In-house vs Agency SEO - Which is Better for Your Business?

Explore the differences between in-house and agency SEO and their pros and cons to help you determine the best solution for your tech business.

min read

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical aspect of digital marketing that can help businesses improve online visibility and attract more leads and customers. 

However, deciding whether to handle your SEO efforts in-house or hire an agency can be challenging. 

This article will explore the differences between in-house and agency SEO to help you determine which option is best for your tech business.

Let’s dive in!

Understanding In-house and Agency SEO

In-house SEO - Overview

In-house SEO refers to having a dedicated team or employee handle your SEO efforts. 

This team is typically led by an SEO manager who oversees the strategy and implementation of SEO tactics. 

The team may include content writers, web developers, and other specialists who collaborate to improve your website's ranking on search engine results pages(SERPs).

You can work closely with your team to ensure your SEO tactics align with your overall marketing goals and brand messaging. 

Defining Agency SEO - Overview

Agency SEO, on the other hand, involves hiring an external agency to handle your SEO efforts. 

An SEO agency usually has a team of SEO experts specialized in various aspects of SEO, including keyword research, content creation, and link building. 

The agency will work with you to develop an SEO strategy that aligns with your goals and then implement that strategy on your behalf.

One of the greatest benefits of agency SEO is that you can have the expertise and experience of a team of SEO professionals at hand. 

One of the decisions that businesses have to make is whether to handle their SEO in-house or hire an agency to do it for them. 

Both options have pros and cons, and it's essential to evaluate them before deciding.

So let’s cover those advantages and disadvantages to help you decide.

Pros and Cons of In-house SEO

Advantages of In-house SEO

Here are some of the most important advantages of in-house SEO:

  • Complete control - Your team can tailor your strategy to fit your specific needs and goals, and you can also ensure that every member of your SEO team is on the same page. This level of control can be particularly beneficial for companies with unique SEO requirements or operate in highly specialized industries.
  • Immediate access to a team - You don't have to wait for an agency to respond to your inquiries or concerns, which can save time and reduce the risk of miscommunication.
  • Long-term relationship - Having an in-house team also means that you can build a long-term relationship with your SEO experts. They will become familiar with your company's goals, values, and culture, which can help them create more effective SEO strategies.
  • Cost-effective -  having an in-house team can be more cost-effective in the long run, as you do not have to pay for external agency services.

Disadvantages of In-house SEO

However, In-house SEO also has some disadvantages:

  • Expensive - Hiring an SEO team can be expensive, particularly if you need to hire several specialists to handle different aspects of SEO. You will need to pay for salaries, benefits, training, and equipment, which can be particularly challenging for small businesses or startups with limited budgets.
  • Less experience - in-house teams may have less experience than agencies, which could lead to slower progress or less effective strategies. SEO agencies typically work with multiple clients across various industries, which gives them a broader perspective on SEO trends and best practices. 
  • Out-of-date strategies - SEO is a constantly evolving field, and it can be challenging for in-house teams to keep up with the latest developments. This can lead to outdated strategies and missed opportunities for growth.
  • Requires more resources - in-house SEO also requires a significant investment of time, resources, and expertise. You must have a dedicated team with the necessary skills and knowledge to design and implement effective SEO strategies. 

Pros and Cons of Agency SEO

Advantages of Agency SEO

Here are some of the most important advantages of agency SEO:

  • Expertise at hand - One of the most significant benefits of hiring an agency for your SEO needs is the expertise and experience that they bring to the table. Agencies typically have a team of specialists who are up-to-date on the latest SEO techniques and tactics. This can be especially helpful if you don't have a lot of experience with SEO, as agencies can guide you through the process and help you achieve your goals more efficiently.
  • Resources - working with an agency is that they have access to specialized tools and resources that can help with keyword research, competitor analysis, and tracking your website's performance. These tools can be expensive to purchase and maintain, but agencies can spread the cost across multiple clients, making them more affordable.
  • More time - Working with an agency can also free up your time and resources, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business. SEO requires a significant investment of time and effort, and outsourcing it to an agency can help you save time and focus on your core competencies.

However, agency SEO can also be more expensive than in-house SEO, depending on the agency, as you must pay for the agency's services. 

Disadvantages of Agency SEO

And what about the disadvantages?

