SEO Management: Should Hire an Agency or In-House

October 3, 2023 | Platinum Consulting

It doesn’t matter what industry your business is in – if you want to beat the competition and increase your sales, you need to have a strong online reputation and top-tier Google rankings. 

That’s what SEO reputation management is all about. Every business will benefit from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts who employ strategies to improve their brand’s reputation, boost their rankings, and counteract negative reviews. 

You want to know that the best information about your business is showing up in search results. When people look for your products or services, they should always wind up on the right page – and that requires a skilled hand. 

Online reputation management isn’t a job for amateurs. You won’t see profitable search engine results without the help of experts – and shortcuts like light-hearted keyword research won’t cut it in this digital age. 

This brings us to today’s topic: are you better off hiring an SEO marketing company for the job, or should you look into onboarding in-house SEO experts? 

There are pros and cons of hiring an SEO agency to promote your brand online, but hiring internal specialists isn’t always the right choice, either. Let’s talk about both sides of the equation so you can make the best choice for your company. 

Hiring an SEO Agency vs. In-House Employees

Before we get too deep into this topic, we should note the key distinction between an SEO brand reputation management agency and in-house SEO experts.  

An SEO agency is a team of professionals that serves a mix of clients. These agencies work with companies from all corners of the business world – although some channel their expertise into one or two specific industries. 

When you hire an SEO agency, you get a group of specialists handling ongoing tasks such as: 

  • General reputation management 
  • SEO audits 
  • Content writing 
  • Link building 
  • Keyword research and optimization 
  • Monitoring social media sites
  • Technical SEO 

Should you decide to hire an agency, you’ll typically pay them by a monthly retainer or an hourly rate.  

On the other hand, if you hire in-house SEO specialists, you’ll have full-time employees who are dedicated to tasks that are similar to those listed above. The main difference? In-house SEO professionals concentrate solely on your brand reputation and search engine results – not those of other companies. 

Still, that doesn’t mean that an internal SEO team is always the best choice. Moving forward, let’s discuss the pros and cons of both options for online reputation management – starting with hiring an agency.  

Pros of Hiring a Quality SEO Agency 

Comprehensive SEO Services 

One of the top SEO agency benefits is simply the range of expertise they provide. Most search engine professionals know the ins and outs of navigating SEO campaigns, but they likely specialize in a singular few aspects. 

In other words, hiring just one or two internal SEO specialists can grant you access to specific areas of expertise – but hiring an entire digital marketing agency grants you access to a vast array of knowledge, all under one roof. 

A single agency will hire countless kinds of SEO experts, including… 

  • Strategists 
  • Content writers/editors 
  • Data analysts  
  • On-page SEO specialists 
  • Off-page SEO specialists  
  • Technical SEO experts 

These search engine professionals work as a team and share their varied wells of knowledge. Therefore, when you hire a local SEO marketing company, you can legitimately trust they are doing everything possible to generate more search traffic for your site. 

✓ More Affordable Than In-House SEO Specialists  

The cost of hiring an SEO agency might feel like a blow to your limited marketing budget, but in the long run, this can actually be a cheaper alternative to hiring internally. 

Onboarding SEO employees means paying their salaries, as well as offering benefits, employee training, tools, career advancement plans, and so on. Those are some pretty big expenses to take on indefinitely. 

Although you will have to pay your SEO agency, they've got everything necessary to manage your SEO strategy from A to Z – and most offer flexible pricing options, hourly rates, project-based fees, or retainer agreements. This is typically a better fit for small to medium-sized local businesses that don't have the cash to support full-time digital marketing employees. 

✓ Scale Services as Needed 

Speaking of keeping costs down, hiring an SEO consultant also allows you to meet your evolving online reputation management needs as they appear – and scale down when necessary. 

You pay an internal employee the same salary every month, regardless of how much work you need them to do. That’s not how most SEO agencies operate. 

Clients have the opportunity to scale search engine services up or down based on their changing requirements. For example, they can ramp up SEO efforts during a product launch or scale down during a slow period to keep costs under control. 

✓ No Payments for SEO Tools

It’s no secret that SEO software is expensive. When you hire an agency to help with your online reputation, they come to the table equipped with the industry’s leading SEO tools for online reputation management. 

You don’t have to worry about paying for SEO tools regularly or finding the best one – you can leave all that to the other company. They’ll use the latest technology for tasks like finding your best keywords, tracking your Google rankings, analyzing competitors, and monitoring your search traffic.  

✓ Fast Results

If you want to see big changes to your brand’s reputation and online presence, hiring an SEO expert team is likely the way to go. A team of professionals will move faster than one or two internal employees. 

