Why Do SEO In-House

5 minute read

It can be a never-ending debate: Who does what on the team? What roles do we need to do in-house and what can we outsource?

In reality, to be successful with content and SEO, you have certain tasks that need to be done. Those tasks are then translated into roles that do them.

At the end of the day we need somebody doing at least the following:

Content Strategy And Project Strategy

What are we trying to do and why? What’s our unique differentiation or a topic that can help us stand apart? This also includes analysis for where there are gaps in content and opportunity for our sites and in the market. In my Alexa.com article on how content creators and SEO strategists can work together, I shared the example of going after Keywords 2-5 versus Keyword No. 1.

Somebody has to do that analysis and then interpret it.

Content Creation

Companies have to decide what content will work best for their specific projects. That could be podcasts, landing pages, blog posts, white papers, and the list goes on. It will likely be a mix.

Distribution

Content might be king but distribution runs the day-to-day. That’s where distribution – sometimes called syndication or promotion – comes in. Distribution can include:

  • Social sharing
  • SEO rankings
  • Email marketing
  • Paid campaigns
  • Repurposing of content on other channels

Repurposing of content also involves determining what the next best channels are. For example, let’s say I’m writing an article on a topic. It might be worth considering doing a podcast on that same topic. While podcasts are certainly taking off, there are still a smaller number out there than blogs, and now podcasts are being indexed by search engines as well.

Before doing a podcast on the exact same topic, consider the keywords again. Should the podcast target another keyword phrase? Or the same? If the answer is to go after a different phrase, just make sure that the podcast host and guest use the term that you’re trying to rank for.

An In-House SEO Strategist – The Advantage

One person can do multiple jobs, but adding the slash isn’t always a good solution. You know what I’m talking about right:

Christoph Trappe
Writer/SEO Strategist/Social Media Manager/Digital Marketing Liaison/Etc.

Certainly, there’s something to be said about the digital marketers who can dabble in a variety of strategies. If you have to combine roles you might end up with an SEO strategist who can also create content (i.e. write) or a writer who can also do SEO research and strategy. Just keep in mind that all those tasks take time.

Writing takes time.
SEO strategy takes time.
Distribution takes time.
Analysis takes time.
Most things take more time than we thought they would.

On a well-rounded team, we have at least one person focus on the SEO strategy and another on the content creation and so on.

Undivided Attention

The biggest advantage of an in-house SEO strategist that I see is that your project can have their undivided attention. Even with multiple projects, the in-house person focuses on only the company’s projects. Their attention isn’t divided between many clients.

Let’s look at it this way: the in-house SEO strategist comes in and plans to work an eight-hour day, solely committed to SEO strategies for the company.

Especially for co-located teams, the hallway collaboration opportunities can be huge and help with projects as well. Hallway collaborations for distributed teams can still happen via Slack or other messaging tools.

The Finances

Let’s say you pay your SEO strategist $70,000 a year.

2,080 hours a year
Minus 3 weeks – or 120 hours – of vacation
Minus 10 holidays – 80 hours
Minus time where nothing got done or general admin work – 100

That leaves us at 1,780 hours

Effective hourly rate for SEO tasks: $39.30 (That’s $70,000/1,780)

What agency do you know that charges $39/hour?

The Knowledge

When people work on a team – for a company – for any consistent amount of time, they have more historical knowledge. They know why something was or wasn’t done.

All the documentation in the world can’t solve this problem: 1) The documentation may not be complete anyway. 2) We don’t know where it was filed – think folders deep on some lettered drive. 3) People aren’t reading it.

There’s value in having somebody in-house on the team that works on the projects and gathers that institutional knowledge. This is also the reason why it sometimes works to move other in-house employees into a new SEO role.

For example, an in-house writer that has dabbled in SEO – and writers certainly should dabble in SEO – can make the move with training. The institutional knowledge can be helpful.

The Productivity

In-house teams have schedules. For the next eight hours, they focus on these projects. There’s no going back and forth between different companies. There’s no checking of deliverables, which is what agencies often do.

The deliverables might be:

  • SEO research for 2 articles/products/etc.
  • SEO optimization for 2 articles
  • 2 calls

That’s very specific as it should be in the agency model. But if you decide to throw your content a parade and want to turn it into a podcast, that’s out of scope and will cost you more.

With an in-house team, you just add it to the day’s tasks and maybe re-prioritize some things. But there’s no extra hard cost.

You Know The Team

Some outsourced services go to companies that outsource as well or use unnamed freelancers – aka non-client facing contractors. Certainly, you can write it into your contract with the outsourced partner that they can’t outsource themselves.

Even when the non-client facing workers are internal to the vendor, knowing who you work with can have collaboration advantages.

The Case For Outsourced SEO Services

Now there are also advantages to getting outsourced help as well. If you just need help here and there, buying a few, though expensive agency hours, might be cheaper than hiring somebody full time.

Working with a good agency can also get you access to information that is hard to come by when everything is self-contained to an in-house team.

Good agencies accumulate knowledge from their vast landscape of projects and different clients. They apply what they learned on Project 1,322 with Client 222 to other clients. That is knowledge that cannot be easily duplicated by 100 percent in-house teams. In-house teams learn from their own projects, but there are no other clients so to speak.

Certainly in-house teams can read industry experts and literature, but sometimes they are high-level and hard to duplicate. The best teacher really is trying campaigns and learning from the implementation. On the flip side, the more campaigns they run as a team the more they learn together as well.

Wrap

I have seen real advantages of having in-house teams, but I also have seen value in bringing in true expert agencies for parts of a project. I’ve also worked on both sides of this equation. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to all scenarios and setups.

To create a true Content Performance Culture in my opinion, it is helpful to have as many tasks done internally as possible. Moving content from happening to performing is a full-time job and really, multiple full-time jobs. When done well, we probably need to have full-time qualified people in those roles to make that work.

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