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Should You Outsource SEO?

David Oltean | December 29, 2020 | SEO

For the average website, organic search contributes more than half of all traffic, yet in-house marketing teams occasionally fail to prioritize SEO as they juggle their responsibilities, or worse – they neglect their search presence altogether.

As an SEO consultant, you could say I’m a bit biased, but I’m a firm believer in the value of outsourcing Search Engine Optimization, especially for B2B companies or industries that lean heavily on organic traffic. Between the technical skills required for SEO, complexities of content strategy, expensive software, and ever-evolving search algorithms, SEO can be a tricky field to keep up with for in-house teams.

I’ve listed some of the key reasons for outsourcing SEO below along with some considerations to ensure you’re getting the most out of an engagement with a third-party SEO agency or freelancer.

Reasons To Outsource SEO

Organic Search is the Primary Source of Website Traffic

A 2019 study by BrightEdge found that more than 53% of all website traffic came from organic search. For B2B companies, that figure is even greater – organic search contributes an average of 64.1% of total website traffic. In our experience, organic traffic tends to contribute to the majority of B2B website leads as well.

It seems like a no-brainer, but nurturing your search visibility can offer lasting benefits to your website’s traffic and lead activity. Better yet, organic traffic tends to compound over time as you publish new keyword-oriented product/service pages or blog articles.

It’s a Highly Specialized Field

Most digital marketers know a thing or two about writing keyword-rich copy and metadata, but the more technical aspects of SEO can be pretty intricate. It also can be tough for less-experienced marketers to conceptualize and align the various components of a search-oriented content strategy: keyword research and mapping, content hierarchies, internal linking, and conversion rate optimization.

In agency environments, SEO professionals are exposed to a variety of websites with a wide range of technical SEO issues, content strategies, and content management systems. It’s this experience, along with ongoing training and development, that makes it difficult for in-house marketers to keep up. Even if you have a basic level of SEO proficiency in-house, a one-time technical audit or content analysis can make a huge difference by establishing a solid technical foundation for your website or by defining major content priorities.

SEO Software Can Be Expensive

While SEO experts benefit from their varied experience, they also are able to leverage cutting-edge software platforms to better understand the search landscape and to track SEO performance. Unfortunately for in-house teams, these software suites can get pretty pricey, and there’s a bit of a learning curve for using these platforms to their full potential.

While popular SEO platforms like SEMrush, Moz, and Ahrefs cover the basics and start at about $100/month, the introductory rate features can be limiting, and most SEO agencies leverage multiple platforms with specific focuses. For example, an agency might use software for keyword rank tracking, a platform to track backlinks and expedite link building, an AI writing assistant to help with copywriting and content optimization, a website-crawling tool to examine technical issues, and various platforms to help with performance tracking. Most agencies also have a number of SEM platforms at their disposal to help them better understand paid search performance and competitors’ keyword priorities. These platforms can add up to thousands of dollars per month, and though it may seem like overkill, you can bet that at least one of your competitors is benefitting from a similar suite of tools.

Most Companies Can’t Justify a Full-Time SEO Expert

You’d need a huge website or quite a few different domain properties to have a full-time employee dedicated entirely to SEO efforts. Especially in the B2B space, it’s not usually cost-effective to hire an in-house SEO Specialist as there likely isn’t 40 hours worth of weekly SEO work to do on a long-term basis.

That said, there are often in-house “T-shaped marketers” with proficiency in SEO that also work on complementary functions like copywriting, website management, search advertising, and measurement and reporting. Unfortunately, in-house marketers often don’t get the ongoing training and diverse, hands-on experience like dedicated SEO practitioners.

Search Engine Algorithms are Always Evolving

Keeping up with the latest Google algorithm updates and recommended SEO tactics can be daunting. Agency professionals are usually on the lookout for the latest search algorithm updates and are surrounded by like-minded individuals that are also in tune with digital marketing news. Agencies also typically invest heavily in digital marketing conferences and SEO courses to help develop their team members – a luxury that may not be cost-effective for in-house team members.

You’re Redesigning Your Company Website

We’ve seen way too many website redesigns or migrations result in a nosedive in organic traffic when SEO is ignored. If you don’t have someone proficient in SEO involved in a new website launch, you’re putting your existing marketing funnel and inbound lead activity at risk. This is particularly problematic for companies with a substantial amount of organic traffic or domain authority before the website redesign.

