July 2nd, 2009
SEO: In-house or Outsource?
Debating whether to outsource an SEO campaign or do it in-house? Consider these factors before making any final decisions.
Have you ever wondered “cant I just perform search engine optimization in-house?” The answer is a resounding “yes, you can,” but there are many things to consider prior to starting your own in-house SEO program. If everything does not line up at the moment, it may be a wiser decision to bring in an outsider to optimize your website properly. Lets look at some common considerations.
The initial question you should ask yourself prior to undertaking an in-house SEO program is “do I currently have the staff expertise to tackle SEO effectively?” Good candidates for SEO have traits such as: good research skills, learns quickly, high attention to detail, adapts well to change, enjoys solving fairly complex puzzles, is technologically savvy, and isnt afraid to try various approaches to solve a problem. If you do not spot these basic traits in someone on your staff which could transition smoothly into an SEO role, it might be wise to look externally for some help.
If there is no one obvious on board currently, who else might be an ideal choice within your organizational ranks to learn SEO? Perhaps training someone that is unhappy in their current role, yet is still considered an asset to the organization, may provide a good opportunity to transition that person over to an important new role. Maybe there is someone that is very intelligent which isnt so happy dealing with people on a regular basisthey may make a good candidate also.
Once you have a candidate or team sketched out, how will you train them? There are several places to look for training and several sources of basic information, but it may be best to hire an outside firm with the sole purpose of training some of your people as they perform the actual services. Many reputable firms will agree to this type of arrangement provided you are clear with your objectives early on in the relationship, and you set a realistic timeframe. This presents a potential win-win outcome in many cases because the outside firm can lay claim to improved ratings as a result of your partnership, and you can build your new team while sharing in the publicity your site brings to both parties. Keep in mind it can take anywhere from two solid months to a year to get someone up to snuff so dont expect miracles overnight just because youve pegged some folks to take on this role. If someone is really passionate about learning, the curve can be shorter, but that is an exception rather than a rule. Most people are resistant to change which means they wont fully invest of themselves immediately.
Lastly, are SEO tasks performed in-house really cost effective for your organization at this stage of the game? Many SEO firms charge, on average, anywhere from $2,000-10,000 per month to perform their services. Thats a somewhat broad price range, but it takes into account several factors such as: how competitive are the keywords youre wanting to rank well for, how many high ranking back-links might it take to improve your sites ranking, will original content generation be a major factor, how well does the site rank today, how long until consistent results may be evident, and so forth. SEO is not a quick fix project and should be viewed as a long range strategic investment versus a one-time project.
If, after reading over this brief list of considerations, you even slightly believe it would be of greater long-term benefit to your company to hire an external firm, it might save some headaches down the road to just bite the bullet and hire someone now. SEO can definitely be done in house, but it takes appropriate planning and allocation of resources just like anything else.
Roger Bauer is Founder and CEO of SMB Consulting, Inc., a Louisville, Kentucky based small business consulting firm specializing in internet marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), technology, and business analysis. To learn more, point your browser to Search Engine Optimization.
By Roger Bauer