Are you thinking about investing in SEO but don’t have enough time to do it on your own? Or maybe no one of your employees is qualified enough in this field? This is a perfect time to analyze pros and cons of SEO outsourcing. But how to find an appropriate agency for cooperation and what to pay attention to while searching for a potential company that’s supposed to take care of your website?
SEO outsourcing in a nutshell
Outsourcing is a blend of 3 words:
Therefore, it can be assumed that outsourcing comprises mainly the use of external resources. However, in effect it means simply commissioning the performance of some of your business activities to an external entity. Obviously, in such a situation you go for companies whose expertise in a given field is more advanced than yours. Outsourcing usually involves long-term cooperation and in most cases concerns performing regular activities related to areas such as logistic issues, company accounting, marketing or administration.
Pros of SEO Outsourcing - Why Is It Chosen By So Many Companies?
If an online store takes advantage of services offered by external logistics companies or couriers, then it’s also outsourcing. Are you wondering why e-shops go for this solution? Because it’s simpler, more affordable and efficient. Thanks to it, online shop owners don’t have to waste time monitoring orders, shippings or possible returns as a specialized external company that knows perfectly how to handle all these elements does it for them. Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it?
Let’s start by discussing the main advantages of outsourcing. First of all, it seems to be a cheaper option - thanks to choosing it, you don’t need to create a separate department in your company, hire experts in a given field (and then educate them which also isn’t as cheap as chips) or purchase necessary equipment. Moreover, taking advantage of services provided by an external entity simplifies the structure of the company.
Knowing that you commission important aspects of your business to specialists is comforting. You can sleep peacefully thanks to being sure that specific tasks will be performed in the finest possible way and that their quality will remain at the highest level.
It’s also worth mentioning that outsourcing provides you with constant access to specialist knowledge. Commissioning some of your responsibilities to an external company will give you extra time to focus on other important matters that require your greater commitment or control.
Nevertheless, it needs to be mentioned that not all business tasks can be outsourced. It wouldn’t be professional if a 360-degree agency commissioned performing any of its social media activities to the market rivals. Avoid outsourcing your flag services to external entities - after all, you aim at being perceived as an expert in the field.
Cons of Outsourcing
Outsourcing also has its drawbacks. Low qualifications and quality of services, data breach, lack of control or contrasting ideas… cooperating with an inappropriate external entity can make outsourcing definitely less beneficial than expected.
Choosing an expert in a given field may not be enough, remember that this person should also be responsible and trustworthy. After all, it needs to be borne in mind that you commission important business tasks to an external agency and it’s in your interest to ensure that all the services bring you optimal benefits and don’t do more harm than good.
Outsourcing In The SEO Industry
As you know, SEO is a constant process that requires time, work, and regularly expanded expertise. Search engines update their algorithms on a daily basis, therefore, positions in SERPs also change rapidly. That’s why your website needs an SEO agency that isn’t afraid of modifications and updates, that knows how to perform its tasks and is an expert in the field.
SEO itself is a complex mechanism and few minor adjustments won’t do the job. If you decide to run an SEO process on your own, you need to be aware of how time and energy consuming it is. To learn more about difficulties related to the work of SEO specialists, go to our entry discussing 10 personality traits of an SEO professional.
The number of factors having an impact on the position of a website in the search results is overwhelming, therefore, you may not be able to take care of all of them, unless you’re well-versed in the field. You can find out more about the main elements of the SEO process from our blog post.
Ok, let’s assume that you’ve decided you want to outsource the SEO process - so what now? What elements need to be taken into consideration to ensure that the website and company benefit from the process? We’ll try to answer this question with the help of Google guidelines.
SEO Outsourcing - Selecting an Appropriate SEO Agency
The market is full of SEO agencies and trusts us, contrary to what you may think, this fact doesn’t facilitate the choice. All SEO companies boast great results and claim they’re the best. So which one should you believe and how to make sure that you choose an agency that will work well for your business?
On the Google Webmaster channel you can find a short video created to simplify the process of selecting SEO specialists. The giant from Mountain View divides it into four stages:
Following the pieces of advice mentioned in the video, we’ll do our best to analyze how these tips can help you make a conscious decision regarding your choice of an SEO agency.
Let’s start from the top…
First, you need to determine whether a given company is really interested in cooperation. Does it ask relevant questions or try to get to know the specifications of your business? Remember that a professional SEO agency focuses not only on the rankings but also on solutions that may improve your business and definitely require a more holistic approach to the SEO process.
Consider it a good omen if you’re asked questions such as: What makes your product range unique?, What’s your target group?, What advertising channels do you use or what characterizes your market rivals?. Answering such questions will give you a clue about the plans and goals of the SEO agency (related both to your website and the whole company). Moreover, you’ll be able to evaluate whether your approach to the process is similar to the one of the agency.
Get prepared for such a conversation. Think about the objectives and results you want to achieve through cooperation (building brand recognition, increasing organic traffic and revenue or maybe all these elements?). This will allow you to find common ground. You also can and even should ask a few questions during the interview. Being transparent is extremely important at this point. Together with the agency, you should aim at achieving expected and mutual benefits, therefore, research is very advisable. What are the exemplary questions?
What does the first month of your cooperation with a new client look like?
How much time will you devote to my website every month?
How can SEO improve my business? (and as we’ve already mentioned, here you should be interested in a more holistic approach)
How involved should I be in cooperation? How much do I need to invest (money, time) to see the first results?
Who will contact me?
Who will work on my website? Do you commission your activities to external entities?