Here are disadvantages that you should have in mind before choosing an SEO agency:

  • Less control - You may have less control over your SEO efforts' process, strategy, and implementation as you rely on an external team to handle these tasks. Agencies typically work with multiple clients, so if they’re not properly organized, they may be unable to give your business the individual attention it deserves. 
  • Expensive - may be more expensive than building an in-house team over the long term. 
  • Communication - this may be a challenge, particularly if your agency is located in a different time zone or doesn't clearly understand your business needs and goals.
  • Understanding of your business - Agencies may not have the same level of knowledge and understanding of your business as an in-house team. They may not be able to create content that resonates with your target audience or understands the nuances of your industry. Therefore, choosing an agency with experience working with businesses in your niche is essential.
  • Reputation - Another potential disadvantage of agency SEO is the risk of getting penalized by search engines. Some agencies use black hat SEO techniques that violate search engine guidelines and can result in penalties or even getting banned from search results. So, choosing a reputable agency that uses ethical SEO practices is crucial.

What to Consider When Choosing Between In-house and Agency SEO

1. Budget and Cost

The first and perhaps most important factor to consider when choosing between in-house and agency SEO is your budget. 

In-house teams can be expensive to build and maintain, so make sure you have the financial resources to support this approach. 

Alternatively, agencies may require an ongoing retainer fee, so factor this cost into your budget as well.

2. Expertise and Skill Set

Determine what level of expertise and skill set you need to achieve your SEO goals. 

If you have a complex product or service offering and require specialized SEO knowledge, it may be better to build an in-house team. 

On the other hand, if you need a general SEO strategy and are open to outsourcing, an agency may be the better choice.

3. Scalability and Flexibility

Consider how scalable and flexible your SEO strategy needs to be. 

If you anticipate rapid growth or changes to your business model, you may want to build an in-house team that can adapt quickly. 

Alternatively, if your needs are more static, an agency may be able to provide a more flexible solution.

4. Company Culture and Collaboration

Consider your company culture and how your SEO team will fit into it. 

Hiring an in-house team may help you foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork, which can be beneficial in other areas of your business. 

Alternatively, an agency may be the better choice if you're looking for an outside perspective and a fresh approach to SEO.

5. Long-term Strategy and Goals

Finally, consider your long-term SEO strategy and goals. 

If you're looking to build a sustainable SEO program over time, an in-house team may be the better choice. 

On the other hand, if you're looking for a short-term SEO boost and aren't as concerned with long-term sustainability, an agency may be able to deliver faster results.

In-house vs Agency SEO - Which Is Better for Your Business?

If you have a dedicated team with the necessary skills and expertise, in-house SEO may be the best option for you. 

However, if you lack the necessary resources and expertise or want to benefit from the experience and knowledge of SEO professionals, agency SEO may be the better choice. 

Regardless of your choice, remember that SEO is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and adaptation to remain effective.

Both in-house and agency SEO can be effective strategies for SaaS businesses looking to improve their search engine rankings. 

There are pros and cons to both in-house and agency SEO. 

It's essential to evaluate your business's needs and goals before making a decision. 

If you choose to work with an agency, research and choose a reputable one that uses ethical SEO practices and has experience working with businesses in your industry.

Consider the factors outlined in this article when deciding, and carefully weigh each approach's pros and cons. 

Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your business's specific needs, goals, and budget.

If you’re considering outsourcing an SEO agency to help you accomplish your goals, we can help you clarify what you want to accomplish through SEO.

Book a 30-minute call to learn how you can implement and improve your SEO and content strategy today.


Should I work in-house or agency?

Choosing between working in-house or at an agency depends on your business goals, work preferences, and the specific industry you are in.

In-house roles offer deeper immersion in a single company's operations, while agency positions provide exposure to various clients and industries.

Consider your long-term objectives and what type of work environment aligns best with them.

What is the difference between agency and in-house?

The key difference between an agency and an in-house SEO team lies in the nature of the work.

In-house roles involve working exclusively for one company, focusing on its needs and goals.

In contrast, agency work entails serving multiple clients, each with distinct requirements.

In-house professionals typically understand a single business more deeply, while agency professionals gain exposure to diverse challenges.

Can SEO be done in-house?

Yes, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be effectively managed in-house.

Many businesses have dedicated in-house SEO teams or specialists responsible for optimizing their website's online visibility.

However, success in in-house SEO depends on having the right expertise, resources, and a clear SEO strategy.

Should I hire an agency for SEO?

Hiring an SEO agency can be beneficial, especially if you lack the in-house expertise or resources needed to execute a comprehensive SEO strategy.

Agencies often have specialized knowledge, tools, and experience in optimizing websites for search engines.

Evaluate your business's needs, budget, and goals to determine whether outsourcing SEO to an agency is the right choice for you.

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