Should SEO be outsourced or an in-house initiative?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the biggest buzzwords of the year, probably only behind Social Media. However, though most marketers know they need it, few really understand how it works. One question I get a lot is “should I hire an agency or consultant to do SEO or get someone on my staff trained?” Now, keep in mind that agencies and SEO consultants will always tell you it’s best to let them handle it. While that’s expected, I would argue that in most cases it’s actually a true statement.

First off, let me make something clear: SEO is not complicated. When I say that, I’m using a definition of complicated to mean hard to learn. To draw a real-world example, computer programming is complicated, quantitative analysis is complicated, performing surgery is complicated, SEO is not. SEO can be learned by someone who has a desire to learn it, you don’t need to be an analytical thinker, numbers person, or web developer. Anyone who picks up on things quickly, and understands the internet and web pages, will be able to learn it.

Am I making a case for keeping SEO in-house? It might sound that way, but I haven’t yet told you one very important variable: SEO is time consuming. If you don’t have someone you can devote to SEO, at least 20 hours a week to get ramped up, you’re destined for failure. Agencies and consultants keep up on the latest trends, which is necessary because SEO is a moving target. It’s very hard to do this effectively if you’re juggling multiple job functions, which is an automatic disadvantage for in-house SEO.

When all is said and done, there are many factors that may drive you to try and use existing staff for SEO. The best advice I can give is to have an experienced resource on hand to answer questions and assist where necessary. SEO can’t not be learned from a book, website, or free online webinar. It’s important that whoever you tasked with this has someone they can talk to do get direction.

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