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Note: If you just want black-and-white SEO In-house vs. Outsourcing comparisons, skip to this section of the article.

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How to utilise your outsourced SEO team like they’re an in-house asset.

To build a solid relationship with your external SEO team, you’ll both need to be good at communication. If you can’t always be readily available by phone or email, try to respond by the end of the day or by the next day (or whenever you get a bit of time).

Communicate properly and often with your team.

Such responsiveness will really help your SEO agency and your freelance writers, as they will be able to ask you key questions, extract important information throughout your campaign and crack on.

Likewise, you should expect your SEO agency to be communicating with you on a semi-regular basis for information. This doesn’t mean you’ll constantly be hounded by your external writers day and night. Rather it just means that a couple of times a month, you might be expected to jump on a call to run through some things, or to provide some feedback on the work provided.

Some of our best performing clients are the ones we speak to the most, so that our writers can really begin to learn the ins and outs of your business. However, at Add People we understand that some business owners are extremely busy, and that super frequent communication might not always be possible.

The good news is, if you fall into the latter category, we can be flexible and work to your schedule. A 10 minute quick call can work wonders, every now and then, if that’s a better fit in your schedule.

Provide all the key information right away.

At Add People, each one of our clients gets a content strategy spreadsheet early on so that we can capture these key details ASAP in the campaign. To get the details, we’ll arrange for a content strategy call which normally takes about one hour.

 

The Introduction page of Add People’s content strategy document for clients.
From a content perspective, here’s what we’ll discuss in your bespoke content strategy document.

 

Your content strategy call consists of:

 

✔️An onboarding interview 

✔️A profile of your ideal customer

✔️A discussion on how your customers refer to your business (phrases) 

✔️A discussion on the questions your customers frequently ask (They Ask, You Answer)

✔️The creation of your author bio

✔️The creation of a custom survey (Typeform) that will allow you to poll your customers for insights directly from them

 

All of this information is then put into your spreadsheet, so you’ll be able to access it at all times, see how we are using it in real-time, and leave comments / provide further feedback. 

Nail your ‘core pages’ the first time around.

Your core pages are your money pages, where a customer will likely click that ‘buy now’ button or call you up. It goes without saying that it’s important to get your core pages right the first time around.

To do this, we’ve devised a list of micro-interview questions. We put these questions to you, and write down key insights into our Core Pages part of your spreadsheet. The whole process takes little more than 10 minutes for each page, and it’s highly effective for writing copy that sells your business.

The reason this is important is because, using the information from our content strategy call, we’re able to ask questions that resonate with your customers’ pain points. As such, we can enable you to answer questions that, based on our research, directly resonate with what your customers are looking for.

This is important because we often find that our clients are experts with many great pearls of wisdom, but they don’t always know how to best include such wisdom in their branding or message. Our Core Pages tab can overcome that.

Here’s a screenshot of a Core Pages sheet we filled out with a client recently.

A screenshot of our Core Pages document.
Here we collect vital information about your Core Pages and use them to write better copy that speaks to your audience.

 

With just 10-15 minutes of your time, our SEO copywriters, by utilising this Core Pages sheet will be able to take the information and write a money page that’s of in-house quality. 

An experienced agency copywriter, regardless of the agency, should know what questions to ask, and just how to squeeze the right amount of information out of you — the industry expert! But the best way to know if you are dealing with an experienced agency copywriter is to ask if they have a system of information collection similar to our Core Pages sheet.

Build a thought-leadership blog, in just a few hours a month.

A knowledgeable SEO agency or freelancer will help you build an expertly written blog that directly speaks to your customers and is conversion-focused. And with just a few hours of your time a month.

Here’s how we do it at Add People.

1️⃣First, we’ll go back to the information you provided us with in the They Ask, You Answer tab on our previous content call. Here’s an example of a common question one of our clients receives regularly at his power cord manufacturing business.

 

 

A screenshot of the They Ask, You Answer tab.
This kind of information greatly informs our keyword research.

 

2️⃣Then we’ll use our keyword research tools Ahrefs and Clearscope, to find keywords that match the question being asked here.

 

An example of our Blog Content Plan that has been filled in.
An idea of the keywords we found for an article, based on the information provided in the TAYA tab.

 

3️⃣We’ll then put these ideas in your blog content plan on the spreadsheet, and construct an article outline around these keywords, and what it is Google expects to be on the page in order for it to rank.

 

An article outline.
An example of what an article might look like based on the keywords we have put together.

 

4️⃣Then we’ll draft up interview questions on the back of this outline, and arrange to jump on a quick call with you. These interviews generally take about 20 minutes to complete, and if you have a spare hour, we can run through three of them, enough to keep us busy for perhaps the rest of the month.

