Is it Worth Hiring an In-House SEO Expert?

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By Boris Dzhingarov

More businesses today are paying attention to their search engine rankings and understand the importance of having a sound SEO strategy. This is a good thing, but many business owners can become overwhelmed when they are first introduced to SEO, and suddenly feel the urge to hire outside help so they can improve their results.

Some owners may decide to hire a consultant or an outside team, while others feel like they have to hire someone in-house. There are some cases where this could work, but it’s not always necessary or cost-effective. Let’s take a look at whether it would be a good idea to hire an in-house SEO expert.

The Benefits of Having an In-House SEO Expert

The biggest benefit of hiring a full-time SEO expert is that they will know more about your site and your brand. They will have more time and motivation to look into the intricate details of your site’s analytics, or to do things like testing long-tail keyword combinations. They will be incentivized to do the best work possible and will be dedicated to you only.

They will also be personally invested in the future of the company in a way that many agencies won’t. They will be aware of your social interactions, which channels and techniques have worked better in the past, and have a knowledge of your business’s long-term goals. This will give them a better chance at delivering work that will align perfectly with your vision.

The Disadvantages of Working with an In-House Expert

One of the things you’ll learn very fast about SEO is that it doesn’t require that you constantly work actively on it. This means that your SEO expert might be twiddling their thumbs most of the time and will have to find creative ways to look busy. This is also why many people end up assigning their SEO experts to tasks they shouldn’t be performing. While an SEO expert should have an understanding of social media, that doesn’t mean that they’re equipped to manage it, or that they’re interested in the task.

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The same goes for web design and management. Most SEO experts have a deep understanding of things like semantics, navigation, or user experience, but that doesn’t mean that they know how to fix an issue with a PHP carousel or change design elements.

Having an SEO expert on your payroll will also cost you much more than hiring an SEO agency. Hiring an SEO expert is pretty much like hiring an agency, with the only difference being that you have to pay them consistently. There are also all the issues that come with having a single person handling SEO tasks.

You never know when this person will decide to quit, or when they aren’t able to come in for a few days or weeks. This means that you’ll have to scramble to find someone to replace their expertise, and this will usually be an agency. The worst part is that you’ll still have to pay the employee during that time if they’re on leave.

Another issue with having a single SEO expert is that you will depend totally on their expertise. They might lack expertise in certain areas and you might again have to look for outside help to fill these gaps. That’s if they are nice enough to tell you that they don’t know enough about something and try not to perform a botched job so they don’t get found out.

The Benefits of Going with an Agency

Working with an agency is usually a better option for small businesses. One of the reasons why it’s such a good idea is that you’ll have the expertise of a full team at your disposal. They could have everything from content creators to web design experts that can handle every single need you may have.

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You’ll also only have to pay an agency for services rendered, and it should all be in a nice comprehensive package. If you need semantics to be fixed for your website and nothing else, you can hire a company for that and never call them back. Or you may hire them at the beginning so they can help you set up your SEO strategy and assist you if you ever have issues in the future.

You might realize soon enough that you can handle many things yourself. Some tasks could eventually be automated. You don’t need to hire someone to complete mundane tasks like monitoring your links or generating keywords. Creating keyword lists is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, but you might need help at the beginning to know what core keywords you need to build around. This is something an agency will be able to do for you.

The Disadvantages of Hiring an Agency

One thing with agencies is that you can’t expect them to be as involved as someone you hire in-house. Most of the meetings will be done from remote, and you might only be able to communicate with them through email or phone in many cases.

If you’re working with a reliable team that knows what they’re doing, this shouldn’t be an issue. But, if you’re working with a bad team and can’t get in touch with them or brainstorm ideas, things will get frustrating and costly very quickly.

If you think you can solve this issue by hiring a local SEO team, you have to remember that agencies vary greatly in capacity and scope. You may simply not have good enough SEO teams where you are and the benefits of proximity will be negated by the lack of expertise.

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At the end of the day, you’ll have to accept that you’ll be just another client for SEO agencies. This is something that has to be expected when working with any type of agency, which is why you need to choose wisely and know how much access you’ll have at the very beginning. You’ll also need to have enough trust in them to complete their contractual obligations and let them do their work without you constantly peeking over their shoulder.

Choosing between hiring an in-house expert or an SEO agency depends on how much you’re willing to spend, as well as your needs and your objectives. Look at both options, but think twice about hiring someone unless you’re sure you can employ them fully.