In-house or agency?
Many online stores are faced with the question of whether they want to implement the SEO for their online store in-house or would rather work with an SEO agency.
As is often the case, there is no definitive answer to this question, but there are definitely clear advantages and disadvantages to both approaches that can help with the decision.
The advantages of an SEO agency
SEO know-how and knowledge transfer
A good SEO agency bundles a lot of SEO know-how. As a rule, several SEO experts work there at the same time, exchanging information and passing on their knowledge. This knowledge transfer is one of the main advantages of an SEO agency.
Agencies often work for many different online stores. As a result, they are usually well versed in the field of online store SEO. They understand the requirements of good search engine optimization for online stores.
SEO agencies typically use various SEO tools and know how to use them optimally in practice. This allows them to perform far-reaching and differentiated analyses and view the customer’s website from different angles.
The time budget of an SEO agency is usually individually negotiable. With most SEO agencies, a minimum number of person-days must first be booked. The hours and days beyond that can then be adjusted to your business goals and requirementsl as needed.
From the one-time creation of an SEO strategy to a comprehensive SEO audit to continuous SEO support for your online store, everything is possible. This gives you the necessary entrepreneurial flexibility to work on individual SEO topics, to call on additional resources at short notice or even to take a break now and then.
The disadvantages of an SEO agency
Of course, an SEO agency has several clients and customers – so it’s not all about your company. Accordingly, the key to the success of your online store search engine optimization lies in effective communication and clearly defined projects.
SEO agencies usually have little concrete knowledge about their products for new customers. This makes it all the more important to provide the agency with as much knowledge as possible about your company and your offering, as well as to create functioning interfaces with important departments. For example, regarding text creation or cooperation with IT. Here it is important that your employees support the SEO agency’s input and do not see it as an unwanted nuisance or even competition.
When working with multiple service providers, a lack of expertise on the customer side can complicate decision-making.
A typical example: Many small online stores are unable to set up their own IT department and therefore commission a web agency to create and maintain the store. If this web agency then meets the SEO agency that has also been commissioned, there can be a tussle over competence and conflicting recommendations.
To ensure a smooth process and quick decisions, it can be useful to build up a certain base of expertise in-house as well as to appoint a clear lead agency.
The advantages of an in-house SEO
In the best case, an in-house SEO will consider your online store as his or her project and will be motivated to improve it accordingly. After all, the success of your online store is its figurehead in the SEO community and may well influence your professional career.
The in-house SEO is your employee. In this respect, you can schedule his or her entire working time for the SEO tasks at hand. The corresponding working time is of course much more expensive with an SEO agency.
In-house SEO is part of your business. Thus, he or she knows your product, your target group and all important KPIs often better than external SEO consultants.
Ideally, the SEO employee is well networked within the company and has direct contact with his or her colleagues. He or she attends marketing meetings and should also be invited to IT meetings. Thus, he or she can quickly identify problems and address and solve them through short official channels.
The disadvantages of an in-house SEO
Of course, there are disadvantages to in-house SEO as well. With a permanent in-house SEO, you make your company’s search engine optimization dependent on a single person (or team) for the long term. However, if the new hire chooses an incorrect or poor SEO strategy, it will negatively impact your rankings in search results and you will lose valuable time while your competition makes progress. Under certain circumstances, countermeasures could be taken more quickly in the case of cooperation with an agency (or the replacement of the same in the case of failure).
In addition, after a certain amount of time in the company, many employees begin to experience operational blindness. And that is bad. In-house SEOs then no longer have a sharp eye for new opportunities and risks – and even emerging problems are no longer recognized in time or to a sufficient degree. Ingrained processes and routines also block the way to creative approaches to solutions.
It becomes even more problematic if the in-house SEO only receives insufficient further training. Because he or she is exclusively occupied with their own online store. Accordingly, there is a risk that your SEO staff will become increasingly blind to operations. In order to counteract this, targeted SEO training courses are offered.
The in-house SEO has a certain amount of time to do his job. For a full-time contract, that’s 40 hours a week. For large pages, this time might not be enough. This can be especially the case if the in-house SEO also has to oversee link building or content and landing page creation.
For smaller sites, the problem is reversed: as a full-time employee, the in-house SEO may not be working to capacity and then again, compared to SEO agency, too expensive.
SEO agency vs. in-house SEO: costs
The salary of an in-house SEO depends heavily on the financial capabilities of the company as well as the experience and market value of the new desired employee. Usually, you can assume a monthly gross salary between 3,500 and 5,000 euros.
In addition to the mandatory non-wage costs, there are additional costs for content, SEO tools and link acquisition. There are also costs to consider for your IT department. SEO measures typically use many IT resources.
In total, the costs for the in-house SEO program add up to at least around €7,500 per month.
Now about the prices of an SEO agency: The price in this case is determined either by the service for a particular project (e.g. SEO audit, relaunch support, keyword analysis) or by the person days booked.
Thus, the cost depends on the requested service. For an SEO audit, for example, reputable SEO agencies estimate around 5,000 euros. One person day costs 900 to 1,500 euros, depending on the agency.
Conclusion: In-house SEO vs. SEO Agency
So it always depends on your goals and the specific situation. If your business is “dependent on SEO,” you probably need a strong in-house SEO team, while an SEO agency is only called in temporarily.
If SEO is only one of many marketing channels, an SEO agency can usually help you faster and cheaper.
In addition, agencies are important sparring partners for medium-sized companies with only one or one in-house SEO, as otherwise lone warriors quickly run the risk of operational blindness.
The in-house SEO can exchange ideas with experienced colleagues and has quick access to additional SEO tools. Besides, four eyes see more than two. The agency has one or a professional contact person in the company and both pursue the same goal: the SEO success of your online store.