In-House SEO Specialist or Outside Agency? Here’s How to Decide.

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You need a good SEO strategy to succeed in digital marketing. But how much do you really need to spend on SEO? Should you invest in hiring an in-house specialist or would an agency produce better results?

This decision can stymie even the most well-established firms. After all, it’s no simple feat to balance the budget you have with the results you desire—especially since SEO is a moving, mysterious target. It’s not uncommon for firms, especially midsize practices, to contemplate hiring an in-house SEO specialist or enlisting the help of the agency.

In this article, we are going to help you decide what is best for your firm by demystifying the process of SEO with a special focus on in-house specialists versus agencies.

The basic difference between in-house and agency SEO

Let’s start with the financial considerations

A full-time, in-house SEO specialist comes with expenses like salary and benefits. SEO agencies quote high monthly fees, especially in major metropolitan areas. This is because it is highly competitive and time-consuming to earn a top-ranking place on the first page of the SERPs. 

Now, consider expertise and capacity.

A dedicated professional embedded in your firm’s culture and day-to-day business may seem like a major advantage. It’s one person solely devoted to managing your firm’s SEO, with intimate knowledge of your culture and goals.

However, agencies offer a distinct advantage here with regard to knowledge and ability to execute. An established SEO agency has a team of skilled experts with experience implementing SEO campaigns. The agency can call on an expert copywriter, legal expert, graphic designer, and other professionals to help your firm succeed. 

It may be easier to manage and communicate with a single in-house SEO specialist, but the right agency can combine area-specific legal SEO knowledge across a team of experts in combination with an outsider perspective which can lead to better results.

SEO is too big a task for one person 

SEO strategy consists of so many different elements. While one person can certainly make a difference, it is highly unlikely for a single person to be skilled in every aspect of SEO—and if this unicorn does exist, expect to pay top dollar. 

Below is a list of some essential components of a strong SEO strategy. Would you feel confident assigning all of these tasks to a single in-house specialist?

  • Technical: The site architecture must be properly indexed using schema markup so that search engine algorithms can rank the site properly. Plus, site performance must be aligned with Google’s guidelines.
  • On-Page Optimization: To appeal to the search engines, each page needs the correct title tags, header tags, and meta tags.
  • Content: From static content like attorney profiles to ongoing, original content such as blog posts, SEO depends heavily on high-quality content.
  • Link-Earning: To build networks of connections and increase your reputation online, you need a link-earning strategy. This usually requires a PR strategy to determine how best to showcase the firm’s expertise.
  • Data Analytics: It’s not enough to do the work once. Regular reviews of the metrics are necessary to identify issues and areas of improvement. This involves generating reports and making decisions about strategy.

Finally, a holistic understanding of visibility tactics and SEO is required. A really great website is not enough to compete in hot markets, nor to attract the attention of some audiences. For instance, TikTok is now used as a search engine by Gen Z—who are now old enough to hire legal counsel. 

An agency is better equipped to be on the cutting edge of SEO strategy as visibility tactics and technical requirements evolve. 

So, what should you do?

As an agency, we’re biased! 

If you’re relying on one person to be a master of all of the above, you’ll likely be disappointed. In many cases, firms that hire an SEO specialist wind up engaging an agency for additional assistance

If you do decide to hire a solo specialist, just bear in mind that this person probably can’t do it all alone. Treat them like an SEO project manager. They should oversee the overall strategy but not execute all contributions. When hiring an in-house SEO specialist, we advise choosing someone who is comfortable managing projects and handling relationships with freelancers or third-party agencies.

Review and next steps

SEO is a complex field involving technical, creative, and management tasks that may fall beyond the scope of a single person—even an in-house specialist. Agencies are better equipped to help you achieve your SEO goals.
The decision to hire a digital marketing agency is complicated. We get it! Reach out to the Omnizant team for a no-obligation conversation about whether or not an agency is a good fit for your firm.