.  In a very competitive field, what separates a successful campaign from an average one is how well crafted the strategies they come up with are. This can only be possible if the ones handling the campaigns know the ins and outs of SEO.  In addition, they provide you with the skills to formulate an effective strategy.
  • Objectivity and separation of culture. Outsourcing gives you a fresh set of eyes, a different perspective in approaching your project without any bias or prejudice.
  • Better access to resources. SEO not only requires manpower, it also requires work space, technology, software and tools. If it’s not your business’ priority to allot budget in this department, outsourcing is your best option.

SEO Services to outsource:

On-page SEO

Your website is the face of your company online and this is what gives on-page SEO its value. It takes care of optimizing every factor that’s running inside your website so search engines like Google can index and rank it. On-page SEO includes:

  • Title Tag Optimization. Title tag or the HTML tag that exists in the head section of each webpage provides context of what the page is about. This needs to be optimized as it can negatively impact your SEO results.
  • Meta Description. Optimizing this part of your website can increase click-through rate (CTR).
  • Headlines & content. Attention-grabbing headlines gives your website that punch. Rich content is what makes them stay. A user will click or ignore your blog depending on which title you use. It’s important for writers to be well-versed in SEO to strategically create content that speaks to both the user and the search engines.
  • Content audit. An SEO specialist will be able to audit and monitor  your existing content. This will tell you if a particular content or page is performing or not allowing you to identify which pages are still relevant and which ones you should kill.
  • Content optimization. Content optimization is one of the key factors that will make or break an SEO campaign. This is because content is the bridge that connects your website to both the user and search engines like Google. Enhancing content is important so that it remains relevant, useful and valuable.
Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is the key to increasing a website’s authority, visibility and traffic. While on-page SEO deals with everything that’s happening right on your website, off-page deals with everything outside your website that can contribute to increasing its visibility. Off-page SEO includes:

  • Link building. The method of having another website link to your website. The goal is to build visibility and authority.
  • Shareable content. Content that people find valuable enough to share. This can be in a form of ebook, video, blog, tweet or a Linkedin or Facebook post.
  • Influencer outreach. This is the process of promoting your brand by partnering with an influencer. An influencer is someone who has built up an online or offline presence and has the ability to promote your brand to a people who follow them.
  • Social Media. Although there’s no study to support how social media can increase organic traffic, it has an undeniable effect in increasing website visitors — indirectly.
  • Forum engagement. This is the method of taking advantage of social forums like Quora, Reddit and LinkedIn to promote your website.
  • Optimizing Google My Business. This is a location-based strategy aimed to increase local visibility using your Google My Business Listing.
Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves making sure that your website abides by the guidelines set by search engines, keyword research and site speed optimization, website architecture and more. Conducting technical SEO will involve a more specialized skill to build a better strategy and execute your SEO campaigns.

Web Design Services

If your agency solely offers SEO service but decides to branch out into web design services, you can outsource the work initially. This is in case you do not have an in-house web design and development team. Apart from lacking the time and expertise to deliver websites, a reason to outsource this service is so you can focus on your core solutions, especially if you have tons of web design clients in your sales pipeline.

Legal Work/Services

Outsourcing legal work is a common practice for SEO agencies. They provide legal assistance when it comes to compliance in every aspect of your business from business incorporation to liabilities. Alternative legal service providers (ALSP) give you with cost-efficiency and advanced flexibility that in-house often fails to provide. Lawyers. Outsourcing your attorneys allows you to contact them whenever there’s a need. This is especially helpful when you encounter a special issue that needs expertise from a specific area of law. Paralegals. They are important to your business for crafting contracts, preparing legal documents and affidavits but to avoid over-staffing most SEO agencies prefer to outsource the work. Legal transcription services. To reduce work load and improve efficiency, this is a type of work that a digital marketing business or SEO Agency should outsource.

Accounting

Accounting is another important responsibility as the owner of a growing agency. The bright side is that when it comes to finance and accounting, the same process goes for other companies since not much creativity and strategizing are involved.

Advantage of outsourcing your accounting:

  • Cost reduction. An accountant’s basic pay can range from $38K to $77K per year, meanwhile, accounting and bookkeeping services can range from $285 to $495 per month. This is just one of the expenses you have to add to your list. There’s still HR cost and IT cost to keep in mind if you decide to form an accounting team in-house.
  • Fraud prevention. Your confidential files are more accessible to in-house accountants so there’s a bigger risk of fraud.
  • Fully trained personnel. Outsourcing your accounting means that the companies already trained their personnel to be top performers. It’s more cost-effective this way, compared to training your whole in-house team.

