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Doing SEO Yourself or Outsourcing: A Practical Comparison

Updated: Jan 21

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a must if you want to be visible online. I am not talking about your site being at the top when you search for your company name. If it doesn't already, you have a lot of work to do. SEO gets your products, services, or articles to the top of Google.


Those free traffic are all potential customers. The people searching on your company name were probably already customers or already knew your company. SEO is exactly what you do for people who don't know you yet. But can you do SEO yourself, or is it wise to outsource?


What is involved in SEO

In essence, SEO is not that difficult. It's the consistent execution and knowledge of what works and what doesn't, where the initial challenge lies.


SEO is all about damn good content, but that's not the only thing. Online content needs to be written in a way that search engines can understand, your content needs to be about topics that people are searching for AND your site needs to be technically and functionally sound.


Now of the latter, you would expect the site builder to have thought this through. But despite the fact that most site builders claim to have optimized the site for Search Engines, in practice the opposite is often true. This is usually not unwillingness, but ignorance.


Google has a very complex search algorithm, which allegedly consists of 221 rules and exceptions. And all those rules and exceptions can even contradict each other. A 1000-word article ranked higher than a 100-word article. Unless the 100-word article has very current news. Unless the 1000-word article uses images that are topical and the small article does not. But if the site with the 1000-word article is way too slow, then the small article again gets a higher ranking. Well, that's about it and then a lot more.


The bottom line is that site builders usually don't know those rules and exceptions and install an SEO plugin like Yoast and then say the site technique is SEO-worthy. Bear in mind here also that those rules and exceptions change weekly because Google is always improving its search algorithm.   


The advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing SEO to a (local) SEO agency

Outsourcing SEO to a professional service provider has both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some considerations:


Advantages of outsourcing SEO:


Expertise and experience: The better SEO agencies have specialists who understand how search engines work and know the latest SEO trends and techniques. They have the experience and knowledge to implement an effective SEO strategy that gets results. 


Time efficiency: SEO can be time-consuming, especially if you are not familiar with the ins and outs. By outsourcing SEO, you can focus on other aspects of your business.


Use of advanced tools: SEO agencies have access to premium SEO tools that they use to perform in-depth analysis, such as keyword research, competitive analysis, backlink analysis, and more.


Continuous optimization: SEO is an ongoing process that requires regular updates and maintenance. An SEO agency can take care of this.


Disadvantages of outsourcing SEO:


Cost: Outsourcing SEO can be expensive, especially if you choose a top agency instead of one local SEO agency. It is important to find an agency that fits within your budget while offering value for money. Consider that you can easily spend 30,000.00 per year on SEO.


Incompetence due to under-capacity: SEO agencies are in high demand. Creating an SEO strategy is usually doable, but to create good content you need real writers who also understand your business. Look around inside any SEO agency and it is full of pockmarked young adults just out of school. The result then is that you get the desired and agreed amount of content, but the quality level is pitiful. So rank, no!


Black Hat SEO practices: Some agencies may use questionable or 'black hat' SEO practices to achieve quick results. However, this can lead to search engine penalties in the long run.


Less control: By outsourcing SEO, you have less control over the strategies and tactics used. It is important to choose a reliable agency that is transparent about its methods. My advice is to always have the chosen strategy checked by a third party. This costs a little bit of money but avoids a pointless depth investment. Bear in mind that it can take months or even longer before you start seeing results from an SEO strategy while the costs do add up.


Lack of technical knowledge: An SEO strategy is not that difficult to create if you know how. With the right tools, you will come a long way. I discussed the content above. But the biggest problem with most SEO agencies is that they lack technical depth. While the underlying technology and structure of the site have an extreme impact on your ranking. 

SEO agencies earn the most from contracts for which they deliver monthly content. Cheap forces do the (bad) work and the money flows in. But good developers are a whole lot more expensive and hard to find. So most SEO agencies (and especially local SEO agencies) don't have seasoned SEO developers.



