The SEO Question: In-house or Agency?

According to a new report released by the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), online search marketing continues to grow. This year, the report estimates that the total value of search marketing will eclipse $19 billion, a 16% increase from the year before.

This news is great for online marketers like us at Fluency Media, but there was another little nugget of data here that really caught our attention. The report also found that more marketers are outsourcing their SEO and social media to agencies. While 51% of surveyed companies performed in-house Search Engine Optimization last year, that number has now plummeted to only 44%.

The message is clear. More companies are looking to outside help to assist with SEO. We think it’s a great idea. When you work with an agency, you get access to expertise and resources that would otherwise be out of reach. SEO professionals don’t just work from the hours of 9 to 5 to ensure that a client’s page ranks as highly as possible. They live SEO. And breathe SEO.  And if they could eat SEO, they probably would. That’s exactly what businesses need, because SEO is a constantly changing field, with new tools and strategies popping up like Foursquare check-ins at SXSW.

In a perfect world, the best time to launch SEO would be before the launch of a new site. That way, the site can be designed from the ground up to be as search engine friendly as possible. But many companies have no need for a new site, they just want to optimize the pages they have. It’s a more difficult task that requires the skilled leadership of a professional, and it’s no time to delegate the responsibility to an employee with minimal experience.

But perhaps the most convincing case we can make for hiring an SEO professional is that a skilled SEO will ensure their clients’ work gets done.  Since it’s not always cost effective to have a full-time SEO on site, the in-house employee in charge of site optimization may also have a number of other responsibilities demanding their attention. Too often, SEO gets relegated to the corner (and no one puts SEO in the corner).

So consider a partnership with a proven team of SEO specialists, and take that SEO out of the corner and on to center stage.