A growing number of medium-to-large companies have been committing the same mistake when they decide to completely sever ties with their SEO agency partner. They look at their most recent invoice and say, “Why, we could be doing this all ourselves!” and opt to onboard a small but feisty SEO team full of ragtag go-getters and a tech wonk or two.
And then, within eight months, that ragtag team is at wit’s end, and the company is breathing down their neck for more. More traffic! More reach! More attribution! We want to see where every penny is going! In the meantime, the technical debt underlying the team’s efforts will inevitably get stressed to the breaking point. And when something does break, the buck gets passed around more eagerly than a hip flask among groomsmen.
The truth is that assembling your own team, offering them all salaries, and then asking them to fulfill the kind of work and technical competency that an agency can offer is just unrealistic. They can keep it up for a few months at a time, but the reality is that the work is going to be finicky, repetitive, expensive, and eventually fall outside someone’s capabilities where small misses can make a big impact on the bottom line.
For these reasons and many more, we strongly encourage medium and enterprise-sized companies to not throw the baby out with the bathwater when cutting ties with your SEO agency. Instead, bring in well-rounded marketing employees internally who can perform more versatile work, and collaborate with an agency’s writing and technical teams. By sparing your team from the more cumbersome or repetitive tasks, you tap into an agency’s economies of scale while reducing the chances that something very expensive or important will break.
How much you decide to share the work is up to you, but in the end, your internal team will be grateful for every bit of outside help they get. It never hurts to have an outside set of eyes and brains, looking at different perspectives and angles, trying to achieve the same goals.
Don’t Buy the Cow Because Milk Is Cheap, and Milking Is Boring
Don’t get us wrong, here — we’re not trying to sell you the SEO pulp and lie through our teeth that we are the only ones who can juice it.
Instead, we’re saying that — for lack of a better word — squeezing all that pulp by hand sucks. And if you want your efforts to scale, you are going to need that expensive juicer in the form of a marketing automation system and investments in SEO tools like Moz Pro or SEM Rush. And if that juicer breaks, you don’t want to be caught holding the repair bill.
Case in point: our CEO recently shared an anecdote on LinkedIn about a former junior agency employee who got hired by a recognizable national brand. One day, she called up one of her old bosses, literally crying. “I crashed the site. It’s been down for 3 days, I have no idea what I’ve done. Can you please help me?”
The issue at hand here is that companies do not quite grasp the level of specialised work that goes into maintaining each component of SEO. A skilled copywriter can command a salary over $45k within the right agency, and the better ones cost even more. When companies onboard someone for that price, they are typically looking for a “deal” in that they expect the writer to take on all these responsibilities outside their core competency. Or, they want someone more well-rounded who can also write damn good prose when the occasion calls for it.
But both of these types of hires are going to need some help at some point. A somewhat experienced writer will need help ensuring that nothing breaks on the technical side. The wise marketing manager is going to need someone to help them write hundreds of blogs and landing pages a year while cross-checking their “math,” so to speak. To give both people what they need, you are going to have to onboard even more people, and the costs of the team can easily skyrocket beyond the billing range of a typical SEO agency.
Share the Load, Spare Your Sanity
We know that it makes sense to feel some ownership of your SEO process, especially when it comes to your data and your brand voice. You should absolutely have someone internally who can crunch the numbers or massage the wording to fit your exact needs. But this person should be more of a manager and a guide.
They should be capable of jumping onto other digital marketing projects within your organization without having to go home that night and write a blog for the company site. They should have someone other than IT to ask questions about where the homepage went when they added schema markup to it. And they should have their own outsourced team to deliver the nitty-gritty of SEO affordably and at scale.
Having an agency at their back not only gives them this flexibility and support, but they also have reassurance in knowing that they can shop around. If it turns out that an internal SEO team cannot get the job done, firing six or seven full-time people and onboarding new ones is a painful, slow, and expensive process. Shopping around for a new agency usually isn’t.
So, go ahead and give us the boring work. Tell us it’s our fault when something goes wrong. That’s what we’re here for. But, ultimately, what we are really here for is to help you get top dollar out of every marketer or copywriter you employ while we help them keep their sanity.
Learn more about the collaborative roles we can help assume within your organization by taking a look at our technical SEO services today.