What can you do yourself anyway when it comes to SEO

As you read, SEO consists of a broad field with many aspects. Some of them you can - and I would advise you to - do yourself very easily. Depending of course on your time, expertise, and resources and whether you feel like it. Here are some suggestions on what is better to outsource and what you should do yourself:


What is better to outsource in terms of SEO:


Technical SEO: This includes optimizing your (WordPress) website to load faster, be mobile-friendly, and be easily crawled and indexed by search engines. This requires a lot of substantive technical knowledge and experience that even average site builders don't have. So it is wise to leave this to professionals.


Keyword Research and Strategy: An in-depth analysis of the best keywords to target and what your competitors are doing can be complex and also needs strategic insight. It is highly recommended to outsource this but stay involved. SEO agencies have specialized SEO tools that allow them to do very good research, but the strategy itself is a job for a seasoned strategist.


If you let a strategist create your company's strategy, you should just outsource everything in terms of SEO strategy as well. If you have determined your own strategy for your business, develop the SEO strategy together with an SEO strategist.


Link building: Building high-quality backlinks to your website is still very important. But it is very time-consuming and requires knowledge of how to get the right backlinks. The wrong backlinks can just hurt your ranking! This can really only be done effectively by an experienced back-link SEO agency. But ask for references, because so much money goes into back-linking that you can imagine that this too has become a pirate world.


What you are better off doing yourself in terms of SEO:


Content creation: No one knows your business and your customers better than you. Creating high-quality, relevant content that appeals to your target audience is something you are always better off doing in-house. But pay attention! First, learn from an expert how to create content that can rank, and write the articles according to a predefined content plan. With the latter, a solid SEO agency can absolutely help you.


If you know the ground rules, it is easy and an article takes between 2 and 4 hours of work. If you are able to write at least 2 articles a week and can keep this up, there is no reason to outsource.


Social media management: Sharing your content on social media and interacting with your followers can help drive traffic to your website and improve your SEO. Especially with a tool like Chat-GPT, social media posts are written in no time. Chat-GPT can even write out an entire social media content plan for you.


Website updates: Regularly updating your website with new content, images, and products and internal linking, can help improve SEO. This can often be done internally, although technical updates are of course better left to professionals.


Conclusion:


SEO is a complex area that requires constant attention and expertise. Whether you choose to outsource SEO to an agency or decide to do some aspects yourself, it is important to find a balance that works for you and your business. Despite the challenges, an effective SEO strategy can yield significant benefits, including increased online visibility, more traffic to your website, and ultimately more customers.


Remember, the most important thing is to deliver high-quality and relevant content that provides value to your target audience. SEO is an investment that, if done correctly, can bring significant returns to your business.


Questions and answers


Question 1:What are the benefits of outsourcing SEO to an agency?

Answer 1: Outsourcing SEO to an agency can have many benefits, including access to specialized expertise, the ability to focus on your company's core business, and potentially better results because of the agency's experience and knowledge.


Question 2: What are the considerations when doing SEO yourself?

Answer 2: When doing SEO yourself, consider the time and effort required to learn and implement SEO strategies, the constant updates and changes in SEO practices, and the possibility that you may not achieve the same results as a specialized agency.


Question 3: Which approach is better: outsource SEO or do it yourself?

Answer 3: There is no 'one-size-fits-all' answer to this question. The choice between outsourcing SEO and doing it yourself depends on a number of factors, such as your budget, the amount of time you can devote to SEO, and your comfort level with learning and implementing SEO strategies.


Question 4: How can an effective SEO strategy help my business?

Answer 4: An effective SEO strategy can bring significant benefits, including increased online visibility, more traffic to your website, and ultimately more customers. It is an investment that, if done correctly, can bring significant returns to your business.


Question 5: What is the key to success in SEO?

Answer 5: The most important thing in SEO is providing high-quality and relevant content that offers value to your target audience. SEO requires constant attention and adaptation, but by focusing on creating valuable content, you can increase your online visibility and traffic to your website.

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