Recruitment

If you’re a growing business and don’t have your own recruiting process yet, outsourcing is a great way to hire the employees you need. Outsourcing recruitment reduces turnover rate, it cuts costs and lets you gain a competitive advantage. A recruiting agency will have more resources and better technology to screen candidates. This will make them able to identify more expert candidates that can turn into key employees for your business.

Customer Support

In this competitive business, customer expectations are higher than before. They expect your agency to be able to help and assist them at any given time. Considering your business runs online, it means your clients can encounter issues at any time. If you’re not there to solve these issues, they might turn to another provider who can. It’s good if you’re running your business 24/7 with in-house customer support.  If not and you’re not willing to allot resources to it, like additional equipment, technology and salary— then outsourcing is a viable option for you.

3. What should you keep in-house?

For SEO agencies, the focus should be client retention. The ultimate goal is to make customers for life. Your in-house team should comprise of key individuals who directly deal with your clients.

Account Managers

Closing a new account is a constant challenge, and so is managing it. This is why account managers are the make-or-break part of your business. They are responsible for communicating and forming relationships with your clients. They have to stay updated on your clients’ needs and ensure that they’re always on top of things. There will be times when a client needs immediate attention concerning their campaigns. May it be that they need to add another service or cancel — an account manager should always be available to talk to them. There are instances when they need to meet with the client face-to-face and  that’s not something you can immediately do through outsourcing.

Advantages of having in-house Account Managers:

  • Hands on. Having your account managers or account executives in-house will allow them to be more hands on in dealing with clients at the same time, you can adjust your processes on the go. Your clients are your number one priority that means your relationship with them is very important. Being there for them the instance an issue comes up not only says something about your reliability, it tells them you are dedicated to them.
  • Better customer care and interaction. You have to be tied to your clients at all times. There’s a difference between giving them high quality services and being able to give them the feeling that their business is also your priority. Your company culture is already instilled in your in-house account managers and this makes it easier for them to be more empathetic towards the clients.

Account managers are key players with the ability to make your business irreplaceable to clients. It’s because of this reason that they are one of the hardest jobs to fill. You need to be able to find the right account manager for your business, else, getting the wrong person to fill the position can cost you.

Sales Team

You should have your own in-house sales team to follow-up leads, convert and close them. Outsourcing is also an option, but an in-house sales team is more beneficial to your bottomline.

Advantages of having an in-house Sales Team:

  • You can monitor the sales process as it happens.
  • Customer problems are addressed quicker.
  • Quicker access to reports on customer problems, needs and competitive activities.
  • It’s easier to inform them about changes in services, products, practices and promos.

Pro tip: Before forming your sales team, your sales process should have already been established. Look for the right hire and train them how to sell your products or services.

Customer Support

Customer support is important for SEO agencies. In this competitive field, the most you can do to keep your client is to build and nurture your relationship with them. Having your customer support in-house will allow you to train them with the added benefit of instilling your company values. This should be practiced whenever they interact with your clients.

Advantages of having an in-house Customer Support:

  • Better communication.
  • Having your customer support in-house will allow for a less scripted interaction.
  • Having your customer service team in-house will allow you to interact closely with them which can lead to new solutions or ideas for growing business.

Content Editing & QA

Link building and content creation are major parts of your business. There will be moments where you’ll be faced with a sudden spike in workload. Your vendor should be able to keep up, but you also have to double check if the quality is on-par with your agency’s standards. That’s where your own content editing personnel or quality assessment personnel  will come in play, to check the quality of the work you’ll be sending your clients.

The Verdict

Outsourcing and in-house efforts should work side-by-side. Being a Jack of all trades, master of none shouldn’t apply to anyone, specially in business. Think of Apple outsourcing their OLED screens from a third-party provider, or Starbucks getting their special milk from Dean Foods. If you’re in the process of growing your SEO agency, focus on where you want to thrive most and that’s customer acquisition and retention. Rememeber that it’s a matter of prioritizing which services you want to be done in-house and which ones you should delegate to third party sources. Should you outsource your SEO? Yes. Outsourcing SEO is definitely a strategic move. It’s a matter of preference and what you’ve decided works best for you. For more tips on how to grow your business, head over to our blogs and resource center page.