Remember that you ask to get comprehensive and precise answers that are supposed to help you choose the right SEO agency. Moreover, they can also draw your attention to elements that could be a trigger for possible misunderstandings in the future. There is no such thing as a stupid question :).
Don’t believe companies that offer immediate results - SEO is a complex process that requires a lot of time and effort. Achieving long-term results takes time. Find out who will be responsible for contacting you during the cooperation and who else, apart from the agency, will have access to your website and all the data. At this point, it’s also a good idea to discuss how much you and the SEO company will involve in the cooperation.
It’s important to make clear one thing. Often, when a new client approaches us one of the main concerns is “what about these other websites from my industry that you’re working for?” Often it’s the reason why the SEO process stays within the company and its potential is not fully reached. When hiring an SEO agency it’s highly probable that they are already working with a website similar to yours or from the same industry. Is that a problem? Absolutely not!
See, each website, even from the same area of interest, is different and so will be the SEO process. There’s no chance that keywords that the agency chooses for your site will entirely match with those for the competitor as they vary on a seasonal basis and each company focuses on different products to promote. This way you both grow and do not cannibalize each other. Actually, when choosing an agency to outsource the SEO process you should look for those who have experience in your field! This way, you can be sure that the team knows exactly what will work for your business, which activities should be avoided, have already developed great linking processes with the access to thematic sites, and the probable effects of doing SEO grow!
Head of SEO & SEM
Once you get answers to all questions that give you sleepless nights, you can move on to the next step, which means…
If the considered SEO agency had or still has many clients and proudly displays the results of cooperation on its website, then, the next important step of your decision-making process will probably involve a reference check which means profound analysis of the agency's reviews.
But where to find them? Check Google, Facebook or Clutch, do research and see how former or present clients assess the agency. Moreover, take a closer look at the website of the agency as this may also provide you with interesting data. Analyze case studies of specific clients’ websites - thanks to it, you’ll see actual results achieved by the company.
During checking references, you need to focus on a few important aspects. What are the effects of cooperation between the agency and its former clients? Were the results long-lasting and satisfying? How did the cooperation go? Would the clients recommend the agency to others or hire it again? What possible problems were encountered? Reference checks will allow you to verify the skills of the agency and analyze whether its services match the nature and needs of your business.
Although checking references may be very helpful during selecting an SEO agency, it needs to be remembered that it isn’t the only factor that should be taken into consideration. Bear in mind that reviews of former clients may not always be objective - after all, they’re affected by numerous circumstances, including personal likes and dislikes. Besides, time flies so it’s very probable that the pros and cons mentioned in the review aren’t up-to-date and the agency operates differently today. Take advantage of the reviews but stay reasonable and slightly aloof ;).
Before you make the final decision, there is one more element that needs to be done - a website audit. It informs you about elements on your site that don’t work properly, aspects that need to be improved to make the page more search engine-friendly and methods that will help you achieve it. Apart from showing and evaluating the current condition of the website, it also provides a certain foundation for further work. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that the selected SEO agency performs such audits - find out how long they take and what elements are covered.
A comprehensive, detailed audit is usually performed as part of the cooperation, at the very beginning, just after signing the contract. However, already at the stage of selecting an SEO agency, you’re able to assess its competences thanks to the preliminary website audit it does for you. This first analysis of the website is supposed to indicate the most visible errors and irregularities. To learn more about SEO audits before and after signing the contract, go to our previous entry: SEO audit - before or after signing the contract.
Just at the very beginning of the potential cooperation find out what website audits are offered by the agency.
For more information on what a proper SEO audit should include, go to our freshly updated blog post. And if you want to find out more about SEO audits offered at Delante, see: https://delante.co/seo-audit/.
[caption id="attachment_25170" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Source: https://delante.co/seo-audit/[/caption]
A website audit checklist according to Google:
Outlining problems on the website,
Providing suggestions concerning elements that should be improved,
Estimating the costs of investment (how much time, energy or money is needed to implement all the changes and attract both Google and clients’ attention),
Assessing how the modifications will affect the company,
Providing a plan for situations when results don’t meet clients’ expectations.
Google puts great emphasis on all technical aspects of website audits (namely elements such as internal linking or correct URLs).
Decision - What Next?
You’ve already checked the objectives, references, and skills of the agency. You also know what website audits it performs. You’ve made a decision but what now? It’s time for establishing the terms of cooperation.
We’ve already mentioned how important it is to make sure that the objectives of the selected SEO agency correspond to your goals. Once you select a specific company, you need to outline a plan and rules of cooperation, forms of the contract, or reporting. Both parties should transparently present expectations and requirements - you and the agency should be aware of the potential benefits of the cooperation and reasons why it’s actually worth undertaking it.
Hiring an inappropriate SEO agency may involve not only great costs but also the necessity to spend a lot of time and energy trying to fix all unsuccessful changes implemented both on- and off-site. In order to prevent such obstacles, it’s worth spending some extra time on selecting the right and reliable company that will bring many benefits to you and your website.
That’s all we’ve prepared for today. We hope that thanks to the discussed four-step process, the choice of an ideal SEO agency will be a real piece of cake. Good luck!
At Delante since July 2019, she began her Delante adventure in marketing. Since November 2021, she has been joining the ranks of the SEO department as its Coordinator. Privately, she is a graduate of Media Management at Jagiellonian University and a student of Product Management at the University of Economics. She enjoys Asian cuisine, dancing high heels and rejuvenating dating shows on Netflix.
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