Outsource SEO in house vs outsourcing

Outsource SEO: In-House vs Outsourcing? Pros & Cons

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The Hidden Costs of In-House SEO: Is Outsourcing the Smarter Choice?

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and some midsize enterprises (SMEs) often wonder whether to handle search engine optimization (SEO) in-house or outsource it to a specialized freelancer or agency.

DIY SEO can seem appealing at first glance, offering the illusion of control and cost savings. However, several hidden costs can add up quickly, making in-house SEO potentially costly.

Here, I’ll explore these hidden expenses and discuss why outsourcing might be the more intelligent choice for your business.

The Allure of DIY SEO: Common Pitfalls


The allure of DIY SEO is understandable. It promises direct oversight and the potential to save money.

Yet many small and medium-sized businesses fall into common pitfalls, such as underestimating the complexity of SEO, overburdening staff, and failing to achieve desired results.

This often leads to wasted time, effort, and resources that could have been better spent on core business activities.

Hidden Costs of In-House SEO

Hidden Costs of In-House SEO
Hidden Costs of In-House SEO

Hiring an SEO Specialist

First, you need good HR - not someone who will discard applicants without effort because of his applicant tracking system (ATS).

It's common practice for HRs to reject 75% of resumes with formatting issues or those that do not include specific keywords mentioned in the job posting.

You may wonder why it is a bad thing—today, almost every applicant with poor knowledge will copy/paste the job post into ChatGPT or Gemini and make a query: "Write me a CV with the keywords from this job post."

Ultimately, your HR applicant tracking system (ATS) will recognize all these CVs as top-notch.

Employee Salaries, Benefits, and Training

W-2 employee SEO
W-2 employee SEO expert

Second, hiring an in-house SEO expert or team involves paying competitive salaries, offering benefits, and investing in ongoing training to keep up with the ever-evolving SEO landscape.

The annual earnings potential for an SEO specialist in the United States can vary considerably, generally falling between $50,000 and $80,000. An SEO specialist's salary is highly individualized and shaped by expertise and location.

SEO specialist salaries vary widely in Europe, from €35,000 to €60,000 annually.

However, the costs can quickly escalate beyond the initial budget, especially if the SEO efforts require additional team members or specialized skills.

Equipment and Furniture for Everyday Job

Equipping your in-house SEO team with the right tools and environment is essential for productivity and efficiency.

This includes reliable computer systems with high-speed internet, ergonomic chairs, and desks to ensure comfort and reduce health issues.

Maintaining a well-organized workspace with adequate lighting, storage solutions, and modern communication devices can significantly enhance the workflow.

High-quality equipment and furniture aren't just office essentials; they're strategic investments that cultivate a workspace where your team feels valued, empowered, and primed for peak performance.

Software Subscriptions and Tool Expenses

Subscription and tools
Subscription and tools

Effective SEO requires a suite of tools for keyword research, backlink analysis, rank tracking, technical SEO, content writing, checking plagiarism, cooperating, visual project management, and collaboration.

The annual investment for SMBs in SEO software typically lands between $10,000 and $50,000.

Here is a list of some must-haves:

Ahrefs Advanced$449/mo
Grammarly Business$25/mo
ClearScope Business$599/mo
Asana Starter$13.49/mo
Slack Business$15 per person/mo

These are pure basics and cost ~ $ 13,000 per year. I use two more tools similar to Ahrefs, one more, a kind of Grammarly, two AI pro tools, and custom ones.

Not to mention the time I lost finding out and testing all possible tools to distinguish what they are capable of and suitable for (and their downsides, too).

The exact expenditure can vary based on the business's specific needs, the number of users, and the functionality required from each tool.

Investing in the right software ensures that your SEO efforts are data-driven, efficient, and capable of delivering measurable results.

Opportunity Costs of Time Spent on SEO vs. Core Business

Time spent on SEO is time spent on something other than your core business activities.

Small and medium-sized business owners and employees often wear many hats, and dedicating substantial time to SEO can detract from essential business functions like sales, customer service, and product development.

This opportunity cost can significantly impact overall business growth and productivity.

The Financial Benefits of Outsourcing SEO

Outsource SEO | Me
Outsource SEO | Me

Predictable Monthly Fees vs. Unpredictable Expenses

Outsourcing SEO typically involves predictable monthly fees, allowing for better budgeting and financial planning.

In contrast, in-house SEO comes with unpredictable expenses, such as tool upgrades, training costs, and potential overtime pay.

The predictable nature of fixed outsourcing costs provides a financial anchor for small and medium businesses navigating limited resources.

Access to an Expert Without the Overhead

When you outsource SEO, you gain access to an expert and seasoned professional with specialized skills and extensive experience.

Outsourcing eliminates costly recruitment processes and overhead expenses for maintaining an in-house team. You benefit from expert insights and strategies without the associated financial burden.

While self-assessment can be subjective (and I wouldn't say I like it), it's important to note that my extensive skill set and experience in the field of SEO have consistently yielded measurable results for more than two decades.

Potential for Higher ROI Due to Specialized Skills

SEO freelancers and agencies bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise, often resulting in higher ROI than in-house efforts.

Their ability to stay ahead of industry trends, implement advanced techniques, and swiftly adapt to algorithm changes ensures that your SEO strategy remains effective and delivers measurable results.

The ability to master search engine optimization can unlock a treasure trove of potential for businesses, driving a substantial surge in website engagement and bottom-line growth.

Cost-effective Scalability for Growing Businesses

For businesses experiencing growth, outsourcing SEO allows seamless scalability by adding or reducing services as needed.

Outsourcing SEO offers a cost-effective solution for scaling your business without sacrificing quality or incurring unnecessary costs.

Outsourcing SEO can provide several financial benefits for businesses of all sizes.

The predictable monthly fees, access to expertise without overhead expenses, the potential for higher ROI due to specialized skills, and cost-effective scalability make it a wise investment for long-term success and growth.

Evaluating Your Options: Making the Right Choice for Your Business

Business decisions
Business decisions

Deciding between in-house and outsourcing SEO ultimately depends on your business's unique needs, resources, and goals.

While DIY SEO may seem cost-effective initially, the hidden costs and potential pitfalls can make it a less favorable option in the long run.

On the other hand, outsourcing offers financial predictability, access to top-tier expertise, and the potential for a higher return on investment.

A thorough assessment of all SEO pathways, including the often-overlooked expenses of an in-house team, empowers you to choose the strategy that best complements your company's goals and financial resources.

If you're ready to experience the benefits of professional SEO services, consider outsourcing to a reputable agency or freelancer like myself - to catapult your brand's presence in the digital sphere.

Published on 10. Jun 2024.

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Miljan Vujosevic
Miljan Vujošević aka Leftfield

SEO Evangelist, Head of Marketing, a car-travel addict, a fan of sun shadow, mostly spending free time thinking.

"If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values: they're hobbies." - Jon Stewart.

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