Having an SEO expert riding shotgun during your website project can be a huge boost. Not only can they help to avoid organic traffic losses, new websites present a great opportunity to expand your organic visibility and broaden your keyword coverage with a more robust sitemap and optimized copy. 

Many web design agencies claim they offer “SEO-friendly websites,” but this usually just means that the website design will meet basic technical SEO needs. It doesn’t have anything to do with protecting existing traffic or creating a content strategy that will expand your organic visibility and activity. We’ve seen a lot of new, expensive websites that are beautifully designed, but they totally miss the mark on SEO and conversion rate optimization needs. In those cases, companies often have to hire SEO consultants just to remediate their losses to organic traffic and conversions.

Considerations Before Outsourcing SEO

What Is Our Bandwidth for Content Creation?

I seldom work on SEO engagements that don’t involve extensive content creation or revisions to existing content. Expanding your search visibility and keyword coverage typically requires large amounts of well-written text, so you should be prepared to either bolster your content marketing efforts in house or budget for outsourcing copywriting in addition to SEO. You’ll also want to consider any design and multimedia needs, especially to accommodate longer-form guides or new website page templates.

Will Our Website Be Redesigned Any Time Soon?

If you’re planning on redesigning your website in the near future, you may want to bundle a revised SEO strategy with the new website project. It’s easier to make major revisions to sitemaps and overhaul navigation and link structure with new websites rather than finding workarounds and applying band-aids to existing website designs. There’s also no reason to shell out dough on a technical SEO audit if a website redesign is on the horizon.

Are We Able to Edit Our Website and Add New Pages?

I’ve had a number of engagements where clients have complex website content management systems or hard-coded pages and are unable to edit or scale up their website content to accommodate a broader SEO strategy. If that’s the case, you may have to budget for third-party support to manage and edit your website and to meet your SEO needs. 

What Type of SEO Do I Need Support With?

Scopes of work for SEO can vary dramatically based on the needs of the client. Traditional B2B businesses with regional, national, or multinational audiences are mostly focused on optimizing their website properties. Companies with a largely local customer base may invest heavier in local SEO, which usually includes the management of directory platforms like Google My Business. For brands with a lot of video content, YouTube SEO and video optimization may be a priority.

It’s also important to consider technical SEO needs vs. ongoing content optimization. If your website hasn’t been audited from a technical standpoint, it may be time to invest in a technical SEO audit to lay a solid foundation for your content marketing efforts.

What Level of Proficiency Do We Have In-House?

If I ever work in another internal marketing role, I’d probably be peeved if management tried to outsource SEO. There may be instances where an internal team has quite a bit of SEO expertise and doesn’t feel the need for outside support. For those companies, they may want to outsource other digital marketing functions like PPC advertising, social media management, or design so the internal team can focus on SEO tasks.

If you have a basic level of SEO proficiency internally, it might make sense to look to an agency for periodic guidance and audits rather than an ongoing monthly retainer. If no member of your in-house team has experience with SEO, you’ll probably want a more involved relationship with an agency.

How Are We Tracking Website Performance?

It’s tough to determine the success of an investment in SEO without data to back it up. Most SEO engagements include reports on website traffic and keyword rankings, but website conversions and qualified leads are typically the SEO metrics that matter most to your sales funnel. If you haven’t configured a measurement platform like Google Analytics to track conversion activities on your website, you’ll want to get that sorted out prior to making major changes to SEO. That way, you’ll have a clear idea of the ROI and value of any SEO work you outsource.

Will This Engagement Help My Internal Team?

I’m a firm believer that one of the main benefits of outsourcing any marketing work is the knowledge transfer that comes from working with an expert. If you’re working with an agency or freelancer that isn’t sharing their thought processes, methodologies, and data sources, you may want to find a new partner.

At Climb, we offer candid guidance to our clients and routinely bundle coaching and training into our engagements. This helps our clients expand their internal expertise, but it also makes attaining SEO results much easier if our partners are well versed in content marketing, optimization best practices, and link-building efforts. 

Convinced You Need Some SEO Help?

Whether you’re looking for ongoing campaign management, a one-time audit to point you in the right direction, website redesign support, or SEO training sessions to expand your internal capacity, Climb Marketing can help. We pride ourselves on maintaining accountability to our clients’ ROI along with our transparent approach to guiding our clients.

Feel free to request a consultation if you’d like to learn more about our SEO services or to discuss your digital marketing strategy.

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