Still, remember that positive search results don't appear overnight. Even with professionals in your back pocket, it’ll likely take time to see the impact – at least four to six months, in most cases. 

That’s why a seasoned SEO agency will enact a game plan to set you up for success starting on day one. This usually involves: 

  • Planning to create content for your website 
  • Keyword research and implementation 
  • Optimizing your Google Business Profile 
  • Handling off-page SEO – backlink profile, citations, negative reviews, etc. 
  • Link building, including cultivating stronger internal links 
  • Finding ways to draw in more search traffic 

These agencies understand the best SEO techniques to get things rolling, right out of the gate. Their goal is to bring you stellar results as quickly as possible. 

Drawbacks to Hiring an SEO Company  

✖ Potential Lack of Familiarity With Your Needs

We won’t lie – there is certainly something to be said for working with someone who knows your brand like the back of their hand. SEO agencies work with a bunch of different clients, and as a result, they likely won’t know the nitty-gritty details of your business as an in-house team would. 

Furthermore, most SEO agencies have set processes they use for online reputation management, and there’s a good chance they’re “one size fits all.” There’s nothing wrong with a dependable process, but this could lead to a less tailored approach to your SEO and overall marketing strategy. 

✖ Possible Quality Issues 

Unfortunately, not all SEO reputation management agencies are created equally. Some agencies might use shady or outdated tactics in an attempt to game the search engine algorithms – which can potentially hurt your website's search engine rankings. 

That's why it's super important to do your homework on the agency and its SEO tools. Look out for negative reviews and ask for plenty of references from past clients. 

✖ Risk of Poor Communication 

Communication is key when it comes to online reputation management through a third party. They’re not in your office and incorporated in all of your regular meetings, so you need to make sure they’re keeping you in the loop in regard to your SEO strategy.

The best agencies are easy to reach and take the time to explain what they are doing. However, many aren’t as great at providing regular updates, so inquire about their communication strategies before diving in. 

Benefits of Hiring an In-House SEO Team 

✓ You Have Complete Control  

Without a doubt, the biggest perk of having an in-house SEO squad is that your team is 100% in charge of your own game plan. That means you can tailor your SEO tools and methods to uniquely fit your business’s values and goals. 

Plus, your in-house crew should know all the ins and outs of SEO in your particular industry, so they can build an effective strategy that is rooted in relevant trends and tactics. 

✓ Easy Communication

Nothing compares to having an in-house team in terms of easy communication. You can meet with your employees whenever you need to discuss progress and make quick changes to your SEO techniques. More importantly, it’s easy to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to a cohesive SEO process.

✓ Intimate Familiarity With Your Business  

When you hire employees to handle search engine optimization, they are focused on your business – and yours alone. They will get to know all the easy-to-miss details that an agency might overlook, contributing to a hyper-personalized approach to meeting your business goals. 

Additionally, internal SEO experts can easily work hand-in-hand with your sales team, customer service, web designers, and other departments to reach your target audience through search engines. Everything is under one roof, and there’s something to be said for that. 

Drawbacks to Hiring an In-House SEO Specialist 

Potentially High Overhead Costs 

The costs of hiring an in-house team can be less than ideal, especially if you have a limited marketing budget. This is especially true if you’re looking for experienced, highly trained team members – not just cheap entry-level SEO analysts. 

Additionally, as we mentioned before, you’ll need to invest in online reputation management tools and resources for your team – and these don’t come with a low price tag, either.  

✖ Limited Range of Expertise 

Think of “search engine optimization” as an umbrella term. There are hundreds of individual tasks that will fall under your overarching strategy, and when you only have a few in-house specialists to tackle them all… you wind up with a limited online reputation strategy. 

Professional agencies bring together experts with years of experience to appeal to search engines. They are continuously brainstorming and researching, and their clients reap the benefits of those efforts. 

✖ Less Trendy Methods

Search engines update their algorithms almost every day. Even if your in-house crew is on top of things, they may not have the capacity to keep up with these ongoing shifts. In contrast, an SEO agency will have specialists wholly dedicated to monitoring these changes. 

Thinking About Hiring an SEO Expert? Let’s Talk. 

If you need an online reputation management plan, including search engine optimization, now’s the time to either partner with an agency or hire an internal expert. 

Outsourcing your digital marketing services, including your SEO, is arguably the best way to go, especially if you’re not sure exactly what your online marketing needs are. From improving your brand image to boosting Google rankings, there’s a lot to think about. 

At Platinum Consulting, our SEO digital marketing agency is committed to polishing your company’s reputation through the best online methods, including building a great content strategy. 
Who you choose for SEO reputation management matters. If you’re on the fence about hiring the pros, let’s schedule a call. We’ll show you how to make big changes for your brand online.