 


Note: If you’re extremely busy most of the time, as some clients understandably are, we can work with you to accommodate your busy schedule (i.e. by encouraging you to send quick WhatsApp messages or voice notes). If you can give us 20 minutes or an hour a month, that is certainly an option for better content, but not an expectation for all content. 

 

What’s great about this process is that not only does it lead to an SEO-optimised blog that directly engages with your customers’ most commonly asked questions, but it tends to be what we call bottom-of-the-funnel content. That is blog content that is as close as possible to a potential conversion, meaning the people reading it will be very close to buying a product from you, or picking up the phone to get in touch about your services. 

This means that we can focus primarily on expert blog content that naturally sells your product and helps the customer to make an informed decision on whether they want to shop with you or not. 

 

Note: In order to create the best blog content possible in 2024, it needs to be written in collaboration with a subject matter expert. That’s either you, or someone else in your business, or another expert figure in your industry. We’ve found that this approach described above, is the most cost-effective way to develop blog content for your industry. And we can do this with as little as 20 minutes of your time a month, maybe even less.

Build a thought-leadership blog, in just a few hours a month.

Both your money and blog pages are covered with the approach we’ve discussed so far, but it doesn’t stop there. With similar collaborative efforts, you can also get quality thought-leadership link-building (or PR) through both what we call expert comments and guest posting

A PR team can build natural, relevant links to your website in an in-house style, by making the best use of your expertise. The Add People PR team does this in the following ways:

1️⃣By picking up on what’s ‘trending’ in your industry, or what journalists are looking at, they can reach out to you (either via email or using our WhatsApp service) for a quick comment. You can then send us back an audio note or type a message. Easy!

 

2️⃣With specific ‘expert comment’ interviews, our PR team may jump on a quick call with you and ask you questions about your business that journalists and your wider readership at large will find interesting — even if you didn’t realise it at the time. Our PR team is specially trained to pick up on questions and answers like this that are easy to miss.

 

3️⃣By using the above, a PR team can also build a list of viable guest blogging opportunities on other relevant websites, which is a great way to strengthen your reputation as a thought leader online — and to position you in front of your target audience.

 

4️⃣And of course, our PRs are always scouring journalist databases and making friends with journalists. So if an opportunity comes along that you’ll want to handle yourself, we can pass the opportunity on to you. 

So, SEO in-house vs outsourcing — which is better?

I hope by reading this far, you can tell that we think outsourcing is the better option if done correctly and with an SEO agency or freelancer who knows what they’re doing. With frequent communication and a little bit of effort on both sides, you can get in-house-level quality content with an outsourcing strategy and budget. 

However, if you’re still unsure about in-house vs agency SEO, that’s what the rest of this article is for. We will now look at the issue of SEO agency vs. in-house strategies in an objective way:

 

SEO in-house vs outsourcing pros and cons

In this table, we have weighed up the pros and cons including the SEO in-house vs outsourcing cost, issues with expertise, responsiveness, reliability and more.

Obviously, the numbers below are just approximations. The actual cost of your SEO will depend on lots of other factors that we can’t go into here. But these numbers should give you a general idea of what to expect.

 

 

 

In-house Outsourced
Cost ❌ It’s a lot more expensive to have an in-house SEO team. The salary of a single copywriter alone might exceed your total annual budget at an SEO agency alone. ✔️ You’ll pay a fixed price depending on what model it is you go for.

E.g.-Per hour

-Per month

-Per project

Either way, the result works out a lot cheaper than with an in-house team. Our estimates can put the price (depending on what you want and your business model) at anywhere between £50 — £6,000 a month. At the lower to mid-range, this still works out a lot cheaper than a single salary for an in-house copywriter.

Find out more in our SEO Costs UK pricing guide here.

Expertise ✔️ A well-managed in-house team will have expert and intimate knowledge of your business. And they will be able to work closely with you, literally able to tap you on the shoulder in the office to discuss their plans and ideas as they come about. ✔️ / ❌ With an outsourced team, there is the danger that you won’t get the same expertly written content as you would with an in-house team. Instructions can get lost in translation, misunderstood or misread.

This has certainly been a problem in the past and with some agencies even today.

However, with the tips we have discussed above, this doesn’t have to be a problem at all. And it is a problem we have worked to correct at Add People.

Scalability It’s much harder to scale up in-house, as it means recruiting the right candidates, with a good cultural fit, and also with the relevant expertise.

I.e.-A content strategist

-A technical SEO professional

-A UX expert

-A PR campaign manager

Not to mention the costs will increase massively every time you make a hire, as you will have salary expectations to fill.

✔️ It’s easy to scale up with an SEO agency as they already have dedicated content writers, PRs, UX and technical specialists.

All you have to do is increase your budget or number of hours.

You don’t even have to scale up with an agency if you don’t want to.

Say, for example, you want to focus the next few months on mainly PR — then we can just hand over your campaign to the PR team. It won’t cost you a penny more and will allow you to focus on time-sensitive tasks, or on aspects of SEO that you will want to focus on the most.

