Out Source or In-house?

We are often approached with the question, “If we use in-house talent, can we still achieve a professional SEO?” Although we are interested in obtaining more business, we always answer with a resounding “Yes!” However, certain particulars need to be in place for this to happen. As we have researched the companies who experience in-house success, we have discovered certain criteria are usually in place for their SEO to be successful. Unfortunately, a majority of companies see their in-house efforts produce less-than-desirable results.

As you look at the option of doing SEO in-house, the following are items that should be addressed:

I. Resources Needed to Accomplish Professional Results

The biggest resource needed is a trained internal SEO expert with an abundance of available time, especially as the project is first designed. Optimization schemes, target audiences and key phrases need to be established. Next, this expert will need to spend many more hours keeping current on industry trends, campaign progress and campaign expansion as new products and services are added. In addition, he or she will need to perform A/B testing.

Another important resource needed by your SEO expert is a unique set of skills, along with the ability to learn new techniques quickly. Does this expert have the ability to look at your SEO from a macro-perspective as the needs of sales, marketing and IT are considered? Is your SEO expert an aggressive risk-taker? This is not a desirable trait, as it may result in your website being removed from major search engines or penalized in other ways. Although many companies have an employee or employees with all of these abilities, chances are that they are already being used in other areas and cannot be committed to a new project.

Without these resources, a major time commitment and the right type of employee with the right skills, an internal SEO project is most likely headed for failure.

II. Balanced Input From Various Departments

Out of necessity, professional SEO involves 3 departments: IT, marketing and sales. Unfortunately, these 3 departments often seem to be competing against each other, which can often result in a difficult situation when an “in-house” professional is working on the project. One of the big advantages an “outsider” has is the ability to work equally well with all 3 departments because there are no prejudiced opinions of an opposing department.

As a professional SEO is developed, the marketing department must assist in selecting what types of offers and initiatives are working off-line, then help develop online offers and initiatives that will lead to success. The sales department must help identify the types of leads that are normally most successful so that key phrases can be developed in targeting the right people online. The IT department will need to assist in determining any technical limitations, learn of any past initiatives based on a technical approach, and get the final optimization schemes implemented on the website. If these three departments are working together with the right experts, optimum results are more likely to be achieved.

III. Training, Enthusiasm & Accountability

Let’s face it! Many IT and marketing professionals are already overwhelmed and overworked with all the projects thrown their way. In order for a professional SEO to be developed, additional training will be required. Basic information is freely available on the web, but the rule that says “You get what you pay for” definitely applies here! Employees who put efforts into designing an SEO strategy using information found while searching the internet are going to experience a high level of frustration as they spend a large amount of unnecessary time experimenting with what works and what doesn’t work. As this happens, enthusiasm for the project is affected and precious time and valuable business are lost to the competitor who has a professional SEO working for him.

In addition, accountability is a vital factor in the quest for success with SEO. Someone needs to be able to gauge progress, as well as setbacks, and be ambitious and innovative enough to continually make improvements in order to achieve the desired results.

IV. Funding

Companies who develop SEO “in-house” often do it for the sole purpose of saving money. Several considerations need to come into play as the total cost is calculated: How much time will I be paying my employee or employees for as they develop a professional SEO that is up to the highest standard? How much will it cost me for tasks left unfinished because of the time spent establishing an “in-house” SEO? Is there money available to repair the damage if mistakes are made during development? How much revenue will I lose as a result of business lost to companies who already have their SEO working successfully while I wait for mine to be completed? Sometimes, the least expensive way to go is by hiring experts who have experience.

These 4 criteria (availability of resources, equal input, training-enthusiasm-accountability, and funding) are vital to the success of those companies achieving many positive results from search engine optimization. As one considers the advisability of doing in-house SEO, careful consideration needs to be given to each item on the list. If, after doing so, it is concluded it is possible to achieve the desired results, then it probably makes sense to have it done internally.

The following considerations should be made in favor of hiring an outside expert to do a professional SEO for your company:

  • I.Knowledge of Industry Trends
    Professional SEO firms have the benefit of watching many different sites on a continual basis. They gather data to see what trends are working and which ones aren’t. With the added benefit of testing data and ideas and applying those ideas that work on a case-by-case basis where applicable, fresh perspectives and ideas are always available to help keep current and produce desired results. Keeping such close tabs on the industry trends would be next to impossible for individuals running an in-house SEO.
  • II. Smaller Risk Factor
    It is not unusual for an inexperienced employee to make mistakes. Some of these mistakes can lead to removal from a search engine, which can lead to a company being in a worse position than when they started because of the time and money lost. However, it is also vital to do the research necessary to choose a reputable SEO company to assist. SEO companies. References are a good way to check into what experience the company has and to find out if they have a reputation for taking unnecessary risks that can lead to costly penalties or to a search engine removal. As in everything, not all companies perform at the same level.

    When considering the option of doing SEO in-house or hiring a professional firm, there is a lot to consider. A professional firm offers the time, the experience, and the neutrality needed to work fairly with all departments. These factors all lead to a better recipe for success. One must consider whether the in-house resources are available that will lead to as big of a chance for success and growth, which is the desired result of a successful SEO.

by Becton Loveless