In-house SEO VS external agencies: which is the right choice?

SEO with young woman holding a tablet

The SEO of a website is closely linked to the vision of the company, its brand positioning, its contents, its “tone of voice” but also to the management of its website (CMS) that it can be delicate to entrust to an SEO agency. However, due to lack of time or internal expertise, it is sometimes necessary to delegate all or part of the SEO work. Here are some tips to help you find the right balance between outsourced and in-house SEO.

SEO, at the crossroads of several skills

SEO, more than other digital expertises, is at the crossroads of IT, communication, marketing and public relations. That’s what makes it so exciting! This also means that in order to properly reference a website, these different expertises have to agree on a common objective: to increase the online visibility of your content in order to attract, interest and convert your potential customers. It is therefore necessary to consider SEO as a project in its own right, and not as an online channel reserved for digital marketers.

The importance of keeping control internally

Regardless of the option you choose – external agency or in-house SEO – it is important to understand the issues of SEO, the techniques used and their possible consequences on your brand strategy. SEO influences not only the content of your site (landing pages or blog posts that must be optimized), but also the technical elements (SEO tags, 301 redirects, site speed …) and your e-reputation.

This last point has become increasingly important in recent years with the advent of the E.A.T. criteria for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness”. In concrete terms, this means that Google pays particular attention to the expertise of a content and its author (relevance, quality), their authority (popularity, recognition by third parties) and their credibility (reliability, security, …). Concepts not to be taken lightly, not only to position yourself well in search engines, but also to build a strong and consistent brand image on- and off-line.

In-house SEO: colleagues collaborating to optimize their website

How to find the balance between in-house SEO and external agency?

There are several criteria to consider to find the balance that will give you the best impact. We have identified three main ones:

Organizational context

A start-up or VSE does not know the same realities as a large group. A small structure often benefits from a more “hands-on” corporate culture that allows it to easily implement SEO best practices. However, the main obstacle is time management. These companies need a solution that helps them prioritize and save time in execution, by automating certain tasks for example.

In this case, they can opt for a combination of consulting and insourcing. The SEO agency’s mission will be to diagnose, define the SEO strategy and establish the action plan (priorities), while the company will be responsible for implementing the recommendations, requesting ad hoc support in case of lack of resources (to write content, for example).

Conversely, in a large company, there are valuable resources and features for SEO. However, they are often spread across different departments, or even different sites, which communicate more or less well together.

Large corporations also face greater SEO complexity as they often have multiple brands, multiple websites, and face multilingual issues for example. In this context, a good project management and progress by “quick wins ” can avoid the pitfall of a beautiful SEO strategy that is never implemented.

The SEO agency will be able to act as a “neutral” expert, contributing to the action plan and deciding on the more complex technical issues. The SEO project manager within the company will have to identify the internal focus on which to test the action plan and get the key people working together for the success of the project. Starting with a small scale allows to get results faster and to motivate teams to continue their efforts.

Expertise and digital maturity

To guide you in the choice of a potential partner, the level of digital maturity of the company plays a central role. Is digital marketing a priority issue for management? What knowledge does he have? Does the company have experts in this field?

If you are just starting your digital marketing strategy and/or you are still new to it, you should tobe accompanied by a specialized agency, and to entrust it not only with the strategy (the action plan), but also with part of the execution, so that you can concentrate on your core business.

With the acceleration of digitalization, many companies have become aware of the challenges of digital marketing and the need to understand its codes to develop. Beyond a good visibility in Google, SEO marketing allows companies to gather information on their competition, on the peaks of interest for a product/service, on new trends … Very useful information for a truly “customer-centric” marketing strategy.

If you are in this frame of mind, the SEO agency can help you define your SEO strategy and you can, internally, manage the implementation and follow-up on a day-to-day basis. This partial internalization will allow you to better control your impact, ensure consistency between your different channels and fully exploit this wealth of information from Google searches.

Whatever your context, we advise you to take an interest in natural referencing to be able to challenge the results that your agency communicates to you. A minimal knowledge of SEO concepts and metrics is essential to take advantage of your SEO agency and track your impact.

Available budget

Beyond the identified needs, the budget obviously remains an important decision factor. The accompaniment by an SEO agency can be comfortable but if it is spread over several weeks or months, it can quickly cost you. Another common pitfall is to have an SEO audit performed that will remain unperformed due to lack of understanding or internal drive to implement the recommendations.

Before deciding on a certain approach, think about what results you want to achieve and in what time frame. Identify the resources you have available and distinguish between “one shot” costs and recurring costs. Finally, don’t neglect the part related to the execution of recommendations. The costs of an audit or an SEO strategy may seem reasonable, but if they are not followed by actions, they are simply unnecessary costs that could have been invested elsewhere.

In-house project manager, support and SEO tool: the winning combination

When launching a digital strategy, it is sometimes necessary to entrust the entire SEO to an agency, but this dependence can quickly prove to be costly and lose added value over time. Conversely, wanting to internalize SEO too quickly, without support, can lead to strategic errors and internal demotivation.

It’s all a question of dosage. Digital marketing has become such a strategic issue that it is crucial to master its key concepts. Even without being an expert, you can internalize a large part of the process. We recommend identifying a web project manager who can coordinate SEO implementations. Solutions exist to help you manage this project and execute your SEO strategy efficiently.

 

At Semactic, our goal is to involve the various SEO stakeholders where they add the most value. By combining upstream SEO strategy (consulting), SEO software in SaaS mode and on-demand support, you strengthen your internal ownership and your impact in terms of visibility and conversions.

Thanks to a pragmatic and project management oriented approach you avoid inefficiencies and can focus on the essentials. Once the SEO strategy is integrated into the Semactic software, it takes over and tells you exactly what to do to increase your visibility in search engines. You assign tasks to the right people (copywriter, developer, …) and see the concrete impact of your efforts.

In short, you take control of your SEO, while benefiting from a tailor-made support.

Want to know more about it? Contact the Semactic team.

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