Responsiveness ✔️ An in-house team should be ready and responsive whenever you need them. ✔️ / Communication can be an issue with agencies.

A sign of a good agency is that they’re in communication with you quite a lot and that you don’t have to go chasing for information. 

For reasons mentioned above, at Add People we are often in talks with our clients as we rely on your industry expertise for blog posts, expert comments and guest posts.

Reliability & Results ✔️ / ❌ An in-house team will always be at your beck and call, but there’s no guarantee they will execute a great SEO campaign. 

Many SMEs with in-house teams can only afford to hire a single person, usually a copywriter. 

Will that copywriter be an expert in all things SEO? Maybe. On the other hand, they might not even be an expert in SEO copywriting. 

If you can afford to hire a group of experts, all with years of experience in their aspect of SEO (PR/content/UX/Technical), then it shouldn’t be a problem. But usually, only larger businesses can afford to do this.

✔️ / With an SEO agency, there are seasoned SEO veterans in the office who can help provide the roadmap for your campaign. 

True, some businesses have struggled with agencies when it comes to reliability and results. They may be down to:

-Poor communication between both parties (agency and client)

-Not having the right information at hand

-And not working on the best opportunity pages first

Essentially, those three points all boil down to communication

If you work with your SEO agency, like we encourage with our clients, rather than expecting them to do the work for you — then there’s no reason why you can’t expect superb results from a campaign.

Control ✔️ You will always have the final say and be in full control of your in-house SEO team. ✔️ You will always have the final say and be in full control of your in-house SEO team. 

There may be times when our team will think of (in our opinion) a more strategic SEO opportunity or approach to your campaign. In such cases, we will state our case, but at the end of the day, it’s your business and we will respect and work with the decisions you want to make.

SEO in-house vs. Outsourcing: questions to ask yourself

The following questions will help you to determine which avenue is better for you:

 

1️⃣What’s my budget?

If you’re a small SME company, then very likely an in-house role is out of the question and an agency would be better suited for your smaller budget. However, if you’re medium-sized, with some extra funds, it could be worth a shot. 

 

2️⃣What’s the scope of my SEO project?

If you’re a very local business offering, say bicycle repairs, then that’s likely something you can do either yourself or with an agency, at the cost of just a few hours a month. (For the record, you can read more about our local SEO agency services here.)

If you’re a fairly large online payment processing business or e-commerce store handling thousands of products, then we’d still recommend an agency as there will be so many bases to touch upon (technical SEO, PR work, strategic internal linking, blog copy, etc.). However, you may find an in-house professional who will be better equipped to write intimately about your many products. 

Keep in mind, however, that a single employee — or even a small handful of employees — may struggle to cover all the bases that an agency can do. Especially as most agencies tend to have a large set of multi-disciplined experts with decades of combined experience.

3️⃣If I hire an in-house SEO specialist, will I be able to rely on them to do a good job?

It depends. Even if they are very good writers and well-informed in the field of SEO, agencies often pay for expensive SEO tools in order to assist them with writing the best copy and in order to help find the right keywords to target. 

For example, at Add People we pay thousands of pounds a month for subscriptions to Ahrefs, Clearscope, Keyword Insights, Frase, and more. 

Even a very talented copywriter may be flying blind without these tools. However, we wouldn’t want to rule out the possibility that an in-house SEO specialist could do a very good job indeed.  

 

4️⃣Couldn’t I do both?

You can and we have worked with companies in the past that do this. Obviously, this will cost more money than just one approach. But with clear lines of communication, this relationship can work well. 

In-house vs. Agency SEO | General FAQs

Is it more difficult working with an SEO agency?

No. Working with Add People is as easy as sending a WhatsApp message, picking up the phone to ask a question, sending an email — or jumping on a Google Meet chat.

And because you’ll have your very own bespoke content strategy document, you will be able to keep an eye on everything as we deliver the work in real time. 

We can’t speak for other agencies, but at Add People you will always know what we are working on — especially because we will be collaborating with you to deliver the work.

Is it more difficult to manage in-house SEO?

It will always be harder to manage even a small team than it is to work with an SEO agency. It will be more difficult to recruit the right candidates for the job, and like with an agency, some degree of autonomy will have to be handed over to your in-house team as they will be more knowledgeable about SEO than you are. 

So we would say yes. With an agency, you won’t have to manage anyone. With an internal team, you will have to manage them, pay them, keep them happy — the list goes on!

To sum up: SEO In-house vs. Outsourcing — which is better?

We hope this article has helped you to better understand how an outsourced SEO agency team will stand up to an in-house one. As you can see, there is no “better” option for most businesses with finite budgets — only pros and cons.

If you have more questions about how a B2C and B2B SEO agency can help you, then please reach out to us. We will be more than happy to help. 

Read more: Is SEO worth it for my small business?

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