And while companies are more likely to use a specialist agency for SEO than for any other marketing activity, many marketers want to know whether or not they should be bringing this hugely efficient marketing channel inhouse.
It’s a big question with a very simple answer.
But first, some clarification.
SEO vs. SEM
Similar, but not the same.
SEO = search engine optimisation
Strategies and tactics used to ensure that search engines can find your site. In other words, SEO improves the likelihood of your site being found by Google and other search engines.
SEM = search engine marketing
Practises that effectively inform the optimisations that increase both your immediate conversion rate and customer lifetime value.
In a nutshell – SEO aims to provide better organic search results, while SEM uses search engines to promote your site to customers through things like paid ads to send more targeted traffic your way.
You gotta mix it up
According to eConsultancy, 55% of companies will spend more on their search-related efforts than any other marketing activity in the coming year.
This level of investment alone is reason enough for businesses to play out their SEO strategy across a combination of inhouse and agency strengths.
Good news is, not only is this mix easier than you think, it’s actually a really great move when it comes to boosting your reach and finding new customers.
When asked which digital marketing channel had the most impact on their brand, nearly a quarter stated that SEO, paid search, social and display were of equal importance.
So don’t mess about – to unearth that new customer base, you need a team of SEO champions who live and breathe search strategy.
Your inhouse SEO is your company’s very own search thinktank.
They know the impact every change on your website will have on your results. They also have the time to really get to know your products and customers, which makes them a whizz at things like keyword research.
But being so close to your website can get a little one-sided over time. This is where your search agency can help. They’ll bring an objective industry view – trends, technology, tools, and methodology – to help counter any organisational blindsight.
Combining the two perspectives will help you better understand the problems your customers are looking to solve.
It’s what you know
According to econsultancy, a quarter of companies carry out their SEO both inhouse and via an agency – here’s why.
Inhouse SEOs have the luxury of getting to conceive an idea, follow it through and watch the website grow as a result.
This process will raise your company's SEO knowledge, which means more targeted ideas and opportunities for growth. As your competitor and subject matter expert, your inhouse SEO’s eyes are on what’s happening within your category at all times: what your customer is searching for and where they’re going to get it.
Meanwhile, your agency is often working across many different categories at any given time.
This expertise across a wide playing field makes for a very different strength: this wide breadth of experience means they know how to score the best local links for your industry, language and location.
Slow burn results
Your inhouse SEO is the channel’s biggest advocate, often kicking-off projects as fast as possible. This is understandable – it’s their job to convince the wider company of the importance of search, and fast.
But it’s no secret that SEO is a long-term investment. It’s going to take months before results start to surface, so it’s important that you’re covering all of your bases.
Fact: agencies are most likely to get 12-month contracts for SEO. This is because most companies appreciate the need to take a long-term approach to this discipline with the right foundations laid over time.
Sure, your agency will have access to a bunch of different tools to boost results quickly, but more importantly, they have the expertise to gradually increase your monthly SEO budget over that 12-month period, and do it smartly.
So set your metrics, and work with both teams to continually test – and retest – your keywords.
Results, on point
Just 31% of companies feel as confident in their ability to track ROI for SEO.
As marketing channels become more integrated, being able to track accurately across different activities is becoming increasingly important for companies wanting to understand ROI properly.
While your inhouse SEO is often has a lot of know-how, this too is an area in which your agency can help. Again, it’s really about a balancing of strengths – an inhouse SEO is better acquainted with your products, services, and customer, while an agency brings a broader skill set and expertise to optimise for return.
Once everything is in place, the key is to continually track, fine-tune and better your performance. Simply do more of what does work, and less of what doesn’t.
Doing what works
If SEO is one of your main marketing channels, a collaboration between inhouse and agency is the way to go. But when it comes to scoring the pros and cons of inhouse and agency SEO against one another, not every point has the same importance for every company.
Your inhouse SEO drives your on-page SEO aspects – HTML, content, structure and information architecture – in order to enhance technical optimisation and integrate SEO into the company’s wider thinking.
On the other hand, your off-page optimisation is often better managed by an agency experienced in increasing promotion methods like search engine ranking and link building from hard-to-get places.
Your customers are looking for you. We can put you in front of them today. Learn more about Salmat's search offering here or call us on 1300 725 628.