Imagine if every time someone in your city searched for “plumbers near me,” your plumbing website was the very first organic result shown in Google. Business would be booming, right? Now expand that exponentially for businesses able to serve clients regionally, nationally, or globally. That’s the power of SEO.
As you head forth to capture your piece of the gold mine that lies within Google’s organic search results, hiring an SEO Agency can often seem like the most straightforward option. But is that really the best move for your business, at least right now?
In this article, we’ll look at scenarios in which it does and does not make sense to hire an SEO agency to ultimately help you answer the question, “Do I need an SEO agency?”
Reasons You May Not Need an SEO Agency Right Now
The prospect of increasing valuable organic traffic to your website and driving sales without needing to perpetually pay for ad space is an exciting prospect for anyone tasked with growing a business.
With that said, and despite what the online “gurus” may tell you, SEO isn't right for every business at all stages.
Surprised to hear that from a digital marketing agency? Well, besides the fact that selling companies on services that aren’t right for them isn’t good business for anyone long term for a variety of reasons, we would like to think we maintain the ability to be realistic and objective.
Before you set out looking for an SEO agency to take you from a Google rankings zero to a page 1 hero, there are a few important qualifiers you should review to make sure your business is able to make the most of their efforts.
1. You aren’t ready to devote a reasonable budget to SEO efforts
We’ve all heard the old adage “you get what you pay for,” right? Never has it been truer than with search engine optimization as a service.
A solid SEO strategy is going to involve writing high-quality content, making technical optimizations to your website, link building and more. Whether you’re paying for press releases or the time of your web developers, it all costs money.
While SEO does not require monthly ad spend in the way SEM does, the upfront cost can be a considerable investment for some firms, and there is an ongoing investment as you make changes to your site, algorithms update, and more.
Many companies have “invested” in SEO only to be disappointed by the results and write off the marketing channel entirely. In fact, the fault was not with SEO as an avenue to increase leads, but rather that there was not a large enough upfront investment to give search engine optimization a fair chance.
Furthermore, in our experience, SEO results tend to be exponential in relation to budget. This is to say if a $5k per month investment nets X results long term, a $10k per month investment will often return more than double X.
A final note on this matter, if you find an agency promising results at a below market rate, tread very lightly. Not all SEO is good SEO, and hiring a “budget” agency or freelancer can end up costing you even more time and money down the road if they end up creating a mess that the next folks need to overhaul.
2. You aren’t in a position to focus on long term growth
Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither are search engine rankings. Ask any self-respecting SEO specialist or agency, and they’ll be sure to inform you the process of securing sustainable growth in relevant, organic traffic is a marathon, not a sprint.
There is no sugar coating it: depending on the competitiveness of your industry and your current situation, you could be looking at anywhere from 6 months to 1 year before seeing results. Each case is highly individualized.
Similar to not seeing results as a consequence of insufficient budget, it’s not uncommon for companies to become disenchanted with SEO after not seeing major ROI following a relatively brief trial period.
This is one reason many agencies will ask clients to sign semi-annual or annual agreements.
If, for whatever reason, you are not able to make long-term plays, SEO may be an initiative to revisit when you're on more solid footing.
3. You don’t have the internal staff to support development efforts or aren't willing to allow an agency to edit your site
SEO is going to require making frequent updates to your website. Sometimes they’ll be as simple as updating the content of a page; other times they’ll be far more technical and take a fair amount of time or effort.
This leaves two options: either you’ll need to have the internal staff to execute the recommendations provided by your SEO agency or you will need to allow your agency the backend privileges they need to execute the recommendations themselves.
Beyond trust, certain industries, like medical and financial, may house sensitive information on their websites meaning there are legal hurdles when it comes to granting a third party access to their site.
Whatever the case may be, if website edits can’t be made relatively easily, SEO is going to be very difficult.
Reasons You May Need an SEO Agency
Great, now that we’ve established you have the budget, time, and resources to properly invest in SEO, we can get to some of the fun stuff. Specifically, the benefits of hiring a reputable agency to manage your search engine optimization efforts as opposed to using a freelancer or hiring in-house — and all coming from someone who has worked in all three positions!
Disclaimer: you certainly do not need to fit into each of the following scenarios to qualify as needing an SEO agency. Additionally, we will be assuming that you would be working with a reputable agency with a proven track record of producing sustainable results.
1. You are looking for a full-service solution
One of the largest benefits of hiring a marketing agency is the diversity of skills they bring to the table, all under one umbrella.
Good SEO requires a broad range of competencies making it unlikely that a single individual, be it a freelancer or in-house employee, can power your campaigns on their own.
Web development, content writing, graphic design, project management, and of course technical SEO knowledge are some of the most prominent skills needed to run a kick-ass SEO campaign.
When you enter a partnership with an SEO agency, you're getting access to specialists in a range of disciplines who can all be called on when their specific skills are required.
This means custom dashboards from a full-time data analyst, engaging articles from dedicated copywriters, and shareable infographics from the design team, all coordinated and managed by your experienced SEO strategist.
2. You require enterprise level services
This isn’t to say that small companies can’t benefit from working with an SEO agency, because they can.
Rather, if you’re on a mission to drive organic traffic as a large company in a competitive niche or have a massive or complex site, partnering with an agency is going to almost always be the best option in our opinion.
A consultant is rarely, if ever, going to make sense here as they typically won’t have the time and resources to manage enterprise level SEO campaigns.
While this level of SEO could potentially be done in house, you’re talking about onboarding and managing multiple full-time staff members and all the time, cost, and commitment that goes along with that.
Proper SEO agencies, on the other hand, have the experience and processes in place to quickly onboard and subsequently manage and track these sorts of campaigns with more flexibility and almost always less cost than hiring in house.
3. You want to work with the best of the best
From talent, to tools, to strategies, hiring a reputable SEO agency grants small, mid, and large firms alike access to the best of the best in all things SEO.
Just as you are constantly working to improve your products and services, so are SEO agencies.
Because agencies are only as good as the staff they employ, they live and die by recruiting and retaining specialists at the top of their field. And not only do agencies work tirelessly to employ best-in-class specialists, but also the agency environment is one that is highly conducive to continued skill development.
SEO specialists working at an agency are constantly being exposed to a diverse array of clients, challenges, and technologies. All while surrounded by other marketing professionals ready to bounce ideas or share knowledge at a moment’s notice.
Furthermore, a reputable SEO agency is going to employ the latest and greatest tools and platforms to assist in your campaign development, execution, and tracking. Annual subscriptions to many of these tools can be quite expensive, often costing thousands, making them out of reach for some freelancers and a potential burden to the budgets of in-house teams.
Lastly, because of the experience, diversity of accounts, and group knowledge SEO specialists are exposed to while working at an agency, they are likely going to be highly up to date on the latest trends and techniques in the SEO realm, allowing them to run highly effective campaigns.
Summing Things Up
SEO can be an incredibly valuable tactic for nearly any modern business, with 60% of marketers saying that inbound (SEO, blog content, etc) is their highest quality source of leads. However, SEO is a competitive marketing channel that requires an investment of time and resources to see results.
SEO agencies are an incredible tool, able to level the playing field for smaller firms and properly execute large-scale campaigns suited for enterprise level clients by leveraging their access to top-tier talent, tech, and experience.
If you’re interested in increasing leads generated through organic search results, Liquid is here to help. Reach out today to learn more about our SEO services and track record!